Hopefully, before you read this devotional you’ve had a chance to immerse yourself in the Gospel from the previous post—“Day 2: All In with Jesus: Diving into the Unchanging Gospel.” I hope your “all-in dive” has helped you experience some of the exhilarating freshness of the feeling of closeness and intimacy with Jesus as well as some of the clarity of what it looks like to be all in for God’s mission.
Jesus Does Not Have Good Intentions for You. He Has Plans.
Today we are going to process the reality that following Jesus involves challenges. Jesus’ love is consuming. He is involved, not aloof. Jesus doesn’t have good intentions for you. He has plans. He is committed to following through: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
When following Jesus, you will experience daily more and more dependence on him. Jesus is taking over as Shepherd of your life. He wants all of your heart. As we mature in faith we will be led intentionally by Jesus into challenges that are like crossroads. At each turn or new challenge, we will have to decide if we want to cling to our own interests or if we will bravely climb on.
One of Jesus’ disciples in the 1st century was named Paul of Tarsus. He had a radical encounter with Jesus on the desert road to Damascus. You can read about it some time in Acts 9.
Joy We Get to Discover by Following Jesus, Even When It’s Uncomfortable
Paul’s conversion from rebellion to a relationship with Jesus was pretty dramatic. The result was a completely changed life. He gave his whole heart to God and let go of his own interests. The adventure Paul experienced, as well as the passionate joy he got to experience by leading people to Jesus and planting churches all around Asia minor, is something of which I hope all of us could even taste just a little. You can see in Paul’s life that Jesus did not have good intentions for him, he had plans.
Quite a while after this encounter with Jesus, Paul wrote a letter to one of the churches he had planted in Corinth. In this part of the letter, he recounts the crazy adventures he had experienced in following Jesus. Yes, there was some suffering, but what really comes out is the joy of following Jesus—even when it’s uncomfortable:
Paul Boasts About His Sufferings
16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
Now with these great stories fresh at the forefront of our minds, let’s spend some time going through 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 for ourselves and see what we can discover.
- Make a list of all of Paul’s hardships. Imagine yourself in his sandals. How do you think you would feel if you suffered this much for Jesus?
- Being “All in with Jesus” is going to involve suffering. How is this a good thing for your relationship with Him?
- Is there any suffering for Christ that you can imagine you may experience this school year? How, specifically, by God’s grace, will you remain “All in with Jesus” even if you may suffer? List out some specific ways you can see being tested to stay the course and follow Jesus’ plan for your life:
- What are 3 things Jesus might be speaking to you from the last 3 studies in this series? Here is a refresher on the past 2 studies:
- Share your comments
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Denton’s blog was originally posted on his website as “All In with Jesus Even When It’s Uncomfortable: Day 3 (2 Corinthians 11:16-33)”