Tag Archives: christian living

God’s Rewards For You

Years ago I owned a childcare center. There were times when the classes would get chaotic (keeping 20 two year olds behaving all day is hard work). The most effective way to quiet them and get them todo what you wanted was through positive reinforcement. The teacher would find someone doing what they wanted and say, “Oh I love how Tarissa is sitting!” Suddenly another kid would do what she was doing in order to be recognized. If you really wanted results, you’d praise her with words and give her a reward for obeying. In no time flat, all the kids would start mimicking her behavior so they could be recognized and receive a reward.

So many times, we think of God as someone who is up there waiting to punish us for doing wrong. I believe He’s more like a patient teacher who uses positive reinforcement to help us down the paths He has for us. There are rewards and blessings that He has for those who obey His Word. Yes, there are consequences for disobedience, but God motivates us through rewards. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate being rewarded for doing what’s expected.

Here are some Bible verses on the rewards God has for us.

1. And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who passionately seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 TPT

2. For God will reward each of us according to what we have done.

Romans 2:6 GNT

3. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:9 NLT

4. Watch yourselves, so that you do not lose what we have accomplished together, but that you may receive a full and perfect reward [when He grants rewards to faithful believers].

2 JOHN 1:8 AMP

5. Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

James 1:12 MSG

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An Open Hand

To me, one of the most challenging things God has spoken to anyone in Scripture is in Genesis 12:1. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you’” (NLT). He was 75 years old at the time. He was well established, and yet God asked him to pack everything up and go to a destination that would be shown to him at a later time. His faith in action is inspiring to me. The Bible later says that his faith was counted at righteousness. That’s a faith we should all aspire to have.

Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus spoke something very similar to all of us. In Luke 14:31 Jesus said, “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Every one of us who follows Christ is given the same call that went out to Abram. I believe it’s God’s reminder to us that this place is not our home. Everything we have here is temporary and we can’t take it with us. We must be willing to let go of earthly things so we can receive from God the spiritual things that matter for eternity.

My wife and i try to keep an open hand for the things we have. When your hands are open to God, He can place things in them and take things out of them whenever He wants. Faith is trusting God with all you have and with the direction of your life. You may not get to know the destination. You may he asked to walk away from everything that’s familiar to you. God’s greatest blessings are stored up for those who are willing to give God whatever He asks for and for those who follow Him wherever He leads. What are you willing to let go of should God ask for it? Pray that God would help you keep an open hand and heart.

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Spiritual Resolutions

As we close the door on one year and open the door to another, I think it’s good to have a spiritual resolution for the new year as well. I believe Philippians 4:4-8 provides us with some great things we should resolve to do not just in the coming year, but throughout our life. Verse 4 says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (NLT) In 2019, don’t let anything steal your joy. Joy shouldn’t be based on your circumstances, and it’s where you get your strength from. Trust in what God is doing and stay joyful.

Verse 6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Refuse to let worry have a foothold in your life. It uses today’s strength for tomorrow’s problems. Turn your worry into prayer. Let the The things you can’t control push you closer to the One who can control them. Prayer changes our perspective and helps us to let go of the burdens that are too heavy for us to bear. Put them in God’s hands and take His burden which is light.

Verse 7 says, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Having peace in your heart, your mind and in your life is a wonderful thing. We were not created to live in turmoil. When we learn to trust a God with our decisions and with the things in our life that we can’t control, we can have God’s peace. Let His peace guide you in the coming year so that you operate in His will for your life.

Finally verse 8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Choose what to think about. Your thoughts are powerful and determine the direction of your life. Don’t dwell on what could be, but focus on what is true. One true thing I focus on is that God is in control, and nothing that happens in my life is a surprise to Him. 2019 is already history to God. Resolve to make it the year that you trust Him completely and you will experience joy, peace and faith.

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Being Transformed

When i was a kid, one of my favorite toys were Transformers. I loved being able to turn them from robots to cars. I always thought they were clever in how they designed them so that when it was a car, you couldn’t tell it was also a robot. It reminds me of how God is in the business of transforming our lives. Where we see one thing, He sees the potential for another. He is not content to leave us like we are. Our lives were created to be transformed through His Son. In order for that to happen, we have to submit to the changes He wants to make.

Too many times we are wrapped up in our past and who we’ve been that it’s difficult for us to allow Him to transform our lives. Our past prepares us for the future He’s created for us, but we have to be willing to change for that to happen. We can’t allow the pain of the past to prevent us from becoming who we were made to be. We are His workmanship which means He’s not finished with your life. He is continually working on us because He still sees in us the potential to use our lives. In your prayer time today, submit to the transformation He wants to make in your life.

Here are some Bible verses on transformation.

1. And said to them, “Come follow me and I will transform you into men who catch people instead of fish!”

Mark 1:17 TPT

2. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 NLT

3. “On that great day,” GOD says, “I will round up all the hurt and homeless, everyone I have bruised or banished. I will transform the battered into a company of the elite. I will make a strong nation out of the long lost, A showcase exhibit of GOD ’s rule in action, as I rule from Mount Zion, from here to eternity.”

Micah 4:6-7 MSG

4. All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18 GNT

5. This means that God is transforming each one of you into the Holy of Holies, his dwelling place, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!

