Acts 4:41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name. Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Maybe our idea of suffering is when the Pastor preaches a long message or when someone says something behind our back in church. It is hard for us to even imagine the day to day reality of the early church. Yet there are many places in the world today where they know what being persecuted really means. On January 17th 2012 a Pastor in Southeast India was attacked while making a visit to a church member. January 2012 has seen 185 Christians killed by bombings and shootings in Northern Nigeria. On January 17th police beat and imprisoned a Pastor in Khartoum Sudan. The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. Today as we pray lets take time to weep and pray for our brothers and sisters in these places. Then we can rejoice, not because we understand, but because Jesus gives us an unimaginable joy that is full of His glory.
God is calling us to take up our cross, get His message out and to do it all with joy. When Paul tells us that God loves a cheerful giver, he wasn’t only talking about the money we put in the offering. There is a joy that happens only through really trusting God no matter what. He is really in control even when we suffer, are insulted or despised by the world around us. Lets not wait for our world to give us their approval before we begin to obey God. If Peter and John had waited then, we would still be waiting today. They never stopped, but in fact they accelerated the spreading of the message of Jesus everywhere and every day. That really is the joy that is greater than life!