We all understand that in order to receive the crown (reward, wreath), we must complete the race as a winner. A winner can also be called a conqueror, a victor, or an overcomer. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1 Cor 9:25 ESV)We are called by the Lord to complete the “race of life” as a conqueror who will receive an eternal reward. One factor that is required, even as it is required of athletes, is self-control in all things. But we are able. Let’s remember that Romans 8:37 tells us: Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.We are “more than conquerors” because the true Conqueror, Jesus Christ, has shared His victory with each one of us through the gift of salvation.Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. (2 Tim 2:5 NIV)Obviously, every race has rules that must be obeyed. In order to receive the victor’s crown spoken about in the Bible, we must obey the Word of God. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim 6:12 NKJV)The battle in which we must engage is the battle for our very own souls, and the only way to win this battle is by FAITH. This is emphatically taught in Scripture:For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 Joh 5:4 NKJV)Who is the one who overcomes the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 Joh 5:5 NASB)But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:57 NIV)If we stay on the path of obedience to God and to His Word, we shall surely win the race and receive the crown! Glory to God most High!
God Will Never Forsake His People
This is one of God’s unshakeable promises to mankind. Let’s read some of these Bible passages:
For the Lord loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever,
but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. (Ps 37:28 NKJV) God NEVER forsakes His saints. They are preserved (by God) forever.
The Lord always does right and wants justice done. Everyone who does right will see his face. (Ps 11:7 CEV) Everyone who lives a righteous life in obedience to the Bible will see God’s face.
“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.” (Isa 61:8 NIV) God is faithful to reward His people. He has made an everlasting covenant with us.
The Lord will not abandon his people; he will not desert those who belong to him. (Ps 94:14 GNT) Decide that you belong to the Lord, now, and recognize that He will NEVER abandon you. Hallelujah!
Behold, God will not cast away the blameless, nor will He uphold the evildoers. (Job 8:20 NKJV) God will not reject the righteous (virtuous, innocent).
For the Lord will not abandon His people, nor will He abandon His inheritance. (Ps 94:14 NASB) Again and again the Lord promises that He will never leave us, discard us, or forsake us. He cannot lie. (Tit 1:2)
God is faithful to His promises forever. (Ps 71:22 NLT; 1 Cor 1:8-9; 1 Thes 5:24) You can safely trust in Him and in His Word. Oh joy!
The concept of sowing and reaping is an important one in the Scriptures. We are instructed by the Lord to sow righteousness. How may we do that?
The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward. (Pro 11:18) We are taught by God’s Word, that those who “sow righteousness” will have a certain reward.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Gal 6:7) We are warned that whatever we sow, we shall also reap.
In other words, if a person sows corn, they will produce a corn crop. If they sow malice and hatred, they will gather heartache and sorrow. If we sow love and mercy in order to honor the Lord, then we will harvest blessings for ourselves and our children.
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Gal 6:8) If we satisfy our own fleshly desires and sinful nature, we will collect only decay and death as a result. But if we will sow to the Spirit (or sow righteousness), we will harvest eternal life and many of God’s blessings along the way..
The Bible makes it very clear that the seed that every believer should sow is the Word of God. When we sow the Word of God, we sow righteousness.
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Pet 1:23 NIV)
The seed is the word of God. (Lk 8:11b NIV)
Sharing our testimony with other people, inviting people to visit our church so that they can hear the Good News, and praying for the salvation of people that we know are also beautiful ways to sow righteousness. Praising God and supporting the Kingdom of God financially, as well as doing good works, are other righteous seeds to plant. Blessings upon you!
Be steadfast in your spiritual life. Steadfast means unwavering, unfaltering, loyal, devoted, or constant. So how can we be steadfast and in what ways?
. . . rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer . . . (Rom 12:12) Continue in daily prayer interceding for yourself and for other people and for our leaders—both spiritual and national.
For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Gal 5:5) As we eagerly wait for the return of Jesus (or to arrive in heaven ourselves), wait with a sense of anticipation, eagerness and joy.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Joh 16:33) The Lord warns us that we’ll experience tribulation somehow, at some point in our lives, but that we should be cheered up knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world. So be loyal and stalwart in believing the truth of this Scripture. Remember that the Lord is with you and that He fights FOR you. (Deu 3:22; Josh 23:10)
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor 15:58) Be devoted to thriving in the work of the Lord, knowing that one day you WILL receive your reward. The “work of the Lord” involves ministering to others (by prayer, service, or helps); sharing the gospel with others; and baptizing new believers or bringing them to church so that they can be baptized in water.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Ac 2:42) Be unwavering in having fellowship with other believers; in sharing meals with them; in taking communion with other believers, and in prayers with them and for them.
