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HOW TO ENTER THE DOOR OF ABUNDANCE

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      The Lord Jesus, God Himself, the Creator of the Universe, became a human being, just like us, but knew He would have the loneliest calling of all.

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         He also knew, in order to achieve His calling and get the job done, He would have to be last in all things.

OFF THE GRID 

         Since He created everything I think it is safe to say He knows how everything works. He also knows, in the spiritual realm, that the way up is down: 

         But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” [Mark 9:34-35]   

         Now, I can tell you with no hesitation that the Lord wanted to be first. He was already first before He got here and was determined to be first again. It was not a selfish motive, however, but the opposite. No one else could do the job and the Lord knew that. He took it upon Himself to humble Himself to the nth degree and do whatever it took to rescue us even if it meant living a very difficult but perfect life and then sacrificing it all at the end. He had to be first but also had to be last to get there. No one else could have done it. No one else qualified. Here is another example:

         And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.

         “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” [Luke 14:7-11]  

         Now, consider the powerful ramifications of what the apostle Paul revealed in the following passage regarding the difficult path the Lord had chosen:

         He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. [Colossians 1:15-18]

CHOOSING TO LIVE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH CHOSEN ONES

          Rather than actually strive for personal spiritual victory, some people who believe they will never be winners like to associate with those characterized as such, if at all possible, as a way to be around winning. Believing they will never be accepted, well-liked, admired, or popular, they strive to associate with the people who are. This is why so many people fawn over the few recognized prominent and distinguished among us. It starts in childhood. It gets ramped up in high school as a manifestation of the popularity contests which thrive in that environment. If one looks better than others, is more talented, or is simply more self-assured, one will rise in the ranks and be seen as better and more worthy of whatever accolades there may be. Many of these got a head start early on and probably always had a strong support group.

         The Lord had none of this, save for Joseph and Mary. He was obscure and most likely not attractive. He had no “charisma.” He was never seen as someone destined for greatness. He had decided all of this in advance. He would arrive as a nobody and people would often treat Him that way. He would never expect any special favors. He would be last:

         Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:3-8]

         As you can see, the Lord decided He would take a totally opposite road of the so-called popular people and hupokritai. Rather than be a performing, stage-oriented glory hound seeking fame and money, He would instead strive to serve others and help them, and bless them. As a result, no one was more spiritually fruitful than the Lord Jesus. He planted Himself in death as a lonely rejected seed, the last and the only one there was.

         From such a humble beginning so long ago, the fruit of His ministry is still bringing forth a burgeoning, incessant, and abundant yield all over the planet to this day, and continues to increase. He started out last, became the Servant of all, and then gained first place in everything. This means He also became the only Door of salvation and eternal life. No one can get to heaven without Him.

         So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” [John 10:7-11] [1]

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Rewards of Discipleship and Real Abundance

         When we think of rewards we usually think of prizes or gifts based on a good deed: Lost Dog—$20 Reward.

         In the Old West, bounty posters were tacked up in various places announcing rewards associated with catching bad guys. Bounty hunters made a living off such rewards.

         If you were punching cattle, though, you didn’t get a reward—you got your pay. You received wages.

         The distinction between these two—rewards and wages—was based in the former sense on the difference between being an independent contractor and being an employee. Hiring on with a ranching outfit usually meant working for an indefinite amount of time for a set wage within that time, be it a certain amount per day, per week, or per month. If a man wanted steady work it would be for comparably lower pay, and often very low pay.

         An independent contractor, on the other hand, took on the risk of solely providing for himself. The reward, if he got it, was not based on an hourly wage or weekly rate, but on whatever the contract had stipulated. An experienced man could earn more money in less time. For the most part, the reward contract was non-negotiable.

         The Lord Jesus told many stories about such non-negotiable rewards, though they are often thought of as being mere wages.

THE LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD

         The parable of The Laborers in the Vineyard comes to mind (Matthew 20:1-16). Each worker was given the same pay regardless of how much time each actually worked. It appeared to be a daily rate at first and was specifically identified as one denarius. However, it became less of a daily rate as the day went on. Also, the pay was not identified when the second and third groups were hired as the day advanced. Later, the pay could be characterized as an hourly wage, but only by the last group—those “eleventh hour” workers who toiled only during the last hour of the day.

         Which was it? Was the pay wages or reward? The landowner mentioned something later about being generous. The first group that worked all day got pretty ticked off since they worked all day and the others who received the exact pay did not, even though the denarius they had agreed upon that morning when hired was a daily wage at that time. Why did the landowner pay the same mount to all regardless of time worked?

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

         There are also rewards based on specific conditions. One may think of The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In this story, three men were entrusted with large amounts of money upfront with the provision to use it to make more. This financial arrangement was not only the promise of a reward, but the reward would be decided upon by the grantees that did the work. The contract was non-negotiable but also open-ended and conditional.

         The initial amount given to each was based on their respective ability:

         To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. [Matthew 25:15]

         Though the word used here—ability—is used by the majority of Bible translations, it is not necessarily the best translation. The Greek word is dunamis. This word is primarily translated as power, but is also translated as miracle, miracles, and miraculous powers. It is an indication of personal strength.

         Each of the men was invested with an amount of money based on their personal strength and potential. The first man was given five talents because he possessed more strength, ability, and power than the others. At first glance this may seem unfair, but the master expected more from those who had more, since such people had greater potential for greater productivity and fruitfulness:

         “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” [Luke 12:48]

         We notice in this story, however, that the two men who did a good job by doubling their money gave what they made right back to their master and received—you guessed it—even greater rewards:

(1) Since they were faithful in a few things, they would each be given charge over many things, and

(2) They were blessed with entering into the joy (delight, gladness) of their master.

         It is obvious that the money these men made was not mere wages but reward with the possibility of greater reward. They invested wisely in such a way that there were ongoing dividends, or fruit. It is also clear that wages are their own reward, and once one cashes his paycheck and spends it the transaction is complete, unless one uses some of the money as financial seed.

         But there is another very important component of this message. All three men had great respect for their master. They understood they were given a great opportunity they would likely never receive again. They took it very seriously. However, the focus of the two who were successful was not on personal gain, but on their master’s gain. The third man with the least ability who was given one talent was focused on himself, and because of that he gave in to fear and buried his talent. His talent was thus unfruitful, and though he returned the money fully intact to the master, its potential was never realized. As a result, he was fired (literally).

ATTITUDE TRUMPS ABILITY

         As the man given one talent, some people may think, to begin with, that they are not quite so blessed in this life or that they have few talents or abilities. But the parable says such is not true at all. Concerning the man who was fired and why he was not successful, it was not his abilities that were deficient but his attitude. Everyone has the required abilities to be successful, but only a few make the choice to have the right attitude.

         The correct attitude is one of respect, humility, determination, and resoluteness. The master was looking for people who would never give up, who would show courage and tenacity, who would get the job done come hell or high water, who would always overcome their fear or anything else that may hinder success, and work as hard as it took to achieve the objective.

         In short, he wanted people who would simply not be denied and who lived by great faith—he wanted winners.

         Winners are people who never give up until they win.

         They do not have to be greatly gifted. They may be marginally gifted. But they must use whatever they have no matter how small. (Think seed.) The intent is to take whatever one has been given by God and increase it, whether given a large amount equivalent to several years wages (a talent), or less.

         Remember the story of the widow’s mites (small copper coins—see Mark 12:42-44). That poor woman only had two barely valuable coins but gave both into the Lord’s treasury. It was not the monetary amount that impressed the Lord Jesus, but that she gave her all. She gave everything she had, and hence, more than any of those more successful people who only gave a token easily affordable amount from their increase.

         The Master wants people who give their entire heart.

         How many true stories have we heard of people starting out very small and making it big? We must first submit ourselves to the Master, use whatever we may have been given, use it correctly, and produce the fruit thereof. We know from the parable that the guy who did nothing received nothing. He returned nothing more to his master than what he received. He was unprofitable and thus received no pay, no wages, and no reward.

         Those who consistently give their whole heart according to the will of God in obedience to Him, however, are forever fruitful. They will bring forth abundance.

REWARDS OF DISCIPLESHIP

         “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” [Matthew 29:25]

         Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” [Matthew 5:11-12]

         “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:1]

         “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:2-4]

         “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:5-6]

         “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:16-18]

         “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:19-21]

         “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” [Matthew 10:40-42]

         “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.

         “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

         “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

         “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

         “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” [Luke 6:31-38] [1]

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.