Tag Archives: rewards

Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 20)

I have a friend who does my taxes. It’s not that I’m not good with numbers, but with our Amazon business I need help figuring out my assets and my liabilities. In this study we’re thinking about our blessings, our spiritual assets, as it were. And I’m inspired to think about this list because of my unsaved friend Mike who doesn’t yet enjoy these blessings.

One of the blessings that I’ve heard very few Christians talk about is the blessing of future rewards. I don’t know if they think it “unspiritual” to talk about such things, but I’m pretty sure my unsaved friends don’t —


Our culture is a “what’s in it for me?” environment. Frequently people will only do things for others if there is some kind of payback or reward or financial incentive for any acts of kindness. The follower of Jesus might overreact to this attitude and minimize or overlook the clear biblical teaching of future rewards for faithful service.

Because my lost friend isn’t right with God, he has no reason to expect any rewards from God at the judgment. And that is sad. For the believer, there ought to be a healthy expectation of the Lord’s commendation when he or she stands before Him after this life.

Two biblical texts leap out to me when thinking about one’s good works and the possibility of future rewards. In Matthew 7 we read of those who did good things but did not know the Lord: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Entering the kingdom of heaven is based on a relationship with Christ — not on one’s good works.

However, we do have the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. We read as follows:

Several observations about this passage:
1. This parable is all-inclusive. We read that “all the nations will be gathered before him” (v. 32).
2. All of humanity is divided into two and only two groups: the sheep and the goats.
3. The sheep are commended by the Father for caring for the needs of others, even though the sheep weren’t aware that the good works they were doing were being done unto Christ (vv. 37-39).
4. The sheep are called “blessed by my Father” and are given the inheritance of the kingdom which has been prepared for them since the creation of the world (v. 34).
5. The goats are told by the King to depart from him, are cursed, and are banished into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 41). Why? Because they did not do any of those good works (v. 45).
6. The parable is summarized with the somber words: “Then they [the goats] will go away to eternal punishment; but the righteous [the sheep] to eternal life” (v. 46).

So the Bible teaches that we don’t earn salvation by our good works. But our good works (after conversion) show our relationship with Christ.

There are many texts that talk about the believer’s receiving rewards for faithfulness, such as: Colossians 3:23-24; Romans 2:6; I Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9; Matthew 25:21; James 1:12; Matthew 6:1-2, 20; Hebrews 11:6; Revelation 22:12; I Timothy 6:17-19; I Corinthians 3:8-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 16:27; Jeremiah 17:10; Genesis 15:1; Proverbs 11:18; Matthew 5:11-12; Luke 6:38; 2 Timothy 4:8; Mark 9:41; 2 John 1:8; etc. [Psalm 17:14 speaks of the wicked as: “those of this world whose reward is in this life.”]

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I don’t hesitate to talk about how I want to live in such a way that I can anticipate the Lord’s approval and rewards. I will pray for my friend to think about the final judgment and how he needs to be “in Christ” to receive any rewards. (to be continued)




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Insight from a Blind Man — A Free Sermon Outline! (Part 2)

In this series of posts, we are giving away some of my favorite sermon outlines.  I’ve been preaching since I was about sixteen years old or so (that’s sixty-two years!) and have made every mistake in the book (I go over some of the most common mistakes in my booklet Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!).

We’ve begun to look at my sermon outline on John 9, the most extensively recorded miracle in the Bible. I won’t reproduce the biblical text for you, but my major outline points with a bit of explanation.  We’ve seen the first truth in this text and it is that —

I. Tragedy Has Its Reasons! (vv. 1-5)

Encountering this man “blind from birth,” the disciples ask Jesus for His explanation of this man’s tragedy.  They provide the Lord two possible answers (we do the same to Him, don’t we?), this man’s sin or his parents’ sin.  Jesus responds with letter ‘C’ — “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3).

The second truth that comes from this incredible text is simply —

II.  Obedience Has Its Reward (vv. 6-12).

It does not appear that Jesus engages this man in a conversation, but simply spits on the ground, makes mud, puts it on this man’s eyes, and tells him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam (v. 6).  And he obeys!  Perhaps he knew something about Jesus.  More than likely he didn’t know anything about this wandering rabbi, but something caused him to obey.  Without argument or hesitation.

