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Using a camping trip as an analogy, explores how to learn more about God's plan and put forth a little effort that will lead to a great reward: eternal life....
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Using a camping trip as an analogy, explores how to learn more about God's plan and put forth a little effort that will lead to a great reward: eternal life.
NOW THIS IS THE LIFE! It's summer, and school is a distant memory. You are camping with your family, and you've just finished dinner. A creek gurgles nearby, and pine trees fill your head with their pungent scent. The grilled fish tasted better than it ever does at home, and already you are looking forward to s'mores around the campfire later.
Earlier in the day you roasted under the blazing sun. But now the sky is a cool, deep blue dotted with jillions of stars. You pull out your sleeping bag from the tent and lie flat on your back to watch for shooting stars. It's a warm August night- the best night for viewing an amazing light show: the Perseid meteor shower. Sure enough, pretty soon stars swoosh across the darkness - so many that you lose count. Wow, what an incredible sight!
Now imagine a slightly different scene: You're inside your tent with all the flaps closed - except for a peephole you made by unzipping a small corner of a window flap. You can only see out of this tiny opening, the size of an old-fashioned keyhole. Now how many shooting stars can you see? Or forget trying to see falling stars. How many stars can you see at all through that little crack?
That's just the way it was for me when I didn't understand what the Biblereally teaches about God's rewards. There was just so much I didn't "see" or realize. It was like looking through a keyhole at a night sky full of stars. I just couldn't see the whole wonderful picture.
For example, some people think that once you believe in Jesus, it won't make much difference how you live your life. They think that when you die and go to heaven, everything heaven has to offer will be yours to enjoy, no matter how you lived on earth.
But the Bible has so much more to teach us about all this. And it is great stuff! So rather than peek through that tiny keyhole, let's open the door and take in the entire view of that brilliant night sky.
JESUS IS COMING-WITH REWARDS
Did you know that everything-yes, everything! - you do in your life for Jesus, as you love Him and trust Him and let Him help you, will earn wonderful rewards for you in heaven? It's true! When Jesus speaks in the Bible about how He is coming back someday, He also talks about the rewards He is planning for us. On the very last page of the Bible, Jesus announces this to all of us:
"LISTEN! I AM COMING SOON! I WILL BRING MY REWARD WITH ME, AND I WILL REPAY EACH ONE OF YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE."
(Revelation 22:12, NCV)
REWARDS ARE THE REAL DEAL
So for all the things we do now for Jesus, we will be rewarded later. Does God want us to think about this?
Absolutely! That is why we find so much about rewards in the Bible, like this verse:
THOSE WHO COME TO GOD MUST BELIEVE THAT HE EXISTS. AND THEY MUST BELIEVE THAT HE REWARDS THOSE WHO LOOK TO HIM.
When you truly follow God, He will reward you. Guaranteed!
God's rewards are as real as this book you are holding in your hands. So let's learn all we can about them!
GREAT NEWS-STRAIGHT FROM GOD
Now here's some news that beats anything you'll read in your local paper. And unlike a newspaper that is recycled the next day, its news already forgotten, this news tells you about something that lasts forever: eternal life.
ETERNAL LIFE IS A FREE GIFT FROM GOD FOR EVERYBODY WHO BELIEVES IN HIM. JESUS SAID, "I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, WHOEVER HEARS WHAT I SAY AND BELIEVES IN THE ONE WHO SENT ME HAS ETERNAL LIFE." (John 5:24, NCV)
Jesus died for your sins. He died to pay the penalty and receive the punishment for every wrong thing you have ever done or will ever do. "He is the way our sins are taken away"(1 John 2:2, NCV).
That is what salvation means. It means we are saved from being punished for our sins. That is why Jesus is called our Savior. He died to save us from punishment in hell, if we will only believe in Him. "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"(Acts 16:31, NCV).
If you believe in Jesus, the Son of God, you already have eternal life. Now that is the best good news you could ever hear!
RAISE YOUR HANDS IF YOU'RE SURE!
I hope you are sure that you already have eternal life. If you believe that the Lord Jesus is your Savior, then eternal life is yours forever. You can know for certain that heaven is your future home.
