VIDEO Rewards

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. Colossians 3:23-24

The dictionary offers two definitions for the word reward. The first is a sum of money given for the detection of a criminal. The other is an award given in return for faithful service. The second definition describes the biblical concept of our heavenly rewards. In a way we don’t fully understand, God will reward His faithful servants for their earthly lives and labor. Some of these rewards are described as crowns. The Bible talks about the Victor’s Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); the Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19); the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8); the Crown of Life (James 1:12); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4).

Perhaps the greatest possible reward in heaven will simply be the words from Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Let’s labor for His Name’s sake without becoming weary (Revelation 2:3), and trust God to richly welcome us to heaven when our earthly work is done.

Our rewards in heaven are a result of God’s crowning His own gifts. Augustine

Alistair Begg Colossians 3

Choosing Hope Over Fear

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord. Micah 7:7

I am one of millions of people worldwide who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a type of depression common in places with limited sunlight due to short winter days. When I begin to fear winter’s frozen curse will never end, I’m eager for any evidence that longer days and warmer temperatures are coming.

The first signs of spring—flowers successfully braving their way through the lingering snow—also powerfully remind me of the way God’s hope can break through even our darkest seasons. The prophet Micah confessed this even while enduring a heart-rending “winter” as the Israelites turned away from God. As Micah assessed the bleak situation, he lamented that “not one upright person” seemed to remain (Micah 7:2).

Yet, even though the situation appeared dire, the prophet refused to give up hope. He trusted that God was at work (v. 7)—even if, amid the devastation, he couldn’t yet see the evidence.

In our dark and sometimes seemingly endless “winters,” when spring doesn’t appear to be breaking through, we face the same struggle as Micah. Will we give into despair? Or will we “watch in hope for the Lord”? (v. 7).

Our hope in God is never wasted (Romans 5:5). He’s bringing a time with no more “winter”: a time with no more mourning or pain (Revelation 21:4). Until then, may we rest in Him, confessing, “My hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7).

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

Where do you find hope in dark times? In what “winter” season has God given you the hope you needed?

Heavenly Father, during difficult seasons of life, it’s easy for me to be discouraged; in those hard times, help me place my hope in You. And in every season of my life, help me share with others the peace found in life with You.

Suffering Alone

Psalm 88

When we face hard times, it’s important to remember the One who promises to be by our side. While Paul was suffering from a thorn in the flesh, God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, “I’ll take care of you.”

But Jesus doesn’t set aside a reserve of grace and assistance to help us six months from now. We get exactly what we need when we need it. He says, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Heb. 13:5 NLT). Jesus won’t break that promise, and we can find strength in Him.

We may never know why friends or loved ones forsake us in a time of need, but as painful as their abandonment may be, we can let it teach us to rest in God. Sometimes the only way we will learn to lean on the Lord is by finding that all other supports are gone.

At some point, we all experience heartache. But one thing is certain: Jesus will be standing by our side to strengthen and deliver us in our time of need. One day we’ll have the privilege of looking back over our life and seeing how He proved His faithfulness over and over again.

Must Beware!

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

In spite of the resources available to the twice-born—and in spite of assurance, order, steadfastness, a good walk that is rooted and built up in Him—it is still possible for a Christian to be plundered by the world’s crafty message. We can “fall from [our] own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17) or even lose “those things which we have wrought” (2 John 1:8).

The one who “spoils” a believer will use philosophia, a Greek word that means “fond of wisdom.” It is used only one other time, in Acts 17:18 of the philosophers on Mars Hill. Interestingly, the biblical word for “wisdom” is most often used in a negative way when referring to human wisdom. “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). Believers can be robbed of their steadfastness in Christ if they become fond of the wisdom of the world.

The spoiler also uses “vain deceit” and the “traditions of men” to plunder the believer. Jesus castigated the Pharisees because they had “made the commandment of God of none effect by [their] tradition….teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:6, 9). Paul warned Timothy that he must avoid “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

The robber will even use “the rudiments of the world.” The term “rudiment” means “to belong to a series, to be in rank” or “to come to an agreement.” Essentially, this technique is using logic to “prove” a point, securing a change of mind. We are told the world’s rudiments will “spoil” us when the logic is “not after Christ.” HMM III

Status Symbols

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man. —Revelation 1:12-13

In our time we have all kinds of status symbols in the Christian church—membership, attendance, pastoral staff, missionary offerings. But there is only one status symbol that should make a Christian congregation genuinely glad. That is to know that our Lord is present, walking in our midst!…

No matter the size of the assembly or its other attributes, our Lord wants it to be known by His presence in the midst. I would rather have His presence in the church than anything else in all the wide world….

The Christian church dares not settle for anything less than the illumination of the Holy Spirit and the presence of our divine Prophet, Priest and King in our midst. Let us never be led into the mistake that so many are making—sighing and saying, “Oh, if we only had bigger, wiser men in our pulpits! Oh, if we only had more important men in places of Christian leadership!”   JIV059-060, 063

Lord, I pray that I might never deviate from that significant thought: “I would rather have His presence in the church than anything else in all the wide world.” Amen.

Wisdom with Correct Doctrine

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. —Psalm 25:5

The old Jewish believers of pre-Christian times who gave us the (to modern Protestants little-known) books, the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus, believed that it is impossible for an impure heart to know divine truth.

For into a malicious soul wisdom will not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in.

These books, along with our familiar book of Proverbs, teach that true spiritual knowledge is the result of a visitation of heavenly wisdom, a kind of baptism of the Spirit of Truth which comes to God-fearing men.

This wisdom is always associated with righteousness and humility and is never found apart from godliness and true holiness of life. POM083-084

We need to learn that truth consists not in correct doctrine, but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. POM084

The Lord’s Loving Kindness

Psalm 103:17

It was late autumn 1969, as I climbed up to the very top of a mountain in the New Territory in Hong Kong. Below, the beautiful landscape was heavily surrounded with barbed wire. Signs everywhere warned that trespassers would meet serious consequences. This was the Berlin Wall of the Far East. The two worlds on each side of these wires had been fearfully separated for twenty years.

Before my eyes was an endless ocean of rice paddies. The grain was turning golden-brown, soon to be ready for harvest. On the muddy paths, two village boys were riding a water buffalo. Playing some game, their innocent laughter was a contrast to the armed guard in a hut, nervously watching through his binoculars to make sure no one crossed the border.

These moments flooded me with emotions. Just about 200 miles away lay the place of my birth. Twenty years ago I had voluntarily put myself in exile in pursuit of freedom. I left half my family behind at home. They, along with another 800 million people, had suffered in a cultural revolution, a manmade calamity, the most destructive in China’s 5,000-year history.

For the first time I understood the sentiment of the Jews, who once by the riverside of Babylon lamented with the psalmist, “we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).

My family was denied the privilege of leaving the country because of their Christian faith. In the meantime, thousands risked their lives against gunfire as they fled into Hong Kong.

Chinese Christians often pay a higher sacrifice to keep the faith. They are accused by the Imperialists of abandoning traditions, and most seriously, of not rendering respect to the deceased ancestors. Our family was the first to become Christians in our village, and we were publicly ridiculed by our own kinsmen. So my parents decided to move to a small town northward.

A few years later, I visited that village and sadly found that most of the villagers had died of epidemics and starvation. The place was desolate. I stood in horror and was reminded of the precious promise of God we now claimed for His providential care of our family: “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:17 NASB).

Check Yee, For My Kinsmen’s Sake