Seeking Jesus First - July 24, 2023

Seeking Jesus First - July 24, 2023
Photo by Giorgio Trovato / Unsplash

According to the Scripture, God rewards in multiple ways.

God rewards people according to their faith. And He rewards people according to their works.

One might ask, “I understand God rewarding me according to my faith, but what about grace and forgiveness? I don’t want to be rewarded for SOME of my deeds!”

Yes, there is grace and forgiveness. Grace empowers us to repent and to receive forgiveness through faith in the completed work of Calvary. Repentance review: Repent means to change the way we think. When we repent, we receive the mind of Christ. This changes behaviors. But according to Jesus and Apostle Paul, reaping what you sow is still a thing. If you want to reap something different, you have to partner with grace through faith. This partnership produces a different seed that we plant with our words and with our actions.

Paul uses the word “conversation” ten times in his many epistles. Peter uses this term eight times in three epistles. Conversation means, manner, conduct, behavior, manner of life, way of life. It encompasses your whole lifestyle - what you say and what you do. It is not a “one off”. It is not an occasional action. It is your methodology for living. It is more simply, the way you do things every day, your manner of speech and your way of choosing your actions.

If you want to reap life, your conversation will be filled with love. If your conversation is filled with wickedness, you will reap corruption that leads to death. If your conversation is filled with mercy, you will reap mercy. It is not the occasional seed planted that typically reaps the biggest harvest. It is the lifestyle of planting that creates a lifestyle of harvesting. This is practical. This is living in a natural realm.

Even in the natural realm, God has supplied the seed. Anyone who practices a godly lifestyle will reap godly benefits in the earth. However. we do not just want earthly benefits from our life. We are living for an eternal reward as well. This reward is entirely the result of faith, hope and love. God has given us all three. Faith, hope and love are gifts from God. So, everything we do in faith, motivated by love gives us hope for a supernatural reward on top of the natural rewards of living a godly life.

We understand that people can do good without faith in God. People can have selfish reasons fro doing good. People can just believe in “karma” instead of “seedtime and harvest” and start doing good because they want good to come to them. Many people do this while determining for themselves what is good. There is no eternal reward for this. But there is a natural reward. Jesus told some pharisees, “You give to be see by those around you as a giver. So being seen is your reward. But those who give in secret are rewarded by Our Heavenly Father in front of everyone.”

God is always looking at the heart and not just the outward appearance and deeds of the flesh. But God sees the outward appearance and the works of the flesh. He has set up the natural system of seedtime and harvest to reward for those. “The righteous God (also translated “those who are righteous”) wisely considers the house of the wicked, Overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness. Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be heard… It is a joy for the just to do justice, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.” (Proverbs 21:12–15, NKJV)

The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 22:29–31, NKJV)

When God removes His protection and the enemy attacks, it is often spoken of as God’s judgement or as God doing the destroying. But Jesus told us that the devil is the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. He shows up with a plan to tempt people with wickedness. He wants to steal their faith, hope and love. He wants to bring sickness and death. He wants to destroy their relationship with God as their Father. So he tries to get them focused on their own condemnation and the condemnation of others. If he can steal faith, hope and love from them, the death and destruction will follow as a matter of course - planting and harvesting.

I believe this is why God focused us on faith, hope and love in the New Covenant. He didn’t focus us on BEhavior but on BEing. We are recreated in our new birth as beings of love.

Ephesians 4 starts by teaching us to walk worthy of our calling as sons of God and Ephesians 5 starts by teaching us to be imitators of God as dear children by walking in the love of God. Check them out:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Ephesians 4:1–7, NKJV)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1–2, NKJV)

Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his (conversation) conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”” (Psalm 50:23, NKJV)

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession (conversation) is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10, NKJV)

The ordering of your confession and conduct affects the level of salvation that we experience before heaven.

The disorder of confession and conduct affects the level of condemnation and corruption we experience here on earth.

Notice that I said that they affect the level of experience. They do not change what Christ has promised and has made available to all who believe. They impact our level of experience with these promises and rewards.