Mark 10:29-30

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 

Yes, there are great blessings one receives for following Jesus in today’s world, but along with the blessings are persecutions.

This Scripture reminds us that whatever you gave up to follow Jesus, you will recover. The relationships you loss, and the wealth you could have had, HE promises will be regain hundredfold in your lifetime. Plus, in the new age, you will also secure eternal life.

However, with all this you will also find yourself being persecuted.

Jesus also during HIS “sermon on the mount” dialogue encouraged HIS followers to rejoice as they are blessed for being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and great will be there reward in heaven (Matt 5:10, 12).

And again, Jesus’ also forewarned and reminded His disciples even as HE was persecuted, so will they, but people will also respond to their words as people responded to HIS words (John 15:20).

The apostle Paul reiterated this point when he wrote to his protégé Timothy that all those who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).

Persecution though comes in various forms. In the western democracies, persecution is mild compared with other countries where being a Christ follower is legally prohibited. The penalty is either severe prison time or even death.

In America, you may find yourself losing friends, business acquaintances, and possibly even family members because of your firm belief to follow Jesus. You may suffer cancel culture and be removed from social media. You may have lies, verbal insults, and character assassination thrown your way. If so, don’t be shocked. Remind yourself that Jesus instructed us to rejoice and set you sights to your eternal reward.

Most of us in America have not yet lost our lives because of our beliefs. We may have lost jobs, lost opportunities, and even lost meaningful relationships. Yet, those are replaceable. As these trials come upon us, we learn to lean on HIM and watch as HE maneuvers circumstances to build our trust in HIM as HE restores in time what was taken from us.

We forgo being bitter, angry, or frustrated. Instead, we forgive others as HE has forgiven us, and move on.

We pray for those who persecute us. We learn to love them as Christ loves us.

We step back and in sacrificial service to them expose them to the King’s way of living. This becomes our opportunity to preach the gospel without words.

Humanly speaking, you may think this is impossible. Which is probably true. But with HIM, all things are possible.

Yes, persecution hurts. But the opportunity to showcase God’s love in an ugly environment is too good to pass up. Lean on HIM when the time comes and let HIM lead you via the Holy Spirit to respond HIS way. He is always with you through the good times and bad. Let HIM lead and you follow. He will be glorified, and you will be pleased to serve your King in a meaningful way.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

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Joy within Trials

James 1:2-4, 12

 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

How does one consider trials a joyous event? 

When one loses their job, or one’s business is forced to close and one faces financial ruin, or a meaningful relationship ends, are Christ-followers supposed to rejoice?

When one’s health is broken, or one is constantly being bullied into submission, or one’s life work is hanging on the balance of being destroyed by outside destructive influences, is one to accept being a victim without hope in the situation changing for the better? 

Why would a good God allow such events occur in our life? Doesn’t HE want us to live a life of comfort and ease? Why would HE want us to temporarily suffer such pain and misfortune?

I am sure we have all asked similar questions as we face the challenges of life each and every day. Yet when one better understands God’s macro purpose for yours and mine life, the quicker one accepts the moment and places trust in HIM to move you through the process for the sake of others, yourself, and HIM.

Most often our initial reaction from such a negative event may cause temporary shock. We are in shock because of the unexpected potential negative consequences on the matter. We may then become angry at God or others for making such a destructive impact with our life at this moment in time. Somewhere in the process we will also grieve of our loss. These are all natural human responses to an ugly situation. Any of these emotional events may last for a few minutes or a few years and are necessary for healing to commence.

But as Christ-followers, during the entire ordeal, our faith in God will be tested. Either we will lean on HIM throughout the entire process, or not. If we do lay our pain at HIS feet, HE will provide us with the internal strength to remain firmly trusting HIM to lead you to work out the situation for the best long-term outcome for all parties involved.

When we continue to lean on HIM, trials will strengthen our faith in HIM. We become participants in HIS handiwork. HE is molding and shaping you and me to maximize our potential as a child of HIS. You may not see it at the moment. You may still be on an emotional roller coaster, but you are also being held in HIS grip.

HIS Spirit full of love, joy, and peace becomes more active and alive within you as you lean on HIM through the ordeal. The joy James writes about is the paradox of being a Christ-follower. Even when you are suffering, HIS joy lives in you and HE cannot stop expressing who HE is even during bad times.

