Acts 5:40-42 NKJV -  And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten [them], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus [as] the Christ.
In Acts 5 the apostles found themselves in a very trying situation. They had already been put into prison for preaching about Jesus. Then they were miraculously liberated by the angel of the Lord and told to go "speak the words of this life" in the temple, which led to them once again being brought before the authorities and questioned. Upon proclaiming Jesus as the Christ and confronting the council about murdering Him, the angry council was planning to kill the apostles. However, they were cautioned by Gamaliel and instead settled for beating them and commanding them to no longer teach and preach about Jesus.
This is such an interesting ordeal, but what I find most interesting is how the apostles responded to it all. For one thing, they kept obeying God and His will for them no matter what it cost them. Prison, threats, beatings, and even death were not enough to stop or silence them. Not only did they remain fiercely obedient, but they did so with startling exuberance. After narrowly escaping being killed and then being beaten, they went their way REJOICING because of the persecution. Rejoicing. This is not a reaction we're accustom to in the day in which we live. The reaction of the apostles seems odd until you realize that they were just living the teaching of Jesus.
Matthew 5:11-12 NKJV -  "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great [is] your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
My son and I were discussing the story from Acts 5 and he pointed out how the apostles probably didn't have much energy or strength left after the beating, but they used what was left to rejoice and praise God. They could have used whatever they had left to complain, throw a pity party, and question why they were living for the Lord, but they didn't. They rejoiced. They counted themselves blessed to know and serve Jesus and nothing that happened to them was going to change that. I want to live like this. I don't want to live my life with my head hung low, lamenting the bad things that happen to me, questioning God, and wondering why I'm serving Him. I want to rejoice no matter what situation I find myself in. Lord, help me to remember how blessed I am to know you and to be thankful that I can bring glory to your name even if it means that I have to suffer. This is not an easy prayer to pray, but it's the way our Lord and Savior intends for us to be living.
What are you facing? What are you going through? Do you feel beaten up? Do you feel like there's barely any life left in you? Take a cue from the apostles; lift your head, be thankful, and rejoice because YOU ARE BLESSED. It may not feel like it all the time. The blessing might feel more like a curse some days, but no matter what you're facing YOU ARE BLESSED when you suffer for His sake. Use whatever strength and life you have left to rejoice and honor God and watch how he uses your suffering to change the world around you.
You are persecuted.
You are suffering.
You are frustrated.
YOU ARE BLESSED!
Think about this scripture text in the light of today’s society:
2 Tim. 3:1-4 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;”
We live in that day and it’s a very selfish time and it’s all about us:
• What do I want?
• What do I want to own?
• What do I want to eat?
• What do I want to wear?
• What do I want others to think of me?
• What do I want to do with my time?
• What do I want?
Our days have become filled with what we want and sadly we are less concerned with what others want or need. This spirit of the world is in direct contradiction to the word of God.
Phil. 2:3-4 "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
But, I’ve got to look out for me, because if I don’t no one else is going to. But, as we are living our selfish life, is that what really matters? Are we getting out of life what we’re supposed to be getting out of life? So, what does God want? Thankfully, what God wants is not hidden, but we can find it in His Word.
2 Pet. 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Regardless of what we have wanted for our lives, God wants us to be saved from our sins and not be lost. God wants each one of us to break free from the constraints of our sinful flesh and to overcome sin’s pull on our lives. He is “not willing”. God is not going to sit idly by while sin and hell ravages our lives. In fact, God is going to do everything that He can to set us free from sins incarceration. One of the ways that He does this is found in another scripture text that shows us what God wants:
1 Cor. 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
God wants us to know that the temptations that trip people up are going to try to be active in our lives as well, but we don’t have to be taken down by them. Temptations do not have to rule over us and we can escape its pull. Don’t ever look at any child of God and say “if I could be like them I wouldn’t have the problems I have.” God wants you to know that you don’t have to be taken down by this world’s temptations. When you stop asking “what do I want” and you start searching for “what does God want”, it changes your life. John 10:10 shows us what the devil wants and what God wants, in one scripture: "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
If you follow after sin and the flesh, you’re going to get what the devil wants. The devil is more than willing:
• To steal your soul
• To kill your spirit
• To destroy your life
But, the Lord wants you to have life, and that more abundantly:
• A life without fear
• A life without regret
• A life lived to the full
• A life lived with power, purpose, and direction
I could bring you scripture on top of scripture, but let it suffice to say that “what God wants” is more for you.
God wants you to have:
• More love
• More power
• More strength
• More life
• And more eternity
Maybe it’s time to see what God wants!