Archive for the ‘promises’ Category
Doctors are always telling us how to be healthier. They say if we want to live a healthy life we need to eat the right kind of food. They also tell us that to be healthy we need to get the right amount of exercise. But something else that they talk about that is very important is that if we want to be healthier we need to be happier. That’s because being healthy has a lot to do with your mental outlook on life.
But what we’re going to talk about today is much better than happiness. Today we’re going to look at the fruit of the Spirit called, “Joy.”
There’s a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends upon happenings. Happiness is external; joy is internal. Happiness is based on circumstances; joy is based on Christ. Happiness is based on chance; joy is based on your choice.
Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
How many of you are glad to be alive? How many of you are glad to be forgiven? How many of you are glad you are a Christian? How many of you are glad to have a home up in heaven? You need to inform your face! Before joy can be expressed on some people’ faces, they’re going to have to have God give them a face lift.
As God’s people we ought to be the most joyful people on the face of the earth. Yet it seems as though many of God’s people walk around with frowns and scowls on their faces these days, rather than grins and smiles.
What are some of the things that can fill us with joy? Let’s look at five things that God does for us that can fill us with joy.
1. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S LOVE
Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. (NIV)
What is it about God’s love that should fill us with joy? Knowing that God cares about what I am going through should fill me with joy. David said that God sees my affliction and knows the anguish of my soul. God knows what you’re going through and He cares!
Job 36:5 Although God is mighty, he cares about everyone… (CEV)
1 Peter 5:7 God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. (CEV)
2. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S SALVATION
Luke 10:17, 20 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” …20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (NIV)
The disciples were filled with joy because the demons were subject to them. But Jesus told them to rejoice because “your names are written in Heaven.”
Knowing that we are forgiven of our sins and have a home up in heaven should give us great joy.
1 Peter 1:8 You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. (NCV)
Some today have lost the joy that they once had in their salvation. Instead of being full of joy, they are full of grief and sadness.
Psalm 32:3, 5 There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was.* But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration… 5 until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (LB)
Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior you will then experience God’s joy in your life.
3. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S WORD
Jeremiah 15:16 When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.
As God’s people, when we hear the Word of God taught and preached, or when we are just read it and study it on our own, it ought to fill us with joy. The very reason why the Bible was written was so we could have joy.
1 John 1:4 We write this to make our joy complete. (NIV)
When you discover the teachings, truths and promises God has made to you in His word it is going to cause you to be filled with great joy.
Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (NIV)
4. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S CHURCH
Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (NIV)
One of the things that should fill us with joy is the opportunity to go to church and worship God. Today for many people, going to church is the most boring and unhappy day of their lives, yet David was glad to be able to go to God’s house.
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (NIV)
I should be full of joy because when I go to church and worship God he fills me with the strength and joy I need to make it through life.
1 Chronicles 16:27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. (NIV)
Isaiah 56:7a I will bring these people to my holy mountain. I will give them joy in my house of prayer. (ICB)
If you want to have joy in your life you need to come to church each week. When you come to church there will be several ways that you can express your joy.
One way we can express our joy to God when we come to church is through our SERVICE.
Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with joy; come before him with singing.
A lot of times instead of serving God with joy and a smile on our face, we do it with a disgruntled attitude while we gripe and complain about it. God wants us to serve Him with joy.
Another way to express your joy when you come to church is when you SING PRAISES to the Lord.
1 Samuel 18:6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.
Another way in which we as God’s people can express joy is through MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
1 Chronicles 15:16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. (NIV)
Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. (NIV)
Another way that you can express your joy when you come to church is through your GIVING.
2 Corinthians 8:1-2 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (NIV)
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (NIV)
5. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF PROBLEMS
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
One of the hardest things to do as a child God is to be full of joy even when we are having troubles and trials. Yet, we are commanded in this verse to consider it all joy, when we encounter various trials.
Even though we as individuals, or our church as a whole may have troubles, we should not allow these things to get us down, but rather we should realize that they serve a purpose in our lives and consider it a time of joy, rather than a time of sorrow and grief.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (niv)
2 Corinthians 7:4d …in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (NIV)
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Romans 5:3-4 We can be full of joy here and now, even in our trials and troubles. These very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character… (Ph)
It’s always easier to handle a hurt when you know God can use it for good in your life. That’s what this verse is saying. How does He use our hurts? He uses them to build our character, if you choose to respond in the right way.
Paul says in this passage that “We can be full of joy here and now.” He’s not talking about just having joy in the sky by and by, he’s talking about having it now, even if you’re having trails and troubles in your life.
