VIDEO Rewards Now and Forever – God’s Perspective on Spiritual Wealth

So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time … and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30

Grocery and drug stores issue reward cards that provide immediate discounts on purchases. And there is a reward credit card to suit every desire: travel discounts, airline miles, cash rebates, gas discounts, and more. Some rewards are immediate; others accumulate over time.

Jesus said a lot about rewards—again, some immediate and some long-term. In fact, He warned about the pursuit of immediate, short-term rewards, such as receiving praise from men. Instead, we should seek the rewards that come from God in eternity (Matthew 6:16-21). That is not to say that God doesn’t reward faithfulness in this life—He does. He is a rewarder of all who seek and follow Him, both now and in eternity (Hebrews 11:6).

We don’t follow Christ to be rewarded, but His grace assures us that His blessings will be ours.

Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. Augustine 

God’s Perspective on Spiritual Wealth (Mark 10:23-31)

Taught by Turkeys

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:26

Do you know what a group of turkeys is called? It’s called a rafter. Why am I writing about turkeys? Because I’ve just returned from a weekend at a mountain cabin. Each day, I marveled at the train of turkeys parading past our porch.

I’d never turkey-watched before. They scratched fiercely with spectacular talons. Then they hunted and pecked at the ground. Eating, I assume. (Since this was my first turkey-observation time, I wasn’t 100 percent positive.) The scrawny scrubs in the area didn’t look like they could sustain anything. Yet here were these turkeys, a dozen of them, all of which looked delectably plump.

Watching those well-fed turkeys brought to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus uses God’s provision for seemingly worthless birds to remind us of His care for us. If a bird’s life matters, how much more does ours? Jesus then contrasts fretting about our daily needs (vv. 27–31) with a life in which we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (v. 33), one in which we’re confident of His rich provision for our needs. Because if God can care for that rafter of wild turkeys, He can certainly look after you and me.

By:  Adam R. Holz

Reflect & Pray

Where have you seen God provide for something that you were worrying about? How might remembering and reflecting on His provision in the past help you not to be anxious in the future?

Father, sometimes I get scared. I worry. I struggle to trust. Thank You for Your care for me. Help me to remember Your provision in the past so I’m better able to trust You with future fears.

Called to Serve

Matthew 20:20-28

As believers, we seldom call ourselves “servants of Christ,” but that is exactly what the Lord tells us to be. After His disciples wrangled about who was the greatest, Jesus surprised them with a call to become a servant of all.

Christ is not just our Savior but also our Lord and Master. Just as He served His Father by caring for people, so we serve God by meeting the temporal and spiritual needs of those around us.

  • Service produces spiritual growth. God is continually transforming believers into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), but our self-centeredness often gets in the way. Serving others is one tool the Lord uses to free us of selfishness.
  • Service achieves God’s purpose for our life. The Lord has work for each of us to accomplish in our lifetime (Eph. 2:10). If we only take in and never give out, we will miss much of what He has planned for us.

As a child of God, you have a high calling that can be realized only by lowering yourself to the level of a servant. Look for opportunities today to serve someone, and take your place alongside Christ, who was the ultimate servant of all.

It’s Best To Lean on the Word

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son….These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:11, 13)

Our salvation does not find its basis in an emotional experience of the heart, although our emotional tendencies are God-given and not to be denied. Indeed, the salvation experience may be sweet and memorable, but all sorts of religions, non-religions, and cults have emotional experiences, like the Mormon’s “burning of the bosom.” But experiences alone are subjective and easily misinterpreted. Our faith should be a faith from the heart, and it should be founded on the written Word of God. The third verse of our hymn, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place,” presents this timeless truth.

My heart is leaning on the Word, the written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name, Salvation thru’ His blood.
I need no other argument, I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died, And that He died for me.

The Bible, God’s holy Word, is a book about Jesus and how God, through Jesus, deals with man. Much more could have been written: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).

And this is sufficient! Nothing else needs to be done or said or paid! Christ’s blood is enough! His Word tells us so. JDM

Always Seek God’s Remedy

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous —1 John 2:1

I wish it were possible to anoint the head of every Christian preacher so that he would never sin again while the world stands. Perhaps some would consider that a happy way to deal with the subject. But, in fact, if any person can be removed from the possibility of sin, he or she can only be some kind of a robot run by pulleys, wheels and push buttons. A person morally incapable of doing evil would be, by the same token, morally incapable of doing good. A free human will is necessary to the concept of morality. I repeat: If our wills are not free to do evil, neither are they free to do good….

But what was the sinning priest to do? Should he give up to discouragement? Should he resign himself to failure? No! There was a remedy. And what about ministers and all of God’s servants today? In a time of temptation and failure, should they simply quit? Should they write a letter of resignation and walk out, saying, “I am not an Augustine or a Wesley; therefore, I give up”? No, if they are aware of what the Word of God says, they will seek God’s remedy.   TRA074-076

Thank You, God, for Your glorious remedy! Thank You for Your love; thank You for Your grace; thank You for constant forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Amen.

On Removing the Doubts

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. —John 7:38

That every Christian can be and should be filled with the Holy Spirit would hardly seem to be a matter for debate among Christians. Yet some will argue that the Holy Spirit is not for plain Christians….

I want here boldly to assert that it is my happy belief that every Christian can have a copious outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a measure far beyond that received at conversion, and I might also say, far beyond that enjoyed by the rank and file of orthodox believers today.

