The Fine Art of Failure: Week 5 - Day 3

Opening Prayer

Jesus, open our minds and hearts to hear your word today.  Allow us to know your presence and hear your voice and give us the courage to follow you.

 

Read

2 Tim 1: 8-12 (NIV), “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. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

 

Reflect

Paul endured a lot of persecution after he became a follower of Christ.  He was able to endure it by keeping his focus on the bigger picture - on what God had called him to do and his purpose of spreading the gospel.

While we don’t endure beatings and imprisonment like Paul did, there are certainly more and more signs in our culture that Christianity is not always well regarded:

  • the teacher in New Jersey suspended for giving a student a Bible
  • the football coach in Washington placed on leave for saying a prayer on the field at the end of a game
  • the fire chief in Atlanta fired for self-publishing a book defending Christian moral teaching
  • the Marine court-martialed for pasting a Bible verse above her desk

Face it, some in our culture think we’re idiots, that we’re sheep who have been fed a line of false teaching and bought it.  Some even consider us dangerous.  While this “persecution” is not widespread today, it may become so in the future.

 

Apply

How would open persecution of Christians impact you?  Would you be ashamed of the gospel?  Would you be careful who you let know you believe in Jesus?

In John 15:20 (NIV) Jesus said, “if they persecuted me they will persecute you also.”  In today’s scripture, Paul encourages his fellow believers to join him in his suffering.  We should not consider persecution strange or even bad.  If you haven’t noticed, a lot of the gospel of Christ is upside down to our culture and that includes “goodness” in suffering.  

1 Cor 1:18 (NIV) says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”   Like Paul, if we remain aware of God's leading and purpose in our lives we can live in a courageous, meaningful way regardless of any difficulties we may face.

 

Closing Prayer

Jesus, we want to know you, but we are weak and are helpless to know you unless you reveal yourself to us.  Give us courage when we face opposition or ridicule.  Help us to keep our focus on you and your purpose for our lives.

Jesus, open our minds and hearts to hear your word today.  Allow us to know your presence and hear your voice and give us the courage to follow you.

 

 

Terry Schneider