Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Great is Your Reward

 Scripture:  Matthew 5 v 9 - 12: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

The verses above are the last of the Beatitudes shared by Jesus with His Disciples in His Sermon on the Mount.  To find out what we have to endure to receive a great reward in Heaven is very important.

Following Jesus is never portrayed as a bed of roses, rather as a path of thorns to be dealt with one by one, with His strength and wisdom.  He knows how much each of us can take of the stress of the world around us.

He seeks unity of His Body, and one of the major unifiers is persecution.  When His people are reviled and mistreated because of their faith in Him, Jesus gives extraordinary strength and power.

Think of Stephen, the first martyr in the Book of Acts.  He was stoned to death for preaching the truth to the Jews.  He prayed that God would not hold his slayers guilty, that He would forgive them, even while he was being killed.  Stephen looked up into Heaven and saw Jesus standing to welcome him home!  What a way to go.

Out of the 12 Apostles, with Matthias replacing Judas, only John did not die a martyrs death.  The Romans under Nero tried boiling him in oil but it did not succeed.  They banished him to the isle of Patmos, where he received the Book of Revelation by direct contact with the Lamb of God.  When we are still needed by God not even boiling oil can prevent it.

Persecution is never fun but Jesus says rejoice when it happens because great is your reward.  In other words look beyond the malicious words being flung at you, or about you.  Look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Jesus is writing a book about you, and He is also the Finisher of this book.  He is the Publisher, Editor, Literary Agent and Brander of the book about you.  He records every noble act you do in His name in this book.

Do you want your book to be five pages or five hundred?  Everything you speak, do, give, pray, sacrifice for the sake of Jesus is recorded.  If your book has a first page that gives your date of salvation and not much else your reward will be measured accordingly.

So it's up to us to use the tools He has given us to make a difference in as many lives as we can reach.  Love not the world, do not remain entangled in its half truths, lies, gossip and corruption.  It's full of mockery and falseness.  When we ask Jesus to reveal its nature we will be shocked.  

He says, Come out from among them and follow Me.  It's always our choice, He never forces anyone.  However, when we do it His way, great is our reward!  People make lots of excuses not to do what He asks, and eventually He will move on to those who are willing.  He says, My Spirit will not always strive with Man.  Meaning, He has a standard and limits that we must become aware of and adhere to.

He says His burden upon us is light and easy, unlike the burdens of the world.  He will never ask us to go beyond our capabilities.  He is scrupulously fair and completely honest.  We can trust Him to the uttermost.  Remember, He responds to our obedience.  He rewards it.  And punishes disobedience by withholding a blessing we were hoping for.  

Deuteronomy 8 v 5 - 6: "Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
6  Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him."

To be chastened is to be disciplined, to fear him is to have respect for him.  Think on these things and instead of blaming God for some serious setback, check your level of obedience and adjust accordingly.

Our God knows how many hairs are on our heads.  He knows everything about us.  We need to seek His face and be in His Presence to really know how we, individually, can please Him the most.  Even if we are ridiculed or persecuted for being obedient, our reward will be great.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father we have so much to be thankful for, and a lot to change as well.  Help us to make a plan and stick to it as this will bless You.  Forgive us our rebellion and rejection of Your will for us, and draw us back to Your bosom. In Jesus' name.  Amen.