Ephesians 2:22 TPT

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Broken Vessel

I was listening to Tullian Tchividjian speak about the disciples that Jesus chose. He mentioned that Jesus didn’t choose religious or wealthy men. He chose men who had nothing to bring to the table. He also said that God doesn’t need perfect vessels to carry out His will, He needs broken ones. There’s a lot in just those few statements that speaks to me. I think that the 12 men whom He chose to give His life changing message to says a lot about who God is and what He sees in people.

When Jesus chose the disciples, He pretty much walked up to them and said, “Come follow me.” They didn’t ask Him who He was. They didn’t say, “Let me finish doing this task.” They didn’t ask to go say goodbye to family and friends. They dropped what they were doing, left family and friends to follow Jesus. They were chosen because their attitudes were the type that was willing to do whatever God asked without worrying about everything else that typically stops us from doing His will.

These men were not perfect either. Peter had a big mouth. Thomas was a skeptic. Judas was self righteous. Matthew was a tax collector who had cheated people. The list goes on. God does not choose people to carry out His will based on what they offer. He chooses people based on their inabilities. If we could do everything He asked on our own, where would faith come in? If we were confident enough to say what He tells us to say, we would think we were doing it in our own strength. If we had the credentials and expertise, pride would swell up in us. Instead, He finds broken and chipped vessels to put together to do His will so He can get the glory.

Have you limited yourself in what you feel God has called you to do because you don’t have the skills or ability? Have you thought God wanted you to do something that was over your head but turned Him down because you couldn’t do that on your own? You don’t have to have a degree in Public Speaking to share what God has done for you. You don’t have to have a Masters in Anthropology to help the needy. You don’t have to have a Doctorate in Theology to discuss with others what you found in God’s Word. You simply have to be a vessel that’s been broken and ready to use by Him for His purpose and His glory. He will give you all you need to be successful in your calling.

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Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Being Quiet

I’ve noticed that when people are nervous, there are those who get real quiet and those who ramble on. I find myself in the later group a lot of times. For me, talking helps me to figure out what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. It helps me to sort out the problem, but it also keeps me from listening to good advice and can make others around me more nervous. I was once told, “You have two ears and one mouth. You need to listen twice as much as you speak.” That’s something I have to remind myself of quite often.

When it comes to prayer, I can find myself in the same boat. From the time we are young, we learn that prayer is talking to God. What we’re not taught is that it’s listening to God as well. I think God talks as much or more than we do, but we can’t hear Him over our own talking. Being quiet in the presence of the Lord requires discipline. You have to learn to shut down your mouth and your mind. The silence can be deafening at times, but it’s in those moments where we hear God the loudest.

Psalm 37:7 says, “Quiet your heart in his presence and pray; keep hope alive as you long for God to come through for you” (TPT). Many times there is a nervousness that God may not answer our greatest need. If you’re a talker, quiet your mouth. If you’re the quiet type, silence your mind. God doesn’t answer our prayers on our timetable. If we’re listening to what He says, and trust that what He does is always right and for our good, we can have hope in any situation. God is good all the time, and He sees beyond our most pressing need at the moment. Get quiet and still in His presence today, listen for His voice and give Him freedom to answer His way instead of yours.

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The Biggest Gift

A big part of the stress of Christmas is buying gifts. How much should you spend? What do they want? Will I find parking at the mall? Will it be sold out? Will they love it? What if they return it? All these questions create stress in purchasing gifts. Multiply that by how many people are on your list and there in lies the level of your stress. Some people try to avoid all that stress by purchasing everything online. There’s also a stress with that. Will it look like the picture? Will it get here in time? How do you return it if you have to? There are so many things to worry about.

There’s a story in Luke 21 about a widow giving a gift. She might have been stressed too. As she stood in the temple and waited to bring her gift to God, several others made a show about their gifts. Verse one says that Jesus watched as the rich people dropped their gifts in the collection box. I’m sure she was watching too. As others dropped off their bags of money, she stood there with two little coins. She could have been wondering, “Is this enough? It’s nothing compared to the gifts they’re bringing in.” When the time seemed right, she went and gave her small gift to God.

Jesus was still watching when she did. He turned to the others around him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.” Her tiny gift meant more to God than the extravagant gifts that others brought. Why? Because it was from her heart. She knew that it’s not the size of the gift or the amount of the gift that matters. She knew that even though she didn’t have much, what she had belonged to God. She gave Him what He had given her. Everything. She wasn’t content to give a fraction of what she had because God hadn’t given her a fraction of what He had. She gave everything she had.

When it comes to giving gifts, it’s not the price tag that matters. When it comes to giving to God, it’s not the amount that matters. What matters to God and others is if it comes from the heart. Anyone can give from their surplus. Anyone can give a gift in order to gain the praise of people. It takes a special person to give a gift that matters. It takes a person who isn’t intimidated by the show that others make of their giving to step out and give a gift that matters. Jesus is watching and sees it all. He sees beyond the external side of giving gifts and looks into the heart. He doesn’t measure gifts by the amount, He measures them by the attitude.

This Christmas season, don’t stress over the things that really don’t matter. You should live your life to please an audience of one. Giving gifts is meant to be a joyous occasion. Since the very beginning, God has been a giver. If you look at how God gives and what He looks for in givers, it’s not about excess. He’s never been impressed by that. He is always impressed with those who give from their hearts and who give their all. Don’t be ashamed that your gifts may not be as extravagant as what other people give. Give anyway. The smallest gift is often the biggest gift to God.

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Each year, I take a one week sabbatical from writing to refresh and to spend time with my family. Each devotion this week will be a past favorite. Enjoy and I’ll see you next week.

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