Thief 1

Of the two thieves crucified with Jesus, one said in essence… “If you’ll get me off this cross, I’ll follow you.”  The other said in essence, “If it takes this cross for me to be with you, so be it.”

The first wanted Jesus for what he could get… the other just wanted Jesus.  Those two men are a microcosm of every one of us.  We either want Jesus for His things… OR we want Jesus.  It can’t be both.

I’ve been asking myself the last few hours… What am I willing to do, endure, and/or go through for God to be glorified?  Ask yourself that question.

Let’s see… Abram had to leave his family and live in tents for the rest of his life.  Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused, and put in prison.  Moses was exiled to Midian, wandered in the desert for 40 years, then prevented from entering the promised land.  Jonah spent three days and nights in a fish’s belly (Think about that!).  Isaiah ministered naked for three years.  Naomi had to leave her country… her husband and two sons died… return to her country poor… and it was all God’s will.

John the Baptist was put in prison and beheaded.  Paul was beaten, stoned, run out of town, whipped several times, constantly attacked, lied about, went without food, put in prison, then beheaded.  Peter was crucified upside down.

Jesus himself… God’s Son who was perfect and never sinned: His own family thought he was crazy, people tried to kill him, they ran him out of town, was constantly berated and laughed at, then was eventually beaten and killed.  And he NEVER did anything wrong or sinful!

What if  Usually preachers think the best way for God to be glorified is to have a big church… be in the top 10 in baptisms year after year… give huge amounts of money to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong… the Sunday School grow by leaps and bounds every year… give 20% of budget to the Cooperative Program… be on all kinds of boards and committees… and I could go on and on and on.  And God indeed is and can be glorified through all those!

But what if that is NOT the way God determines is the best way for Him to be glorified?  WHAT IF… For God to be most glorified in your life…

Your spouse had to endure prison, torture, and death?

Your children were used as slaves in Bangkok?

Your parents lost everything they worked for their whole life?

Your children became missionaries to Iran where they were martyred?

You lost all your friends… possessions… and health… reduced to sitting in a wheelchair in a room for the last 20 years of your life.

Could you STILL say with Habakkuk, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18  yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab 3:17-18)

As Jesus said, “If any man is willing to come after me he must deny himself… take up his cross daily… and follow me” (Luke 9:23).