My daughter-in-law, Miriam, once told me about how she and my other daughter-in-law, Amy, had put into practice some biblical principles that they had heard me teach. They wanted to order some takeout food from one of their favorite restaurants, but they felt sure that most of the eateries in their area had already closed for the night. Miriam suggested that they pray that the restaurant would still be open, trusting that God would somehow reward them for exercising their faith. (Hebrews 11:6) She also said that she believed in retroactive prayer, and that the Lord could easily have gone ahead and kept the restaurant open, knowing that His children were going to pray in faith for it to be so. (Isaiah 65:24) As it turned out, the restaurant had remained open late that night, and my sons' wives rejoiced in the goodness of God.
When my daughter-in-law related this incident to me, I sensed in a new way how delighted the Lord must be when we, as His children, practice the principles He teaches us in His Word. We can study the Scriptures day and night, but if we don't actually apply them to our lives in everyday situations and circumstances, we will miss out on many of the rewards the Lord has in store for us, and we will lack the intimacy with God that is our inheritance in Christ. Jesus pointed out the difference between knowing and doing when He said: "You know these things - now do them! That is the path of blessing." (John 13:17 NLT) In order for us to experience the blessing-filled, abundant life that Christ died for us to have, we must be doers of His Word, and not hearers only. The Savior went so far as to say that putting the Word to work in our lives is closely tied to the quality of our relationship with Him. He said, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." (Luke 8:21 NIV)
In the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27 NIV), Jesus says that whoever hears His words and "puts them into practice" will be "like a wise man who built his house on the rock." On the other hand, the one who fails to put His teachings into practice "is like a foolish man who built his house on sand". He then describes the horrific storms that will eventually touch the life of each and every person on this earth. Those who have built their lives on God's principles will withstand every storm of adversity that comes against them, and will even emerge stronger and wiser than before. But those who have neglected or rejected Christ's teachings will eventually be overcome and destroyed. I know entire families that are full of chaos, dissension, and disharmony because, even though they would tell you that they are Christians, they are not practicing the principles of faith that they've been taught.
Did you know that there is rank in the kingdom of God? It's true. Though God's love is unconditional, His blessings are not. Certain promotions and rewards are reserved only for those who put into practice the teachings of Scripture. Jesus said, "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19 NIV) He who "practices" God's Word will be held in high esteem by the Lord, and will be entrusted with more responsibilities and rewards than those who are lax in living by godly principles.
What new and exciting doors could the Lord open for you right now, if you would only begin putting His Word into practice with a greater passion and determination than ever before?
Prayer: Lord, show me how to apply the principles of Scripture to every area of my life, so that I may have a deeper walk with You, and receive all the good things You have in store for me. Make me like the wise builder who built his house on a solid foundation, so that I can be a true overcomer for Your glory. Thank You that as I pursue the practice of Your Word, I will be called great in the kingdom of heaven!
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