"A Delayed Reward" - HomeWord - Feb. 18, 2011

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A Delayed Reward 
This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt 
For if you already have something, you don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently. —Romans 8:25 (NLT)

I read an interesting story some time ago. In order to raise the lagging birthrate in Australia, the government was paying mothers a "baby bonus" - the approximate equivalent of $2,100 U.S. dollars - for giving birth. While generally the birth of a child is a reward in itself, I know of some mothers who would love to receive some back pay for long, painful hours of labor! And, I'm not sure that any woman would actually seek to get pregnant just for some extra money - nine months down the road!

It seems to me that living the Christian life is a lot like the Australian "baby bonus". For many Christ-followers, our life experiences do not reflect stories of ever-increasing glory, successes, blessing and happiness. Just look around you! There is a lot of pain, struggle, discipline and even persecution that makes up the lives of Christians in the here and now.

Surely, we need to keep in mind that this life is not all that there is! This life, precious gift and serious responsibility that it is, is not our reward. Our reward comes later - after this life. As a pregnancy ends in giving way to new life, our life here eventually gives way to eternal life - and we will experience this new life in a way we can now only imagine; living in God's presence, in perfection, and in community with all of the other Christ-followers who have come before us.

As much as Christians would like to think that we have cornered the market on living life here on earth, if we are brutally honest, life for both Christ-followers and for those who are not is pretty much the same. But, one of the biggest differences between those who follow Christ and those who do not is the presence of hope. Christ-followers have hope for the future that goes beyond this life. It may seem like a delayed reward, but we have the hope and certainty of heaven. Never minimize the importance of that hope! Hope is an essential part of the Christian experience and is a source of courage in meeting the challenges we all face.

Today, may the certainty of your eternal reward bring you courage as you face every challenge that life brings your way.

GOING DEEPER:

1. Reflect on the challenges you will face today. How can your hope of eternal life, make a difference in how you face those challenges?

2. Pray, thanking God that, through Christ, your eternal reward is certain. Ask God to remind you of this certainty whenever you face challenges.

FURTHER READING:

Romans 8:22-25; Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 15:12-24; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 

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