Rewards for the Good We Do

“Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do.” Ephesians 6:8 NLT

My son, John, didn’t get his first job until much later than most kids his age. We allowed him to stay home during his summer vacations from school, because when he was only 16, he created a Christian web site that began touching the lives of others from its earliest stages. The site, “,” grew rapidly, and maintaining it became more and more time-consuming for our son.

Eventually, when John decided that he wanted to buy a car, he began looking for a full-time job one summer. Even though he was 20 years old, he had absolutely no job experience, and we weren’t sure he had any marketable skills. We began earnestly praying that God would move mightily on his behalf, and that He would open doors of opportunity for John, and give him favor with the right people, so that he could somehow secure an excellent job with good pay. One day, a friend of my son’s mentioned that he had a relative who worked for a nearby company, that had a job opening requiring web work experience. Shortly afterwards, this company called my son on the phone, asked him a few questions, and told him to report for work immediately. John never needed to go for an interview. He never even filled out an application. And he got an excellent starting salary from these folks. As it turned out, the skills that John developed from maintaining his Christian web site–his labor of love for the Lord–were the very skills that opened exciting doors for him in the job market.

The above verse is a promise from the Lord that He will reward us for the good that we do. The Living Bible puts it this way: “Remember, the Lord will PAY you for each good thing you do.” (Ephesians 6:8 TLB) Even though John wasn’t being paid a regular salary for his ministry efforts, God showed that He had creative ways to reward him, just the same. Don’t ever hesitate to invest your time, your treasure, or your talents in the kingdom of God. For nothing you do in His name will be left unrewarded by the Lord!

Lord, I praise You for being the “Rewarder” that the Scriptures say You are. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV) Do a new and mighty work in my heart, so that I’ll actively look for ways to serve You. Thank You that as I do everything as “unto the Lord,” You will “pay” me in ways that will delight my heart, and glorify You!

The Problem with Pampering

“Discipline your children while there is still hope. If you don’t you will ruin their lives.” Proverbs 19:18 NLT

My husband and I were at a neighbor’s house one day, when the father and husband of the household confessed in exasperation, “The better I treat my kids, the worse they treat me!” This man began to describe in detail how for years, he had bent over backwards to win the approval of his children by striving to meet their needs, and even their wants. These children were now in their teens and early 20s, and they were spoiled and selfish, and showed a definite lack of respect for their parents. As I began to think about this man and his family, and to pray for them, I asked the Lord to help me understand what might have gone so terribly wrong in this household. First of all, let me say that my own family and I have had our share of ups and downs over the years. My husband and I have made many mistakes in raising our two sons, who are both in their 30s now. They are fine young men, but I know in my heart that I could have done a much better job as a parent, and I regret not seeking God more, so that I could follow more closely His divine plan for my family.

When I was growing up, there was a famous child “expert,” who had a tremendous impact on an entire generation. He advocated permissive methods of parenting, and he condemned the kind of discipline that the Bible teaches. Decades later, this man said that he had been terribly wrong, and that after conducting long-term studies, he discovered that permissive parents almost always raised rebellious children. His revelation made me think of the Scripture that says, “A servant who is pampered from childhood will later become a rebel.” (Proverbs 29:21 NLT) One reason why pampered children often become rebellious is that they usually have very little respect for their parents. The Bible says, “We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.” (Hebrews 12:9 NIV) I had a very tough father, and though I resented much of his discipline when I was growing up, I have to admit that I always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. I know a young man who is angry and bitter, and if you ask him why, he will tell you point blank, “My father didn’t say ‘No’ to me enough.” This man equated discipline with love, just as the Bible does. Proverbs 13:24 (NLT) says: “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.”

One of the biggest mistakes that parents are making today is that they are desperately trying to win the approval of their children. Do you think that God worries about winning the approval of HIS children? No, He does not. And why is that? Because He is more concerned with doing what is best for His offspring. And we, as parents, should have the same attitude. God is not pleased when we focus on pleasing our children. Instead, He wants us to focus on pleasing Him–in our parenting, and in all other respects–and when we do things His way, HE will give us favor with our children. God is never going to let us earn our children’s respect or approval when we are busy trying to please them, instead of Him.

