Faith Factor 6 – Reward in the Storehouse

People of faith expect a reward. Now, that probably sounds irreligious to you. There is a religious notion in Christianity which celebrates self-sacrifice and despises expectation of reward. In most people’s religious thinking it is noble to give things up and evil to ask for things.

Yet the Bible is rich with instructions and examples of asking. Jesus Christ taught us to “Ask and you will receive”. Jabez asked and was given what he asked for. Gideon asked for proof and God gave it. Jesus said that God will give us what we ask for, just like a loving father does to his children.

And the Bible goes even further, explaining that there is a positive result from some spiritual actions, including the receiving of a benefit or reward. What we sow produces the crop you should expect from the seed. That means we get a result directly commensurate with our actions. “Give and it will be given to you”, said Jesus.

If you have a problem with the idea that Christians get a benefit from obeying God’s commands, then “Get Over It!” Our faith produces positive results, including our forgiveness and salvation. If you don’t believe that then you don’t have faith at all!

Faith Produces Results

The great “faith” chapter of Hebrews 11 speaks about many who were ‘faithful’ to God in the face of challenges. But it also talks of those who produced results by their faith. That’s because faith does produce results. Those results could be called benefits or rewards, but they are results none-the-less.

The “elders obtained”, “Sara received strength to conceive seed” and others “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.”

Now, these are all Old Testament examples quoted in the New Testament. So, what about some New Testament examples? There is the lady who pressed through the crowd to touch Jesus, to whom Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole” (Matthew 9:22). There was a blind man to whom Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole” (Mark 10:52). There was a leper to whom Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole” (Luke 17:19). And there were two blind men to whom Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you”, and then He healed them (Matthew 9:29).

Faith Expects Reward

Not only is it wrong theology to shun a positive result from our faith, it is also a total destruction of faith itself. Those who think you should not expect a result from your believing actually have no faith.

How can I assert such a religiously abhorrent thing? I do so because of what the Bible teaches about faith. Let me take you to the basic definitional verse about faith which I have used throughout this series of lessons, Hebrews 11:6.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

The very definition of faith includes the idea that God is a rewarder by His own character and nature, and the idea that God will reward those who press in to Him. Faith, by definition, includes the belief that God responds to man’s dependence on Him. It involves expectation of a divine reward in the human experience, when man puts his trust in God.

So faith expects a reward. If it does not expect a reward it is not faith!

Blab It and Grab It!

Now, I fully understand that the faith message has been abused. I have met people who teach and others who believe that we can use faith as a power tool to manipulate God and get for ourselves things that we covetously desire.

I know that all such thinking is an abuse of the truth. I know that whole churches have succumbed to such wrong thinking. I know that “faith churches” and “faith preaching” have been way out of line at times. I know all of that. But the errors do not destroy the truth.

The error of Jehovah’s Witness teaching does not negate the reality of God as Jehovah. Mary worship among some Catholics does not remove Mary from her place in history. Extreme holiness does not remove our obligation to live holy lives. And so too, abuses of the faith message do not negate what the Bible teaches about faith and how we are to live by it.

So, don’t turn off to the Bible just because it awakens your fears or offences about what some others have done. Grow up! Get past determining your spiritual journey as a reaction to other people’s mistakes. Walk with God. Cling to His Word. Live by His truth. Navigate by the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And if “faith” preaching has offended you, then let me suggest what I mentioned earlier: “Get over it!”

Faith Geography

Let me describe for you the geography of your blessing and rewards.

Everything we can expect from God comes to us by the sacrifice of Jesus. Everything He gave up for us is now put in a storehouse of grace, for us to receive. He became poor that we might become rich, 2Corinthians 8:9. He left heaven, and we get to go there. He became human so we could become divine. His body was beaten and damaged so our bodies could be healed, 1Peter 2:24.

Everything you need from now to the end of eternity has already been purchased for us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore it is stored up for us in a storehouse, which is geographically situated at God’s right hand.

“You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

Interestingly, Jesus is situated at God’s right hand too.

“For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.” Mark 12:36

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” Hebrews 10:12

The Storehouse of Grace

That place at God’s right hand where all our “pleasures” are, which will suffice us “for evermore”, is what I call the “Storehouse of Grace”. Everything that is in there is “grace”. It is undeserved by us and only comes to us through faith.

So, there is a Storehouse, called the Storehouse of Grace. And the key to the door of that storehouse is the key of “faith”.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8

Salvation is the supply of all the things we need until the end of eternity. It is “grace”. And it is accessed “through faith”. We gain grace, which is the stuff in God’s storehouse of grace, at God’s right hand, only by using “faith” as the key to open the door.

