Shepherd’s Heart – Saturday, July 14, 2018
Acts 14:22b (NASB)
22 … “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Expectations about life determine our reaction to the dynamics of life. Some believe life should be an ongoing party. They think that really living is enjoying food, fun, and fellowship. They measure life by the number of laughs they have in a day. Assumed is that life should be light and frivolous.
Others believe life is ongoing conflict. They think that really living is anticipating the next attack and defending against enemies and villains. They measure life by the number of victories they have in a day. Assumed is that life should be dark and threatening.
Today’s scripture is an interesting quote, “Through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God.” The context is Paul and Barnabas returning to churches they had begun. Their intent was to encourage the young believers assuming that they were facing oppositions and difficulties. As a statement of encouragement, this quote was their message. Notice what we learn.
First, we must accept the life of faith is a life facing tribulations. A Tribulation is a burden or pressure that causes distress or opposition to a desired purpose or plan. Tribulations load life with trouble or resistance so accomplishing our purpose is threatened. Tribulations are trouble. Tribulations are roadblocks in our way. Tribulations are resistance.
Second, we must acknowledge why tribulations occur. Tribulations are the battlefield of the kingdom of light against the kingdom of darkness. It is Satan who resists our efforts to be what the Lord wants us to be. It is Satan who wants to “rain on our parade.” It is Satan who wants us to fail. It is Satan who wants us to resign from our assignment.
Thirdly, we must know that God allows tribulations to come. His reason is not that we have deserved it. God, in allowing the two kingdoms to continue to exist and compete is a way for Him to give us options, but to prove our choice that He is the Master of our life. Like faithful love, the Christian life is proven by endurance in good times and bad.
Fourth, it should be expected that we must go through these times to enter God’s kingdom. If we never felt threat or pressure, we would never realize our need of Christ and our urgency to trust in His power instead of ours. The tribulations of life help us turn from the darkness around us and stay on the straight and narrow aimed at the light.
Finally, we should celebrate what we learn in tribulations. More than identifying the threats, tribulations identify our purpose. The degree we suffer for the cause of Christ is the degree we share in His glory. Luke, the writer of the book of “Acts” is reminding us what he has learned; the way of spiritual heroes has always been the way of the cross.
It has been said that an expectation is a premeditated resentment. Make your expectation today be that you need the Lord in your life and you know where to find Him.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” Today will have tribulations, but the Lord is the answer. Fellowship with Him in the shadow of the cross. There is where you find your victory.
Source: Dr. John A. Temple (2018)
Reprinted with permission.