Daily Devotional for Friday April 8, 2011
Paying the Price to be a Christian
Paying the price to be a Christian. I have always admired and tried to pattern my ministry after the prophets of the Old Testament. These were men of God who weren't very popular, hated by the established religious leaders, shunned by most of the people, men who couldn't' be bought, who refused to compromise their message for fame and fortune, and who understood their calling in life was to faithfully and obediently deliver the Word of God to the people.
Men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and Jonah. John the Baptist was another in that line of great prophets whose only goal in life was to faithfully serve the Lord no matter what the cost. It costs most people in the United State virtually nothing to become a Christian. Let me explain. Of course, we know Christ paid the cost for our salvation when he gave His very life on the cross. He paid in full the cost of our salvation.
However, when we accept the Lord as our Savior by faith, we literally give our lives to Him. The Bible says that we are bought with a price and that it is no longer our life any longer, that it belongs to Christ. Getting saved is literally an act of surrender where we give our very life to the Lord. We belong to Him.
The question I have for you today is how many really do that? How many people really give their lives completely and totally to the Lord? What price do you pay to be a follower of Christ? Most can't even pay the price it takes to get up on Sunday morning and go to church!
There are many places in the world where accepting the Lord is literally a death sentence. People understand that by accepting the Lord as their Savior they are possibly going to lose their life. They know going in that the price to become a follower of Christ could be their life! I wonder how many people would come forward to accept Jesus while they played "Just As I Am" knowing that accepting Christ could very possibly mean getting killed?
WE LOVE THE BENEFITS OF BECOMING A CHRISTIAN, BUT NEVER EXPECT TO HAVE TO PAY ANY PRICE FOR BEING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS!
Take a minute and read about the price many of the men who walked with Jesus paid for their faith.
1. Matthew. Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.
2. Mark. Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
3. Luke. Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
4. John. Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
5. Peter. He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
6. James the Just. The leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club. * This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
7. James the Great, Son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian
8. Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel. Was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
9. Andrew. Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: 'I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.' He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
10. Thomas. Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent
11. Jude. Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
12. Matthias. The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
13. Paul .Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
Most of the Old Testament prophets put their very lives on the line every time they spoke, "thus sayeth the Lord," since it was rarely a popular word and would upset someone. In declaring the Word of God they called out those who lived their lives in rebellion to God and His Word, which often included the political leaders of the day as well as the rich and powerful whose god was this temporal world. In declaring the Word God gave them to speak, they would call out the religious leaders of the day who were more worried about profiting off of God and living a life of ease and luxury.
I find it interesting that thousands of years later the hard Truth of the Word still calls out those who live in rebellion to God's Truth, still calls out the political leaders of the day, still calls out the rich and powerful whose god is this world, and still calls out the religious leaders of the day who have made a business of the Gospel !!!
In reading about John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophets, they didn't have buildings. They went to the people. They didn't have huge staffs, since they were servants of God, not men who were being served. They didn't have all the luxuries of the day, since their desires weren't for the things of this world but the things of God. However, I don't ever read about any of them starving to death or walking around naked or going without since God always provided what they needed, and they trusted Him each day for their provision.
John the Baptist knew that by telling King Herod the truth about taking his brother's wife he would possibly be signing his death warrant. But John wasn't worried about his life, only about obediently delivering the Word of God. I think about Stephen in Acts 7. Again, here was a true man of God not worried about his life, only delivering the Word of God faithfully and without compromise. He knew that by telling the truth to the Sanhedrin they would probably kill him. But he wasn't going to compromise or water down the Truth even if it cost him his life. As they stoned Stephen to death, Jesus rose and stood to welcome Stephen into Glory for his faithfulness!!!
I love you and care about you so much. What price do YOU pay for your faith? Most won't ever be asked to pay the ultimate price and give their life for the Lord, but my question to you today is would you? That is only a question you can answer. The fact is Jesus gave His life for you, would you be willing to give your life for Him? If you would, then what have you got to lose by speaking up for the Lord and serving Him each day? If you are willing to die for Christ, than taking the ridicule, scorn, harassment, and whatever else you may have to face for standing for and serving Christ should be easy.
In my personal life, I still remember vividly the first death threat I received after Liveprayer was about 1 month old. It stunned me. It didn't seem real. It did cause me to sit down and decide if I was really ready to possibly die for the cause of Christ. Over the past 101 months, I have received an average of 8 death threats a month. I've been told there are several fatwas issued by Muslim groups calling for my death. I don't fear death since I know where my eternal home is. I also know that as long as the Lord has work for me to do, NOTHING will happen to me. The Lord will watch over me and protect me until my work here is finished.
I will be praying for you today. Pray that you will sit down for a few minutes with the Lord and look at what price you pay to be a Christian. More important, what price are you willing to pay to be a Christian? It is a legitimate question since a huge reason we have so much apathy in the Body of Christ is there is little to no price to pay. Trust me, that is going to change very soon. Real persecution of Christians is coming to this nation, and you will have to decide one day if you really want to be called a Christian or not. Like in other parts of the world, simply being identified as a follower of Christ may cost you your very life.
This message today is to prepare you to be part of the true remnant of Christ when playing church, playing Christian will no longer cut it. We are going against a very real foe who is NOT playing games and is deadly serious about taking souls to hell. To fight such an enemy and be victorious, we have to be even more committed and willing to pay whatever the price, even if is our lives, to serve the Lord. The freedom and prosperity of the United States has made Believers here weak. That is why we have very little influence in our culture. Now it is time to rise up, take our stand for Christ, and be willing to pay whatever price we have to be called a Christian!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller