Hardships are not necessarily a sign of God’s displeasure

The Loser’s Plan
Hardships – Part 1

Scripture Reading: Acts 14:21-25

Key Verse: Acts 14:22

…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Today’s passage of scripture describes a time when the Apostle Paul and Barnabas returned to a few towns where they had established groups of believers.  In our printed key verse for today we read the purpose of their return: “To strengthen the believers…to encourage them.”  I don’t think that surprises us; we understand the need for encouragement, but what might surprise many is what their main message said: “…that we (believers) must suffer many hardships to enter the kingdom” (vs. 22).  I can’t imagine that being the main topic of an “encouraging” message!

            The Biggest Loser TV show understands this message and makes it clear on every episode.  If the contestants are going to lose weight and become winners, they must suffer many hardships!  Why do we think it odd when we are called upon to suffer hardships?  Why do so many people in the church think hardships mean they have done something wrong and God is punishing them?

            Let’s remind ourselves of the loser’s plan in God’s kingdom: “Whoever loses his life for me (Jesus) and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).  Hardships are not a sign of God’s displeasure.  Hardships, for Christ followers, are a sign they are refusing to cave to worldly values.  We willingly struggle to stay faithful to Christ.

Father, I will not retreat!  I will not crave pleasure over pleasing you.  If I must suffer hardship for your sake, so be it!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

January 11 – The Day of Fasting for Our Worship Services

Please use some of your prayer time today to pray for the worship services, both Sunday and Wednesday evening.  The worship team feels desperate for God to come and honor their efforts with His anointing.

We will break the day of fasting at 6:00 pm.  If you put your reservation in this past weekend, join us for the Wednesday meal in the gym.

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