When Jesus bitterly rebuked the Pharisees for their lack of concern and respect for their parents, we have to remember that He was speaking to grown men. (Mark 7:9-13) Parents of grown children should still expect their sons and daughters to treat them with respect. That doesn’t mean that we should try to control their lives, but that we should never have the attitude that our kids have outgrown their need to respect their parents. Likewise, we as adult children, should always remember that when God commanded His people to “honor” their father and mother, He was speaking to adults, at least as much as to children. (Exodus 20:12)

Scripture says: “Discipline your children while there is still hope. If you don’t you will ruin their lives.” (Proverbs 19:18 NLT) No matter how old your children are, and no matter how many mistakes you’ve made as a parent, let me assure you that there is still hope for your family, through God’s redeeming power. May this precious promise from the Lord encourage you today: “Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did–they’ll turn out delightful to live with”! (Proverbs 29:17 MSG)

Lord, forgive me for the mistakes I’ve made as a parent, and for neglecting to seek Your wisdom and grace in this area. Remind me that if I want to do what’s best for my children, I need to focus on pleasing You, instead of them. Thank You that as I give You first place in my life, You will equip me to be the godly parent that You want me to be!

God's Promise of Provision for Your Children

There have been many promises over the years that the Lord has spoken to my heart in times of trouble, even where my job as a parent is concerned, but one of the most precious ones for me is Psalm 37:25 (NIV), where David says: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Because neither of my sons were all that thrilled about school or their studies, there were times when I doubted that they would even graduate from high school. This was bewildering to me, because I had always been a conscientious and high-achieving student, and it never even crossed my mind that my children would be anything different.

As a mom, I longed to see both of my sons win full scholarships, so that they could go to college and not worry about the cost. When it became obvious to me that this dream of mine would never be realized, I cried many bitter tears. As I brought my heartbreak and concerns before the Lord in prayer, He led me to His promise in Psalm 37:25. It was His way of assuring me that He was not going to abandon my children, and that He still had bright and beautiful futures ahead for them that included divine protection and provision. Both of my sons did attend some college, but neither of them graduated with the usual 4-year degrees.

Today, my older son, Joseph, has a great job in the computer field, and already makes more money than his dad ever did—something my husband is very proud of—and John has one of the largest and most popular Christian music websites ever. All without any student loans to pay off, I might add. I’m sharing all this with you in case you, too, are concerned about the future of your own children. If you are living your life for the Lord, and if you are covering your children in prayer each day, and entrusting them to His care, you can bet that He has awesome plans for their lives, and that He will never forsake them or let them go hungry!

Cultivate Thankfulness

I recently heard a godly man talking about how upset he was when his father passed away. As he thought about all of the plans he and his dad had made for the future, he became bitter and depressed. When the Lord dealt with him about having an unthankful attitude, and refusing to appreciate all of the years he shared with his dad, this man became repentant, and adopted an attitude of gratitude. Joy and peace sprang up in his heart, and he was greatly comforted and consoled.

I knew that hearing this man’s testimony was no accident. My oldest son and his wife were planning on traveling to the East Coast to visit with my husband and me, as well as other family members, for the upcoming Christmas holiday. And I had already begun asking people to pray that I wouldn’t be too depressed when they left and went back to the West Coast. The Lord was clearly dealing with me about my lack of gratitude, and my tendency to feel sorry for myself whenever I focused on my loved ones living so far away. I apologized to the Lord for my unthankfulness, and I asked Him to show me how I could demonstrate my appreciation for all of the good in my life. He led me to some Scriptures that opened my eyes and equipped me for victory in this area.

Colossians 3:15 (AMP) says, “Be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].” The Message Bible puts it this way: “Cultivate thankfulness.” The apostle Paul is referring to a lifestyle of thanksgiving here. It’s a constant mindset or attitude that permeates everything we do, think, say, and feel. And it never quits or fades. Paul says the same thing when he writes: “Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be; be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP) Paul knew that nothing invites the presence and power of God into our lives like praise does. He was undoubtedly familiar with David’s declaration in Psalm 22, which says: “But You are holy, Who inhabit the praises of Israel.” (v.3) When God’s people lift up heartfelt praise to Him, He manifests Himself in extraordinary ways. Unfortunately, grumbling and self-pity have the opposite effect. You can’t feel sorry for yourself, or gripe about something or someone, unless you are pointedly ignoring God’s goodness, mercy, and faithfulness. I heard someone say that self-pity is downright dangerous. That’s because it is actually rooted in pride, self-centeredness, and self-absorption. And it opens the door to the dark forces.

David wrote: “My tongue shall talk of Your righteousness, rightness, and justice, and of [my reasons for] Your praise all the day long.” (Psalm 35:28 AMP) When the Lord showed me this verse, I knew what I had to do. Before, during, and after my loved ones’ visit, I repeatedly lifted my hands to heaven, and gave thanks and praise for everything and everyone that blessed my life in any way. And I constantly expressed my gratitude for every moment I was able to share with my son and his wife. I refused to focus on their departure, which protected me from that awful feeling of dread that I had always experienced in the past. And every time a sad or negative thought or emotion threatened to take hold of me, I found some reason to thank God. This strategy enabled me to truly enjoy my son’s visit, and to be filled with joy and peace the entire time. I once heard a godly man say, “There’s nothing better you can do than to give God thanks even in the most difficult situations.” Now I know firsthand just how true that statement is.

If you are in a painful place today, please know that God wants to show Himself strong on your behalf. And He will do exactly that, if you will begin lifting heartfelt praise to Him for all of the good in your life. Right now, declare with me the words of David that have the power to transform the lives and circumstances of God’s people: “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth (recount and tell aloud) all Your marvelous works and wonderful deeds! I will rejoice in You and be in high spirits; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High!” (Psalm 9:1-2 AMP)

Lord, forgive me for my lack of appreciation. And give me a thankful and grateful heart for who You are, and all You do for me on a regular basis. Guard me from self-pity, complaining, and grumbling, and remind me of what they can cost me. Thank You for teaching me to worship and praise You in ways that will deepen my love for You, and my intimacy with You!

Give Him Repeated Thanks!

When my husband, Joe, took his car for regular maintenance the other day, he was hit with an unexpected bill that caused him some concern. When he told me about it, I silently prayed, “Lord, this unexpected expense didn’t come as a surprise to You. You saw it coming, and I believe that You will provide the funds we need to cover these charges. Please do it in a way that will simply amaze Joe.” Over the next few days, enough money came our way from various sources that enabled us to pay those auto expenses with ease. Joe told me, “Look at that—God provided the exact amount we needed to pay that car repair bill!” When I asked Joe if he had remembered to thank God for the awesome way He came through for us, he said that He had. I told him that it’s scriptural to thank the Lord more than once for His blessings, and that David was in the habit of doing this very thing.

David wrote: “I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising Him to everyone.” (Psalm 109:30 NLT) I’ve always tried to remember to thank God more than once for each of His gifts, but recently, I’ve become more serious about it, and I’ve been praising Him more and more for all the good in my life. And you know what? I’ve seen Him do some incredible things to help and deliver my loved ones and me in all kinds of situations. Right after David says that he’ll give God “repeated thanks,” he says: “For He stands beside the needy, ready to save them.” (Psalm 109:31 NLT) I’ve discovered that there is a definite connection between continually praising God, and witnessing Him move mightily on our behalf. I encourage you to begin giving the Lord “repeated thanks” for all the good in your own life, and watch Him give you more and more to thank and praise Him for!

You CAN Make a Difference

Just the other night, I was watching one of the greatest evangelists of our time talking about his intense desire to win souls for Christ, and how it inspired him to lead millions into the Kingdom of God. As I listened to this man’s testimony, I began feeling woefully inadequate and discouraged, and I heard myself say, “I have a passion to lead people to Christ, too, but I’m certainly no great evangelist. What can I do?” Suddenly, I heard the Lord’s “still, small voice” say to my heart, “You can pray.” Then the Holy Spirit reminded me that only the day before, a loved one that I had been earnestly praying for, had expressed their desire to have a personal relationship with Christ.

This wasn’t a first-time experience for me. Over the years, I have discovered again and again how God honors the prayers of those who honor His Son. Scripture says: “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” (James 5:16 AMP) Those of us who answer God’s call to prayer, and refuse to give up until the answer comes, will witness changed hearts and changed lives. And when we get to heaven, there will be people who run up to us and say, ‘I am here because of you.”