Some people think, “When I get all my problems solved, I’ll be happy.” Fat chance! Life is a series of solving problems. As soon as you get one solved you’re going to have another one that’s probably even bigger. God allows us to go through these trials and troubles to build our character. If the only time you learn to have joy in your life is when you don’t have any problems; guess what? You’re never going to have joy in your life.
Philippians 4:4 Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! (LB)
How is that possible? To always be joyful? When Paul wrote this verse he was in prison and about to be executed. He was writing to the Phillippian church which is the New Testament book on joy. Nineteen times in the book of Phillippians he used the word “joy” or “rejoice”. If you’re depressed, you need to read through that book. It’s only four chapters. Underline whenever the word “joy” or “rejoice” is used.
You have to learn to have joy even in the middle of problems while you’re working on them. You don’t wait for all your problems to be solved. Be joyful even in tough times. That’s where joy is learned. How do you do that? How is it possible to rejoice in the midst of difficult circumstances?
1. BECAUSE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
Isaiah 43:2-3 When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. 3 For I am the Lord your God… (TEV)
The fact is no matter what you’re going through, you’re not going through it alone. So it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. What God wants to say to each of you today is He is with you right now.
Psalm 16:11 You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever. (GW)
Anytime I don’t have joy it’s a warning light that I’m not spending enough time with God. It means I’ve forgotten that He’s with me. Second, I can be joyful in spite of my circumstances…
2. BECAUSE OF GOD’S PLAN
He’s not only with me, He has a plan for me. God isn’t worried about the problem you’re going through. He knew it was coming, He saw it, and He wants you to trust him.
Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (GW)
Psalm 50:14c I want you to trust me in your times of trouble, so I can rescue you and you can give me glory. (LB)
Lastly, I can be joyful in spite of my circumstances …
3. BECAUSE OF GOD’S POWER
Psalm 62:8 …trust him all the time. Pour out your longings before him, for he can help! (LB)
God never puts more on you than He puts in you to bear it up. He will help me.
Psalm 43:5 O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged? Trust in God! I shall again praise him for his wondrous help; he will make me smile again, for he is my God! (LB)
Have you lost your joy? Are you discouraged? God is waiting to help you. Jesus said, “Ask, that your joy may be full.” He’s waiting for you to ask so He can help you.
The Bible says “the fruit of the Spirit is joy”. That means joy isn’t something you can manufacture on your own. You can’t just work it up. It’s the natural by-product of letting Jesus Christ live in and through you. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior you can experience His joy no matter what the situation is.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
Some of you today need that kind of joy in your life. If you’d like to receive God’s joy, you can by simply receiving His Son Jesus Christ as your personal savior. Let me know if you made that decision.
The IMPERISHABLE crown
The crown of EXULTATION
The crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS
The crown of LIFE
The fifth and final crown that God has available for us as a reward is…
5. THE CROWN OF GLORY
1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (NAU)
This crown is different from the others in that it is for those who serve in a pastoral position and faithfully shepherd the flock of God according to the requirements listed in verses 2 and 3. This could refer to both ordained pastors as well as lay pastors who shepherd God’s flock as helpers.
Three things can be seen in these verses concerning the ministry of a pastor or shepherd.
1) He is to feed the church – “shepherd” means “to feed”.
2) He is to exercise oversight over the church.
3) He is to be an example to the church.
Notice also four qualities that should characterize his ministry.
1) Willingness – “not under compulsion, but voluntarily.”
2) Obedience – “according to the will of God.”
3) Right Motivation – “not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.”
4) Servant’s Attitude – “nor yet lording it over those allotted to your charge.”
These are the eternal rewards that a servant of the Lord can receive.
What are we going to do with these crowns if God gives us one of them?
Revelation 4:5-11 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (NIV)
We will not show them off and brag about them to one another. But rather, we will bow in worship to God and cast our crowns before him, giving him all honor, glory, and praise.
Are you serving God?
Are you influencing those around you to serve the Lord?
Are you going to receive one of these rewards, or will you stand before God empty-handed?
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
An elderly missionary couple who had served God for 50 years in a remote African village returned to the United States for a well-earned retirement. When they arrived, however, no one was there to greet them because of some confusion at the mission office. They had no one to help them with their suitcases and trunks, and no one to move them into their home. The old gentleman complained to his wife, “We’ve come home after all these years and there’s no one who cares.”
