Positive reinforcement is a great tool to encourage people to continue doing what they’re doing. It rewards them for a job well done. Many companies are like mine where they give bonuses if you meet the goals the company sets for you or if you help the company meet their goals. For me, that last one comes once a year. It’s easy to forget several months in that I will be rewarded next year if I help the company achieve its goals long term. Sometimes it feels like a chore having to do the things I have to do because I forget about the reward at the end.
In II Chronicles 15, King Asa must have been feeling the same. He was the first king in a while to remember God. He got rid of most of the idols and shrines. He even removed his grandmother from the role of queen mother because of her love for idols. He also defeated armies with over three times as many men. God was blessing him, but he was starting to lose sight of the positive reinforcement that God was using to bless him for doing what he was supposed to do.
The spirit of God came on Azariah and he went to the king to deliver a message from God. In verse 7, he said, “But you must be strong and not be discouraged. The work that you do will be rewarded” (GNT). I believe God is saying that to you and I today. He wants to encourage us to continue doing the work He called us to. I know that we can feel like God has forgotten us as we focus on completing and doing the work He’s given us, but He hasn’t forgotten us. We will be rewarded.
Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.” God believes in positive reinforcement. He has given us many promises in His Word to keep doing the work even though it gets tiring and mundane. If we will continue to do what He’s called us to, we will reap a harvest and a reward. Don’t quit doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t give up. God sees what you’re doing even if others don’t. He won’t fail in delivering on His promise to you.
With one year winding down and another about to begin, I think it’s always good to look back and reflect on the previous year. Ask yourself, “What went well? What do I wish would have happened differently? What changes do I need to make to have a better year next year?” You may be able to answer the first two pretty quickly, but take your time on the third. I would even recommend fasting and prayer so that you do the right things to get the right result.
When you read the story of Esther, you find that in the first month of the year, Haman sent out a decree to kill all Jews. Her first response was that she couldn’t do anything to change the course of her fate. She opted to stay silent and do nothing out of fear. What her uncle Moredecai knew was that if she did nothing, she would reap the consequences of doing nothing. If there was going to be a change, it required her to do what she had never done. It required great risk.
If you want a greater change in your life, you’re going to have to take a great risk. You can only guess what will result from the changes you make. Esther knew this too. That’s why she didn’t do it without seeking God first and having others pray with her. In Esther 4:16, she sent word to Moredecai saying, “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die” (NLT).
She was willing to risk everything to change everything, but she wasn’t willing to do it without fasting and prayer. If you feel like a major change is needed in your life next year, let me encourage you to seek God through fasting and prayer. Ask Him what you need to risk and change so He can do the miraculous for you. Ask Him to open doors that seem shut. Then, you will have to do what Esther did and take that step of faith that God asks you to do. Esther saved her people, not just because she prayed, but because she took a risk and went before the king uninvited.
I don’t know what stepping in front of a king looks like for you, but God can reveal it to you though fasting and prayer. Hebrews 11 is a chapter that reminds us of people who stepped out in faith and risked everything. They are the ones in the Bible who trusted God above all else, and they took risks without knowing they would get the reward. Verse 6 says, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” If you will have faith and seek God, He will reward your faith.