It is important that we get this straight, for until doubts are removed faith is impossible. God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of the Holy Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled. POM129-130

Doubt…opens the door to Satan and he rushes in to sow tares in the wheat….But faith keeps the door of the heart; faith retains the grace and presence of God…and so the just not only shall, but do, live by faith. SAN068

The Judgment to Come

Acts 17:31 Jude 14-15

Men in all ages have agreed with men of today in one thing—that in this life rewards are not proportionate to virtue, nor punishments to vice. That this is so is self-evident. The relation between conduct and condition is unequal. All around us we may see that the good and worthy are oppressed, while the bad and unworthy flourish. So manifest is this that it often appears as though there is no judge taking account of human action, or that if there be one, he judges unjustly. There is, however, another possibility. It is this—that judgment is deferred; that there is, in fact, “a judgment to come.”

Sowing and reaping govern one another with inexorable certainty, as does everything in this life except as to doing good and doing evil. The exception has proved a terrible trial to men since the world was made. Out of those agonies has sprung a conviction that human existence does not end with the grave, but that in some other world, or in some other state, these inequalities will be rectified, the balance will be restored, and goodness will receive its fair reward, while badness will meet its proper consequences.

The Bible fully harmonizes with reason and instinct in this matter. It declares from beginning to end that thus such a thing will happen as men’s hearts have from the dawn of time either desired or feared. The first of the prophets, Enoch, only seventh from Adam, foretold it. “See,” he said, “the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone” (Jude vv. 14-15). And Paul, almost the latest of the great prophetic voices, with equal definiteness cried aloud, “For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice” (Acts 17:31). What reason and instinct demand, therefore, revelation has clearly foretold. The judgment described in the Word of God meets this universal cry of the human spirit.

Look also at the universal sentiment as to hidden wrong. Is there not in every one of us a persistent anticipation, almost amounting to an earnest expectation, that sooner or later the secret will out, and the guilty will be brought forth? Is it not almost equally a conviction that unknown good ought somehow to be rewarded? The world has had innumerable examples of unselfish devotion to the well-being of others which have found no reward in this life. Is all this to be buried in oblivion for some, while trumpeted forth for others?

The pictures in which the Bible describes the Great Assize meet, with remarkable exactitude, these very demands.

Bramwell Booth, Life and Religion

VIDEO A Tale of Two Rulers – Blasphemy of the Rich Young Ruler

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21

One of Charles Dickens’ most famous novels is A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. We can paraphrase Dickens’ title to suggest one of the Bible’s underlying themes: a tale of two rulers.

The two rulers are the Lord Jesus Christ and human beings who are born choosing self-rule as a way of life. Some people submit to the lordship of Christ; others choose to rule their own lives. Scripture gives examples of both. One was a rich young ruler whom Christ called to follow Him, but who refused. Another was Saul of Tarsus who was rich in prestige as a young Pharisee. Paul submitted himself to the lordship of Christ; he considered everything else to be worthless compared to following the Lord (Philippians 3:7).

Who rules your life? Choose today to submit yourself to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Let your life be a tale of only one Ruler.

If Christ’s lordship does not disrupt our own lordship, then the reality of our conversion must be questioned.  Charles Colson

The Blasphemy of the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-22)

Space for Me

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. Mark 3:13

He was an aging military veteran, rough-edged and given to even rougher language. One day a friend cared enough about him to inquire about his spiritual beliefs. The man’s dismissive response came quickly: “God doesn’t have space for someone like me.”

Perhaps that was just part of his “tough-guy” act, but his words couldn’t be further from the truth! God creates space especially for the rough, the guilt-ridden, and the excluded to belong and thrive in His community. This was obvious from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when He made some surprising choices for His disciples. First, He chose several fishermen from Galilee—the “wrong side of the tracks” from the perspective of those in Jerusalem. He also selected a tax collector, Matthew, whose profession included extorting from his oppressed countrymen. Then, for good measure, Jesus invited the “other” Simon—“the Zealot” (Mark 3:18).

We don’t know much about this Simon (he isn’t Simon Peter), but we do know about the Zealots. They hated traitors like Matthew, who got rich by collaborating with the despised Romans. Yet with divine irony, Jesus chose Simon along with Matthew, brought them together, and blended them into His team.

Don’t write anyone off as too “bad” for Jesus. After all, He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He has plenty of space for the tough cases—people like you and me.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

Who do you know that you think is unlikely to give their life to Jesus? How might you invite them to consider who Christ is and the space He has for them?

Dear Father, thank You that salvation is available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus.

Clothed With Power

Luke 24:44-49

The power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus referred to as “the promise of My Father” (Luke 24:49), is available to everyone who has trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation. But unfortunately, many believers neglect the Spirit’s power and try to do God’s work in their own human energy.

Consider the difference between a sedan and a race car. Both vehicles run, but what is under the hood of the race car makes it far more powerful than the sedan. This is similar to the difference between relying on ourselves and relying on the Spirit of God.

We often think that the power of the Holy Spirit is available only to pastors and missionaries, but this power is available to every believer (Eph. 1:19). It is easier to access when we are …

  • Convicted of our inadequacy. This means acknowledging we cannot do anything apart from Jesus (John 15:5).
  • Repentant. Sin short-circuits the power of the Holy Spirit, but confession and repentance maintain fellowship with God.
  • Prayerful. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf when we come to God in prayer (Rom. 8:26-27).

When we trust God to provide the stamina for the work He calls us to do, we are clothed in power. Is your confidence in yourself or in Him?