Entering the kingdom through hardship!
Scripture reading for June 22nd: Acts 14:8-28
Today’s prosperity gospel promises health, wealth and good times to those who will believe. Those who preach this false gospel take the promises of God out of context or pick the ones that sound good and ignore the rest for their own gain and to draw a crowd. They know how to use the Scriptures to their own advantage and tickle people’s ears! The record of the ministry of Jesus and the church in Acts tells the true Gospel!
Jesus preached a message of the Kingdom of God that commanded people to repent! He told his disciples that they would be blessed when they suffered hatred, insults and rejection because of Him. They would be blessed if they were poor, hungry and weeping for His sake. In fact if all men were speaking well of you, you probably were a false prophet! (Luke 6:20-26)
At Lystra, Paul was used by God to heal a crippled man who was lame from birth. Paul and Barnabas had a time with the crowd that gathered and tried to worship them. They preached to them until some Jews from Antioch and Iconium came and dragged Paul out of the city and stoned him. The disciples prayed over him and God raised him up and he went back into the city. (Acts 14:8-20)
“Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 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. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they put their trust.” (Acts 14:21b-23) These disciples were fearless, realizing that God would take care of them. They gave their lives to help God’s church and do what Jesus had commanded them. They did not experience or preach a ‘prosperity’ gospel, but lived in the power and joy of the Holy Spirit accepting hardship and persecution as part of the package.
As you read these accounts of the early church and the preaching of these first apostles and missionaries, do you think the church today is preaching the same Gospel? Are you living by the Gospel that Jesus and Paul preached? Today is a good day to repent and be filled with the Holy Spirit!