No One Who Works for the Lord Will Go Unrewarded

We must be on guard for how things seem or feel because that is seldom a good indicator of how things truly are..png

After taking a short break to cover the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, I want to get back into our study on the Negatives in the Bible and see if we can finish it up. We don’t have far to go (though if I covered all of them, we’d be doing this study for months.) Let’s pick back up with what the Bible has to say about “no one.”

Have you ever been disappointed when things didn’t turn out the way you had planned? I have. And probably the most disappointing of all are the situations where I’ve done all the right things in all the right ways with all the right motives, and things still didn’t work out. It’s enough to send this little redhead running toward chocolate cake!

Isn’t it frustrating to sow the seeds and feel like we’re not reaping the harvest? We diet and exercise but don’t lose the weight. We read our Bible and pray daily but still slip carelessly into sin. We take a restful vacation but come back more tired and stressed. The pastor puts his heart and soul into his preaching yet the people seem unaffected by what he has to say. The missionary spends years on the field, hard at work in the service of the Lord, yet has only a handful of converts to show for his efforts. What’s up with that?  

The Bible teaches the principle of sowing and reaping. We know how it’s supposed to work, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to apply to our lives or our current situation. So, we begin to doubt. Maybe this sowing and reaping stuff only works for certain people or at certain times. Perhaps I’m not doing all I should do or I’m not doing it the right way. Maybe I’ve missed something along the way, and that’s why I do not see results.

More than likely, it’s none of those things. It’s just that God doesn’t operate according to our schedule. We plant seeds today and expect to see a harvest by tomorrow or next week, but growth takes time. God won’t be rushed. He has a plan, and He will fulfill it in His own good time. This makes little sense to us.  After all, wouldn’t God want to see souls saved today? Doesn’t He long for us to have the desires of our hearts? Surely, He wants the pastor to feel appreciated and the missionary to be effective, right?

I’ve probably said this a million times in my writing and a million times more in my own life when trying to comfort my confused heart—God’s ways aren’t our ways, and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). What makes sense to Him often seems downright ridiculous to us because we can’t see the whole picture. And that can be discouraging. It’s disheartening when it seems our efforts aren’t paying off. Trust me, I know!

But God knows too, and He’s provided a promise for times like these—no one who acts in His name will be unrewarded. No one! If we have sowed in the name of the Lord, we will reap the rewards. If we have sacrificed our time or talents for Him, He’ll make sure we lack nothing. He’s keeping a record. He’s paying attention. He knows what seeds we are sowing, and He already has a plan on how He will reward those efforts. Check out these verses:

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
— Matthew 10:42
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
— Mark 10:28-30
 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
— Luke 18:28-30

Serving God will cost us something. It is a sacrifice. There’s no doubt about it. But it also reaps rewards beyond our comprehension. Now, let me add here, we should never serve God merely for compensation but rather out of our love for Him. Service is a natural outflow of love. But even so, it can become wearying when those efforts seem for naught. Note that sentence carefully—the efforts seem like they’re not making a difference. We must be on guard for how things seem or feel because that is seldom a good indicator of how things truly are. That’s why it’s so important to cling to the truth. God made it clear that when we work in His name and for His kingdom that our work will not be in vain. Let’s take Him at His word and rejoice in the waiting time!


You Are What?

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And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?  And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.
— Exodus 3:13-14

Poor Moses! God called him out of his comfort zone. . .way out! Moses was a shepherd, far more at home with animals than people (a bit like myself, actually). Sheep were easy. Sure, they weren't the smartest of animals, but at least they did what they were told and didn't complain in the process. Moses could handle sheep. He wasn't so sure about people. So he did what we all do when God tries to coax us out of our comfort zones—he made excuses.

But I'm not qualified.

But I don't have the right credentials.

But that's not really my talent.

But I don't think that's the best use of my time.

But I can't communicate well.

But I had something else in mind.

But I don't see where that would be very profitable for me.

When will we learn that our excuses aren't going to change God's mind or His will for our lives? Moses learned right there on the spot. So when the excuses didn't work, he tried to stall. "Well, the people are going to want to know Who sent me. They'll know I didn't come on my own. They'll know there's Someone greater behind this plan. They'll want to know who the real Mastermind is. What shall I tell them?"

Surely such a broad question would require a vast answer, right? Nope! God simply replied, "I AM."

I can see the look of confusion on Moses' face. You are what? The word "am" is a state of being. When it is used, it is followed by another word—the state of being. I am happy. I am tired. I am hungry. I am frustrated. I am crazy. That state of being explains how we're feeling and sometimes even who we are. I am Dana. I am a writer. I am a worrier. I am a dog owner.

But God didn't give a state of being. To Moses, it may have seemed that God stopped mid-sentence or maybe that God paused to think of the proper way to finish the sentence. But such was not the case. God had said all that He was going to say. "I AM. That's all you need to know."

Perhaps God could have even answered the question as the wizard, Merlin, did in the BBC show, The Adventures of Merlin. The eccentric old wizard was outraged when two guards questioned his identity. "Who am I?" he inquired. "What kind of stupid question is that? I am who I am, and I am who I was, and I am who I always will be."

Sounds like God, doesn't it? He is Who He is, and He is Who He was, and He is Who He always will be. He's God. There is none like Him. He has always been God. He will always be God. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the Three in One. He is the Creator. He is the Redeemer. He is our Counselor. He is our Shepherd. He is loving. He is kind. He is just. He is merciful.

By the time God listed all of His names and characteristics to Moses, the shepherd would have died of old age. Besides, God doesn't waste words. He says what needs to be said and leaves it at that. With those two simple words, "I AM," God bespoke a fathomless message: "Whatever you need. . . I AM!"

Even the sheep understand that.

God Never Breaks His Promises

Are we fully persuadedthat God can dowhat He has promised?.png

Let’s return to our series on the negatives in the Bible. A few weeks back, we discussed several occurrences of the word “nothing” in the Scriptures. Now, let’s look at the word, “never.” I want to begin with one of my favorites—God never breaks His promises.

And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
— Judges 2:1

Now, I realize this is a message for the nation of Israel, but it sets forth the example of God’s faithfulness to all of His children. And if you doubt this promise applies to us today, here’s what Peter has to say to the church:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
— II Peter 3:9

The phraseology is different, but the message is the same: God is true to His Word. If He said it, we can count on it. He promised He would send the Messiah to be born, and it happened. He promised He would defeat death and hell, and He did. He promised us eternal life, and we have it. He promised He would come back again to gather up His children to take us to our rightful home, and He will. Every promise either has been or will be fulfilled. He doesn’t break a single one.

I’ve probably shared this with you before, but it fits here, so I’ll share it again. One of my pet peeves (yes, I have many) with television shows and movies is when a character promises something he or she may not be able to fulfill. Like when the young man is heading off to war, and he promises his new bride, “I’ll be back. I promise.” How can he guarantee that? He has no idea what the future holds. And nine times out of ten in those Hollywood occurrences, he doesn’t make it back. What a letdown!

Parents promise things to their kids, knowing full well they have no means to see it through. Employers make promises to their employees. People even make promises to God, usually with no intention of keeping those promises but rather to get what they want from God. Promises are flying around like leaves on an autumn day, but what do they amount to? Typically, false hope, nothing more. Is it strange that I often call out to the television characters, “You can’t promise that”? I guess I know all too well what a broken promise feels like and how devastated it can leave a person.

Fortunately, with God, we never have to worry about that. He won’t disappoint us by going back on His word. Things may not happen how or when we expect, but if He’s made a promise, we can count on it. God never, ever breaks His promises!

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
— Romans 4:20-21
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