What Reward Do You Want?

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Hebrews 11:6 (NIV), “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

God rewards us. Pretty cool huh? There are many actions and activities that He rewards. There is a prize at the end of the race (Phil 3:14), a crown for those who persevere (James 1:12), perfect peace for those who set their minds on Him (Isaiah 26:3), and I could keep going. But according to Matthew we can either store up treasures here on earth or we can store up treasures in heaven.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT), “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Jesus was probably talking about worldly goods here, because rust, moths, and thieves take these kinds of things away from us. However, I don’t think it would be stretching this scripture to include recognition of men, or self aggrandizement because if we continue to read on in Matthew, Jesus warns us of doing just that.

Matthew 6:1-6 (KJB), Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Did you catch what kind of reward we get for wanting to “be seen of men”? Oh, there is still a reward; it’s the recognition of men. That reward lasts for a season, it is fleeting, fame is fickle. The fifteen minutes of fame that people used to talk about has now turned into fifteen seconds. The media has overloaded us with information on so-called famous people and their deeds. Millions watch “reality” tv to see every detail of someone’s life, the good, the bad, and most of the time the ugly. “I don’t want that kind of fame”, you say. Do you want the people in your life to know about all your good deeds? Do you spend more time talking about what you do than what God did through you? Do you only volunteer for the jobs that you can be seen doing? At work, do you have to take credit for everything you do above and beyond the call? At school, do you need to be the center of attention all of the time? Same thing. You may think that is a great reward, but it never lasts. Why? Because we may look good one day, then mess up the next. That perfect “hair day” is called a day for a reason.

What’s worse is that most people can’t handle being around someone like that. Those seeking fame, recognition and acceptance through their actions may write it off as jealousy, but I assure you that isn’t what it is. There is just something about a person who is so insecure, or so puffed up that they have to be in the spotlight, that turns our stomachs. On the other hand when we find out someone did something behind the scenes, whether it is simple or grand, we feel good about that. It touches our hearts. They did it because it needed done. They were motivated by love not by recognition. Sometimes they may have done it as simple obedience to God and His word. They may have had to grit their teeth and do it. It isn’t always fun cleaning toilets or dealing with hard situations, but obedience is better than sacrifice.

In Matthew, Jesus promises us that when we do our good deeds in secret that the Father rewards us openly. One day someone is going to say, “Let’s thank so and so for all they have done,” and more than likely that person will blush and be embarrassed, or maybe grin like it’s their birthday and give God the glory.

There is always something to do. We are called to do good works, and there will be rewards.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV), “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

There are two kinds of rewards: eternal or temporal. One lasts forever, the other is only temporary, fleeting.

What kind of reward do you want?

Practice, Practice, Practice

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Philippians 4:9 (NIV), “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

I don’t know about you, but there wasn’t much I excelled at the first time I gave it a go. There are many things I am good at and some things I showed a natural talent or aptitude for right away, however to really be excellent at something it takes tons of practice. I have always had a bit of an artistic eye, but I am no great artist. My artistic talents are in the flavor of home decorating, sewing, crocheting, and the like. Even those things took practice. The house I live in now is the thirteenth one we remodeled and that I decorated. It’s my favorite so far. The crocheted items I make now are many levels above the twisted, snagged first attempts.

As an example, let’s look at my reading and writing skills. I struggled with reading the first few years of school and didn’t understand that a letter made one sound this time, but another the next. In fourth grade I almost flunked English because I was doing so badly with the whole subject. My saving grace? I loved to read! I loved the stories and used them to escape real life quite frequently. By fifth grade I was getting A’s in English and reading at a college level. That’s also about the same year I started to write. In high school I had a teacher who honestly critiqued my writing, and though I shed a few tears over the remarks written in red at the bottom of the page, it helped me to become the writer that I am today. Now, as I read over my very first full length novel I wrote, I can’t help but cringe in a few places…thankfully I am still “practicing”.

It’s the same way in our walk with God. When we get saved, we don’t suddenly and miraculously know how to walk this walk perfectly. God knew we needed to work out some things, so He, in His perfect wisdom, allows us to do the work. We practice being like Him. We step out in faith and practice being patient and waiting in hope for the answer. Sometime we are slow learners, like I was in my early English classes. Thankfully, I never gave up! We can’t do that in our Christian walk. Stepping off the path only prevents us from getting to the finish line. Though I am not there yet in my writing, I am on my way. It’s the same with this road that I have chosen to walk with the Lord, I know that the finish line is ahead, so I keep going. Sometimes I stumble and often I fall, but I get back up. Even those times when I don’t have the strength to get up one more time, He is there to lift me, if I let Him. I have to acknowledge that I have fallen, or even worse, that I have wandered off the path, and then ask His Spirit to lead and guide me, to empower me to stay on track. He’s never told me “no” or let me down in any way. He is so Faithful!

How do we practice this way of life? Know who He is. I know I repeat this quite often only because it is so important. Then read the Bible. If you are having trouble with the language, try another version, one isn’t more inspiring than another. If the Old Testament seems dry, or you are getting the picture that God is a hard taskmaster, jump ahead to the New Testament. We have to remember that the Old Testament was written for people living under the Law, and the New to people living under Grace. He is the same God, but dealt with people in a different way. Once you truly know Him, reading the Old Testament still shows you His unfailing love and patience with a stiff necked, stubborn people.

We also have to be rooted in a family, a Church that love God and knows His word. Submit to godly men and women of God as a covering over us. Fellowship and break bread together (hang out and eat together). Get to know one another and share personal experiences, be real! Don’t put on a fake “church face” and act all holier than thou. Just be yourself, the good the bad and ugly. When you are in a real family, we very rarely shock one another, and quite often encourage and correct each other. Good advice comes from people who are genuine and who really love you despite your flaws, just like Jesus.

Confess God’s word over your life, even if it feels weird at first. Tell Satan to take a hike and to get his hands off of your family, stuff, and your life. Don’t give up if he sticks around for a while, though he doesn’t have the patience of God, he has more than you. Be consistent and insistent! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you. You aren’t subject to the devil; he is subject to the name of Jesus. Use it.

One very important thing to remember, if you blow it, and make a mess, don’t give up! Never throw in the towel, the fight isn’t over until God calls you home. Remember each day is brand new, His mercies are new every morning. Ask God to forgive you, and move on. We are all on a path, not on a treadmill. There is an end, there is a finish line with prizes and rewards. Keep moving forward. Man up! Never get stuck in a pity party, never stop to “take a break”, get up go to Church, every time they open the doors go. So what if they aren’t preaching or teaching that day, go for the fun stuff too. Support the outreaches, fundraisers, women’s bible study, men’s prayer, etc. On the other hand don’t just go for the fun, and never let the sound teaching and anointed preaching change your hearts. Invite others over to your house and have fun! Just because you may be embarrassed over a mistake or a setback, don’t think that you are the only one to ever have to face that humility. We all do, more than once. That’s why it is so important to be real and go to Church with people you can trust and who will correct you if needed, but love you anyway.

Want to be just like Jesus?

Practice, practice, practice!

I John 3:1-10 (NASB), “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (Emphasis mine)

Book Review for “Draw of Kings”- Christian Fantasy

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Final book of the series, sad to see it end. I loved the set and this one was the best of all. Great writing, it sucks you into the story. The characters were great and the whole plot rocked your emotions one way or another. Humor, sorrow, hope, and just about every other one you can imagine. Well done! A new favorite author to add to the list. I give it five stars. I also recommend to anyone who loves fantasy or Christian fiction. Great for teens and up. No sexual content or swearing, lot’s of fighting and violence.

The Sin Scale

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We all have one, a “sin scale”, where we weigh those bad things we do. Or worse yet, we use it to excuse our bad behavior or habits by saying to ourselves, “my white lie I told my boss is only a two, my co-worker’s adultery is a seven…at least my sin is not as bad as his.” A lot of us, who claim to be Christians, love to point out the sin of homosexuality, armed robbery, murder, child abuse, and so on, and if there really was a scale, we would all agree that those probably are off the chart. However, there is no such thing as a “sin scale.”

To God, sin is sin. There isn’t some worse than others, and even more importantly, sin really isn’t an action or lack of one, it’s a nature! Those horrible, or less-than-righteous things we do aren’t in themselves the sin, they are a symptom or a corresponding action to our sin nature. We are all born with one, due to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. But, praise God, when we surrender our hearts to Him, he gives us His nature. His nature isn’t sin! We are then the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We aren’t as good as God, but we are as right as Him. Not from anything we did, or can do, but because of what Jesus did. Because we aren’t as good as God, we aren’t perfect, we continue to mess up, and miss the mark.

Matthew 19:7 (KJB), “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Thankfully, since Jesus died for our sins, we just confess and turn back to God. Soon we sin less and less. Our sin doesn’t make us “sinners” because we don’t get our old nature back; we still maintain our rightness with God as long as we humble ourselves and repent.

So instead of trying to excuse, or weigh our bad behavior, instead we should be trying to please God. We need to have faith in Him, be confident that He is doing a work in us, that we are being changed from the inside out. God had told us that without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). We need to hear Him, believe in His great power, stand firm on His word.

Let’s take a look at what Jesus said to His disciples as He sent them out:

Matthew 10:11-15 (NIV) “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”

He said, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words…it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment.” If you still have that sin scale on your mind, this should wipe it away. Not heeding, not hearing His “Good News” is worse than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah…

Shall we continue?

Matthew 11:23-24 (NIV), “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”

Jesus came to point the way to the Father, He showed God’s love and mercy, forgiveness and kindness. Had those miracles been shown in Sodom, He says that it never would have been destroyed, inferring that they would have believed and repented!

Sin is sin. We can’t categorize it, weigh it, label it, or whitewash it. The only remedy for sin is surrender. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will lift you up (James 4:10). He doesn’t cover it, as the blood of sacrifices did under the old covenant, He takes it away, and then even better, He forgets about it!

