Thursday, June 19, 2014

Joy - in spite of troubles

The conversion of the man formerly known as Saul - you know him as the apostle Paul - is one of the most amazing in all of Scripture.  On the Damascus Road the risen Christ changed Saul's life.  Before that miraculous moment of grace, Saul preached "murderous threats against the Lord's disciples."  (Acts 9:1).  After being cared for by the disciples, Acts 9:20 reports that, "At once he (Saul) began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God."  Saul had been saved by grace.  His heart is now filled with joy.  He gladly and eagerly testifies that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father.

Not everyone shared in his joy.  In Acts 9:23 we read, "After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him (Saul)."  And in 9:29, "He (Saul) talked and debated with the Grecian Jews but they tried to kill him."

Unfortunately, the world doesn't always share in the joy of a heart who has embraced the gracious invitation of Jesus to "Follow me!"  You might know of individuals who have received the gifts of forgiveness and salvation in Christ, and, in turn, have been shunned by family members...have been persecuted by co-workers...have been excluded from participating in neighborhood or other activities.  Have you ever suffered persecution for following Christ Jesus?

Becoming a Christian does not guarantee a problem-free, stress-free life.  In fact, we might experience what it means to suffer as our Savior God suffered.  Jesus taught, "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world."  Jesus has overcome every trial, every temptation that you might ever face.  The cross and empty tomb give testimony of His victory over sin and evil.  His victory is ours.  We believe in our Savior.  He give abundant life, eternal life.  The Lord changed Saul's life.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is forming and shaping your life.  Keep on trusting and following Christ Jesus.  He will give you great, great joy - no matter how difficult life might be.  Trust Him!