We can only speculate about this man’s inner thoughts.  When you think about it, there is something quite healthy about desperation.  Or maybe resignation.  After a life of blindness, perhaps this man thought to himself, “What do I have to lose?”

The succinctness of the text is remarkable here:  “So the man went and washed, and came home seeing” (v. 7).  Wow.  Simple obedience — rewarded by God!  The great theologian Ray Charles, blind himself, once said, “My eyes are my handicap, but my ears are my opportunity.”  This man’s opportunity was to do what Jesus told him to do.  “And he came home seeing.”

The interrogations will soon begin.  But right now, this man is seeing.  For the first time.  A “work of God” done by Jesus because this man obeyed.  I wonder what works of God I might be missing by not jumping to obey?  (to be continued)






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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in john 9


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“Continuing the Race”: A Message for the Supporters of Dayspring Bible Camp Part 5

On August 3-5 I will be doing a “Theology Matters” retreat with a group of young people at Dayspring Bible Camp in Ironton, Mo (here‘s their website).  The topic, “Unlike Jesus,” will focus on the issue of friendship evangelism and how we are often not friends of sinners like Jesus was.

But I also get to address the supporters of the camp who have chosen the topic “Continue the Race” for their celebration. So, in these posts, we are thinking about the passages of Scripture that use the running metaphor. We’ve seen that God calls us into the race (from Phil. 3:14),that we have been challenged to train for the race (from I Tim. 4:7-8), and that training for this race requires strict self-control (from I Cor. 9:25).  We’ve also noticed that running this race requires obeying certain rules (from 2 Tim. 2:5).

Let’s move to our fifth and final passage which is found in I Corinthians 9:24 and in Hebrews 12:1-2 and it is that —

V. There Is a Prize to Be Won for Running This Race! (I Cor. 9:24; Heb. 12:1-2)

We read in I Corinthians 9 “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  We then read in Hebrews 12 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Just a few comments about these two passages:

1.  We are running, not just to get a participation trophy, but the prize! (I Cor. 9).

2.   We are often our own worst enemies in the race! (we cling to things that hinder us and stay entangled in sins that slow us down) (Heb. 12).

3.  We don’t determine our race track or course — that has been laid out for us! (Heb. 12).

4.  We don’t look behind us or at the other runners, but at Jesus as our goal (Heb. 12).

5.  We look to Him as our example, our pioneer, our perfecter, our prize! (Heb. 12).  As John Piper puts it, God is the gospel!

6.  We experience a variety of emotions during this race — endurance, scorn, shame, and . . . joy! (Heb. 12).

How’s your race going?  Don’t give up!  Keep your eyes on the prize — Jesus Himself!


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Posted by on July 27, 2018 in race


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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #7- SUCCESS) (con’t)

Jesus-followers sometimes get stuck in the area of SUCCESS.  They either think God has guaranteed them success in material prosperity or health — or — they think they are to go through life as paupers, like the little boy in Charles Dicken’s tale (“More porridge, Sir?”).

These messages for Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, GA (website: will conclude with this one on the topic of SUCCESS.  I pray for the SUCCESS of that small church as their new pastor comes and begins his ministry in October.

We looked at 2 Corinthians 5 briefly in our last post.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5)

All believers await the judgment seat of Christ — and we will be held accountable for how we have served Him.  What factors maximize the possibility that He will say to us on that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?  From this passage I would suggest three:

1. We seek to walk by faith and not by sight (v. 7).  Demanding daily miracles from the Lord does not strike me as walking by faith.  He can do a miracle whenever He wishes, but our task is to live out our Christian lives by faith.

2.  We make it our goal to please Him (v. 9).  What’s involved in “pleasing” someone?  We find out what their desires, needs, wishes, dreams are — and we invest ourselves in meeting those!  What pleases the Lord? (Might I suggest you do a concordance study of the word “please” or “pleasing” the Lord?  You’ll find some very helpful truth in the Word!).

3.  We recognize that we will be held accountable for the things done in the body, whether good or bad (v. 10).  Although we are saved by grace, we are responsible for the works we do or don’t do once we are saved.  (The topic of rewards for the believer is a large, but important, one, and deserves to be studied.)  It is not wrong to live for the Lord’s approval and for the achievement of rewards for faithfulness.  My desire is for a whole lot of crowns on that day — so that I can lay them at His feet!  You?


Posted by on September 30, 2017 in christian growth


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