Dan Starcevich

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Be Faithful

Be Faithful

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 

(Revelation 2:10b)

We are called to a lifetime of faithfulness.  This is no easy task.  There is constant pressure to act unfaithfully to Christ.  Some of the pressure comes from the world we live in.  The religious, political, and economic systems that determine how the world operates are built to coerce those faithful to Christ into being faithful to the world system instead.  Just observe what happens when someone tries to insert Biblical truth into a public discussion.  Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to use his talents to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple.  Why?  The Bible calls such unions an abomination before God.  Jack Phillips decided to be faithful.  The result?  The full weight of the state and federal legal system were brought against him.  First, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission took action.  Then the federal courts.  Finally, the Supreme Court had to decide.  Ultimately Jack Phillips prevailed.  But only after he had withstood all that could be brought against him.  Jack Phillips was faithful. 

We also face an internal pressure.  Our souls are often in conflict.  We know what the Bible says, but…. It is at this very point that internal pressure to be unfaithful begins.  Our rationality or emotion overrides the word of God and unfaithfulness results.  We know that the Bible calls us to stand up for the truth, but…I don’t want to cause a conflict.  We know that the Bible calls us to patience, but…I am just not a patient person.  We know that the Bible calls us to use our gifts in the church, but…I just don’t have time.  We know that the Bible tells us to pray for spiritual maturity, workers, the spread of the word of God, moral and doctrinal purity, but…I can’t be bothered with all that and would rather just pray for the sick.

We also are in a spiritual battle with the devil and his demons.  It is not a battle won with magic phrases like “I bind you Satan in the name of Jesus!” Rather, this is a battle won by the truth of God’s word, a righteous life, a clear understanding of the gospel, faith in the Lord, a mind set on Him, and prayer.

With the world system, our own internal desires, and demonic forces at work against us how are  we to be “faithful until death”?  Let me suggest three things.  First, entrust yourself every day to our sovereign Lord.  Before any challenge to remain faithful comes to us it first passes through the filter of God’s love.  These challenges come to strengthen us.  Embrace them as an opportunity from God to show yourself to be faithful.  

Second, don’t expect more than unfairness and unrighteousness until Jesus comes back.  If you haven’t noticed the world is not getting better, nor will it.  The Bible is clear: as time goes on and the return of the Lord draws nearer, challenges will come with even greater frequency. Be ready.

Third, be looking for Jesus’ coming.  Looking for the “blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13) has always been and always will be a great motivation to faithful living.

Humility Precedes Discipleship

But at these words he was saddened, and went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

Mark 10:22

Humility Precedes Discipleship

Success as a follower of Jesus demands different attitudes and skills than success in the world.  Consider the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22.  This guy had it all.  He had youth, wealth, and even outward goodness going for him.  When He claimed to have been perfect as far as the Mosaic Law was concerned, Jesus never contradicted Him.  In fact Jesus felt love for this young, wealthy, pious man.  I mean, who wouldn't love a guy like this?  

Yet, the success He enjoyed had a steep price.  Rather than thanking God for all that He had, His blessings had led to pride.  If we are honest we must admit how easy it is to start thinking that all we are and have is from our hard work, sacrifice, effort, and skill. That attitude, when allowed to take root, become an obstacle to discipleship.

Humility must precede discipleship.  Just as this young man would not forfeit all He had gained to follow Jesus so those who insist on hanging on to their pride also forfeit following Jesus. 

Pride can come disguised as many things.  For the young man Jesus spoke to, pride was cloaked in a multitude of possessions.  For those of us who have been part of a church pride can come covered by the shroud of a pattern of religious observance.  We can get so committed to a certain way of doing things and so content with the results  that we refuse to try something new.  The result for us, as it was with this young man, is that Jesus moves on without us.

I think God I am surrounded by people who want to set aside pride and everything else that hinders us to follow Jesus.  I pray that you too share fellowship with others who want to humble themselves and follow Him.

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