Is He Worth It?

I was lined up at running back and the play that was called had a strong chance of coming to me. I was to run a bubble screen, and I often found myself open as a result of that route.

Sure enough, my high school six-man quarterback threw me a pass. It was slightly behind me, and I reached back and caught it with one hand. My 2 seconds of glory were quickly ended, as the middle linebacker lit me up. I was hit so hard that my chinstrap broke. You read that right. It broke. It hurt. The equipment manager told me that I would have to wait some time to get back in. I told him I was more than happy with that.

The rest of the season, the fear I had revolving around football in general was that much more pronounced. I didn’t want to play and I was thankful I wasn’t good enough to. I would turn away from the coach when he scanned the sideline to find replacements for the starters so they could get a breather.

The pain of that one play prevented me from doing anything that would put me back into that position.

My love for football wasn’t great enough for me to willingly face physical pain again.

Paul faced more than a broken chinstrap on account of Christ when he was in Philippi.

Instead, he and his fellow gospel workers were seized by a rioting crowd, stripped of their clothes, beaten, and imprisoned. You can read all about it in Acts 16. After they leave Philippi, they make it to Thessalonica and preach the gospel there.

For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our visit with you was not without result. On the contrary, after we had previously suffered and were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. – 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Wait, what?!

Paul and his fellow missionaries didn’t let the horrifying treatment they endured in Philippi prevent them to preach the gospel again.

Their love for Jesus was great enough for them to put themselves in potentially the same position again. Their love for Jesus was great enough for them to willingly face more horrifying persecution.

Stripped naked.

Beaten.

Imprisoned.

They would do it all again for their Lord and Savior.

What about you?

What about me?

I wouldn’t allow myself to step back onto a football field without being forced to.

There’s few things I would face physical pain and persecution over. That list might actually be empty on some days.

Then I read a passage like this.

My prayer is that I would count Jesus as worth it.

I don’t live in a context or culture where being stripped naked, beaten, and imprisoned is something I’ll face for Christ.

It’s a lot less violent.

But it’s still hard some days to put Jesus first.

But he’s worth it.

He’s worth it when we’re ostracized for our faith.

He’s worth it when we’re vilified or accused.

He’s worth it when we’re mocked and seen as either naive idiots or foolish.

He’s worth it.

Paul and company were willing to go through the ringer again and again.

All for the glory of their King.

May the same be said of us.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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An Eternal Hope

I have a story for you.

Once upon a time, back in my childhood days, my siblings and I were in the garage crushing some soda cans with a cool can crushing contraption, putting the crushed cans into plastic bags to be recycled.

Then my parents came in and told us that as soon as we finish, we got to go to Chuck E. Cheese! I remember the drudgery of that task was transformed into joyful anticipation. There was a spring in my step knowing that we were going to Chuck E. Cheese when we got done. Because I was so excited for what was to come, that chores did not feel like a chore at all. It’s like nothing could bring me down.

Have you ever had an experience like that? A moment when your present reality is seen in a different light due to something good that you are looking forward to? I am sure everyone has to some extent. Whether it’s just anticipation for seeing a movie over the weekend, or getting through a difficult day with ease knowing that you are going on vacation the next day.

Y’all, guess what!?

If we have trusted in Jesus, we have something indescribable to look forward to. Something that is the pinnacle of all existence. Eternity with the God who dearly loves us. Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him’ – 1 Corinthians 2:9 

I know the example I used was simplistic, but the attitude I had when I was excited to go to Chuck E. Cheese is the same attitude that we can have going through the good, bad, and ugly in life. I am not saying that every day we will be bursting with happy feelings, that’s unrealistic because the truth is, life is hard.

But we can have joy and hope knowing what God has done for us, and what He will continue to do. Even Jesus, for the joy set before him, endured the cross and its shame, and is now at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). We can faithfully persevere knowing that soon we will be with Christ where He is.

Being with Him is far greater than anything we have gone through in this life. More good news: we don’t have to wait until heaven to spend time with the Lord. He is here with us now through the Holy Spirit and He desires for us to know Him! When life is overwhelming, and we are in the depths of despair, in the mundane moments, in the moments of discouragement and heartbreak, we can fully trust that the Lord is present and working. Not only that, but we can lean into His promises laid out for us in Scripture.

Speaking of Scripture, most of us know the story of Paul in the Bible. If you don’t, just know that Paul suffered a lot for his faith in Christ. Yet he says in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Present sufferings not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Wow, that’s powerful.

Here is another passage to meditate on, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 16-18 emphasis added).

