Posts Tagged ‘Reward

13
Apr
17

Rewarding Perseverance

Trials of life and hardships will inevitably come along into each of our lives. How we deal with them says quite a bit about who we are. James wrote:

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12 (NIV)

God has promised a reward for those who persevere through trials and hardships without losing faith in Him. This promise is for those who can withstand the tests that occur and who love the Lord more than anything. What or whom do you love more? Do you love your life more than you love Jesus? Do you love your things more than you love Jesus? Do you love comfort more than you love Jesus? Would you be willing to suffer for Him or to even die for Him, should persecution continue to escalate? The crown of life is a reward for perseverance no matter what. Don’t give up today no matter what comes your way. Take it one day at a time and God will give you the strength you need to press onward.
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09
Oct
15

Never Good Enough

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. — Romans 3:21-24 (NIV)

From the time we are little children, we are taught that rewards follow good behavior.  If we eat all of our peas, we will get dessert.  If we bring home good grades on our report card, we will get a dollar for each “A”.  If we clean our room, we can go out and play.  It’s a very effective system.  It doesn’t really change when we grow up, either.  If we get that project done on time, we may get a bonus.  If we drive safely, we get a discount on our auto insurance.  Our good behavior is rewarded.

The reward for Christians is not a result of our own good behavior (righteousness).  We can never be good enough to earn God’s salvation.  The sins we have committed far outweigh our good deeds.  We are not justified by our good deeds.  We are justified freely by God’s grace.  We cannot buy it.  We cannot earn it.  We cannot be good enough for it.  It is all about God’s grace applied to our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  The reward of Heaven is not for those who think they’re good enough.  It is for those who know just how bad they are and how good God is.  He sent His only Son to be our righteousness.  He was good enough and if we trust Him and accept His offer of salvation by grace through faith, we will be rewarded.

How will you live in light of God’s free gift of grace?  How can we express our appreciation and gratitude for the reward God has offered?

PRAYER: I know, Heavenly Father, that I can never be good enough to earn the free gift of salvation You have given to me.  I thank You that I don’t have to be good to be loved and forgiven.  Help me to respond to Your gracious gift by loving You and loving others.  I look forward to the reward You have prepared for us.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

08
Apr
15

The Reward of the Lord

…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. — Hebrews 12:6 (NIV)
There are three words or phrases that strike me this morning about this verse.  I preached on this subject yesterday and I used this verse as a springboard for my talk.
The first word that hits me is “impossible”.  Faith is absolutely essential to a relationship with God.  One cannot hope to possibly please God and have a relationship with Him unless one believes that God exists.  It’s more than just a mere belief in His existence.  There is an element of trust that goes along with faith.  We have to trust God for our daily bread.  We have to trust Him for our salvation.  We have to trust Him to work everything out for the best and for the good.
Secondly, “He rewards”.  We don’t think too much about the rewards of being a Christian.  What are the benefits.  I once asked one of my wife’s uncles who was in marketing about how to market the church where I was the pastor.  He said that you have to show people the benefits of going to your church.  What are the benefits?  One could say that a benefit of being a Christian is that you get to go to heaven when you die.  That’s an AWESOME benefit!  That’s true hope in Jesus!  Your sins are forgiven and you don’t have to walk around with this shameful feeling of guilt all the time.  That’s a benefit that I don’t think that we think about enough.  Jesus died to take away our sins.  Not just the sins of the past, either.  He died for ALL of our sins.  They are gone and forgotten.  As far as the east is from the west so far has God taken our sins away and removed them from us (Psalm 103:12).  Another benefit is a purposeful and meaningful life.  So many feel hopeless and they feel like their life is devoid of any real meaning or purpose.  God has sent His people on a mission!  Life for a Christian should never be the “same old, same old.”  It’s about having a real purpose and a real mission to share God’s love with everyone we meet.  Imagine looking at your life as having a mission to share God’s love everywhere you go in some tangible way every day.  You’re kind of like a secret agent of God’s love looking for ways to demonstrate His unconditional love for the world to everyone you meet.  That’s purpose!
Finally, the last phrase that strikes me is “earnestly seek”.  Jesus said that if we seek, we shall find.  If we seek after God, I believe that the greatest reward we will discover is that He reveals Himself to us.  He will gladly enter into a loving relationship with us.  If we are truly seeking  a relationship with God, He will reward us with that relationship.  What greater benefit is there than that?  The God of the universe will give you what you earnestly seek!  If you are serious about having a relationship with Him, He will answer your prayers and give you the desire of your heart: Himself.
29
Oct
13

The Hard Work Of Spiritual Growth

The Apostle Paul wrote about the need for self-discipline toward the end of 1 Corinthians 9:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

 ​ – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)​
We are a nation that is obsessed with sports.  Sports Illustrated magazine called this country “NFL Nation” a few years back.  Billions of dollars are spent on our sports teams.  From tickets to merchandise to television programming to advertising.  That doesn’t even include the outrageous salaries for some of our athletes!  I am a HUGE Green Bay Packers’ fan and I am a big fan of Aaron Rodgers.  He signed a contract in the off season for over $100 million!  Why?  Because he throws an oblong shaped ball better than pretty much anyone in the NFL (although some might argue that Peyton Manning is the best.  I disagree.  Peyton is nearing 40 and Rodgers is not yet 30 – more upside.  But here I am arguing with you about something so trivial!  Thus proving my point about our nation’s obsession with sports!).
How does a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers keep his job?  He has to train hard!  He has to work out all year long.  He has to study the film of opposing teams.  He has to practice for hours on end.  If he were to sit around lazily and not train, he would not win the prize!
Of course, the glory of a Super Bowl ring only lasts so long.  Fans get impatient and start wondering when the next championship will come (of course, Cubs fans are wondering if the next championship will come!).
For Christians, we are called to go into strict spiritual training.  Not for temporary glory, but for an eternal crown!  1 Peter 5:4 (NIV) says:

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

So what can you do to train yourself to win an eternal crown?  We have to practice self-control and self-discipline.  We need to spend time in God’s Word and in fellowship with other Christians.  We need to fast and pray and meditate on Scripture.  We cannot sit around lazily waiting to grow and mature in our faith.  Spiritual maturity requires hard work and dedication.  In the end, it will all be worth it.

1 Corinthians 9

New International Version (NIV)

Paul’s Rights as an Apostle

9 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

18
Oct
10

Never Good Enough

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. — Romans 3:21-24 (NIV)

From the time we are little children, we are taught that rewards follow good behavior.  If we eat all of our peas, we will get dessert.  If we bring home good grades on our report card, we will get a dollar for each “A”.  If we clean our room, we can go out and play.  It’s a very effective system.  It doesn’t really change when we grow up, either.  If we get that project done on time, we may get a bonus.  If we drive safely, we get a discount on our auto insurance.  Our good behavior is rewarded.

The reward for Christians is not a result of our own good behavior (righteousness).  We can never be good enough to earn God’s salvation.  The sins we have committed far outweigh our good deeds.  We are not justified by our good deeds.  We are justified freely by God’s grace.  We cannot buy it.  We cannot earn it.  We cannot be good enough for it.  It is all about God’s grace applied to our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  The reward of Heaven is not for those who think they’re good enough.  It is for those who know just how bad they are and how good God is.  He sent His only Son to be our righteousness.  He was good enough and if we trust Him and accept His offer of salvation by grace through faith, we will be rewarded.

How will you live in light of God’s free gift of grace?  How can we express our appreciation and gratitude for the reward God has offered?




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