Read an Excerpt
A Life God Rewards for Teens
By Bruce Wilkinson with David Kopp
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 2002 Exponential, Inc.
All right reserved.
a billion years from now
You've heard the stories.
An apple falls out of a tree, and Isaac Newton starts noodling on the law of gravity. Centuries later, scientists use Newton's noodling to aim rockets at the moon.
Some Aztec warrior accidentally drops his dried-out cob of corn into the fire and pfut, pop, pow! Next thing you know we have popcorn by the bucket, fake butter on tap, and movies on the big screen.
Interesting, isn't it, how one little thing you do now can cause a huge thing later?
So what if I told you that who you sit next to at lunch today could change what happens to you a billion years from now?
You decide to sit next to Eddie, one thing happens. You decide to sit next to Sam, and another thing happens ... a billion years later.
And what if I told you that what happens to you then as a direct result of what you did today will matter to you a lot?
Would you be surprised? Would you think I was crazy?
The book you're holding is going to show you a big idea right in front of you that you might have missed-how your actions today can radically change your life in eternity.
This is not a book about heaven, or about how to get there, even though we'll talk about all those things and more. ALife God Rewards for Teens is about how to make the most of your life right now, one little opportunity at a time.
Because the honest truth is that your life today-the one-and-only life you have-is more valuable and more important and more packed with possibilities than you ever dreamed.
How Many Stars Can You See?
Let me warn you, 95 percent of the world's people believe just the opposite of what you are going to learn in the next few pages. In fact, the truths I want to show you are the exact opposite of what I believed when I first stumbled onto them. (And I had been going to church all my life.)
What you'll discover here comes from one source-the greatest teacher who ever lived. His name is Jesus. He's the only person in history who come from eternity to tell us what it is like, and what our lives on Planet Earth are meant to add up to a billion years from now. And since Jesus is the Son of God, He's the best person to tell us about God's amazing plan. That's why you'll see His name on nearly every page.
If you're willing to be surprised by the truths He revealed, it will be like seeing whole galaxies where you once saw only a tiny patch of stars.
Are you ready?
Jesus Said What?
No one said more shocking things about how to live than Jesus. His words left experts outraged and ordinary people with their mouths hanging open. Take Jesus' first public appearance (He was only twelve). The Bible sags, "All who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers" (Luke 2:47).
I'll admit, I was astonished too when I finally understood what Jesus was really saying in the Sermon on the Mount. You might be familiar with the passage:
"Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!"
For years I thought Jesus meant we should enjoy suffering for Him. Sure. So if someone spits on you because you're a Christian, you should jump for joy because someone else's spit on your shirt makes you feel so happy.
But that never made much sense.
Then one day I read further and saw what Jesus was really saying:
"For indeed your reward is great in heaven."
Jesus isn't asking you to love being miserable. Instead, He is revealing a most surprising fact.
Here it is: Do something for Jesus now, and He will do something for you later. Serve Jesus on earth, and He will reward you in heaven. And His reward for you in heaven will be so amazingly wonderful that if you saw your future like He sees your future ... well, you might even jump for joy right now, soggy shirt and all.
Let me ask you: Do you believe that what you do for God today, in your town, with your friends, will even matter to you after you're dead?
How you answer this question says a lot about what you think is important, how you feel about God, whether you think life is fair, and how you treat your friends (and your enemies).
In fact, the whole idea of a God who rewards you in heaven for what you do on earth just might be the most outrageous teaching of Jesus you ever tangle with-especially if you're already a Christian!
Let me show you what I mean.
My Big U-Turn
When I first saw what Jesus said about the connection between my actions now and my experience in heaven, I was upset. In fact, I told my wife that I disagreed with God's plan completely!
You see, I'd always been taught that all that mattered to God was that I receive Jesus as my Savior. If I believed the right thing, my future was guaranteed. Only people with the wrong beliefs worried about doing good works. I had my ticket to heaven-I was in. Hallelujah. End of story.
So why did Jesus talk again and again about God promise to reward people for good works?
I began a big research project, starting with every Bible verse on the subject. Then I studied what the scholars said. The more I studied, the more I noticed that our good works on earth do matter to God.
Jesus said He will "reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). And He told a wealthy person to "sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven" (Matthew 19:21). Obviously, Jesus wanted us to know that serving God on earth has a direct and very positive result in heaven.
Could it be, I wondered, that the reason a lot of Christians I know don't live any differently from non-Christians is that they don't know what Jesus said about rewards?
Gradually I realized that I had completely missed what Jesus really said. I had been trying to see a million stars through a keyhole ...
I decided I would make a big U-turn in my beliefs. From now on, I would believe what Jesus said, not what I thought He should say. And I would live each day as if everything I do today will matter forever.
Rumors of Blue Whales
That was nearly twenty years ago. I've never looked back, and my life has never been the same. And by the time you're done reading this book, if you believe the words of Jesus, your life probably will never be the same either.
You'll feel differently about people you meet every day.
You'll see awesome opportunities (with your name written all over them) on the most ordinary of dogs.
You'll stumble on adventures in eternity just waiting to happen now-in how you use your time, your money, and your abilities.
Sound like hype to you? Let me tell you, Jesus came to earth to shock people with just this kind of good news.
I promise that you'll look back on the hour or two you spent reading this book, and like Newton the Noodler, you'll think, That's when the apple fell out of the tree ...! Or like that surprised Aztec, you'll remember, That's when that old cob of corn suddenly started popping like crazy ...! And you'll know that the "one little thing" of reading this book has created a huge change in your life.
If you've read The Prayer of Jabez for Teens and Secrets of the Vine, you know that God wants you to ask every dog for His blessing. And you know that He wants you to bear a great deal of fruit for His kingdom.
In this book you're going to see what Jesus said about how you can change your life today in ways that will change your life forever! You see, God wants to bless you-and bless you indeed-for all eternity. That's just how awesome and loving your God is!
Let's be honest, all this talk about eternity leaves us feeling small, humbled, really human. We're just ordinary people, stuck on the ground. We're like tadpoles swapping stories of blue whales. But God sent His Son, Jesus, from heaven to help us see huge truths we couldn't see or even imagine on our own, and to show us how to make the most of every minute of our lives.
Friend, if you're willing to be surprised, even shocked, by Jesus' words, your life can begin to change for the better immediately.
Let's Talk about It
1. Have you ever been surprised by something Jesus said? If so, what was it?
2. Do you ever feel like there's no point in trying hard to do the right thing, since Jesus will forgive you and you're going to heaven anyway? How might this affect your relationship with Jesus?
3. What comes to mind when you think about heaven? Do you think it will be the same for everyone? Why or why not?
4. Are you content with your walk with God right now, or would you like to make some big changes? How do you wish things were different?
5. If you firmly believed that everything you do today will matter greatly to you in heaven, what would you change right away?
Excerpted from A Life God Rewards for Teens by Bruce Wilkinson with David Kopp 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.