Cost and Blessing of Following Jesus

At first I thought of titling this post, “Strength through Tribulation and Persecution.”  But it is more than that.  Every trial we go through, every time we are persecuted, every struggle, God is with us and we grow spiritually and become a better person and we have an opportunity to help others in similar situations.  He is always there whether we realize it or not.  As a believer, we need to realize we will go through trials.  There is a cost to following Jesus.  But it does not compare to the blessings and the reward we will receive by knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  As the last of the series on “I am Saved…Now What Do I Do?” I want to prepare my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, in particular those who are young believers of things they may face while giving words of encouragement that it is all worth it.  I also want to start this discussion by making it clear that what we do does not determine our salvation.  It is what Jesus Christ did on the cross.  Our sins are forgiven because of Him.  We just need to accept that gift of grace He has given us.  What we do is a result of that salvation.  When we are saved, there will be a change in our hearts, our lives and our actions.  The blessings are tremendous, but that does not mean things will be easy.  It just means it will be worth it.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

We are saved by grace and God has plans for us.  God will work through us to bring others to Christ and further His kingdom.  But the world hates that.  The devil will work hard to keep us from sharing the gospel and doing good to bless others.  He will come at you through your relationships and circumstances, through your weaknesses and through all those around you.  He will try to beat you down because he hates all that is good and knows his time is short.  But, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us who will pray for us, give us strength and guide us.

1 John 4:4-5

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Romans 8:14-19

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

As we go through struggles, let us stay in the scriptures and be encouraged by God’s words and His promises.  Let us dwell on these scriptures and be ready for the trials that come our way, praying to God for strength in our faith.

John 15:18-21

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

  James 1:2-6

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We will go through trials, but He will give us strength through them.  In the end, there will be much reward.

Matthew 5:10-12

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As we go through life, as we are persecuted and hated, others will be encouraged by our faith.  Let us also remember that our fellow believers are praying for us.  Let us also pray for those who are being persecuted.  Many around the world are being persecuted in ways we cannot even imagine.  Many are tortured, killed, jailed, betrayed and ridiculed by their own families and friends.  In the U.S., we are very fortunate to have the freedom to worship God.  Although we are mocked and ridiculed and once in a while you hear of someone losing their business or sued because they stand up for what is right and stay strong in their faith, it is a small thing in comparison to many.  But we must be prepared, because that could change at any moment.  We must hold fast to our faith and to the scriptures.  Read the reminders and words of encouragement and anticipation of Paul:

2 Corinthians 4:7-5:8

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.

And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

God is in control.  He loves us.  Though He allows things to happen, He is with us, He gives us strength and courage, He gives us hope.  There is so much more to come that is so much greater than anything we have experienced or can imagine.  He will never leave us or forsake us and His love endures forever and we will be with Him forever.

Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;

We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 21:3-8

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Come, Lord Jesus!

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God Can Work through You

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No matter what you have done in your past, God can work through you.  He can change you and give you strength.  Nothing in your past is so terrible that He will not use you to His glory and through it, bless you and others.  The struggles in your past may be the thing he uses to help someone with the same struggles.  He shows His power through our weakness, his strength in our insecurity.  Throughout the Bible, God used the people that most would never believe possible.  Paul, the great minister of God, persecuted the Christians of his day.  Moses murdered someone and could not speak well.  Gideon was the least of his family of a low-class tribe.  Joseph was a slave and became the highest ranking officer in Egypt to be used by God.  These are just a few. Continue reading “God Can Work through You”