Following Yeshua is not for the faint hearted…

I have heard it said by many preachers that giving your life to Yeshua will make your life easier. That God will heap blessings and prosperity upon you. Unfortunately many preachers have confused blessings and prosperity with financial prosperity. What we want is rarely what we need and God is in the business of need.

I have heard pastors encourage their congregation to go into debt to tithe to the church or even to purchase a grand house, that tithing must always be money and castigate those who may come to church empty handed. I have seen the wealthy lauded and fawned over by the pastor/leadership and the difficult, questioning, poor or unpretty ignored. I have heard many times that if people are in difficulty they lack faith.

The common belief in some churches is that service has no value. I have seen the same people year after year in service in the church, cleaning, serving, arriving early, leaving late whilst others sit week after week in the pews being served. I have seen people running into arrears with their most basic bills so they can tithe to a church that continually pressures to tithe.

What all these pastors and pew sitters forget is that if it doesn’t work for someone in a prison/ refugee camp/ back alley, it is not the truth. There is so much more to God than a genie who hands out money, big houses and flash cars.

Life is often much harder after giving your life to God. You will be tested in so many ways and you will suddenly become very attractive prey to the enemy. You will be tempted, tested and tossed around as you navigate these seas.

Consider Luke 18: 18-23
“18 And a religious leader inquired of Yeshua, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”19 “Why are you calling Me good?” Yeshua said to him. “No one is good except One—that is God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.’”[a] 21 The man said, “All these I have kept since my youth.”
22 When Yeshua heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all, as much as you have, and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 23 But upon hearing these things, he became deeply distressed, for he was very rich.”

You may lose your family, your relationships, your hobbies and dreams. You will need to learn the value of the word “no” and make hard choices about where you put your money and focus. You will be ridiculed, laughed at, derided and perhaps even assaulted or worse.

You will win no kudos with God for being rich or looking good. You will only win kudos by being obedient to His will. By following him no matter what, in good times and in bad times. Sometimes you will think it is easier to go back to the old ways. That is the lure of the enemy sucking you into destruction.

It may be hard to follow Yeshua but it will be worth it. We cannot begin to imagine what God has for us. Ignore that small soft voice of direction at your peril. Someone else will be raised up to do what you did not, for make no mistake, it will happen, but you will not have been the obedient servant who did it.

People say that believers in Yeshua are soft and weak. Nothing is further than the truth. To truly follow Yeshua may be the hardest thing you have ever done. It will hone you into a sharp edged sword of truth. There will be times when you will be sad or grief stricken, or any of the myriad of emotions humans can feel. Yes, you will at times be angry or hurt or devastated. You were never promised happiness. You were never promised financial prosperity, you were never promised immunity from the free choice of others or yourself. But you were promised a deep and lasting joy that will arise in your soul. You will have the sure knowledge that the Creator of the Universe itself loves you and sees you as His child and if there were only you, Yeshua would still have gone to the cross just for you. You may feel alone at times but you will never be alone again. If you feel alone, you have turned away from God. Turn back, climb out of that pit. Run into the loving arms of Adonai, accept and cherish the great gift of salvation.

Persecution will come. It is foretold. It is certain. Today Christians are dying in their hundreds for their faith. Be encouraged by the words of James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anythi

It is recognised amongst believers that when your life is laid on the line to be a believer, your faith is very strong. Strange as it may seem to those of us in the western world, the growth of Christianity is fastest in countries where persecution is harshest. I used to think it strange that we prayed for the persecuted to be strong instead of for persecution to end, but leaders in those persecuted countries look to the softness of the western church and the lack of dedication and pray that they never stop being persecuted.But now I pray for their faith to be strong and for mine to be as strong when I too am persecuted. For we live in the end times and persecution is coming. Be strong, be faithful, develop the foundation of your faith and your strength now while you still can. Do not wait for it to be developed under fire. Be encouraged by the recounting of a conversation with her father by Corrie Ten Boom. As a child, Corrie Ten Boom’s family were active in protecting Jews during the war. Corrie asked her father one day how she would be able to be strong if she were questioned by the German soldiers. Her father reminded her that when they went on a trip she did not have a ticket because he held all the tickets and when she was asked for her ticket, her father gave it to her. He told her it would be like that, her heavenly father would give her what she needed when it was time. We too as we build our faith and develop our trust in God will be given what we need when we need it.

Have faith! Life will not suddenly be a bed or roses if we give it to Christ. We still live in a fallen world where free choice means that terrible and evil decisions can be made about our lives and ourselves. We are to be set apart from this world. Holy means to be set apart. We are to strive to be holy.

In return God will bless us with riches beyond compare. Those riches are unlikely to be money, but they will be beyond our wildest dreams. The catch….. we need to make room for those riches and may have to give away what we currently hold most dear. And that is difficult. Make the choice to follow Christ in full knowledge of this. God will spit out those who sit on the fence or are luke warm. Step forth with holy fire and the faith to use it. The weight of the cloak of God’s glory will adorn you and you will be a beacon in the spiritual realms that will attract evil as well as good. Never forget from where your gifts and fire come and God will be your shield and your comforter until you stand before Him and hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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