April 8 “Reward”

Reward

God’s creation is one of cause and effect, sowing and reaping, and work and reward.
The Christ-follower does not follow Jesus without the promise of substantial reward. This is not selfishness or a less noble motivation; it is a natural desire deep within the heart God gave each of us. Jesus spoke to this eloquently. Let us hear His words today.

“…he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”

We do not follow Christ in order to be rewarded for it; we follow Him because:

  • He loves us.
  • He has called us.
  • He is worthy.

Along with these marvelous motivations, there is the promise of a rich reward, not just in the world to come, but in this life also.

Heavenly Rewards
Paul writes of life as a race. Each runner disciplines the flesh and prepares to finish the race. Unlike earthly competition where only one person gets the prize, in this race all may win a crown! He advises us to order our lives around what it takes to run the race and get the crown. New Testament writers like John the Beloved admit that the rewards of heaven are so great they cannot not be adequately described in earthly language.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be…”

We anticipate our rewards by faith in the words of the Bible:

  • I go to prepare a place for you…
  • Lay up treasures in heaven…
  • A Crown of Righteousness…
  • A Crown of Life…

We do not labor in this world for our Savior without hope of eternal reward. The promise of rewards is not our primary motivation, but these promises encourage us along the way.

Earthly Rewards
The Christ-follower does not have to wait for heaven to receive substantial rewards. Jesus mentions some ways of serving Him that are well within our reach.

  • Accepting God’s Anointed Ones. The church is built on teamwork. That means there are leaders and followers. Everyone knows that before one can be an effective leader, one has to excel at following! When we “receive” those whom God has sent to us, not only do we share their work, we share their reward. In the church all the glory goes to the Lord Jesus, the power of the work is that of the Holy Spirit, and the house itself, meaning the people of God, is the Father’s House! Work and rewards for all!
  • Cups of Cold Water. A quote from Frank Capra’s amazing film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” explains this: “just a little of everyday human kindness.” That’s what Jesus meant by sharing cups of cold water to the “little ones” we meet. No trumpet fanfares, no flashing lights, no publicity, just “everyday human kindness”—that’s what Jesus was talking about. This is within ready reach of all of us. We do these things because the need is there. We have no thought of reward but in heaven’s books, these simple deeds are recorded and never forgotten.

Receiving and Giving
In God’s economy the laws of sowing and reaping are still at work. If we sow sparingly, that is how we shall reap. If we sow bountifully, a bountiful harvest will be ours. To sow good things by working together and by unseen acts of kindness, is to reap a harvest of rewards, some here and now and others in the life to come.

Scriptures:
Matthew 10:40-42
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
1 John 3:1-3
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
James 1:12-13
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
2 Corinthians 9:6
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my heart races when I think of the heavenly rewards You have promised: seeing You, reunion with my loved ones, a life free of pain! Best of all is the thought of hearing You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in to the joys of the Lord.” May I not become weary in this work for I know that if I do not faint, I shall someday reap a harvest of reward. Move me, Lord, to faithfulness in these matters. Let me feel the needs of those around me and respond as I am able. Help me to never grow weary in this. For Your glory, Lord. Thank You for putting me on Your team! Amen.

Song:
Bringing in the Sheaves
Words: Knowles Shaw; Music: George A. Minor

1. Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves;
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

2. Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

3. Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Tho’ the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

February 9, 2017

Remembering

All Memories Are not the Same.
Some memories take up permanent residence in the heart and there is nothing, it seems, we can do to evict them. Others, perhaps memories with greater significance, seem determined to escape the confines the mind. We must regularly review and rehearse them to keep them on file.

It would be unbearable to remember everything—it would just be too much. Somewhere, lodged between all the other events, people, and words we have encountered thus far and those memories lodged too deep to expel, other memories reside so near the surface that they seem to evaporate like so much mist. Most of them do not become memories and that is a blessing.

Memories Affect the Present.
It would serve no purpose here to evaluate all the different kinds of memories each of us holds. It is broad enough to say that we remember

  • things that have happened to us,
  • things that have been said to us, and
  • things we ourselves have said or not said,
  • things we did or failed to do.

Some memories are comforting, running like pleasant movies in our head whenever we need an emotional lift. Others are so painful we must turn away from the screen in our mind, turn off the projector, or switch to some other, more pleasant narrative.

If we do not tend the pains of the past, they will visit us in the night, strange tales with characters and settings all confused and making use of bizarre symbolism to try and make us remember the causes of our pain and perhaps to do something about it.

Remembering is a function of prayer.

  • In the presence of the Lord, with His Word open before us, we deliberate re-read passages we have read for years and we remember. Along with the memory of what we heard God say long ago, we also hear new things to remember from now on.
  • When we consult the list of those who are depending on our intercession, we remember faces and voices that are dear to us and these memories add power to our prayers for them.
  • When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we recall “our sins” and “those have who have sinned against us.” It is time to search our memories for sins we have yet to repent of and to see that faces of those we are in the process of forgiving.
  • When we celebrate the Lord’s Table, we do so in remembrance of the sacrifices Jesus made for us somehow we are strengthen by His sustaining grace. In a holy reverse of memory we also anticipate the soon return of Jesus.

Remembering the Promises
Facing the challenges of everyday life, we must remember the promises of God, for sometimes events seem to be random and people are hostile. We must remember that God is faithful—He keeps His covenant!

Thanksgiving is the act of Remembering.
Thanksgiving and praise are essential parts of worship and they are the essence of remembering. Hearing ourselves rehearse the record of God’s faithfulness and calling to mind the excellence of our King and His Kingdom strengthens us for whatever might be ahead.

Remembering is a process of taking control of the mind, of selecting our thoughts, and of facing the dangers of the day ahead armed with Truth.

Scriptures:
Deuteronomy 8:11 NIV
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
Psalm 77:1-6 NKJV
I cried out to God with my voice — To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah You hold my eyelids open;I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, The years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search.

Prayers:
Lord Jesus, today I choose to remember. I remember the prophesies so ancient in origin and current in application: You came, born of a virgin, living a sinless life, showing us the Father, taking on our sins, dying on the cross, rising from the dead, ascending to heaven’s throne, sending Your Spirit to abide in us. I remember Your presence so warm in my heart as a child, so faithful in my life as a young man, so tested and true to me with my family, so near to me in this moment. I remember Your call on my life, the exciting doors You have opened, the painful ones You have closed. I remember Your name, Your cause, Your reward. Holy Spirit do not let me forget. Amen.

Song:
Standing on the Promises
Words and Music: R. Kelso Carter

1. Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring;
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain:
Standing, standing, Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing, I’m Standing on the promises of God.

2. Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the Living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain:

3. Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Refrain

4. Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
List’ning every moment to the Spirit’s call,
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved