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Choose Your Reward – Getting There

Choose Your Reward

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven. Luke 6:23a

Children get rewarded for selling the most cookies or wrapping paper for their school. Adults get rewarded for providing authorities with information about a crime. We get rewards for shopping at our favorite grocery store or for using a certain credit card. We are committed to the idea of rewards. We love to be rewarded!

And we aren’t the only ones. Jesus pointed out the activities of religious leaders in His day who performed religious activities in public in order to be rewarded by people with praise (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18). He pointed out to His disciples how rich people made a public show of the money they donated to the temple treasury (Mark 12:41-44). But He also clarified that being rewarded by men is not the same as being rewarded by God. If we choose to seek the rewards of man while on this earth, we won’t be rewarded by God in heaven. But if we serve God for His sake alone, we will be rewarded in heaven. Which reward would be better? Which would endure and be more meaningful?

We have a choice in our spiritual life: Seek the rewards of man or the rewards of God. We can’t receive both (Matthew 6:24).

Those who give to God only the shadow of duty can never expect from Him a real reward.  John Flavel


Getting There (3)

Where our individual desire dies and sanctified surrender lives. One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of our own individual temperament. We make our temperament and our natural desires barriers to coming to Jesus. Yet the first thing we realize when we do come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatsoever to our natural desires. We have the idea that we can dedicate our gifts to God. However, you cannot dedicate what is not yours. There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself (see Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed. The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing Well, which is a continual Source of original life. The Spirit of God is a Well of water springing up perpetually fresh. A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus. Never try to make your experience a principle for others, but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you.

If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, “Come,” then He will continue to say, “Come,” through you. You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.

Have I come to Him? Will I come now?

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him.” The Shadow of an Agony, 1166 R

 

Getting Out of Step

1 Samuel 13:5-14

Saul had everything going for him. Besides being the son of a highly respected man, he had good looks and a nice physique (1 Samuel 9:1-2). Since God chose him to lead Israel at a time when the nation had some formidable enemies, we can surmise that he was also a courageous and charismatic leader. Even the prophet Samuel was impressed and spoke admiringly at Saul’s coronation: “Surely there is no one like him among all the people” (1 Samuel 10:24).

But despite Saul’s many positive attributes, he tragically spent much of his reign out of step with God. The king’s errors in judgment were mostly due to an inflated sense of self-importance. One blunder would set off a sin-filled chain reaction, as we see in his desperate quest to kill David (chapters 18-26).

The Lord hates arrogance. When people think more highly of themselves than they should (Rom. 12:3), they stop relying upon divine guidance in making decisions. Terrible consequences result from such wrong thinking. For example, the king thought so much of himself that he ignored the law and offered a pre-battle sacrifice in Samuel’s place. Because Saul refused to submit himself to God’s command, the Lord handed the kingdom over to a man who would (1 Samuel 16:13-14).

Pride always drives a person away from God’s path. With each misstep, an arrogant man or woman wanders farther into a spiritual wilderness. Nothing of lasting value can be found in such a desolate place. But the Lord will gladly welcome back the wayward. Blessing and joy await those who walk in step with Him.

Waxing Old, like a Garment

“Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Psalm 102:25-27)

This remarkable passage, quoted also in Hebrews 1:10-12, anticipates the famous second law of thermodynamics, or law of entropy, indicating that everything in the physical universe is growing old and wearing out. God created everything in the beginning, winding it up like a great clock, so to speak. Because of sin and the curse, however, it has been running down and “perishing” ever since. Jesus also said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away” (literally “are passing away”) (Matthew 24:35).

This universal scientific law is also anticipated in Isaiah 51:6: “The earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner.” That is, the law of decay and death applies both to the earth and its inhabitants. The concept of universal evolution is clearly refuted both by Scripture and true science.

Note that our text also anticipates that, although the earth is growing old and seems about to die, it will suddenly be changed, like a garment. The old garment will be discarded and a new garment put on. Peter puts it this way: “The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:12-13).

Now, although the universe is perishing and will one day be suddenly renewed, its Creator never changes. His years will never end, and His Word and His righteousness will never pass away. HMM

“The Lord most high is terrible.”

Joshua 10:1-6, 8-14

Joshua 10:1

The name Adoni-zedec signifies Lord of righteousness, and is very similar to that of Melchisedec, who ages before was the king of Salem or Jerusalem. Adoni-zedec was therefore the successor if not the descendant of Melchizedec, and bore his name; but how frequently those who succeed to the name and position of the best of men, are themselves among the worst of characters. Grace is not inheritable. A man may entail his estate but not his piety.

Joshua 10:6

Those who join the Lord’s side are sure to have enemies, but they may rest assured that the Lord will come to the rescue.

Joshua 10:9

Joshua made a hasty forced march by night, thus shewing his resolve to defend all who were connected with Israel.

Joshua 10:11

Though the Lord fought for his people, he would only give them success when they put forth all their energies. When however they came up to their work zealously, he put forth his power in such a manner, that all the glory of the victory was manifestly seen to belong to him only. Where we do most, God does more; yea, he does all.

Joshua 10:13

The book of Jasher is lost, but the book of God is not, nor a single line of it. See how inspiration embalms all things which are recorded in it. We should never have heard the name of this book if it had not been preserved like a fly in the amber of Scripture.

Joshua 10:14

To please sceptical minds, scores of explanations of this wonderful occurrence have been laboriously elaborated, but there is no need for them and no use in them. The Almighty God can as easily stop the sun and moon as a watchmaker can alter a watch; he did do so, and how he did it is no question for us: we may rest assured he prolonged the daylight by the very wisest means. It is not ours to try and soften down miracles, but to glorify God in them. At the appearing of our greater Joshua, the sun and moon shall be confounded while he shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on his enemies.

 

How Badly Do You Want To Win Your Race?

1 Corinthians 9:24

When runners run in a race, they have one thing foremost in their mind—the finish line! It was with this thought in mind that the apostle Paul wrote and told the Corinthians, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but only one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

The word “run” is the Greek word trecho, which means to run and indicates a constant and continuous pace. This word trecho often depicted runners who ran a foot race in a huge stadium before adoring crowds of fans. In order for the runner to run successfully and finish triumphantly, every ounce of his strength and his complete attention were required. Paul had this example in mind as he wrote this verse.

Just as it takes full concentration and a stride that is paced for a runner to run a long distance, Paul now uses the word trecho to tell us that if we are going to run our race as God expects, it will require 100 percent of our attention and will mandate that we learn how to run at a constant and continuous pace. In other words, we can’t try today, stop tomorrow, and then give it another shot a week later. We must be constant and consistent. Once we are in the race, we must run ferociously. On the other hand, to stay in the race on a long-term basis, we must learn to pace ourselves so we can stay consistent and avoid wearing ourselves out!

Paul tells us that we are to run until we “obtain.” The word “obtain” is the Greek word katalambano, which is a compound of the words kata and lambano. The word kata describes something that is coming downward, and the word lambano means to take or to seize something. When compounded together into one word, it becomes katalambano—a very powerful word indeed!

For example, the word katalambano can picture someone who has found something he has searched for his entire life. Rather than lose it or pass up the opportunity to possess it, he pounces on it with all his might, latching hold of it and seizing it with joy! Or once again, this word can portray a runner who runs fiercely, using every last ounce of his energy as he strains forward toward the finish line. At last he reaches the goal and crosses the finish line. The prize is now his! He won the reward because he put his whole heart, soul, and body into obtaining it!

 

In light of the words trecho and katalambano found in this verse, First Corinthians 9:24 carries this idea:

“Don’t you know that those who compete in a foot race run with all their might and strength against the other runners, but only one wins the competition and takes the prize? In light of this, run with all the might you can muster! Go the distance, and pace yourself to make sure you have enough energy to get to the finish line, where you will finally latch hold of and possess that which you have been so passionately pursuing!”

At the end of Paul’s own life, he wrote, “I have finished my course” (2 Timothy 4:7). He triumphantly exclaimed that he had done it! His race was finished! He had given his spiritual race all he had to give; he had run with all the might he could muster; and he had run so consistently over the years that he had finished a winner! All those years of being concentrated and focused finally paid off. If Paul had approached his race with an attitude of lazy complacency, the prize would have gone to another. But because he had “run to obtain,” he obtained!

Paul looked at his divine destiny that lay before him like a runner looks at the finish line. Rather than approach his spiritual race lazily and halfheartedly, Paul did everything within his power to preach the Gospel. If it meant getting a job on the side in order to be able to preach, that’s what Paul did (Acts 18:3). If it meant becoming as a Jew in order to able to preach to the Jews, that’s what Paul did (1 Corinthians 9:20). And if it meant becoming as those without law to win those who were without law, that’s what Paul did (1 Corinthians 9:21). He became all things to all men in order that he might win some to the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Paul suffered hardship, persecution, lack, cold, hunger, nakedness, homelessness, trouble from false brethren, trouble from true brethren—in the city, in the wilderness, and even at sea. He was beaten, afflicted by persecution, and troubled by religious people. Yet Paul never lost sight of the fact that he was called of God and that he would one day account for what he did with that calling. The finish line was always before him! He kept one thing foremost in his mind and preeminent in his thinking: I must obtain the prize. I must fulfill the purpose for which I was born. I must achieve the plan of God for my life.

Likewise, if you want to achieve God’s will for your life, there isn’t room for any other attitude than one of boldness and determination to keep running toward the goal with your eyes fixed on the finish line! This alone will take you through every obstacle and attack of the enemy and ultimately bring you to the place God desires for your life.

Like Paul, you must have resolve, strength of will, determination, backbone, high morale, courage, devotedness, persistence, tenacity, and an unrelenting mindset. You must put your foot down and take your stand as a no-nonsense kind of person who puts your whole heart into your calling. Sitting around hoping for something to happen isn’t going to produce anything! You have to jump in the race, fix your eyes on the goal, and run with all your might to the finish line so you can take the prize!

It’s time for you to “take the bull by the horns” and then hold on for dear life all the way to the goal! Make the decision that you are going to run the race, go the distance, and finish first place! Only you can make this choice, so why not get started today?

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I ask You to help me become more fixed and focused on the goal You have given for my life. I don’t want to allow distractions to pull me away from Your plan any longer. I want to shut my eyes and ears to the voices that beckon me to slow down and then set my face toward the purpose for which I was born. I can only do this with the help of Your Spirit, so today I turn to You to empower me to do this and to carry it all the way through to completion!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am fixed and focused on God’s plan for my life. I have set my face like flint; I am unflinching and unstoppable in my pursuit toward the goals God has set for me. I have strength of will, determination, a strong backbone, high morale, courage, devotedness, persistence, tenacity, and an unrelenting mindset. I have put my foot down and taken my stand. I am in the race; I have fixed my eyes on the goal; and I run with all my might so I can take the prize!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. How well are you running your race of faith right now? Are you consistent, or are you on-again, off-again in the way you are pursuing God’s plan for your life?
  2. If you keep running at the pace you’re running right now, how long will it take you to get to where God wants you to be? Is it even possible to reach God’s destination for you at your present pace?
  3. What do you need to do to become more focused and less distracted? What do you need to remove from your life to help you stay on track and keep your sight fixed on the goal before you?

 

What Jesus Paid For Your Redemption

THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE TEMPTED TO TRIFLE WITH SIN, CONSIDER WHAT IT COST THE LORD JESUS TO PAY FOR YOUR REDEMPTION:

  • The disciples deserted Him and fled
  • The authorities: Condemned Him
  • Spit at Him
  • Blindfolded Him
  • Struck Him
  • Beat Him
  • Bound Him
  • Handed Him over to Pilate to be crucified
  • Accused Him
  • Flogged Him
  • Led Him away
  • In derision put a purple robe on Him
  • Mockingly called out to Him, “King of the Jews”
  • Spit on Him
  • Ridiculed Him by paying “homage” to Him
  • Led Him out to be crucified
  • Forced Him to carry the cross
  • Crucified Him
  • The Father forsook Him
  • Joseph buried Him

 

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