WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 27, 2022
TOPIC: WE MUST ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD THROUGH MANY TRIBULATIONS
BY T. O. BANSO
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22b New King James Version).
Paul and Barnabas were on a missionary journey, which took them to Lystra. Some Jews from Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra and mobilized the crowd against them. The crowd stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city. They thought he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. He departed the following day with Barnabas to Derbe (Acts 14:19-20).
Despite what he suffered in Lystra, Paul went ahead to preach the gospel in Derbe, making many disciples. Not giving up, he and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. They strengthened the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22b New King James Version). Please take note of this scripture. That was the word of encouragement they gave to the disciples that they visited.
The physical attack Paul suffered at Lystra and the persecution earlier at Iconium did not discourage him and Barnabas from returning there later to preach. Rather than being discouraged, they encouraged the disciples in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to continue in the faith. They told them that they must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God. Writing to Timothy, Paul mentioned the persecutions and afflictions, which happened to him at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. He said he endured the persecutions and out of them all, the Lord delivered him (2 Timothy 3:11).
Many Christians are living in countries that are as dangerous as or more dangerous than those of the early church. That was a period when believers were being killed. In Acts 12:1-4, the Bible gives a picture of how dangerous life was for the early Christians. It says, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover” (New King James Version).
Thank God, Herod couldn’t succeed with his evil machination to kill Peter. God heard the passionate cry and constant prayer of the church and sent his angel to release Peter from prison. As the leader of the early apostles, Peter’s death would have been devastating to the church.
That same period was when the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death after some from the Synagogue of the Freedmen falsely accused him of speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God. They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, arrested him and brought him to the council (Acts 7:59-60).
After preaching a powerful message during his defence, Stephen, as he was being stoned to death, called on the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit. He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Then Stephen fell asleep – he died (Acts 6:9-12).
Such has been the lot of Christians since the time of the early church. Christians may not be under serious threat in some countries, but the danger is of monstrous proportion every day in others. If they don’t face threats to their lives, they face other kinds of oppression.
While Christians must condemn unequivocally the evils in their societies, including those that are targeted at them, and continue to pray fervently, as the early church did, they must never forget this: “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22b New King James Version). The Greek word translated tribulation is thlipsis. It means “a pressing, pressing together, pressure.” The same word is used for anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation and trouble in the King James Version.
I don’t like any of these words: anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation and trouble. I wish Paul was wrong! I wish we could enter the kingdom of God without tribulations. But we must. The New King James Version doesn’t even use the singular word, tribulation. It says tribulations!
In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus promised, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life” (New King James Version). We are promised great things, but also persecutions. Persecutions are part of the package!
Christianity is not only about miracles. It also includes persecutions, tribulations, hardship, or sufferings. We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God. An unbalanced presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ today does not emphasize this. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24 New King James Version).
Peter admonished believers thus: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Peter 4:15-16 New King James Version). We must endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). According to Paul, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18)
Jesus Christ suffered. The writer of the book of Hebrews says God made the captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10b). Jesus learnt obedience by the things that He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).
In Philippians 3:10, part of the desire of the apostle Paul was to know the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, being conformed to His death. He wanted to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death. Also, the apostle Peter described himself as “a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 5:1 New King James Version).
Writing to the Jewish Christians who were living as foreigners in the lands of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia, Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:8-10 New King James Version).
If we endure hardship, we shall reign with Jesus, but if we deny Him, He will deny us. If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:12-13). These are dangerous times and things could even become more dangerous. We must encourage ourselves. We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.
Paul told the Corinthians, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation” (2 Corinthians 1:5-7 New King James Version).
He said that he rejoiced in his sufferings for the church in his body (Colossians 1:24). He also urged Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of him His prisoner, but share with him in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God (2 Timothy 1:8).
We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13 New King James Version).
As Christians, we must pray for ourselves and fellow Christians who are facing persecutions or tribulations in our different countries and all over the world. We must pray for divine protection, preservation, provision and, particularly, that they and all of us, will remain faithful to the end. Nevertheless, more than the sufferings we face, better things are waiting for us in eternity. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 New King James Version). We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and was raised on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, protect and preserve Your church amid tribulations. Lord Jesus, You said You would build Your church and the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Uphold Your church. Help Christians who are undergoing persecutions to remain faithful to the end. Help them to endure to the end and be saved. Your church shall be victorious in Jesus’ name.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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