Summary: Jesus told us that in order to be His disciple we would have to take up our cross and follow Him. It's easy to focus on the negative consequences of being a Christian, but we should also realize that there are awesome benefits in living for Jesus Christ.
BENEFITS OF LIVING FOR JESUS
There is a price to pay for following Jesus. Jesus told us that “If any man would be my disciple he must take up his cross and follow Me.” In those days the cross indicated a huge price to pay. Many times, though, we look at the price that has to be paid and fail to realize that there are some even greater benefits to serving our Lord. I want to share with you “Four Benefits of Living for Jesus.”
Acts 7:55-60 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
1. BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD
Acts 7:55a But being full of the Holy Spirit
The Bible tells us that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to understand what the Bible is speaking of here.
** It is not speaking of:
A. Feeling the Holy Spirit working on you... This is what happens when God is drawing you to follow Him or to convict you of your sins. I imagine all of us have felt this happen.
B. Receiving the Holy Spirit.... This happens when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit comes to live in us.
** Being filled with the Spirit has to do with a person being empowered with the presence of God in such a way that is able to do the wondrous works of God.
Jesus told the disciples in Acts 1:8 “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
When a person is Filled with the Holy Spirit he becomes dynamic and confident and full of faith. It produces a feeling of euphoria and anticipation and an awe of God fills his very soul.
From time to time I have had people come up and talk to me about how they have never felt this “filling of the Holy Spirit.” This is a sad thing because this tells me that they have never stepped out in faith and served God the way He has commanded each of us to do.
You see, God pours out His Spirit on people to do His work.. You would not fill up the gas tank of an old junk car that doesn’t have a motor in it would you? It would be of no benefit.
The same is true of God; If you are unwilling to serve Him then it would be of no benefit to fill you with His Spirit.
2. SEEING THE GLORY OF GOD
Acts 7:55b he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God
The Lord did something very special for Stephen. Stephen was allowed to see the Glory of God. He was allowed to look into Heaven and view the majesty that surrounds the Heavenly Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. I believe this was a special reward for his faith and commitment to God.
**God not only promises us that we will get to behold His glory, but He also promises that we can share in that glory.
2 Timothy 4:8 Paul tells us that there is “laid up a Crown of Righteousness that the Lord will award on a special day to each of us who have loved His appearing.”
But it gets even better because Jesus promises us that we will also reign with Him
2 Tim 2:11-12 “It is a trustworthy statement: If we died with Him, then we shall also live with Him; and If we endure with Him, then we shall also reign with Him. But if we deny Him then He will deny us.”
Revelation 20:6 “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the 1st Resurrection; over these death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”