A TRUE DISCIPLE
Tuesday, October 03, 2017
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“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:7-8

In our discipleship for Christ, we can expect persecution and suffering, which frequently cannot be made sense of by human logic. In Acts 14, Paul, accompanied by Barnabas, supernaturally heals a man in Lystra crippled from birth. In a euphoric response, the crowd tries to exalt Paul and Barnabas as gods come down to earth, but they adamantly resisted, and urged the people to turn from idolatry to the one true God who made heaven and earth.

Jews from Antioch and Iconium came down and vehemently opposed Paul, swaying the crowd over to them. The pendulum suddenly swung from hailing Paul and Barnabas as gods to wanting to kill them. Paul, being the spokesperson, was viciously stoned and left for dead. When he regained consciousness, he did not head out of Lystra, but went back into the city, presumably taking refuge in Timothy’s home. Battered, bruised and swollen, Paul wants to know, “Timothy, would you still like to be a disciple?”

We need to realize true discipleship is not a sentimental journey of faith, but a denying of oneself to the purposes of Jesus Christ. Jesus said to His disciples, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). Jesus warns that as His disciple, we cannot expect a life free of opposition and persecution. He tells His disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33). This is not a “maybe occurrence”, but trouble is a certainty we need to be prepared for. Just as the world hated Jesus without reason (John 15:25), it will oppose those whose lives exude the presence of Christ.

In many parts of the world where there is no freedom of religion or speech, there are still Christians imprisoned and persecuted for their faith. In Paul’s case, he was scourged, beaten and imprisoned, but it was the indwelling life of Christ that was His strength and motivation to keep going. As seen throughout the history of the church, persecution has proven to expand the growth of God’s kingdom rather than diminish it.

In our western world where freedom of religion is widely accepted, the cost of discipleship comes in more covert forms of disadvantages and unfair treatments in society, within our workplaces, families and even within the church of Jesus Christ. But as Jesus also said to His disciples, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). This is the heart and soul of a true disciple. They are already on the side of victory, and with Christ as their strength, they live with eternity in mind, regardless of consequences to themselves.

PRAYER: Lord, help me commit to being a true disciple, regardless of consequences to myself. I also pray for Your peace and strength to deeply indwell the hearts of those presently being persecuted for their faith. Thank You, Lord.


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