The man’s bitterness grew as they settled into their new home. His wife, a bit fed up with his complaining, suggested that he take up the matter with God. So the man went to his bedroom and spent time in prayer. When he came out he had a new look on his face, which prompted his wife to ask what had happened.
“Well,” he replied, “I told God that I’ve come home and no one cares.” “And what did God say?” she asked. “He said, ‘You’re not home yet.’”
You too may serve for years in a place where no one notices you or cares what you’ve done. But God sees and cares. One day, when we reach our eternal home, “each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). In the meantime, let’s be faithful.
The world rewards success; but God rewards faithfulness!
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The IMPERISHABLE crown
The crown of EXULTATION
The crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS
The fourth crown that is available as a reward from God is…
4. THE CROWN OF LIFE
James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (NASB)
While every child of God has eternal life, this doesn’t mean that every child of God is going to receive the crown of life. James tells us that this is a crown will be given to those servants who persevere under trial.
Many times when people go through severe intense trials, they turn away from the Lord, His Church and His Word. Jesus tells us to be faithful until death and we shall receive the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (NIV)
This crown is promised not only to those who persevere under trial, but to those who persevere and love the Lord at the same time.
Sometimes when people go through trials they become so bitter and critical that they blame God and begin to hate and despise Him. One of the reasons why many people have a hard time dealing with their trials is because they don’t look at them the right way.
There is a story told about a pastor who went to comfort a woman in his church who was going through some severe trials. Unable to make her feel any better, he took some embroidery she had been working on and looked at it and said, “This sure is confusing, why waste your time on it?” The woman took the embroidery from him and turned it over and said, “Now look at it. You were looking at it from the wrong side.” The preacher said, “That’s it exactly. You’re looking at your trials from the wrong side also. Turn them over and look at them from the right side – God’s side.
It’s one thing to just make it through a trial, it’s something else to make it through with the right attitude and learn something from them. To persevere under trials doesn’t just mean to “make it through them.” It also means that your attitude perseveres, your faith perseveres, and your love and devotion for God perseveres! And those who truly persevere under trials will receive the crown of life as a reward from God.
The fifth crown we can receive as a reward from God is called… You’ll find out tomorrow!
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For the past few days we’ve been looking at the five crowns mentioned in the Bible. The first crown available to us from God as a reward is the IMPERISHABLE crown. The second crown is the crown of EXULTATION. The third way that God can reward you is with…
3. THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (NAU)
Today there are some who might confuse this with the righteousness which is a gift from God.
The “crown of righteousness” however, is not a gift but a reward which the servant of the Lord can earn if, like Paul, we live each day anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ.
The reward of righteousness is based upon right living as we wait for Jesus to return.
If He should come today
And find my hands so full
Of future plans, however fair,
In which my Savior has no share,
What would He say?
If He should come today
And find my love so cold,
My faith so very weak and dim
I had not looked for Him.
What would He say?
If He should come today
And find that I had not told
One soul about my Heavenly Friend
Whose blessings all my way attend,
What would He say?
If He should come today
Would I be glad, quite glad?
Remembering that He died for all
And none through me had heard His call,
What would He say?
If Jesus should come today, what would He say about your service to Him?
Would He be happy with the way you have served Him… would you receive the crown of righteousness?
If we, as servants of Christ, look for and love the second coming of Jesus, it will affect our lives three ways as seen in verse 7:
1) We will fight the good fight.
2) We will finish the course.
3) We will keep the faith.
Have you ever received one of those sweepstakes letters in the mail? Like the one that says you are an instant millionaire! Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Yet, if you read the fine print you will discover that by law the people who sent you the letter are required to disclose that the chances of you actually winning the said amount are astronomical. One such letter says your chances are 1 in 80 million. Now that’s remote!
Contrast that with Paul’s anticipation of what awaited him in heaven: “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). Note his assurance: “There is laid up for me.” Not “there might be” or “there’s a slight chance,” but rather, “there is.”
J. Oswald Sanders writes, “This crown is awarded to those who have completed the Christian race with integrity, with eyes fixed on the coming Lord. It is the reward for fulfilling the ministry entrusted to us.”
If you have welcomed Christ into your life, long for His appearing, and are faithfully running your race, then the crown of righteousness awaits you. Count on it, plan on it, anticipate it! It’s a promise from God.
The fourth crown that is available to us is.. Come back tomorrow and you will learn what it is.
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2. THE CROWN OF EXULTATION
To the church in Philippi Paul said:
Philippians 4:1a So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown… (GW)
The crown of exultation is also referred to as the “crown of rejoicing” or, “the soul winners crown”.