Don’t give up on your spouse, your children, your grandchildren. Don’t give up on that coworker, that neighbor, or that friend. I can tell you from experience that if you stand in faith for those that the Lord puts in your path and on your heart, the day will come when you will see them serving Christ. You CAN make a difference for God, and you don’t have to be a worldwide evangelist to do it. Just make yourself available to the Lord, and be sensitive and obedient to His call to prayer!

A Life Forever Changed

I can still remember the first time I heard the Lord speak to me through His Word, even though it was many years ago. My heart was in turmoil at the time—over troubling world events, and over the unsettling situations in my own household. As I thought about the future of my sons, Joseph and John, fear gripped me. What kind of world was I bringing them up in? How would they survive? How could they ever be faithful followers of Christ with everything going against them in the culture we lived in? Something made me get my husband’s old Bible off its shelf. (I know now that it was the Spirit of God). I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I flipped through the pages. My eyes fell upon Isaiah 42:25 (NIV): “I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.” Shivers ran down my spine. I had never before heard the voice of God speaking to me so clearly. And my life has never been the same since. All I could think of was that God really and truly cared about me, my family, and our concerns. And He put promises in His Word that belonged to us as followers of His Son—if we would only trust Him, and take Him at His Word.

Since that day, I have trusted the Lord to watch over my sons, and to lead them into the good plans and purposes He has for their lives. And He has been so faithful. God wants to speak to you through His Word today. Will you take the time to seek Him with an open Bible, and an open heart?

Holding Out for Godly Companions

“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”  Proverbs 12:26 NKJV

I recently heard from a high school student who was struggling in her walk with God.  She was attending a public school, and she didn’t have any Christian friends.  As a result, she felt herself drifting further and further away from God, and she found herself doing things she knew no Christian should be doing.  Whenever she tried sharing her faith with her unsaved friends, they made it clear that they weren’t the least bit interested, and she began feeling more and more isolated and alone.

I understood this young girl’s situation, and my heart went out to her.  I began telling her how I raised two sons who had to deal with being Christian students in public high schools and colleges, and who genuinely wanted to live their lives for Christ.  When they refused to associate with friends who hindered their walk with God, the Lord sent them godly friendships which far exceeded the ones they left behind.  But they had to pray and trust God, and even be lonely sometimes.  When we sincerely want to have godly companions, the Lord will bring them across our paths in amazing ways.  In my oldest son, Joseph’s, case, God used a yearly event called, “See You at the Pole.”  It’s when Christian students and teachers rally around the school flagpole to pray.  The first year Joseph attended, he didn’t know if there were any real Christians in his school.  But he showed up for the event, and he met lots of Christian students, many of whom became good friends of his.  But the Lord didn’t stop there.  He used my son to launch the first successful Bible Club in his school’s history.  Before long, Joseph had more friends than he ever dreamed he would–friends who shared his faith and encouraged his walk with God.  When Joseph graduated from high school and went on to college, one of the first things he did was join the campus Bible Club.  Not only did he meet lots of new Christian friends there, but he also met his future wife, Miriam.  My younger son, John’s, experiences in public high school and college were very similar to Joseph’s.  He assumed leadership of the high school Bible Club after his brother graduated, and he not only met an abundance of wonderful Christian friends there, but he also met his future wife, Amy, when she joined the club in their senior year.

Some Christians fear that if they let God pick their friends for them, He’ll send them companions who are dull and boring.  I had the same fears myself years ago, when I began getting serious about my relationship with God, and I felt led to distance myself from my unsaved friends–which were my only friends at the time.  I began earnestly praying that the Lord would send me the companions that He had chosen for me.  I had to endure some periods of loneliness and isolation, and it wasn’t easy, but I was determined to do God’s will.  Eventually, the Lord sent me Peggy–a fun-loving, kind, generous, and extremely supportive Christian lady.  She not only makes me laugh when I need it most, but she is a powerful prayer companion, and one of my greatest sources of encouragement and inspiration.  And I am eternally grateful to God for sending her my way.

