When my sons were teenagers, we went to our local Christian bookstore one evening because they were having a contest, and giving away numerous prizes. The grand prize was a huge Christian music collection. My boys entered their names, and prayed that they would win. As it turned out, they didn't win. But later that night, the store owner shared a remarkable story with us about the winner, which inspired my sons and gave them consolation. The young man who won the contest was a new believer in Christ, and just a few nights before, he had thrown out his entire collection of secular music, vowing to listen only to music that glorified His Savior. The Lord used this contest to reward him with an entire new collection of music that he could enjoy with God's blessing.
This experience reminded me of the Biblical account of King Amaziah of Judah. When the king was organizing his army, he paid $200,000 to hire 100,000 experienced mercenaries to fight alongside his own troops in battle. Then a prophet of God told Amaziah that no matter how well his army fought, the Lord would not grant Him victory, as long as he was making unrighteous alliances. The king's response to this news was - "But the money! What shall I do about that?" The prophet replied, "The Lord is able to give you much more than this!" (2 Chronicles 25:9 TLB) Amaziah wisely chose to obey God in the matter, and he dismissed the mercenaries, sending them home with their pay. And the Lord rewarded the king's obedience with a great victory in battle. (2 Chronicles 25:11-12)
Both Amaziah and the young man who won the Christian music contest were faced with difficult choices. Both of them stood to lose a lot if they chose to obey God. Neither of them had any tangible proof ahead of time that they would be rewarded for their obedience. But their decisions proved that they truly believed that if God asked them to give something up, He had something even better for them in mind.
The truth is that whenever we choose to do God's will, we can't lose - we can only gain. Jesus made this clear when He said: "I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the Gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age...and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30 NIV) Whenever we sacrifice relationships, material things, or anything else in order to please God, He will always make sure that we come out ahead in the end. God is not a taker. He's a giver. Once we get a revelation of this fact, we will be quick to make the sacrifices the Lord asks us to, knowing that it will be best for us in the end. But being blessed shouldn't be our main motivation for obeying God in situations like these. We should want to please God simply because we love Him, and because we want to show our gratitude for all He is, and all He does.
The apostle Paul had the right idea when he penned these words in the book of Philippians: "But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile - now I've thrown them all away so that I can put my trust and hope in Christ alone. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have put aside all else, counting it worth less than nothing, in order that I can have Christ, and become one with Him..." (Philippians 3:7-9 TLB) Paul didn't want anything to come between Him and God, and we should have the same attitude.
What is it that's standing between you and a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord? Talk to Him about it today. And believe that no matter what your obedience may cost you, the Lord has something better waiting for you up ahead!
Prayer: Lord, I ask that You reveal to me today anything that is hindering me from having a more vibrant relationship with You. Help me to make the sacrifices I need to make so that I can become all You want me to be, and receive all You want me to have. Thank You for transforming all of my "losses" into gains!
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