That storehouse contains all the salvation, miracles and healings needed for everyone in all of human history. But most people will not use faith to open the door and release to themselves the blessings which have already been paid for and put in the storehouse, through the sacrifice of Jesus.

The Sheer Abundance

God’s storehouse of grace is jam packed with far more blessings than you will ever comprehend. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf bought for you far more than you could ever access in one lifetime. God did not skimp on His provisions for you. He is a God of abundance and He provided absolutely abundantly for you, when He sent Jesus to die for you.

Have a look at a couple of scriptures which give a sense for this abundance.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

“But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.” 1Corinthians 2:9

There is so much in God’s storehouse with your name on it, waiting for you to claim it, that it is going to take God the whole of eternity to show you what you missed out on claiming during your short stay on planet earth.

“That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7

Faith Gets the Reward

Faith opens the door to that awesome storehouse. Faith in God does it. Your confident trust in God allows you to be led by Him to do the exploits He has created you to do. In the process of stepping into the miraculous dimension He has planned for you there will be some awesome challenges. But God has already prepared the miracles for you and put your name on the package, waiting for you to claim it.

If you do not step out in faith, then you will never need the package and it will be there for you at the end of your life. During eternity God will make a grand display of all those amazing presents waiting to be claimed by His children, but which they failed to reach out for.

If you are crazy enough to believe God and to do the asking, seeking and knocking which Jesus spoke about, then you will get the rewards. If you can bring yourself to “live by faith”, rather than just camp on the memory of a past moment of faith, then you too will get some of those amazing rewards.

That’s why the life of faith is so amazing and so exhilarating. It opens up to us the miracle dimension in which Jesus lived and which the Apostle Paul followed him in. So, let’s be followers of Christ and Paul and step into the faith dimension where the power of God has already been prepared for us to enjoy.

Spirit of Offence

Years ago I became victim to a ‘spirit of offence’. I had forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I sensed that one of my ministry friends had fallen victim to the same thing. I prayed for him and then wrote him an explanation.

I am sharing my letter to him with you, since it is just possible that you too have fallen prey to a Spirit of Offence.

What I Sensed

This is what I told my friend about what I sensed happening in his life.

There has been a ‘spirit of offence’ assigned against you, which has probably been at work for many years. I suspect that it traces back to your youth or childhood, in much the same way that a spirit of rejection works. You may be able to identify experiences you have had of feeling rejected, which cause you to feel emotionally vulnerable.

Anyway, the sense that came to me was that this offence issue is not a product of life experience, but a deliberate strategy of the enemy, to entangle your life in offences. It has a double edge in that it causes you to feel offended, rejected and unable to operate with welcomed acceptance, but it also causes people to feel some undefined sense of offence toward you.

My Past Experience

A spirit of offence was at work against my ministry in New Zealand, back in 1980, which an intercessor discerned and resisted. The first I knew of it was a phone call from a young mum in my congregation. She explained to me that she had suddenly felt a very strong feeling of offence toward me.

That feeling settled onto her one afternoon and she found herself feeling offended by me and angry toward me. However, being more spiritually sensitive than some, she stopped herself from indulging the feelings which had come upon her. She demanded to answer to herself why she was feeling that way.

As she prayed about what she was feeling she realised that there was no basis to her feelings. I had not done or said anything to her or anyone else that could possibly cause such a reaction. She sought the Lord for wisdom about what was going on and what she sensed was that a Spirit of Offence had rested onto her, to cause her to reject my ministry.

She prayed against that spirit for a long time before she felt the feelings of offence lift from her. Once those feelings dissolved it became all the more clear to her that this was a spiritual attack against my ministry and was completely baseless.

Then she realised with a shock that she needed to pray for me and the congregation. She had discerned what was going on and had resisted it. But others might become completely deceived by that spirit and rise up against the work of the Lord. As an intercessor she then began praying against the work of that evil spirit. She phoned me to tell me what was going on.

Evil At Work

That spirit of offence caused people to feel offended or to take up an offence against me, for no cause. Unsuspecting people would fall prey to the feelings of offence and assume there must be substance behind them; otherwise (they thought) they would not be feeling those things.

When the intercessor encountered those feelings she was initially caught up in them, but then stopped to discern what was going on. She realised that the feelings were baseless, just as waking in a good or bad mood is completely random, not based on real circumstances.

She then resisted the feelings, praying against the spirit of offence, and the feelings lifted from her. There was no way she could then feel offence toward me. The feelings of offence were not based on substance, but were spiritually generated.

