Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Devotional - There Is Always A Cost

Good morning my friends. I have to get these late night and early morning days under control. I see a 9 pm bedtime in my near future. We are continuing with 2 Corinthians 11.

Yesterday we were considering scripture that dealt with a big problem in our current age: liars, pretenders and deceivers. Paul had given us a couple of clues as to how to know whether a person was truly called and anointed of the Spirit or a person who had taken on something that did not belong to them. The fact is there are not too many pretenders who would be willing to suffer for the calling. Consider for a moment what Paul gave as his credentials as an Apostle:

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. vs. 23-28

He does not refer to his education or training or give letters of reference. Paul gives the evidence of a servant. He says that he loves God so much, and his people, that he was willing to go through all of this in his service to both God and man. Not many people are willing to face this level of sacrifice.

Do you realize that whatever you set your hand to do you will have to bear the cost of that thing? Everything in life requires sacrifice, from attending university to parenting. Those things that we greatly value and are moving forward to achieve carry some of the greatest sacrifices. Name the thing you want most in your life. Now think of what it requires to obtain it. Is there a sacrifice of effort? A sacrifice of wealth? A sacrifice of time? The greater the value the greater the sacrifice.

Now imagine, if things that fade away with time require such sacrifice, how much more things that have eternal value? The only difference is that we are sacrificing for other people, for their benefit and not our own. Remember the parable of the man who was looking for treasure and he found it in a field. He went away and sold all he had in order to possess that field with the treasure. He sacrificed everything he had to possess his goal. This is what we have been called to, not a life of luxury, but a life of sacrificial service. Maybe you are not there yet but it is certainly a way for you to be able to tell the difference between the fakers and the authentic of God. If the servant of the Lord is not willing to suffer in the same manner of his Lord then he is not a true servant. Every time in the Word that Paul gave his credentials as an apostle he listed the cost he was paying to be an apostle.

In a world of entertainment this is a tough concept for us to grasp, especially in the Church. It is not a matter of us manufacturing our suffering or even looking for suffering. In these things Paul listed he did not choose to go through them, they were what resulted in his service to the Lord. The attitude is like the apostles who were arrested, whipped and then released:

His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 5:40-42

They rejoiced because they were permitted to suffered due to the proclaiming of Jesus Christ. Weird attitude, right? Yet it was considered a privilege to suffer for Jesus. Paul suffered greatly because of Jesus but look at what it resulted in. Our service will naturally lead us into times of sacrifice and suffering. We will then have to decide to go on or quit. That is when we discover if people are authentic or fake. It is rare that fakers will sacrifice for something they do not truly believe. Some do but in most cases this is the testing ground of the faithful.

Not many of us will be called to sacrifice in the manner of Paul but we will be called to sacrifice and to suffer lose. As your service takes you into these times understand that people are watching you to see if what you proclaim, that you love Jesus and them, is true or not. If you are willing to lay down your life for them they will know that the love of which you speak is true. So the Spirit is revealing your true heart in these short periods of suffering. Don't give up. Don't quit. Press on and gain the credentials of a true servant of Jesus Christ.

No comments: