A Heavenly Recompense

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Lk. 14:12-14

When was the last time that you made a dinner or a supper and invited in the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to eat of your goods? If you have, blessed are you.

But notice specifically that Jesus is concerned here that we do not seek after worldly recompense in the good that we do. On the contrary, we are to have an eye for a heavenly recompense, at the resurrection of the just. On that day, God will reward those who did not seek to be repaid here on earth.

But, pray, can a Christian desire worldly recompense rather than the heavenly one? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. More times than I can count, I have done good to someone and, if they did not thank me or take notice of it, I felt bad about it. That was the flesh, demanding worldly recompense and leading me to forfeit my heavenly reward.

Walking in the will of God is not a matter of one simply believing in Christ; more importantly, it is about one denying self and taking up their cross and following Christ. The Bible tells us that the flesh wars against the Spirit, and that if we side with it we cannot do the will of God in our lives. And for this reason, therefore, the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16-17)

It tells us that if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Have you noticed how we hunger for earthly recompense, including being thanked, noticed, praised and repaid back? The flesh demands worldly recompense. It demands to be paid in kind right here on earth. It has no heavenly agenda, for it is not of heaven.

But when the cross is at work in our lives, we “kill” these kinds of attitudes. We begin to care more about the only thing that really matters: the heavenly recompense. One day we will stand before God and be recompensed for the things that we did here on earth for which no man could repay us back.

It is in the light of this revelation that we can understand and appreciate Jesus’s other teachings.

“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Mat. 5:42)

In Lk. 6:30, Jesus made that even clearer.

Give to every man that asketh of thee…”

Give to every man. I overheard one brother say that he does not give money to street beggars. He had a grudge against what he called their “laziness”. But, in this scriptures, street beggars fall right in the middle of “every man that asketh of thee”.

Jesus went on to qualify His statements:

“32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” (Lk. 6:32-34)

Notice the word “thank” there. What was Jesus talking about here? He was referring to the heavenly recompense. One day, God will thank you in a way no man could.

The heavenly stakes are incredibly high. But, again, it can only be that one is truly fighting the good fight of faith that they can do these things. The spiritual man/woman does not need to be recompensed in the natural.

True Spiritual Victory

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:7-14) 

In every race, each athlete’s eyes are fixed on the finishing line. Once he or she touches that line they consider they have finished the race. But over and above that they make every effort to finish in a winning position so that they can receive the prize. After all, the really important person is the one who wins because he or she is the one who receives the prize.

The Apostle Paul desired to not only finish the heavenly race but to be that winning person. Paul got the revelation that the way to this was to conform to Christ by partaking in His sufferings and death. That meant forgoing, or denying all his earthly and fleshly rights. Only through this means could he attain to the prize of God’s high calling, which was the resurrection of the dead. And what is this resurrection of the dead? True, it includes the hope of eternal life that we have. But it also involves carrying the life of Christ in the here and now – victory over the flesh, the world and the devil.

The gospel that the Apostle Paul carried needed to be a revelation so that it would not get mixed with the craftiness of human wisdom. The latter appears like it has Godliness in it, but it never changes someone. It simply has not the power to do so. A revelation was what Paul got and he testifies that it changed him completely. He became, not a religious person, but a changed man.

How we need that revelation in our hearts today! That revelation will break us, and make us vessels worthy to carry the life of Christ. Through the manifold riches of God, the winning spot is one that is available to all of us.

We who are saved need to ask ourselves many questions today: whether that change is taking place in our lives daily; whether we are continually carrying a heart of true humility? Whether we are guarding and maintaining a pure heart at every cost? Whether we are paying the price of walking in true love and a tender, forgiving heart. These are things that require a high price indeed. And these are the things that the spiritual athlete is made of.

Christians today are busy boasting of their victories over the devil; but how often do we see the Apostles talking of the devil? They talked more about another more subtle and infinitely deadlier enemy: an enemy who does not and who cannot submit to the will of God. That enemy is the flesh. Unfortunately, today there is ‘another’ gospel being preached, which gratifies the flesh. It caters to and pampers the flesh. God’s people are not taught to crucify the flesh. On the contrary, in this ‘new’ gospel the flesh is very important . Live well, eat well, drive well, dress well, etc. Success is measured in financial and material terms. The ‘good life’ is emphasized. God’s people become, in effect, enemies of the Cross of Christ!