Above all, rejoice in hope!
Working Hard Has Benefits
We can’t bring any glory to the Lord or to the Kingdom of God by being lazy. There is no honor in laziness, nor is there any glory in being idle. I want to make it clear that I’m NOT talking about people who yearn to work, who have searched rigorously and urgently for employment, but haven’t been able to obtain it. That’s not the same thing.
What these Scriptures are addressing are people who prefer to be idle, and those who choose to engage in gossip and spreading rumors rather than performing true, diligent labor.
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Pro 14:23 NIV) This verse teaches us that working hard brings us the benefit of being paid for our labor. Those who only talk about working, but who actually do nothing, earn no wages and can buy no groceries.
For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. (2 Thes 3:10-11 NKJV) This excerpt from 2 Thessalonians demonstrates the truth that people who won’t work will have nothing to eat. In addition, when people don’t work they have lots of time on their hands which the enemy can turn into opportunities to sin against God. While all sin is displeasing to God, the sin of gossip displeases the Lord greatly. It is the reason that the Scriptures describe such persons as busybodies.
And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. (1 Tim 5:13 NKJV) Here again, the Bible warns us about idle hands and minds being turned toward evil, unrighteous pastimes.
As we see from Proverbs 14:23 (above), the Holy Spirit says that ALL hard work brings financial gain and advantages to the ones who work diligently. The Bible encourages believers to work hard, to be responsible and kind, and to live honorably within our communities so that we are an asset to them. God will reward us with His blessings as we live obediently to His word. Praise His Name!
If We Do Good Works, We’ll Be Praised
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (Rom 13:3-4)
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. (1 Pet 2:13-14)
God has promised us, according to the Scriptures, that when we do good works on earth, we’ll be honored and celebrated. This is God’s reward and His blessing upon all who are obedient to His Word and His will.
It is clear that doing good works is the will of God for His people. Here are several Bible verses about good works:
- In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16 ESV)
- For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (Jas 2:26 ESV)
- That the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:17 ESV)
What are “good works” according to the Bible? Here is another perspective:
Ephesians 2:10 would encourage you to learn to see your whole life as an interconnected series of good works offered to God. This means that your good works can include that which you do at work, in the classroom, on the football field, in your neighborhood, and in your community associations. If you’re a boss, part of your good works involve the way you manage your employees. If you’re a parent, your good works include making dinner for your children as well as praying with them as you tuck them into bed. The more we grow in our faith, the more we see ourselves as God’s masterpieces, the more we will indeed do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, by his strength, under his authority, and for his purposes. (Source: https://www.theologyofwork.org/the-high-calling/daily-reflection/what-are-good-works-god-has-prepared-us)
The Bible also tells us these things about good works:
- If someone is hungry or inadequately clothed, believers should feed them and give them clothing. (Jas 2:14-17)
- Whatever we do, we should work enthusiastically and with all of our might, because the Lord Himself will reward us. (Col 3:23-24)
- We must do wholesome, upright, virtuous deeds and share whatever we have with others. (Heb 13:16)
- Don’t allow ourselves to get tired of doing good. (Gal 6:9)
- All that we do should be done in love. (1 Cor 16:14)
- Believers should encourage and inspire each other to lovingly perform good works. (Heb 10:24)
Think deeply today about what we’ve studied, and about the many forms of good works. There are so many unique ways in which you may demonstrate the love and mercy of God to the world through your good works. Be blessed in Jesus’ name!
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14) Paul is saying here that he pursues the reward of living a life in serving God through Jesus Christ. He considers it a high [important, exalted] calling.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. (1 Cor 9:24) The apostle is encouraging believers to live their lives as winners and as people who will cross the finish line.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, 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 4:7-8)
In these various passages of Scripture, we believers are being encouraged, influenced and motivated to:
- Fight the good fight,
- Finish the race, and
- Keep the faith.
Just as in any type of race or physical sport, we need to stay spiritually fit to take part in this spiritual race. We are encouraged to be persistent and consistent, as well as to be constant and committed to our faith.
This is, indeed, a high calling—an important and exalted mission to which Christ has called us and has enabled us by His grace. Let us rejoice in Him!
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Lk 6:35 NIV, underscoring added)
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Pro 19:17 ESV, underscoring added)
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. (Ps 112:5 ESV, underscoring added)
Justice means fair play, impartiality, objectivity or neutrality. The Scripture verse shown above (Ps 112:5) talks about a person who deals generously, lends to others, and conducts his affairs with justice. All of these character traits are traits of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our example. (See Phil 2:5; 1 Pet 2:21)
The Lord challenges us to test Him with our generosity just so that we will learn that we cannot out-give God! (Mal 3:10-12) It is the only area in which the Lord has instructed us to test Him. Just ponder that for a little while . . .
