June 4 Devotional

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, the cost of following you is indeed high. Forgive us when we try to rationalize or water down that call. Help us to have the courage to truly follow you no matter where it might lead, no matter what it might cost. In your name and for your glory. Amen. 

Scripture: Revelation 2:8-11

Journal: How are you like the church at Smyrna? How do the things said to that church speak to something in your heart or life today? How is it an encouragement to you in whatever you may be suffering these days? What is your biggest trial or tribulation right now? How is God working in and through it?

Reflection: The cost of following Jesus is high. It is easy to lose sight of that fact in the country and the culture we live in. For most of us following Jesus in America has cost us very little, especially compared to those who live in other parts of the world. It seems that our culture is much like the one of the church in Laodicea rather than Smyrna. That is probably why we can tend to be a little on the lazy and lukewarm side in our journey of faith; we have gotten far too comfortable. 

So it is a little hard for us to imagine what it would be like to get a letter from Jesus telling us, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.” That would get our attention, wouldn’t it? How would you deal with that news? What would it do within you? Would it cause you immediate distress or resolve? Would it make you determined to stand firm in the midst of the coming trial, or try to figure out how to escape or avoid it in any way you could? Would it cause your faith and trust in Jesus to be strengthened, or would it cause you to question the goodness of his heart? What if following Jesus was to cost you everything? It does you know. What is your reaction to that?

You have to wonder how the church in Smyrna received this hard and challenging word, as well as the call that followed, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” I’d like to believe that they handled it with all of the courage and resolve that Jesus hoped they would, realizing that this world was not their home, but only a temporary stop on the road to eternity. Realizing that their life was not about them, but about God’s Kingdom and his glory. Resolving that no cost was too great to pay because of their immense love for their Lord and Savior, Jesus.

What about us? How have we somehow escaped the notion that following Jesus costs us everything? What has following Jesus cost you lately? How have you responded to that? Are you willing to give everything to him the way the church in Smyrna was being called to?

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Joe and Cindy Platillero proclaim the transforming presence of Jesus Christ through Biblical teaching and practical training to all who come through their doors. Their main ministry is through the Torchbearer Center where they have camps, conferences, and a small Bible School during the winter. Pray for them today as they focus on the local church and the church throughout Europe. 

Core Leadership is a ministry of spiritual formation and leadership development. Its mission is to help strengthen and encourage the life of leaders, in the Knoxville area and beyond, by the means of spiritual nurture and leadership development. Jim Branch is the director of Core Leadership and is actively involved in the lives of people all over the city of Knoxville and beyond, as well as being active in the Powell community, where he lives. Pray for Jim today and the people that he is reaching with this ministry.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you are the first and last, who died and came to life again. Give us the strength and the courage to be faithful to you in all things. Amen.