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"Strange Gifts"


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    "Strange Gifts"

    "Strange Gifts"

    Mark 10:28-30 - Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left everything and followed You." Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life."

    This is a strange passage. At first glance, it sounds like the prosperity Gospel of preachers on TV, the ones who say, "Send me a hundred dollars, and you will see God return it to you a thousand times over!"

    "Yeah, right," we say. And besides, who needs a hundred houses or brothers or sisters and so on?

    Then Jesus slips in a dissonant note; he adds, "with persecutions," and suddenly our view is turned upside down. Persecutions, really? These are some of the good things we can look forward to if we give our lives to serving Jesus? Well, thanks a lot!

    Jesus is very serious about what He's saying -- both the "good" gifts, and the persecutions. The persecutions are pretty straightforward. Daily, we see that living as a Christian results in suffering and trouble. Some Christians face arrest, beatings, bombing, and death for their faith. Others of us face different kinds of suffering that are far less vivid but still very real. We may have trouble at work because we won't cut corners or break laws when asked to do so. We may lose relationships with a spouse or child or friend who finds our faith an annoyance and a disturbance in their lives.

    We may even end up caring for others who are going through their own suffering, which might be why Jesus promised us "a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands." Yes, indeed, God will send you any number of new brothers and sisters, all needing care, all needing to know God's love through you. They will come into your life together with all that belongs to them -- children and parents and houses and land as well -- and you get to care for them all! Truly, you will have more family than you know what to do with -- if you follow Jesus.

    Because, of course, this is exactly what happened to Him. He left His home in heaven to suffer persecution and death on a cross, and to rise again. Now He makes His home in our hearts as well as at the right hand of the Father. As for new family, well -- at last count, Jesus has adopted several billion human beings as part of God's family, all of them needing His love and care. No wonder He can make this promise. He speaks from experience. It has happened to Him.

    PRAYER: Dear Lord, You fulfill Your promises in strange and unexpected ways. Live in me and through me so that I receive Your odd gifts with both patience and joy. Amen.
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