How many times have I stood at the altar (figuratively or literally) and thought to myself, “at least I am not like so-and-so” or “at least I have never done that”? Sound familiar?

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV), “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How dare we stand like that Pharisee and think that somehow we are better because we placed our sin on the sin scale of our own making, and declared ourselves more righteous. As the body of Christ, we pray for souls, or should be, so we need to ask God to forgive us for expecting those souls to be rich, well dressed, un-broken, and good. Those very people we have looked down our noses at, those are the ones that our loving Father wants us to reach out to with His love. Separating ourselves from those who live in the world, can’t get us saved any more than hanging out with them will get us unsaved.

When they accused Jesus of wrongdoing when they found him eating and fellowshipping with sinners, His response was, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:7)

We don’t do what they do, we don’t participate in their wrong behavior, but we show them a better way. Hate doesn’t lead to repentance, judgmental attitudes won’t, God’s goodness will.

I think I will close with this scripture:

Luke 6: 35-35 (NASB), “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return

Book Review for “Hero’s Lot” – Christian Fantasy

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What is the book about? With the King Near Death, Will the Kingdom Fall?

When Sarin Valon, the corrupt and dangerous church leader, flees the city of Erinon and the kingdom, Errol Stone believes his troubles have at last ended. But he and his friends still have dangerous enemies working against them in secrets and whispers.

In a bid to keep them from the axe, Archbenefice Canon sends Martin and Luis to Errol’s home village, Callowford, to discover what makes him so important to the kingdom, and in that journey they discover amazing new secrets about the workings of Aurae.

Back in Erinon, Errol is unjustly accused of consorting with spirits. Convicted, his punishment is a journey to the enemy kingdom of Merakh, where he must find Sarin Valon and kill him. To enforce their sentence, the church leaders place Errol under a compulsion–he must complete his task, or die trying.

My Review:

What a great sequel. Hero’s Lot is book two of the “Staff and the Sword” Christian Fantasy Trilogy. So far I am very much enjoying these books. Some of it mirrors our own Church history, but most of it is pure fantasy. The main character is so real, flaws and all. All of the characters are well rounded and make you feel like you know them personally. I have laughed and cried, gotten angry and sad, but always had a hard time putting them down. Worth the money to buy them, or find them at the local library. Book one is offered free, Kindle version on amazon, book two is 5.99 and three is 9.99. I downloaded the free one, couldn’t find book two at the library, so purchased it, now I am borrowing book three! Will be checking out more from this author, be forewarned this is not a light read! It will take some time and some emotional toll. I give it five stars! No swearing or sexual content, there is fighting and violence. I can recommend for teens and up.

Book Review for “Aoleon The Martian Girl: Part Five”- Middle Grade Sci Fi

 

 

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What the book is about: Will Aoléon and Gilbert discover the truth at last? It’s been one difficult challenge after another, but Aoléon, Gilbert and their friends (Bizwat, Helios, and Zoot) make it to their final destination: the secret Martian base located under the Great Pyramid of Cydonia. But their adventure isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot! Not only must they infiltrate a secret underground facility guarded by legions of sentrybots to find and rescue Aoléon’s parents, but they also must face their toughest test yet. Can Gilbert help Aoléon rescue her parents and stop the Martian invasion once and for all? Read the exciting conclusion to the Aoléon the Martian Girl series to find out!

My Review: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the last and final installment of the “Martian Girl” Series. All five were fun and pack full of action and great graphics. The pictures are not your run of the mill illustrations, but bright computer animated through out. There is some violence, no swearing, and loads of age appropriate humor. This one closes the series with our heroes saving not only earth, but Mars as well. Gilbert finally decides, after all the danger and adventure, that home isn’t so bad, even with homework and milking the cows.

I liked it and gave it four stars.

I can recommend for ages 9-13, unless you love sci fi and are a kid at heart.

Get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Aoleon-The-Martian-Girl-Science/dp/0979128595/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=0W8AQS743SA721ZCP958

The Author: Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Author’s Website: http://brentlevasseur.com/

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/embed/eA1b6G876V0

 

The Truth Is (My) Relative

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We have all heard the saying “truth is relative”, meaning that it depends on the circumstance, or the person, or some other outside influence. When Pontius Pilot is having a conversation with Jesus before the crucifixion he voices the same belief after Jesus tells him that “I came to testify of the truth”.

John 18:38 (NIV), “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”

That common philosophy of Pilot’s day is still common in our day. So many people talk about the “grey areas” or that “there is no black and white, just different shades of grey.” I disagree.

Jesus made it very clear. There is TRUTH and it is HIM.

John 14:6 (NIV), “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

Instead of saying, “truth is relative” he said, “TRUTH is my relative”. I love that. I am one with Christ, a joint heir, a son of God, and Jesus is the way, the truth and the light, so I am related to Him.

God’s word is true, He is not a man that He should lie, and Jesus is the Living Word.

His word is alive! And it is True!

Truth isn’t relative, but He is my Relative.

Be blessed.