The Heavenly Reward for Faithfulness

More Than We Deserve

From: Our Daily Bread

Sometimes when people ask how I’m doing, I reply, “Better than I deserve.” I remember a well-meaning person responding, “Oh no, Joe, you deserve a lot,” to which I replied, “Not really.” I was thinking about what I truly deserve—God’s judgment.

We easily forget how sinful we are at the core of our being. Thinking of ourselves more highly than we should diminishes our sense of deep indebtedness to God for His grace. It discounts the price He paid to rescue us.

Time for a reality check! As the psalmist reminds us, God “has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities” (Ps. 103:10). Considering who we are in light of a holy and just God, the only thing we truly deserve is hell. And heaven is an absolute impossibility—except for the gift of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. If God never does anything more than redeem us, He has already done far more than we deserve. No wonder the psalmist says, “As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him” (v.11).

Knowing ourselves for what we are, we can’t help but say, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!” He gives us so much more than we deserve.

Lord, thank You for not dealing with me according
to my sins. I am indebted to You for the love and
grace that You demonstrated on the cross to
purchase my pardon and forgiveness—far beyond what I deserve!
If God never does anything more than redeem us, He has already done far more than we deserve.

Today’s Devotions

From: Through the Bible

Morning

May 23

1 Samuel 23:16-17 (NIV) 16And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17″Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”

David was going through a difficult time in his life. He had done nothing wrong or even with any impure motives, yet King Saul was hunting him down to kill him. Not only had he done nothing wrong, but he had been a faithful servant of the king, one of the best. He had fought the King’s battles and soothed him when he was troubled. He was the King’s son-in-law. There was no explanation but jealousy. David never said an evil word toward the King in response to all the evil the King intended upon David.

After some time of being an exile, David was discouraged. Jonathan had made a covenant of friendship with David. He risked his own standing to go out and find and encourage David. He helped him find strength in God. This is the best thing you can do for your discouraged friends. Help them find strength in God. He is the source of any genuine strength to endure.

Jonathan gave him the often-repeated Biblical message, “Do not be afraid.” Many times we think all our effort is in vain. If you are being obedient to God, it is never in vain. God will see you through. Your enemies will not triumph in the end. Jonathan told David of his convictions that one-day David would reign. He could sense it was to be. Perhaps you have a discouraged friend who needs help to find strength in God. You can encourage them not to fear. You can encourage them with what you see coming in their lives. They need to look forward to what God is doing and not get bogged down in the present turmoil.

Consider: Who can I encourage today?

Evening

May 23

Luke 24:38-40 (NIV) 38He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.

The disciples were still hiding for fear that they would be crucified next. Behind a locked door they wondered what to do. Had everything they hoped been completely dashed? And what was this strange report that the ladies brought back of an empty tomb. Then the two that were on the road to Emmaus declared they had seen and talked with Jesus. What could it all mean?

Suddenly Jesus stood among them! “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” Why are we so reluctant to believe? After all they had witnessed, one would think this would not be so difficult to accept. His first sign to help them believe was to look at His hands and feet. They were the signs of what extent He would go for them, for us. He presented them first, displaying the fact that we are engraved upon His hands.

Then Jesus challenged them to touch Him to get rid of their doubts. He told them to see that He was flesh and bone. His blood had been poured out for them. He was not a spirit floating about; He was a transformed and resurrected man whose life source was no longer blood. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to watch the faces of the disciples as they turned from doubt and fear to utter wonder and worship?

To look at His hands and feet has the same affect on us. Every time we take communion we should look at His hands and feet and remember those wounds are still there because of His love for us. That gives us hope that our life source will no longer be blood. The life of flesh is in the blood, but one day our bodies will live by the Spirit.

Meditation: Whatever you are going through this day, or at this point in your life, hear Jesus’ ask you, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” Look at His hands and feet, and be at peace.

Matthew 15:21-39 (Good News Translation)

From: American Bible Society

God’s Word: Renewing Us in Faith

Introduction

Matthew 15:21-39: Jesus heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman, heals many people, and feeds four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 15:31

The people were amazed as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they praised the God of Israel.

Today’s Reading

21 Jesus left that place and went off to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman who lived in that region came to him. “Son of David!” she cried out. “Have mercy on me, sir! My daughter has a demon and is in a terrible condition.” 23 But Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples came to him and begged him, “Send her away! She is following us and making all this noise!” 24 Then Jesus replied, “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.” 25 At this the woman came and fell at his feet. “Help me, sir!” she said. 26 Jesus answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27 “That’s true, sir,” she answered, “but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 So Jesus answered her, “You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you.” And at that very moment her daughter was healed. 29 Jesus left there and went along by Lake Galilee. He climbed a hill and sat down. 30 Large crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and many other sick people, whom they placed at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them. 31The people were amazed as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they praised the God of Israel. 32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away without feeding them, for they might faint on their way home.” 33 The disciples asked him, “Where will we find enough food in this desert to feed this crowd?” 34 “How much bread do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven loaves,” they answered, “and a few small fish.” 35 So Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks to God, broke them, and gave them to the disciples; and the disciples gave them to the people. 37 They all ate and had enough. Then the disciples took up seven baskets full of pieces left over. 38 The number of men who ate was four thousand, not counting the women and children. 39 Then Jesus sent the people away, got into a boat, and went to the territory of Magadan.

Reflect

In today’s reading, Jesus heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman. This woman was not Jewish, and her ancestors had lived in the area before the tribes of Israel settled there hundreds of years earlier. What did Jesus say to her at first? How did she respond? For what did he commend this woman? In what ways do you demonstrate your faith?

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