However, if you do not lean on HIM during your trial, then you will feel the immense pain of living life without HIM and without hope for a better future.

As Christ-followers, we know HIS macro-plan is to prepare us for eternity. HE desires us to have the divine character of Jesus Christ fully empowered within us at all times. However, the building of this character takes time to work through the fiery circumstances, plus a willing participation on our part to complete. As we endure in HIS arms, as we firmly abide in HIM, we are being perfected into HIS image. Like the athlete, short-term pain leads to long-term gain.

We may not fully recover in this life what we loss through the trial. But we know God promises us the crown of life for our faithful endurance through our journey in this world.

Yes, we will be blessed for hanging in there to the end. Meanwhile, the short-term pain hurts, the shock and grieving are emotionally draining, and the future looks temporarily hopeless. But as we face our fears, holding unto HIM one step and one day at a time, HE is with us through the entire ordeal. As we are at our weakest moment, HE becomes our strength. HE walks with us and at times may even carry us.

And yes, during our trial everything may seem a blur. But in hindsight, when you review the matter, you will see HIS hand working out circumstances, and bringing people into your world at the proper moment to launch you closer to the end of the trial and the beginning of a new adventure.      

Bottom line: Trials are God’s opportunity to shape us into HIS image and reveal HIMSELF to others. Be steadfast. Lean on HIM. Rejoice in HIS presence. HE will lead you through the ordeal.  

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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1 Corinthians 10:13 

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Sin destroys relationships and life; and temptation is the doorway to sin. Temptation is not sin, but only the desire to commit an act which immediately or eventually leads to a destructive end result. Yet even before the sinful behavior takes place, many times the destructive attitude is already in place waiting to be released through an act of physical means.

Temptation is the circumstance you find yourself in that may consume into sin depending on how you handle the matter. Temptation is the test of your character. God knows who you are, and the outcome of the test only reveals to yourself where you stand. You either have the character to totally trust God or you do not. The outcome is your measuring bar.

The secret to avoid sin is to constantly pray beforehand that you are not led into temptation. Again, temptation is not sin, but only the test of your character. If you find yourself continually in situations repeating destructive vices, you need to change something.

Jesus recommends us to “watch and pray”; that our spirit is willing but our human flesh is weak. The Lord’s prayer even outlines we need to ask our Heavenly Father not to lead us into temptation (Matt. 6:13).

Temptation befalls all humans. It started with Adam and Eve who fell and led humanity into a broken, rebellious state of relationship with God. Jesus himself was tempted in the wilderness and came out victorious over Satan, and even today with yours truly who messed up again this morning. This time around I had to ask myself, what must I change. The answer: review what Jesus did in the wilderness.

First, he was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit knowingly to be tested.

Second, he fasted for forty days – leaving him in a physical weaken state but spiritually strong. As Paul writes in Corinthians, “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When Jesus was confronted with three different options to satisfy his desires, he replied to Satan with Scripture that reflected his faith and trust in His Father. He denied himself and trusted God will provide rather than take matters into his own hand to bring about the results he knew was his immediately rather than wait unto Him.

Though unlike Adam & Eve in the garden, Jesus had total trust in His father to bring about the results he desired without destroying the relationship with Him. After the temptation, he was ministered and physically revised to commence his public ministry.

Temptation will come to all. And all will somewhere fail. Failure though allows us to experience the grace of God and help us realize the need for a savior. We become more grateful for Jesus Christ who lived a human vicarious life for us all. He was our substitute and knows the war between the flesh and the spirit.

He knows the flesh is weak. But if weak flesh and weak spirit is the culprit, what is the solution? How about weak flesh and strong Spirit?

When our eyes are on God and we truly seek to serve Him and bring glory to Him, temptation will have minimum influence and pull. It is when we allow our carnal desires to take the lead instead of the power of the Spirit that we fail.

Real freedom comes when there is no temptation because there is no desire to satisfy selfish needs. As perfect love has no fear, perfect love also has total trust in God’s deliverance. We may suffer through the process, but endurance builds godly character. We know our eternal Coach and Trainer is with us through the entire process as the foundation for godly fruit is being built through the entire ordeal.

Escaping temptation doesn’t mean we will not suffer; but shows we will not rebel against our Maker. We will endure; and we will trust Him who loves us more than anyone. For we know when this trial is over, we will stand stronger in Him than before.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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