If we truly had an eternal mindset, I believe most of the stuff that bothers us in life wouldn’t affect us as much. Having an eternal mindset does not mean that we should neglect our life, pining away for eternity. No, then we would be missing the point. God is still at work, we have a purpose, we are His hands and feet here on earth while we pass through this life. When we comprehend the fact that life is short and nothing in this life will fully satisfy us apart from Christ, it frees us. It frees us from pursuing empty pleasures and seeking a life of self-indulgent behavior. We are free to serve, to give, to love holding nothing back, because we have nothing to lose! We can enjoy life, looking to bring glory to God and invite others to share in His goodness and grace.

Do things that have eternal impact. Share the Gospel. Live in freedom. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but the hope we have in Christ should motivate us towards sharing the good news and spending our lives in service of others. We can crush soda cans with joy, looking forward to Chuck E. Cheese.

 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3.

Brothers and sisters, one day we will be welcomed home and experience true life.

Until then…hold onto truth, share freely, love deeply.

– Shannon Roach

 

He’s Still On The Throne

He’s still on the throne.

throne
I know Jesus doesn’t sit on a middle-earth throne, but this sure looks cool.

A couple years ago, my mom texted me this amidst a conversation about the trials and difficulties that were present in my life at the time. Certain aspects of the world as I knew it were spiraling out of control in some ways and my mom knew just what to encourage me with. Jesus was still on the throne, even in the midst of what seemed like chaos.

The second Psalm can be a source of great encouragement when the leaders and rulers of our world are prone to evil and wickedness, and when disaster strikes our world, our country, our city, or our family.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and his Anointed One. “Let’s tear off their chains and throw their ropes off of us.” – Psalm 2:1-3

Here’s a pretty accurate illustration of the way that Jesus is treated in the minds and hearts of so many in our world. So many in our day take their stand against the Lord and his Anointed One. Now in the case of this Psalm, that Anointed One would be David. But in the case of our day, the one who holds all things together and rules over all is none other than Jesus Christ. The godly man or woman understands that they are submitting to the ultimate rule and reign of Jesus. The ungodly man or woman however is the one who sees submission to Christ as bondage and seeks to break the chains of God’s sovereign hand over their lives.

The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then he speaks to them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath: “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” – Psalm 2:4-6

This is simultaneously one of the most encouraging and fear-inducing passages in the Psalms for me. The Lord laughs at those who seek to break free of His rule and reign. He isn’t scared, intimidated, worried, or anxious when the men and women of this world seek to break free of His rule and reign. Instead He just laughs. He finds it humorous that man would strive to buck up against His rule and reign. Then his anger and wrath are felt as He reminds the wicked of this world that He has installed His King on Zion, on His holy mountain. Jesus has been enthroned. He is enthroned over the cosmos, and He should be given His rightful place on the throne in each of our lives.

I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will shatter them like pottery.” – Psalm 2:7-9

This shows us just how powerful King Jesus is. The nations are at His disposal. The very ends of the earth are under His control. He can shatter the wicked with an iron scepter, breaking them like pottery. The picture of Jesus that is all too often portrayed and presented in our culture is the Jesus that is simply a lover. A guy who sprinkles grace onto our unrepentant sins and personal brokenness, inviting us into a moment of intentional worship and transparent fellowship. While Jesus certainly is a loving Shepherd of the broken, He is also the Victorious King, the One who defeated death, evil, Satan, and every wicked scheme of the enemy. King Jesus is powerful.

So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for his anger may ignite at any moment. All who take refuge in him are happy. – Psalm 2:10-12

Servitude, humility, awe, reverence, respect. When we come to terms with who King Jesus is, that should be our response. We should come to his feet and worship Him for who He is. Instead of following our sinful desires and bucking up against His rule and reign, we should submit to King Jesus and let Him have his rightful place on the throne of our hearts and our lives. The man who is happy is the man who takes refuge in Him, the man who submits to King Jesus.

In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John were imprisoned and tried for their outspoken faith in Jesus. Upon their release they went to the community of faith and shared with everyone what they had experienced. They used this very Psalm as encouragement in the face of pronounced and intimidating persecution from the governmental and religious leaders of their day.

I do not know what you are going through today.

Maybe you are facing persecution for your faith in and submission to King Jesus.

Maybe you are facing the aftermath of terrible destruction or disaster in your life.

Maybe you are fearful of the future, and the headlines of the news get you more and more worried.

The reality of evil can’t be avoided or run from. However we don’t have to meditate or dwell on evil. We can meditate on the fact that Christ has defeated Satan.

Brother or sister in Christ, may you be encouraged that King Jesus sits on the throne. May you be strengthened in your resolve, strengthened in your faith and trust that King Jesus is not frightened by the news articles that you see on your social media accounts. Brother or sister in Christ, may you be drawn deeper into fellowship with the Powerful King Jesus.

If you’re not sure where you stand with King Jesus today, tell Him so. One thing I love about the Psalms is that they are honest, full of cries to God and raw emotions.

Ask King Jesus to help you trust Him more.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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