Reasons for Rejoicing
Recall some reasons you have to thank God today. Thank him for the freedom you enjoy in this country.
Read Acts 5:33-42
 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.  But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.  Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.  Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.  After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.  Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”  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 Messiah. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat wisdom did the teacher Gamaliel show here?
Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who spent many years in communist prisons because of his faith, once wrote in his book, If Prison Walls Could Speak: “a faith that can be destroyed by suffering is not faith.” Not only did suffering fail to destroy the apostles’ faith, they actually rejoiced that they had been counted worthy of suffering for Christ (41). I can’t help wondering what I would have done in their place. Maybe I would have simply obeyed the authorities and stopped preaching. Or maybe I would have carried on quietly, so as not to attract attention. Hopefully, I would have done as the apostles did, preaching Jesus wherever and whenever possible. I don’t know how I would have acted, but I’m pretty sure that “rejoicing” wouldn’t have been my reaction to imprisonment and flogging. It is more likely to have been self-pity and complaining, or anger, or resentment, or even pride at how like Jesus I’d become. How did the apostles manage to rejoice? Perhaps they recalled Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:11,12), that we are blessed when we are persecuted for his sake and that our reward in heaven will be great.
Pray for Christian brothers and sisters who face imprisonment and worse because of their witness for Christ.
Lord, I don’t know if my faith is as strong as I’d hope. Please help it grow day by day.
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