Listen to this devotional:
Acts 12:1 – It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. (NIV)
Over the holidays, I watched a television program on the History Channel called "The First Christians". It was all about the origins of our faith and how Christ's devoted followers suffered for their beliefs. It was such an interesting program that I'm in the process of developing a five-week series on the subject for our church's Monday night Bible study.
I'm always amazed at how much pain, suffering, and injustice that the first Christians experienced and endured. They truly believed in Christ, and most were willing to give up their lives for Him. When I think about how much we modern-day Christians take for granted about our faith, it makes me wonder if Christianity would ever have overtaken the Roman Empire if we had been given the opportunity. We tend to get upset over non-issues of faith, which does nothing for our witness to the world. The first Christians, however, seemed to understand what was important, and they staked their lives on those crucial matters of faith.
As we head into 2009, perhaps instead of making New Year's resolutions that never last, we should work on those essential parts of our faith that are everlasting. We should make more time to study God's Word and the history of Christianity. We should put more of our lives into worshipping God and serving Christ. We should prioritize our faith and seek God's guidance for the life-changing decisions that we may make during this coming year. If we set out to put God's kingdom first in our hearts, then we will find our lives being transformed and made more meaningful by God's Spirit within us.
Perhaps then, we will have a faith worth living and dying for. Perhaps then, we will encounter and experience that incredible joy and strength that the first Christians discovered in devoting their lives to Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we want to be good Christians, with a faith that empowers our lives. Help us to make this New Year a special crossroads in our lives, when we can be reborn and rededicate our hearts to You. In Your holy name, we fervently pray. Amen.