Theme: Full Payment and More
This week’s lessons remind us that no matter how great the persecutions we may be called to endure as Christians, we are promised blessings, both in this age and also in the age to come.
Scripture: Mark 10:29, 30
Yesterday we looked at how Abraham would have answered if we were to ask him whether he felt cheated after he left everything to follow God’s call.  Today we continue by asking others the same.
Moses, you are another of God’s choice servants. You forsook Egypt with its pleasures and wealth to obey God in leading a nation of slaves through the desert. You died in the desert. Wouldn’t you say that you had made a bad bargain? 
Moses answers, “A bad bargain? Not at all! It is true that I left Egypt, regarding ‘disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt,’ but I did so because I was ‘looking ahead to [my] reward,’ as the author of Hebrews says (11:26). I received a great nation as my family—in addition to a natural family of my own. I saw the Promised Land and even received it by faith. Most important, I saw God, and in comparison with that blessing nothing else ever really matters.”
We’ll forget about you, David. We know what you’ll say. You’ll say that God took you from following the sheep and made you the greatest of Israel’s kings. You had many wives, children, palaces, and fields. But let’s talk to Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, Samuel, and the prophets. The Bible says that these “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised” (Heb. 11:33).
Let’s talk about Paul. Paul wrote
          Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three 
          times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was 
          shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been 
          constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger 
          from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from 
          Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; 
          and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often 
          gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone 
          without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face 
         daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:24–28). 
Does that sound like material rewards? Does that sound like homes, family, and fields in great measure? 
It is true that Paul (like the other apostles) was chosen to be a spectacle of great suffering, but even he does not call discipleship a bad bargain. While in prison he wrote, “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied” (Phil. 4:18). Not one of the apostles would ever have considered his decision to follow Christ unfortunate. 
Study Questions:

Take time this week to review the events concerning Abraham, Moses, and David.  What difficulties did they face in following God’s claim on them?  How did they handle those situations?
In addition to the passage mentioned above from 2 Corinthians 11, Paul also recounts his sufferings for Christ in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11, and in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10.  What specific examples of these descriptions can you find in the book of Acts?  What can you learn about suffering and perseverance from Paul’s example?

Application: If you are experiencing particular hardship for your obedience to Christ, ask the Lord to give you grace and encouragement to endure this for his glory and for an effective witness to the gospel.

Study Questions
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