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Friday, July 11, 2014

Hanging flowers at Chocolate World, Hershey, PA 7/10/14
Yesterday we visited Chocolate World in Hershey and noticed this beautiful hanging plant.

"Our Great Reward"

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"After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward'" (Genesis 15:1). "Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them [the Scriptures] there is great reward" (Psalm 119:11).
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward" (Hebrews 10:35). "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me" (Revelation 22:12).

Ask ye what great thing I know,
That delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the Name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified!

Reward cardsMost of us carry several reward cards for local supermarkets, gas stations, etc. In fact these cards on our key chain amount to more than our keys!

Our credit cards offer rewards based on how much we use them. Our Discover Card reward for some time now goes to get "Bath and Body Works" gift cards I present to Brooksyne (just to see her big smile)! These rewards are appealing because they are very specific and immediate. For so many these days the attitude is that these types of rewards are tangible. Sadly for so many the attitude is, why wait for or place any hope in some unknown, future "pie in the sky" reward?

The concept of reward is found in the Scriptures as seen in our daily texts from early in Genesis to the final chapter of Revelation. Most of the teaching I find in the Bible regarding rewards presents them as future and having very little specific detail as to what they involve. They are presented as being great and certain, but just what they will be and when we receive them is not fully disclosed. This is at the heart of the faith walk we are called to live. 

One of the great verses that many of us have committed to memory is a statement in Hebrews 11, often called the Faith Chapter, "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" (11:6).

Abraham never physically saw his descendants as "numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore."  However by faith Abraham "considered Him faithful who had made the promise" (Hebrews 11:11).

Moses died on the east side of the Jordan after 40 difficult years of leading an ungrateful and stubborn people. He never physically entered Canaan, the land promised to Abraham's descendants. His future reward in heaven motivated him in the midst of leading a rebellious people and harsh conditions.  "He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Hebrews 11:26)

Stephen, the great expositor of Scripture had a promising ministry but faced a deadly hail of rocks. He would have been a very good pastor to the early church yet he was looking for a future reward.

Eternal rewards People of faith understand this reward is coming in God's time. It is a most certain reward. So hold on to His promises today. Some of these rewards are experienced in this life, but I'm convinced that whatever good we experience on this side is but a glimpse of our total rewards. By far the best is yet to come! "Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward" (Hebrews 10:35).

This is that great thing I know;
this delights and stirs me so:
faith in Him who died to save,
His who triumphed o’er the grave:
Jesus Christ, the crucified!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we hold onto the confidence we have in You, knowing that in Your appointed time we will receive the full range of rewards that comes to those who remain steadfast in their walk with You. We have already received the reward of peace that comes from knowing our sins are forgiven. We are rewarded with Your daily presence that guides us into all truth. But we only see in part the rewards in this life that You grant to the believer, for we know You have much stored up for us to enjoy in the future eternal setting of heaven. Help us to hold on, not give up, and to greatly anticipate our future reward of eternity with You, for the half has not yet been told. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: As we write about the great men of faith who believed and yet did not see the promise of God come to pass in their lifetime I consider those who pray and do not see their prayers answered before they die. My parents who had a strong faith while I was a child growing up in Oklahoma had a bad experience in the church when I was in high school (early 70's). They grew bitter and "threw away their confidence" which included their fellowship with God. Many times over the next few years when I'd visit my grandparents in Arkansas during devotions I remember Grandpa lifting Brooklyn and Ruth up to God in prayer asking Him to bring them back to the faith they once held.  Grandma and Grandpa died in the late seventies and never saw that prayer answered on this side. But, by the grace of God, their prayers were answered though it took twenty four years and many, many prayers before they walked the aisles of the church again. I had the privilege of going forward with them to the altar in Sand Springs, OK on Easter Sunday in 1996, as they restored their faith in God and renewed their commitment to follow Him. Four years later Daddy, at 66 years of age, died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. One year after that Mom, at age 67, died from ovarian cancer.

The sweetest memory I recall from Dad's last six weeks at St. Frances Hospital in Tulsa (Feb. 2000) was the night I stayed in his room overnight. In the middle of the night he called out, "Mama? Mama?"  He had been in a coma like state for several days. Though Mom rushed to his side we both quickly recognized it wasn't her that he was calling. He was calling his own mother's name. He must have been seeing his mother from a distance and wasn't sure that it was her so he called out her name in a questioning sort of way. Or perhaps he saw her new radiant youthful body and wasn't sure it was her. I also wonder.... when he met up with Grandpa if Grandpa didn't shake his finger at Daddy, and say, "Why on earth did it take you so long to get your heart right with God?"

Sunset in rain 7/10/14
Last night we had a beautifully rainy sunset scene from our office.

Farm scene at Hershey Chocolate world tour
Farm scene mural on the wall at Hershey Chocolate World!

Mike Gardner 7/10/14
Yesterday we opened our message about a conversation I had overheard between a young man named Mike and a teenager concerning electronic devices. Last night I stopped by Kinsey Outdoors and there was Mike, buying his deer tags for the coming season. We shared a laugh when I told him I had used his name in yesterday's opening illustration.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Stand Amazed"  Video   Gaither Tent Revival Homecoming

"Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored"  Video  GVB

"Ask ye what great thing I know" is a hymn that can be sung to the tune of "Take My Life and Let It Be"

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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