By Scott Hassett
Today's Scripture: Acts 4:3-4
Central Thought: Eternal victory is often mistaken as temporal defeat.
I love old western movies and television shows. The hero is a tall, clean-cut sheriff or a grizzled, buckskin-clad mountain man. But he is always a man of courage, integrity, and honor. The antagonist is always evil, greedy, and murderous. His henchmen roam the dusty streets of the town, spitting on the boardwalks and kicking dogs. The head villain occupies the ranch house of the pure-hearted lady, spinelessly waiting for his lackeys to finish off the hero so he can force the lady to marry him. Meanwhile, the hero has been recovering from a severe beating or bullet wound or both. In a burst of strength brought about by his love for the lady and a burning passion for justice, the hero launches a one-man attack on the town. He shoots two dozen henchmen without ever reloading his six-shooter. The evil nemesis appears, and they face off in the street. As the credits roll, the man in the black hat lies dead, and the lovely lady is nursing our hero to health and making wedding plans.
In Kingdom reality, however, victory is more often characterized by suffering and sacrifice. Jesus dies a horrible death, but the way is made for the redemption of humankind. Peter and John are thrown into prison, but five thousand souls are born into the family of God. A widow works three jobs, but her two boys finish Bible school. A pastor is beaten and imprisoned, but his underground church grows as unbelievers are won over by his grace in suffering.
Someday the Great Sheriff will appear and settle accounts with His enemy. Until then, His deputies must learn to sacrifice temporal pleasure for eternal rewards.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, our Master, help us to see the events of our lives with an eternal perspective. Help us to suffer for Jesus with grace, bringing glory to Your great Name. Accomplish your purpose in our lives as we fulfill Your purpose in our lives.
Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 1:1-53; Acts 4:1-37; Psalm 124:4-8; Proverbs 16:24