Wednesday, May 2, 2012

God's Reward System

Did you know that God has a reward system?

It isn't like He is some kind of arcade game, where you win points.  It isn't like your credit card that gives you "money back" for certain purchases.

It is simple.

It is certain.

Consider the poor widow who fed Elijah in 1 Kings 17.  He came and asked her for some food.  She knew that she had only the smallest amount of food left and there was no way she would be able to afford more.  She  had already mentally prepared herself to die with her son after one last small meal.

Photo from http://realtybyjim.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/sustainer/   Another bloggers thoughts on 1 Kings 17.

Elijah asked for it. And she gave it to him.

She NEVER went hungry again.  Her oil and flour NEVER ran out.

I consider that a REWARD SYSTEM.

In my simple minded manner, I lay it out like this.

A small sacrifice is made.  A HUGE reward is given.

Pretty simple huh?

So what does it really mean.

First, we need to remember that God LOVES US!  He WANTS TO BLESS US!

But.... we have to do something first.  Now initially, it may seem really hard.  That is why I use the word Sacrifice.  It is a sacrifice to us.  It has to be.  We MUST be giving up something.  Each situation is unique.  Each person and their gifts and their abilities.... unique.  So I cannot tell you what it could mean to you specifically.  But I know that the opportunities are MANY.

I will give you some examples of these situations I have experienced myself.

Last week I was contacted by a woman who was trying to start her first garden.  She was discouraged as all her starts had died.  She was asking for advice, gardening materials, and seedlings.  I told her that I could easily give her advice, seeds, starting pots and help.

Notice I said nothing of seedlings.  I really didn't think I could part with any.  I wanted to be helpful and encouraging.  But I have started my seeds and some were doing well, and some were late.  We are really trying this year to have our big ONE YEAR SUPPLY garden.  I had none to spare.

She asked again.  It was in emails, so I had time to consider and pray about it.

During this time my son and I were looking over our growing orchard trees.  Despite my lack of mulching and the deer eating some of the bark, it appears that they have all made it!  But as we are also trying to follow the Torah, to gain the blessings therein, I had to warn my son.  For the first three years, we cannot eat the fruit of these trees.  And for the fourth year, all the fruit must be given to the Lord. (Leviticus 19:23-25)

Of course, my son asks, "Why?"

And I remember 'God's Reward System.'  I really do think it applies.  And so I tell him, "Son, we don't always understand why God asks us to do something.  But, we must remember that He loves us.  He wants to bless us.  He wants to protect us.  He has asked us not to eat the fruit for 3 years, and to give Him all the fruit in the fourth year."

"He then promises us, that our fruit trees will be blessed and give us ABUNDANT fruit for years and years and years to come."

"So, we make this little sacrifice.  It seems very hard at the time.  It seems even painful perhaps."

"But then after we have given it up..... God comes back.  And he REWARDS US.  And His reward is not..... equal.  He doesn't ask for 4 years and then give us 4 years.  He doesn't ask for this hard labor and pay us just this amount that covers it and makes us even."

"God gives us SOOOOOO much more than He asks of us.  He asks for 4 years of fruit..... And he promises 40 years..... 50 years.... 120 years!  As long as that tree lives, it is blessed by Him and promised abundance by Him."

And while I spoke these words.... I knew I had to give up seedlings.  I knew I didn't have enough to give.

But I also knew that any sacrifice made for Him, was worth it.

So when she came I set out a box.  And I asked her which seedlings she wanted.  Some tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and basil.  I told her how to keep cats from messing in the garden (cayenne powder), and how to kill slugs in a manner that didn't poison other animals (beer bowls).  I showed her how I grew my starts and how to avoid the number one problem most beginners have, overwatering.  I showed her my mini greenhouses in milk jugs, and my 'start cups' made with plastic camping cups with cut drainage holes that I have now used 3 years in a row.  I promised her that initial failure is a learning experience and she will get better at it, just like I did.

That evening my mother in law emailed me.  Knowing my great love of tomatoes.... she had started 30 heirloom tomatoes for me and was bringing them up.

Two days later my friend visited me and said she was given a bag of garlic starts that she wasn't going to be able to use since she was moving during planting season.  She gave them to me.

Four days later, while preparing lunch, I pulled out my own garlic to sautee and make hummus with.  They were ALL covered in green sprouts and almost every clove had a shoot.

Yesterday I saw something growing in a bucket on my back porch.  I had completely forgetten that I had thrown some potatoes in there and my son covered them in hay as some sort of game.  They were growing and huge!

It is kind of like... you get what you give....

Except, with God, nothing is equal.  You give this little amount.  You labor this little amount.  You sacrifice something.....
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And God meets you there with a reward that is so much more.

My words don't give it justice... but I hope you understand.  Know that God loves you and WANTS to bless you, and WANTS to protect you.  Give Him a chance.  You will NEVER regret that you did.


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