“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Scripture Reading – II Corinthians 11:23-33
What is the purpose of your life? It should be to be useful to the Kingdom of God. A faithful disciple doesn’t love his life, but is instead willing to pay the cost of following Christ. You will only live for a short time on earth, but you will have all eternity in heaven. Being willing to die is different than wanting to die. No sane person wants to die. It’s understandable to fear death. For many people, it’s the fear of the process of dying that’s most troubling, not what happens after death. Those are two completely different things. If I’m honest, I am quite angry with Adam. Why did he have to sin so that I am now under the penalty of death? I don’t want to die. But if Adam could send a message to me, he would say: “If I had not eaten the fruit, you would have!” I want to live because God has created me for life. Sin has brought death and we are all under that penalty. If I must die, then let me die doing God’s will and obeying His commands.
Paul boldly shared the gospel, often in the face of death. Because of his testimony, Paul received 40 lashes minus one. The instrument used to scourge Paul was made of leather and consisted of three strands. At the end of these strands was a small ball with spikes. With each lash, the balls would tear away Paul’s skin. The scourging consisted of 13 lashes on the chest and 26 lashes on the back. Paul was scourged on five separate times (2 Cor. 11:24). This meant 39 strikes times three strands, times five scourgings for a total of 585 wounds on Paul’s body. You or I might have the courage to be scourged once for the gospel, because we haven’t experienced how painful it is? But how many of us would be willing to be scourged a second time or even five times! We can feel so courageous, because we have not yet faced persecution. Amazingly, Paul didn’t return home after being scourged. Rather, he continued his ministry, because he was filled with a sense of peace knowing that heaven was awaiting him when his job was done. He knew that the peace that Jesus gives doesn’t depend on his situation, but on the promises of God and Jesus’ presence with him.
Disciples cannot fulfill their calling if they consider their own well-being more important than the mission of God. Pride comes from the Devil. It destroys. When disciples focus on the worldly benefits and forget the spiritual blessings that God gives, they will no longer be faithful to the Lord’s leading in their lives. A willingness to die or self-denial means that you are not focused on yourself, but that you seek first the Kingdom of God. God will provide everything else you need. If you want to be successful in ministry and become a faithful disciple, you must deny yourself every day. This may mean that you put to death all your future goals and ambitions to follow God. Although there may be many other ministry opportunities offered to you, you need to decide to stay in the place that God has prepared for you. God never leads you into a dead end. It’s helpful to remember that your future isn’t here on earth, but in the Father’s house.
If you stop listening to Jesus’ voice and start listening to the world or Satan, your heart will be filled with worry and fear in no time. Satan is not your friend; He wants to destroy your life. The world will tempt you to throw away your future, but you need to deafen your ears to those voices that don’t come from God. Listen only to His Word, because it’s the only voice that can be trusted. Jesus’ peace comes from heaven, not from the world. The God who created you knows exactly what you need, so that you will be a good and faithful disciple. Are you at peace in your current situation?