Special Blogger's Note: Your ElderBerry friend, Bill, here wanting to relate to any/all who come here - maybe today and maybe other days - to read or even meditate on what God leads me to write here in these daily devotional blogs. It's THANKSGIVING DAY; and I'm so very thankful to be reading through the entire Bible this year (still on track into the 11th month). And I'm thankful to have followers like you, who, knowing you're there, have helped to keep me accountable and motivated to <'KOKO>< , which means "to keep on keeping on in Christ!" Thanks to you, to God's willingness to give me a little more than a month more, and mostly to God's enabling grace, keeping me on track in this covenant to Him on January 1, 2010, I'm going to read/study through the entire Bible this year; and doing it will be all to God's glory. Thanks, some of you, for coming along with me. I'm so grateful for your presence. =====================
Study from God’s Word… Acts, Chapters 13 – 15 … Passage for Reflection: Acts 14: 21 - 22 … NIV Then they [Paul, revived after being stoned by offended Greek Jews on his first missionary journey to Asia-Minor, and Barnabas, traveling with Paul] … returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (in northern Syria), 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
My Journal for Today: Okay, today is Thanksgiving in this year as I read today’s chapters from Acts and, led by Dr. Smith’s devotional, highlighting a passage attributed to the teachings of both Paul and Barnabas, who were teaching Jewish and Gentile Christians on their first missionary journey to Asia Minor. And in this study, I come upon another of those perplexing doctrinal conundrums which cause us to pause to ask how much of good works, in the face of persecution or worldly, human trial, is necessary for a believer in Jesus, as The Christ, to enter the kingdom of God, which is our heaven-bound home as born-again Christians after we’ve lived out our lives here on this earth.
We know a lot as Christians; and we really learn the basics from the Bible about salvation by God’s grace, through faith, leading to good works and kingdom as we read and internalize Christ’s sermon on the mount and then Paul’s letters later to the Church. In passages like Ephesians 2: 8-10, we read that salvation only comes through receiving the free gift of God’s saving grace by faith in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sins; and then in verse 10 of that passage, we see that fully receiving this saving grace leads to the enabling/empowering and sanctifying grace of God which shapes Christians to be able to withstand the very “hardships” which Paul and Barnabas are teaching Christians about in today’s passage.
The question and the Christian conundrum though the age of the Church has always been what Dr. Smith wrote out in his devotional challenge for the day, writing, In light of Jesus’ teaching, how far do I have to go to enter the kingdom of God?” Well, let me comment on that briefly.
I KNOW that I will enter the kingdom of God upon my exit from life because first of all my commitment in faith to Christ as Savior AND LORD, is very real. I KNOW and have declared repeatedly to others that I was (and still remain) a sinner; but I’m a sinner who was saved by the blood shed by Christ on the cross; and furthermore I believe and KNOW the truth of His resurrection from the dead to show God’s power over death. And then finally, KNOWING the truth of God’s word in Romans 10: 9-13, where the process of salvation is clearly laid out, my life since I let Christ into my heart has been a process of confrontation with the world, Satan, and my own sinful flesh. But these hardships have happened with me experiencing the enabling grace given to me by God’s presence in my heart to become the “living sacrifice,” described by Paul in Romans 12: 1-2.
I believe; and I KNOW it’s true, as Paul/Barnabas taught to Christians (in the above verse) that one cannot expect to be in the kingdom of God unless the trials of life have shown the believer that he/she has the presence and power of God’s Spirit in them and working through them in order for us, as true, born-again believers, to exhibit the fruitfulness described in John 15 and Galatians 5: 22-23.
I’ll leave it to you, if you don’t know those passages I’ve referred to above, by heart, to look them up and meditate on them here at Thanksgiving; and if you are like me on this special day, you’ll be so thankful that you let God’s grace into your life so that you can be saved from your self and allowed and empowered to deal with the hardships of life. Be thankful today, my Christian friend, that you are in, and always will be in, the Kingdom of God.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, on this Thanksgiving Day, I’m so thankful that You, Lord, led me into Your Kingdom. Amen