Does it sound too simple, too easy? Well, believing in Jesus is supposed to be easy. God's free gift of salvation is exactly that - a free gift wrapped in His love.
Think about your birthday. You probably don't have to be told twice to open your presents. Do you stop and wonder if you're going to have to pay for the presents, or if they will be taken away from you? Of course not! You happily accept your gifts, and you know that they are yours to keep.
In the same way, gladly accept God's gift of love. Then decide to live the rest of your life for Jesus, with His help. He will always be there for you. That is as true as the fact that you are reading these words right now.
As you live for God, you can be sure that He will have wonderful rewards waiting for you in heaven. And that is what we need to talk about next.
YOUR CHANGE OF ADDRESS: HEAVEN!
Most of you have probably moved at least once. It's a lot of work, isn't it? You cram all your stuff into boxes and hope that you'll like your new home and neighbors. Then you memorize your new address and check out all the best spots for fun, food, and shopping. After a while your new place starts to feel like home.
Now think about how different your "move" to heaven will be. It will happen in the blink of an eye! There won't be any need for moving trucks. And you will instantly feel at home, in a way you've never felt before.
That's exactly what heaven means: being at home with God. And that home is going to be so much better than anything here on earth. The Bible talks about streets of gold and promises we will cry no more tears. I imagine that heaven is full of awesome sights and sounds and tastes and energy and exciting things to do. And think about the incredible joy of seeing your relatives again and talking with biblical characters like Moses, Joseph, and Peter. Of course, the best part will be seeing Jesus Himself.
We have so much to look forward to!
God's Word tells us, "No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9, NCV).
Think of that! The good things in heaven are beyond what we can even think up or dream. I don't know about you, but I have an imagination that slows down only for sleep. So let your imagination run wild!
But there is something very important you need to know right now about heaven. Are you wondering what that is?
Here's the answer: What we do now-in our life here on earth-will decide what rewards we get later in heaven. It all gets decided now. Your life today on earth and your life eternally in heaven are tightly connected.
By the time you finish this book, I hope you will look at your life in a whole new way. I pray you will know without a doubt that how you live your life now isn't just about today. It's about your forever.
You Can Be Sure
If you are not sure that heaven is your future home, you can change that this very moment by praying to Jesus right where you are. You can say, "Thank You, Jesus, for loving me so much that You died for me. Thank You for taking away the punishment for my sins. Please forgive me of all the wrong things I've ever done. Right now I invite You into my life, and I receive You as my Savior!"
THE BIGGEST THANK-YOU EVER
Does your mom ever make you sit down and write thank-you notes after Christmas and your birthday? I'm sure you appreciate your cool gifts, but you'd probably rather be enjoying them than writing about them, right? Or maybe the gift was so perfect that you are happy to write your thanks.
Have you ever thought about the greatest gift of all - your salvation in Jesus? Think about the difference He makes in your life now and about your future home in heaven. How about it? Why don't you write God a thank-you note right now and tell Him how much Jesus means to you.
YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET!
Did you ever get a shiny trophy for being a winner in sports? Or some fancy award or certificate for doing well in school? Do you have them on display in your room? I'm sure you are glad to have them. But God's rewards and honors in heaven are better by far. It would be like comparing a cheap ring or some other trinket from a gum ball machine with a treasure made of gold and diamonds. Or a beat-up penny to a crisp $100 bill. And the best thing is, God's rewards last forever.
What God is prepared to reward us with is like heaven itself-beyond what we can even dream up or imagine. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a good start for some daydreaming! Just don't forget this fact: Rewards are real and waiting for you!
DO THIS RIGHT
Take just a minute to ask God to make the most of this time when you are learning about His rewards. Ask Him to show you everything He wants you to know about this important subject.
Do you have any questions about God's rewards? If so, you may want to write your questions here:
Excerpted from A Life God Rewards, Guys Only by BRUCE WILKINSON WITH MACK THOMAS Copyright © 2002 by Exponential, Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
|Chapter 1||Looking Through A Keyhole||6|
|Chapter 2||So You're Going to Heaven--Now What?||24|
|Chapter 3||Tested by Fire||38|
|Chapter 4||Treasure Hunters||50|
|Chapter 5||It's More Than Worth It!||80|