The Lord has awesome godly friends picked out for each and every one of His children.  But He will not force them on us.  He will wait upon us to ask for them, and to do whatever needs to be done to receive them into our lives at just the right time.  I urge you today not to settle for less than God’s best, even where your friendships are concerned.  Somewhere you have God-ordained companions just waiting for you, who will bring out the best in you, and help you become all that the Lord has created you to be!

Lord, I thank You that it’s Your desire to supply all of our needs, even our need for godly companions.  Please do a new and mighty work in my heart and life now, so that I will no longer settle for second-best friendships.  Give me the courage and the wisdom to wait on You for Your best in this area, and guard me from loneliness when doing Your will leads me to separate myself from my current friends.  Thank You for rewarding my obedience with companions who will exceed my highest expectations in every way!

Letting Go and Moving On

“But forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do a brand-new thing.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?”  Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT

Years ago, when my oldest son, Joseph, started a Bible club in his high school, I offered to provide rides to all of the students who wanted to attend, but who had no way of getting home.  I only had a midsize car, so every week, I made several trips back and forth to school, driving kids to their homes within our community and beyond.  As the “club mom,” I provided snacks and refreshments for the meetings, and I hosted parties in my home for as many as 50 kids at a time.  I organized Christian concert trips.  And I studied long hours every week to help my son put together life-changing Bible lessons for the weekly meetings.  It was hard work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, because the grace of God was upon me to do it.  When my older son graduated from high school, my younger son, John, assumed leadership of the club, so my involvement with it continued for several more years.  During this time, I often thought about how much I would hate having to let go of the club after John graduated, and I prayed that the Lord would help me when the time came.  Several months before my son’s graduation, I suddenly began dreading my weekly driving chores for the club.  What used to be a joy became a tedious obligation, and I couldn’t wait until I didn’t have to do it anymore.  By the end of that year, when my involvement with the club finally came to an end, letting go was a welcome relief.

When my church needed another teacher for their Vacation Bible School program, they called on me.  It was my first experience teaching the Word of God, and I relished preparing the lessons, and spending extra time in the Scriptures.  I immediately formed a bond with each and every child in my classes, and I knew that I was making an eternal impact on their young lives.  As the summer approached in my sixth year of teaching VBS, I suddenly began getting very busy.  I had joined the staff of my son, John’s, growing internet ministry, and I was spending more and more time on my site-related duties.  When I got the usual call from my church to attend our annual VBS teachers’ meeting, I had to decline.  I explained to the lady in charge that I had just had the busiest weekend of my life, and that I had gotten almost no sleep.  She kindly expressed her sympathy and understanding, and she said they would find someone to replace me.  After I hung up the phone, I began seeing the faces of all the dear little children whose lives I had touched by the grace of God, and I felt heartsick.  I earnestly prayed that the Lord would help me let go, because I knew in my heart that it was time.

Over the years, I’ve learned how God gives us signals when He wants us to let go of one thing, so that we can take hold of another.  Sometimes, He removes His grace, so that a job, position, or task that we once enjoyed becomes tedious and joyless.  Other times, the Lord puts pressure on us, squeezing us off the old path, and onto a new one.  If we listen carefully, we may hear His voice telling us, “I’m done with that!  I have something else I want you to do now…”  Every time that God has asked me to let go of one thing, it’s been because He has had something even better for me waiting up ahead.  After I let go of the Bible club, He gave me the ministry that I have now.  After I said goodbye to my VBS involvement, He expanded my ministry and allowed me to touch more lives.

Scripture says:  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)  Before we can lay hold of the new things that God wants to do in our lives, we have to let go of the old things.  And it’s a test of our faith.  When we sense that the Lord is leading us into new territory, we can either move forward in faith, or we can shrink back in fear.  What we need to remember in times like these is that failing to trust God always robs us of His best.  What is the Lord asking you to let go of today?  If you’ll listen very closely, I believe you’ll hear Him say–“Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out!  Don’t you see it?  There it is!”  (Isaiah 43:19 MSG)

Lord, forgive me for the times that You’ve wanted to do a “new thing” in my life, and I’ve failed to cooperate with You.  Today, I ask that You reveal to me those things that You want me to let go of at this time.  Thank You for giving me the faith I need to move into the bigger and brighter things that You have planned for me!