A missionary was once asked about his salary. The person knew it couldn’t be much, and he wanted to know why the missionary would give so generously of himself to help total strangers, yet be paid so little.
The missionary pulled out a letter and read these words: “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t know Jesus Christ as my Savior. Every morning I kneel in prayer, thanking God for everything you’ve done for me.”
“That’s my pay!” said the missionary.
The apostle Paul must have had something similar in mind when he wrote to the believers in Thessalonica. Listen to how Paul refers to the Christians in the church in Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? (NASB)
In a day when there is so much emphasis on acquiring material wealth, how refreshing it is to hear of Christians whose greatest reward is to see people accept Christ and grow in spiritual maturity.
Are you making it a practice to share the gospel with others? If you are, you’ll be rewarded with the best pay of all. You’ll enjoy thrilling satisfaction here on earth, and you can look forward to an even greater reward in heaven!
God does not pay as others pay,
In goods that perish and decay;
But this is sure, let come what may,
Who does God’s work will get God’s pay. –Anon.
We should work for the Lord because the retirement plan is out of this world!
One of the greatest, if not the greatest, services we can do as servants of the Lord is to help someone learn about being saved through Jesus Christ. Plus, it is also a great source of joy to see someone accept Jesus as their Savior.
Psalm 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (NIV)
Luke 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (NIV)
The degree of our joy here on earth is determined, in part, by the souls we have had a part in leading to the Lord. Those who will receive this crown are those Christians who are faithful to declare the gospel and lead souls to Christ.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)
D.L. Moody a famous evangelist once said concerning witnessing: “I believe that if an angel were to wing his way from earth to Heaven, and were to say that there was one poor, ragged boy, without father or mother, with no one to care for him and teach him the way of life; and if God were to ask who among them were willing to come down to this earth and live here for fifty years and lead that one to Jesus Christ, every angel in Heaven would volunteer to go. Even Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Almighty, would say, ‘Let me leave my high and lofty position, and let me have the luxury of leading one soul to Jesus Christ.’ There is no greater honor than to be the instrument in God’s hands of leading one person out of the kingdom of Satan into the glorious light of Heaven.”
The third crown mentioned in the Bible is… Come back tomorrow and you will see!
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Serving Jesus Christ is the most rewarding thing you can do. It not only has its temporal rewards here on earth, but also its eternal rewards in heaven.
Here in our text we find Paul speaking to the church in Corinth on the topic of eternal rewards. I would like us to notice four biblical facts about rewards that Paul mentions in this passage.
First, we are told that rewards are given on the basis of an individual’s work – (vs 13a) “each man’s work”.
Second, he says that rewards are given in heaven, not on earth – (vs 13b) “will become evident” (vs 14b) “he shall receive a reward”.
Third, rewards are given on the basis of the quality of an individual’s work, and not on the quantity. – (vs 13d) “the quality of each man’s work”.
And fourth we are told that rewards can be lost – (vs 15). Since rewards are earned on the basis of a person’s work, it only stands to reason that they can also be lost if a person does not serve Christ properly.
Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (NIV)
2 John 1:7-8 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (NIV)
Today we’re going to look at five eternal rewards that we as children of God can receive if we serve the Lord properly.
1. The IMPERISHABLE crown
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (NAU)
In order to receive this crown, Paul tells us that we must exercise self-control in all things.
Self-control is something that we are to add to our faith – 2 Peter 1:5-6
Self-control is also a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23
And, self-control is something that Gos gives to us – 2 Timothy 1:7
The second crown available to us is… Come back tomorrow and you will see.
Some of us may well ask the same thing. We have given up a lot — careers, families, jobs, status, plans, pride — in our spiritual journey. Is it really worth it? Is there some sort of reward in store for us?
There’s no getting around it: People are motivated by rewards. There may be those who think the idea of being motivated by a reward isn’t spiritual. But God has filled the Bible with promises of amazing rewards. He makes these promises to keep us from giving up hope, to inspire us to persist in the face of trouble and persecution.
God certainly understands what makes us tick and built the desire for reward into our hearts. He created us with the desire to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:12).
2 Chronicles 15:7 But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded. (NLT)
The good news is that our labors and sacrifices are not in vain. Our efforts will be rewarded.
Hebrews 6:10a God is fair. He won’t forget what you’ve done or the love you’ve shown for him. (GW)
The Bible has quite a bit to say about this because God knows we need an answer. We want to know what we’re going to get out of serving Him. So throughout the Bible it talks about rewards, and I am confident that when God promises a reward, we will find it extremely rewarding.
