MARK 10:29-31: “Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: God always rewards obedience! Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. The one who proclaims faith must also have confirming works that follow. James rightfully points out in his epistle that obedience is the true fruit of faith. Hebrews 11:6 continues and makes this point saying – “…for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (ESV) The New King James translation adds – “…who diligently seek Him.” To diligently seek the Lord is to walk in obedience to His commands and to the leading of His Holy Spirit.
This morning as I read these familiar verses I realize that this promise has been literally fulfilled in my life. As I sit in my living room looking at all the beautiful surroundings that the Lord has blessed Karen and I with, I am reminded of what we have given up. When we were first married in the late 1970’s, the housing market began to explode. I know it sounds impossible, but you could still get a 3 bedroom starter home in California for under $30,000. Everyone was telling me that if I did not buy a home I might never be able to afford a home. Karen and I fell into this fear and went out and put a deposit on a new home. We were not going to lose this opportunity.
There was one problem. The Lord had called me to the ministry. He had called me to finish my education. I was working at a grocery store making journeyman wages as a retail clerk, but my calling was to become a pastor. To buy a home would have derailed this calling, as I would have been straddled with debt and forced to work full time. The Lord convicted Karen and I and called us to return to our original calling. We went to cancel the contract on the new home, knowing that we might lose the $500.00 deposit (which was a lot of money back then). I do not remember if we lost the deposit, but I do remember that we stepped directly into the will of God and His peace when we obeyed.
It has been over 37 years since we had that experience. In all honesty, at the time we obeyed the Lord we thought we would be living in an apartment the rest of our lives. This would have been just fine for us – as long as we were continuing to be in the will of God. Yet, the Lord has blessed us. We have had the privilege and blessing of living in 3 beautiful homes. We have always endeavored to put the Kingdom of God first. We have always honored the Lord with our tithes and offerings. And we have always strived to consider His will before we pursued ours. We have not always done this perfectly – but by His Grace we have tried to pursue His calling.
The result has been the fulfillment of these verses – with persecution. It is all true. We have gone through trials and difficulties that should have derailed us. Yet, through God’s Grace and by His Love we have persevered and come out stronger. We have had to wait for things as we put the Kingdom of God first, yet we have never lacked and the Lord has abundantly blessed us. I can truly say that the Lord has freely given us “all things” – and most importantly the blessing of eternal life! Missionary Jim Elliot wisely said – “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Today we hold all these things lightly for the excellence of knowing Christ and His righteousness.
Lord, help me to continue to trust you throughout the remaining days of my life. May I fully press into Your Grace and finish well the race that is set before me. Let my faith be confirmed through my obedience. In Jesus Name!