Saturday, April 14, 2007

Incentive Gifts

We all love gifts ! To give them , or to receive them.
While gifts by definition are free and unsolicited , they are always given for a reason or a purpose: a birthday, a special occasion, a holiday, or a ‘just because’- to express gratitude or friendship or sympathy.
We also promise gifts as an incentive.
“If you pick up your toys I’ll give you a sucker”,
“if you do your chores I’ll give you an allowance”,
“if you get on the honor roll we’ll go to Hawaii”,
“if you graduate from university I’ll buy you a car!!”
From the time our children are little we recognize the value of incentive gifts.
Being wise parents who understand our children, the promised incentives are ones we know will encourage them not to give up, to help them stick-to-it even when the going gets tough. We offer the gifts out of love and desire to see them to excel.
God says that if we , being evil parents know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does He? (Matt. 7:11)
When Jesus gave His messages to the seven churches , He promised incentive gifts to all those who would persevere until the end !! You and I are included in these promises.
Have you recently thought about the things that Jesus is offering to those who stay true to Him, “To him that overcometh will I give….” ?

The first gift is the right “to eat of the tree of life .” The tree of life still stands in the paradise of God – we will see it and eat from it !!
When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God evicted them from the garden to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life – because this tree would have locked them into an eternity separated from God. So what is God promising us here?- That He will give us the fruit of this tree – ensuring us of an eternity in the presence of God, living in fellowship with Him!!
He also says He will not blot our name out of the book of life, it will remain a permanent entry signifying our eternal citizenship of heaven
Jesus also promises that “the second death will never hurt us”. Never again will we need to fear the danger of being separated from God – we will truly have eternal security !!

Another incentive gift is the promise of eating the hidden manna. Did you ever wonder what the manna called ‘angel food’ (Psalm 78:25), that God sent from heaven to feed His people in the wilderness, tasted like? I would love to taste it. The fact that He calls it ‘hidden’ gives the message it is not for everyone…just those for whom He has put it away – for those who overcome, whose who are worthy.
Food is always a great incentive to us , isn’t it? Every celebration, every special event centers around food – a banquet, a dinner, a basket of fruit, a cake, a box of chocolate, an ice-cream cone. We reward ourselves and each other with food. If we find satisfying our taste buds so enjoyable here….can you imagine what it will be like there? What heavenly things we will savor?

He also promises us a white stone. In the Roman courts at the time of Jesus, the person on trial standing before the judge to hear the verdict was given a white stone if he was acquitted, and a black stone if he was condemned. If we stay true to Jesus until the end ,He, as our judge, will give us the white stone signifying our forgiveness, and it will have our new name written on it – forever, throughout all eternity we will be declared pure and righteous!!

Jesus also promises us ‘power over the nations’. Does this mean we will sit in the judgment seat with Jesus when the heavenly courts are in session to declare God’s righteous judgments? He says He will give us permission to sit with Him in His throne, even as His Father granted Him permission to sit in His throne.

There is a wonderfully poetic promise of the morning star! Jesus declares that He Himself is the bright morning star. (Rev.22:16) Is this a promise that Jesus will be all our own, to spend intimate one-on-one time with, sitting at His feet, reveling in His love, never tiring of His voice?

If we endure until the end Jesus promises we will be given white raiment. We love to shop for that special garment befitting a special occasion – Jesus promises us a new ‘garment’ , heavenly raiment to wear as we enter eternity !! Can you imagine how beautiful it will be?

And Jesus says He will confess every victorious overcomer before the Father and the angels. Does your heart beat with anticipation of the thrill of that moment, when heaven rings with Jesus’ voice calling out your name to announce your arrival to the Father?

Jesus promises that He will make us a pillar in the temple of God.
He will write on it the name of God, and the name of the city of God – the New Jerusalem- , and also His own new name !!
An ancient Roman custom was to commemorate emperors or generals who had served their country well by erecting a pillar on which would be written their name, the name of the god under whom he served, the city he served and the honorable deeds for which he was remembered.
Jesus promises us that whatever we do in His name, will be commemorated forever – it will not be forgotten!

I think sometimes we are easily overwhelmed with the idea of what the new world will be like!
It is a little like someone promising me a 250 gb computer - with fast connection to the internet and all the latest software- back in 1965. I would not have understood what I was being offered, unable to grasp the magnitude of its potential. But today I find I absolutely amazing - beyond what I could have ever envisioned when I was a teenager.
I believe it will be with the same explosion of understanding and new awakened senses, that will make us gasp with delight when we take in our first view of the New Jerusalem.
I can’t wait to see the wonders that God has planned for us.
Let us renew our diligence to persevere, letting nothing distract us from our goal!

Hebrews 6:11,12 “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end, that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”


Lovella ♥ said...

Hi Julie,
I just got in and called the kids and haven't read your post today yet, I'll catch up next week, . . .just wanted to say Hi . .
I sure missed my blogging friends.
Love Lovella

Demara said...

Julie,yes that was so encouraging...and you know I think I will print it off and fold it up in a GET WELL SOON card for my Grandma...along with a WHITE ROCK that I will write her name on! Thanks for the idea and the blessings...ALWAYS my friend!