Ephesians 3:20a God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (MSG)
The simple fact is that God has promised to reward us. Belief in rewards is part of the Christian faith. It is a doctrinal truth found throughout the Bible.
Hebrews 11:6 Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him. (ICB)
What is your favorite promise in the Bible concerning God’s rewards?
The Bible has a lot to say about God’s blessings. It is very difficult to define what a blessing is. Like the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Sometimes a blessing can be in the eye of the beholder. Blessings can come in many forms. They aren’t always material benefits, but can be things like knowledge and wisdom.
One thing for sure, the Bible says that none of us deserve God’s blessings.
John 1:16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. (NIV)
So, how do we obtain God’s blessings?
God promises to bless IF you follow his instructions. Every promise has a premise; there’s a condition attached.
Deuteronomy 28:2 You will experience all these blessings IF you obey the Lord your God… (NLT)
God promises to bless IF you trust Him.
Psalm 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust… (NIV)
God promises to bless IF you meet with him daily.
Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching DAILY at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
God promises to bless IF you study and do his Word.
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his word he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
James 1:25 The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
God promises to bless IF you tithe your income.
Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
God promises to bless IF you help others in need, especially the poor.
Psalm 41:1-2 God blesses those who are kind to the poor and helpless. He helps them out of their own troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies.
God promises to bless IF you share the Good News.
Philemon 1:6 I pray you will be active in sharing your faith, so that you will fully understand every blessing we have in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:8 The man who PLANTS and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
God promises to bless IF you participate in fellowship with other believers.
Romans 1:12 I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other.
God promises to bless IF you serve Him.
Exodus 23:25 You must serve only the LORD your God. If you do, I will bless you… (NLT)
John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed IF you DO them.
Have you ever wondered when you clicked the “send” command on your computer if your e-mail actually got to its destination? Have you ever thought, “Will someone be there to receive it? Will I get a response?”
You may have had those same questions in another realm of communication–prayer. Look at what the Bible says about the promise of prayer.
Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you… (NIV)
Psalm 138:3 When I called, you answered me… (NIV)
Does this mean that God will answer our every prayer and that He is at our beckon and call to answer our requests? I think a lot of people have that idea and never consider that God has placed very specific restrictions or limits on how He answers us.
Lots of people wonder why their prayers are not answered and think God isn’t real. The problem with unanswered prayer isn’t with God but with us.
For your e-mail to arrive, your equipment and programs must function correctly. Sometimes your prayer life can have a “glitch” in it. What does God promise then concerning our prayers? What are the conditions that need to be met in order for God to hear and answer our prayers?
First, we must ASK
One of the most important elements of prayer is asking. If you don’t ask you can’t get an answer. A lot of people are just too stubborn and proud to pray and ask God for anything. Prayer is a sign of dependance upon God and not on yourself.
James 4:2c You do not have, because you do not ask God. (NIV)
Second, we must have the RIGHT MOTIVES
James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (NIV)
God doesn’t promise to answer a selfish prayer or a prayer that is prayed with the wrong kind of motives. Selfishness is one of the biggest barriers to prayer. You can’t live a self-centered life and expect God to answer your prayers.
Third, we must pray ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL
1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (NIV)
Notice in verse 14 that if we “ask anything according to His will, He hears us”. The only prayers that God will listen to or hear are those that are according to His will.
Fourth, we must pray IN THE NAME OF JESUS
John 14:13-14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus? To pray in the name of Jesus means to pray based on his power and authority. Imagine if you will a police officer comes to your home and he knocks on your door and says, “Open up in the name of the law.” The officer is not asking you to open your door based on his own power or authority, he is asking you to open your door based on the authority of the law.
When you pray to God in the name of Jesus you are asking God to do something not because of your power or authority, but His. God promises that if we will pray in the name of Jesus He will answer.
Fifth, you must pray BELIEVING
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (NIV)
What does the word “believing” mean? It means to trust and not to doubt.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (NIV)
James 1:5-7 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. (NIV)
Today many people have the idea that God will answer anyone’s prayer no matter how they pray or who they are? Does God promise to answer anyone’s prayer no matter who they are?
Sixth, you must BE OBEDIENT
1 John 3:19-22 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (NIV)
According to this passage God will not answer a person’s prayer or even listen to a person’s prayer if they aren’t willing to obey His commandments or do the things that are pleasing to Him.