The Lord demonstrated His love for mankind by GIVING His only begotten Son to become our Savior. That was sacrificial love and sacrificial giving on God’s part, and anyone who is a parent understands that completely.
The focus of this article is about the call to believers to be generous—to live a generous lifestyle. And it’s crucial for us to understand that God the Father gave generously, and Jesus Christ gave generously, also.
And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Ac 20:35)
When we live a generous lifestyle while here on earth, in obedience to our heavenly Father, the Lord sees it and He places treasure in heaven aside for us as a reward. (Mt 6:19-21) God is most pleased when we share what we have with others, especially with those who are needy. (Mt 10:8; Heb 13:16)
Live generously and with joy! We believers are being transformed daily into the image of Christ, and this is simply one way in which we may cooperate with the Lord in our own transformation. (See Rom 8:29-30; Phil 2:13; 3:21; Col 3:10; 2 Cor 3:18) Blessings upon you!
How Do You Value Your Soul?
When all is said and done—when we all reach the end of our lives—what value do we place upon our own soul? How can we each understand right now, in the present, what we will realize at the end of our life?
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Mt 16:26 ESV)
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ (Lk 12:20 NKJV)
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mk 8:36-37)
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Lk 9:25)
As these Bible passages point out, what good is it to be wealthy, influential, highly educated or well-traveled if, after it’s all finished, we lose our own soul in eternity? If we think that’s okay, then we do NOT place any value whatsoever on our soul or upon our very self. God values human beings and we need to learn from Him to value ourselves very highly. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for each and every soul who accepts Him as Savior.
God created man in His own image! What great value God places upon each one of us. Another verse says that God gave mankind dominion or authority over all of the earth. (Gen 1:26-27) He put mankind in a place of authority over the planet.
God says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps 139:14) God Himself forms each and every newborn baby. (Ps 139:13 ESV) Having a child is accurately thought to be a reward from God. (Ps 127:3)
God so loved and valued each one of us that He sent His only Son to redeem all of us. (Joh 3:16) This precious gift of redemption must be accepted and received, individually, to be able to take effect in our lives. The Lord warns us to be fearful of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt 10:28) The Lord is talking about the enemy of our souls, Satan.
The advice the Lord gives us concerning our souls is this:
- The law of the Lord (God’s Word) refreshes the soul (Ps 19:7) – read, study, and meditate upon the Word of God, the Bible.
- Pleasant words, like honey, gives sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. (Pro 16:24) Speak pleasant words to others and over your family and over yourself. These words will truly bless everyone.
- The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible passage in 3 John 2: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (emphasis added) We need to pursue those habits that contribute to the prosperity of our immortal souls!
We should live our lives in close relationship with Jesus, and obey His Word in order to be blessed. We reveal that we value our souls very highly by this lifestyle, and God will bless each one of us for it. Praise God!
Preparation for Glory
One of the purposes of our lives here on earth, aside from sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is to prepare us believers for future glory. At times, our preparation will seem very difficult to bear up under.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. . . (2 Cor 4:17)
The apostle and his fellow sufferers compared their current light suffering with the reward that, by faith, they knew awaited them in heaven. They considered the heavenly crown awaiting them to be far more significant than their current afflictions.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Rom 8:18)
According to the verse above, our earthly problems will seem mild and temporary when we view them from the safe haven of eternity with Jesus. At times, it will help us to endure when we focus upon unseen realities that exist in the spiritual realm.
. . . knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Jas 1:3-4)
When our faith is put to the test, the Word reminds us to patiently endure—or to cling to the truth of God’s Word. Remaining steadfast in faith through a time of suffering will result in our faith becoming more mature, deep and strong. When we live in this way, we are following Christ’s example.
. . . though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (Heb 5:8)
This verse is referring to Jesus Christ, our Savior. This passage reminds us that our Savior learned, through suffering, all about the unique obedience needed to qualify Him as our High Priest. (See Commentary on Hebrews 5 by A. R. Fausset, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown)
The point of this article is to meditate upon the fact that Jesus—the Savior of mankind—endured great suffering for our sake. He didn’t grumble about it but focused upon His love for His Father and the end result of His obedience which was the reconciliation of mankind to God the Father. At the cross, Jesus could say, “It is finished.”
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials . . . (Jas 1:2)