Well, I am sure God has no problem us living that good life. But He expressly instructs us to crucify the flesh. How we can reconcile the two is a gymnastic tightrope that much of the time we are unable to walk carefully enough. We easily play into the hands of the spirit of the world. Note the freedom of the man who, in Apostle James’ words, can live contented with the simple life: Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” James 1:9-10

Naomi pt.2

We last saw how Naomi’s perseverance in suffering caused Ruth to see into God’s Kingdom, and how she desired to cleave to Naomi. Many doctrines have come up today that deny Christians the privilege of partaking of the sufferings of Christ – and the blessing that comes with this suffering.

Chief among these is the gospel of prosperity. I have heard preachers claim that it is actually a sin to live in deprivation or even to get sick. These type of “bless me” gospels just serve to promote the flesh in the Church. Christians cheer at these gospels without realizing the seed of carnality being planted in their lives.

But when we suffer for the sake of Christ, we reap a different harvest. Our lives enrich others, and we reap a harvest for the Kingdom.

Today I would like us to look at another aspect of Naomi’s faith as we study her suffering. When Naomi went back to the land of Judah, everyone came out to receive her saying, “Is this Naomi?” to which she replied, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me” (1:19-21).

The saints we read about in the Old and New Testaments saw God at work in their lives. They saw the hand of God, not of Satan. We see Naomi acknowledging God in her suffering.  Yet, today we live in a generation where Satan is probably more alive in Christians’ lives than God Himself.

It is no secret that today Christians are seeing the devil behind every bush. Nearly every problem in the Church is attributed to the devil. Poverty, disease, unemployment, domestic and matrimonial problems, grievance of brother against brother, and even sin are all considered the devil’s doing. So is persecution. Christians cannot imagine God “deserting” them and leaving them in the hands of the enemy.

This belief in the devil has in turn opened the door for “sorcerers” of every sort to invade the Church. I don’t know about other countries, but in our country there are now preachers peddling every kind of sorcery within the Church: “blessed water” (and oil!), books into countless forms of “deliverance” and “lightning” prayers (against the devil) plus countless other ‘indulgences’ – all written and invented by preachers – are sold at Christian bookstores situated right at the entrance into the churches themselves. In church there are ‘apostles’ who specialize in “prospering” God’s people; and – the latest – there are preachers “cleansing” Christians’ “stars” (which is pure black magic)!

The other day, on Christian radio, I heard of a “mobile church” where, once you register (yes, you have to register, and there are 3 main conditions you have to fulfill for your membership to be confirmed) – once you are accepted into this cloud nine fellowship you will never need to tire yourself walking to some old church building; you only need turn the dial and you are on, right there on your couch!

These false teachers are promising God’s people all kinds of placebos, all of which are geared to convince the Christian that he does not need to suffer. “Promises” have been dug up from every tip of the Bible to prop up the desperate belief that a lack of suffering and a materialistically prosperous and comfortable life was the promise given to Abraham by God. But all this  ‘revelation’ is of the flesh, really, for the flesh does not contemplate suffering of any sort. And these gospels ultimately lead to disillusionment for the believer, to live in fear and defeat.

What the Bible actually says about our father Abraham is that he received the promise when he was “as good as dead”! (Heb. 11:12). In other words, Abraham never received that promise in the flesh! (We would have to remove a whole load of scriptures from the Bible to agree with these new age preachers).

Naomi did not say, “The devil has afflicted me.” She said “God has afflicted me.” Though she was sorrowful, yet she realized God was at work in her life, and she was ready to let Him have His way in her life.

Let me tell you that due to the nature and magnitude of her problems, Naomi could have consulted the Moabite sorcerers of her day. But she did not. She bound herself to her God – for good and for evil! At no one moment did she lose sight of the vision of the one living God who is in control over the affairs of men.

At Ruth’s marriage to Boaz and the subsequent birth of Obed, God would begin rewarding Naomi for her patient suffering and her trust in Him. But many, many years later, Naomi’s true reward was realized at the birth of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.