Psalm 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear. (NASB)
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (NIV)
Proverbs 28:9 God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him. (MSG)
These are very strong words and make the point that we do not come to God in disobedience. The prayers of the disobedient are an abomination to God. God does not promise to answer a person’s prayer when that person isn’t obeying the Lord and is living outside of God’s will.
Seventh, you must be AT PEACE WITH OTHERS
Family problems can surely cause our prayers not to be answered. Arguing, bickering, fighting in the home will destroy it. It will rob a home of peace and joy. It will destroy the peace and security of the marriage.
Matthew 18:19 Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. (NIV)
Eight, you must BE PERSISTENT
Matthew 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (NIV)
The words “ask, seeks & knocks” are all in the continual mode meaning that we are to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.
Clearly the Lord is teaching us that we should be persistent in our prayers. There have been things that Christians have prayed for, for years and God in His time answered. It is not that God does not want to answer and that He wants to withhold the answer to our prayers, but God knows the time when it is best. Our persistence shows our faith in God and His promise to answer prayer.
My grandfather passed away when I was a child. I remember one day my father and I went to his garage to clean it out. My grandfather had many old tools. One was a hand drill. I could barely get the wheel to turn. The gears were clogged with dirt, and the pieces that held the drill bit in place were missing. But I wanted to see if I could get it to work.
I wiped it clean, oiled it and kept working the handle back and forth until it finally started turning smoothly.
Working with that old drill can teach us all something about prayer. If we don’t meet God’s conditions, our prayers will be ineffective – just like that old drill.
If your prayer-life is malfunctioning, make sure you’re meeting the conditions. When you do, you can be confident that your prayers will be effective.
If you want your prayers to reach heaven, make sure you have a good connection.
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country. (GW)
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Matthew 6:31-33 Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” 32Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. 33But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well. (CEV)
When you put God first and trust Him, He will take care of all your needs. Put Him at the center of your life and everything else will be taken care of.
The problem is we try to share that number one position with God we then end up with nothing. Try this at home on your own. Get a can of soda and pour into a glass. Then get a straw and take a sip of the soda through the straw. Was it satisfying? Good… that’s what it’s like when you put God first in your life. Putting God first is the secret to living a satisfying life!
Now, I’d like you to get a second straw and take another sip but this time you’re going to use both straws, one on the inside of the glass and the other on the outside. Now take a drink. What happened? You can’t drink anything. It doesn’t work.
That’s what happens in your life when you try to put both God and the things of this world first in our life. You end up with nothing. You end up being unsatisfied.
The real reason so many people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled in life is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They’re looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that’s going to satisfy them. They go from relationship to relationship, from job to job, from church to church looking for the key. Yet, they’re still not content or satisfied.
The problem is, none of these things can give you lasting satisfaction. Only Jesus can give you lasting satisfaction. Only Jesus can satisfy your life. If you’re discontent it means Jesus Christ isn’t at the center of your life.
Today in this world of economic woes, when unemployment is up around 8.3%, many people are wondering where their next meal is going to come from, how they’re going to pay the rent or make the house payment, or how they’re going to feed and cloth their families.
What does God promise those who are in this condition? Does God promise to supply everyone’s needs no matter who they are and no matter if they are following the Lord or not? Jesus tells us to seek put Him first and then God will supply our needs.
How many times have we said or heard someone say, “God, if you will get me through this time of trouble then I will serve you and follow you?” God wants us to follow Him first and then He will supply our needs. God promises that if we will put Him first in our lives, then He will supply our needs.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Paul didn’t say God was going to meet all your greeds, but rather all your needs.
When I buy an insurance policy I read through it and find out what’s covered. Then, when I know what’s covered, I don’t worry about it because I know it’s covered. The Bible is God’s insurance policy. Did you know there are over 7000 promises in the Bible? Many of you can’t claim them though because you don’t even know where they are. That’s why you need to get into the Bible and read it and study it everyday. That’s why you need to have a daily quiet time. As you read God’s policy manual (The Bible) and get familiar with what guarantees God has made in your life, you stop worrying.
What percentage of our needs does God promise to supply for us? Does God promise to supply only 25% of our needs? Does He promise to supply only 50%? Does He promise to supply only 75% of our needs? No, God promises to supply 100% or “all” of our needs, “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus”.
God supplies our needs “in Christ Jesus” not outside of Jesus! You can’t expect God to meet your needs while you live your live apart from Jesus. It’s only when Jesus becomes the Lord of your life that God then promises to meet your needs.
Psalm 23:11 The LORD is my shepherd. I am never in need. (GW)