My Concern For My Friend

I advised my ministry friend that there has been a similar strategy to entangle him, and probably his family, in experiences where relationships have become strained by offence. Once one person takes up an offence they are trapped with it in their arms and it spoils the relationships around them.

I explained… “I expect that you have felt offended by the way people have treated you and responded to you at times. They may well have treated you poorly at times, because they were under this same spirit of offence creating a feeling of offence when no offence existed at all. Once the offence is taken up further offences occur, and this creates substance on a non-existent foundation.

I believe you need to become free from the offences which others have put on you, for good reasons or no reasons at all. The enemy has made ‘offence’ an Achilles heel to your ministry. It has been his master plan to entangle you and to besmirch your reputation with a cloud of indefinite negative feeling.

Claiming Victory

The Lord wants you to wear a spirit of Joy, based on the fact that you are “accepted in the beloved” and that no matter who or what stands against you it cannot separate you from the love of God. No weapon formed against you will prosper. You don’t need to take up offence, even toward those who have taken up offence against you without cause. If you do that, you will be “overcome by evil” instead of overcoming evil with good.

You need to become a man of awesome grace, giving grace to people who feel or express offence toward you. This enemy strategy has been broken, but it may still have after-shocks or ripples for some time. During that process you need to triumph in your spirit against this evil assignment.

I suggest that you even make it a discipline to remember those who have offended you, taken up an offence, withstood you, ignored you, rejected you and the like, and those to whom you have felt barriers or taken up an offence. You then need to pray blessing on them.

Remember the command of Christ to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you”.

Grace Wins Out

Your ministry of grace, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, will neutralise the residue of offence. As you become abandoned in blessing others, laughing when they misunderstand or oppose you, blessing them while they are trying to curse you, the dam will burst. All the grace which is yours but which has been withheld from you will break free and pour over your life and ministry.

It will sweep you to the nations, to be welcomed and loved and appreciated. Those who have neglected you and dismissed you, withholding the honour that is your due, will have a change of heart and find themselves full hearted in appreciation for who you are and what God is doing in and through you.

Now, every word is to be confirmed by the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses, so I’m not imposing this on you as some final authority. I trust who you are in the Lord and your heart to walk closely with Him. So I simply submit this to you. I’m barracking for your ministry. I have seen in vision form what God is doing with you and I want it to come to full fruition. So I bless you in the name of the Lord and humbly submit what I have sensed, confident that you and the Lord make a great team and can sort out what to do from here, whether I’m right or wrong.

Get Over It!

A young adult friend introduced me to the phrase “Get Over It” many years ago. She enjoyed interrupting people who were complaining about something or other with her laughing advice, “Get over it!” Many people picked up the phrase and for a while it was the most likely contribution you were to hear from some folk.

Of course, there are some things which cannot be shrugged off with a laugh and so getting over serious offence, abuse, or the like is not something that should be made fun of. But there are many things which people get worked up about without any real commitment to the issue. It may incense them or outrage their sensibilities, but still be only something they complain about, not being something they will actually do something about.

In the spirit of my first Idiot Test, which exposes the folly of taking up issues with no real intent to do anything about it, I now present some thoughts on the wise advice, “Get over it!”

Stark Raving Mad

Insanity can involve the state of being “raving mad”, where a person raves on about things that do not make sense or which are simply products of their own delusions. Paranoid people talk about dangers that do not exist. People can perceive attitudes which they think they see in others, when those others have no thought about them at all.

On a milder level, however, people can also rave, without being mad. People tend to rave about things that impact their thoughts. They may keep talking about their fears, sense of offence, misgivings, or the like. Because those thoughts loom large in their mind, or heart, they end up speaking about those things all the time. To other people with other things to do and think about it seems that the person is raving on and on about things that they should have dropped out of mind.

This is where “Get over it!” comes into its own.

Preoccupation is Biblical

The Bible speaks about the issue of ‘raving’, by pointing to the source of that obsessive talk. The words which come out of our mouth originate in our heart. If we have issues in our heart, at that deeper level of our life, then we will tend to talk about those things, like water bubbling up from a spring.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Heart Monitor

Since the heart is the source of what comes out of us, spilling those things which fill up our inner thoughts, then we are wise to monitor our heart. And the very words we speak are as good a piece of equipment as anything else.

If you tend to rave about things stop to check why you can’t let that thing go. If you have unforgiveness toward someone, you will tend to talk about them and what they did. If you have fear for your future you will tend to talk about what could go wrong. If you have fantasies about your future you will tend to rave on about all the things you imagine could happen.

Once you have resolved your heart issues, of offence, unforgiveness, fear, delusion, insecurity, shame, or whatever, then you will also stop raving on so much.

Will You Fix It?

Here’s a way to prompt yourself about dealing with issues. It might be unwise to apply this to your family and friends, since they might take offence at your approach. So, start with yourself. Maybe in time you will have earned the right to try this on others.

Take the issue you are raving about and ask, “Well, are you going to do something about it?”

If you are not actually working on a solution, then all you are doing is venting empty words, to express your feelings. That process is vain. It does not create a solution. It does not bring greater clarity. It does not let you get past the issues.

So, “Will you fix it?” If not, then……. “Get over it!”

If you are not going to do anything to resolve the situation then the wisest thing you can do is to put the thing behind you and out of mind. Get over it! If you are a victim and you intend to stay a victim, then stop complaining about being a victim. If you have suffered an irreparable damage, then, since it is irreparable, get on with life. Stop raving about things you aren’t going to change!

Can’t Let Go

Once you’ve faced the “Will You Fix It?” question, and the instruction to “Get over it!” you then come to some deeper insight into yourself.

It may be that you aren’t going to fix it and you can’t get over it. So now you can see your real problem. You are caught in a trap, with no way out. You are not going to solve the problem, and you are not going to get over it. So you are probably camping on the ground of ‘self-pity’. You have probably chosen to be miserable and to make other people’s lives miserable too.

Of maybe your pride is in the way. You are going to trash your life, because of your pride. Or maybe it’s a mater of unforgiveness. Which ever way you look at it, the real problem is not the thing you are complaining and raving about, but YOU!

You are the problem. You won’t get on with life. You won’t find God’s grace. You won’t humble yourself, forgive your offenders, love your enemies, or find God’s help to solve the problem. You miserable creature! You are an enemy of God and all the people who come in contact with you. You are totally self-absorbed and don’t care how you burden others in your self-indulgent existence.

Get Grace

God’s word tells us that God’s grace is more than enough. It is sufficient for any challenge. You don’t have to be a victim, or be obsessive, or be self-absorbed. There is enough grace to totally transform your life and circumstances.

So, get your hands on God’s grace. And you get that by being humble. God gives grace to the humble.

“And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.” 2Corinthians 12:9

“But God gives more grace. Wherefore he says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
Word of Advice

You may need me to spell out how this “Get Over It” thing works in day to day life, especially in the home. So I’ll write another article on this for you, called, Get Over It At Home, to help put practical legs onto this important concept. Look out for that article. Meanwhile, here’s my word of advice.

Are you facing a challenge at the moment? I have some advice for you. If you seriously respond to that advice and think through your reactions to it you should get a good look at your heart and know what to ask God to do in you.

Now, here’s my awesome word of wisdom. Here is the best advice I may be able to give you in your current situation. Here is the word you have been waiting for….

“Get over it!”

A Free Upgrade

I was upgraded to Business Class on a recent flight. I didn’t even know it had happened. As I shuffled down the corridor of the plane, looking for my seat, I thought I must have been in the first row of the economy section (what I affectionately call “Cattle Class”).

To my surprise I was on the last row of Business Class and was unexpectedly enjoying all the benefits of the upgrade.

Now, I had only paid for Cattle Class. In fact, I’d paid with mileage points from earlier flights, so I didn’t actually pay for the flight at all (except for the taxes – and haven’t they gone up in recent years!). I didn’t deserve the better seats, choice of food, added benefits, and so on. It was mine by pure grace from the airline.

Overwhelming Grace

As I settled back into the chair and caught up with the surprise benefits, I got to thinking about how much this is like our experience of salvation from God. God offers us a free upgrade.

God gives us the most spectacular upgrade you could ever imagine. Our mortal life is upgraded to “Eternal Life“! And the benefits last longer than one plane flight.

God’s grace is an overwhelming grace! It overwhelms us with its impact.

Our life cursed with misery, sin and iniquity is upgraded to Eternal Life, Sonship in God’s Family, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the Fruit of the Spirit, Truth that sets us free, and just so much more.

Wow! What an Upgrade!

It is All Grace

It was no use me trying to offer money to the air hostess for my upgraded flight. I did not need to buy the Business Class ticket; it was already given to me.

There was no need for to me to pay the airline back or give them some free publicity or anything. The transaction was all ‘grace’. It wasn’t a business deal. It wasn’t a con, or a perk to induce me to book 20 years of flying with them. It was given to me independently of my response.

I could have objected and demanded a cattle class seat. I could have insulted the staff as I left the plane. I could have written blog posts about how I was tricked into a free Business Class seat. What ever my reaction it made no difference. The seat was assigned to me, as an act of the airline’s grace.

Grace means I did not deserve it and did not earn it. And I did not need to pay it back. It is all grace.

And that’s how it is with our salvation. It is all grace. We get an amazing upgrade and don’t have to pay for it. We aren’t expected to become a priest or enter a monastery or work for four years on the mission-field to pay for our upgrade. We are simply expected to enjoy it.

I Like That

I said, “Thank you, Lord, for this unexpected upgrade to Business Class. And thank you for the much more wonderful upgrade to Eternal Life.”

It’s an awesome thing to get what you don’t deserve and enjoy what is reserved for others.

I don’t deserve Eternal Life. I don’t deserve to be a Son of God. I don’t deserve eternity in God’s presence. But I have a free upgrade! Hallelujah!

God Loves Abundance

“The heavens declare the glory of God” Psalm 19:1

One of the striking testimonies of who God is and how He does business with us has been on display since creation, yet it is often overlooked by heathen and Christian alike. The heavens declare the glory of God and who whole of creation is an exhibition of God’s character and qualities. That display is so ubiquitous and compelling that mankind has no excuse for denying the existence and character of God.

“That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them. For the invisible things of him are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” Romans 1:19,20

God’s Attributes on Display

The vastness of space and the intricacies of miniature design combine with the whole of creation to testify to God’s attributes. God is supreme in His power. God is awesome in His design capabilities. God is profound in His scope and dimension. God is vast in His sovereignty. God is compassionate, as seen in His devotion of so much diversity just for human enjoyment. God is perfect, as seen by the incomprehensible complexity which works with such perpetual effectiveness.

With such profound evidence on display for everyone to encounter, throughout time and across the globe, no person has any excuse for refusing to believe in God, or rejecting the revelation of God given in the Bible.

The Attribute of Abundance

Years ago I was struck by the evidence of God’s delight in ‘abundance’. I had not been taught to think of God as a God of Abundance, so it surprised me to realise this quality. It came to my attention that I had been to remote locations where entire hillsides were radiant in blossom, yet hardly anyone was there to enjoy the sight. Magnificent sunsets are on display to empty oceans or remote mountain locations. Enchanting bird songs fill the air in places where no-one hears them sing. Fruit flourishes on trees where no-one picks the fruit.

I recalled many such observations from my youth. I once walked a track in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and came across a passionfruit vine. Some hiker had dropped seed, possibly years before. Now passionfruit tendrils trailed across the ferns and foliage with huge blossoms waiting to form the delicious and tangy fruit. I stopped and scanned the scene, tracing the vines as they ran in various directions, across dense undergrowth. I pointed out the vine to another hiker who couldn’t have cared less. Most walkers on this track were focussed on getting to their objective, not noticing the fruit that was possibly only a few paces away. We did not have time to stop and gather fruit, so I passed on, remembering an abundance that was going to waste.

God Creates Abundance

God revels in abundance and creates it with abandon. How many different shapes of flower would have been sufficient to cater for man’s existence? Probably very few. Yet God made an abundance of shapes, sizes, colours, fragrances and delights in the floral world. God created that abundance for our pleasure. There is no real reason for it otherwise.

How many seeds or grains come from wheat, or an apple tree? There is super-abundance. If the objective was simply to ensure survival of the species, then just one or two grains or seeds would be sufficient. But there is a superfluity. Abundance comes in such measure that we can take an abundance for ourselves and there is still sufficient for the plants and species to survive.

Abundance Prompts Faith

Recognition of God’s commitment to abundance reveals His character. God is a “giving” God. He gives to us nothing less than ‘abundance’. God gives to us superlatively. He not only meets our needs, but throws in many extra hand-fulls – not our hands, but His huge hands, full of superfluous supply.

Just how much sky do you need? Just how many colours do we really need to see? Just how many different flavours would be enough to keep us alive? What if everything felt exactly the same and there were no sensations of texture?

God revels in abundance. That’s His character. The creation reveals, from day one, that God is a God of abundance. And that abundance is for man’s delight. So God is ready to give us ‘abundance’. God has proven His willingness to give us more than we need. He has proven that He is not looking for our survival but to delight and thrill us with His provision.

That’s a real kicker for faith. That should stir you to increased boldness before the throne of Grace. You should have increased excitement about how God will supply all your needs. He doesn’t do it according to the minimum required to have you survive until tomorrow. He meets your needs according to His riches in glory.

“But my God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Allow me to introduce you to your God, the God of all eternity. Allow me to introduce you to your creator and reveal to you that He is a God of Abundance. I encourage you to come to your God, and to press in to Him for the abundance that He wants to give you.