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First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives;

It is apparent in the world we walk in every day that it is growing increasingly difficult to make present sacrifices for future rewards. Many, if not most are often held captive by the desire for instant gratification. Microwaves are for many the preferred choice over ovens. Advertisements abound that attempt to convince the public that no one should have to wait for anything. Consequently, when there is an unforeseen delay in our day, we are easily frustrated.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that sacrifices and delayed gratification, forced or voluntary are rewarded eternally. He described sacrificial giving toward him as the 'plundering of your goods' on my behalf. The Hebrew writer goes on to say in Hebrews 10:34 that they should be aware and expect a better and more enduring possession for themselves in heaven. In God's economy, enduring possessions come because of enduring practices that most deem too costly or time consuming. It's not 'instant' enough. Yet God reminds us that we don't need speed, we need endurance.

The journey of faith is a path filled with hills and valleys, delays and denials. And then there are the occasional mountains that must be scaled along the way, as well. So long as our focus is on how little can I get by with or easy can I make this, there will be no desire to long continue when neither are provided as an option. Being a disciple of Christ requires endurance. It is a marathon, not a sprint. And each who call themselves followers of Christ must invest the time and resources necessary for God's goal of conforming the redeemed in Christ to the image of Christ. The reward of being a disciple is seldom immediate. But when the disciplines are engaged, they produce endurance. And God says we need endurance. Hebrews 10:36

For those who have recently joined the journey of discipleship and those who are continuing over the next two years, know that there will be times ahead that are difficult and demanding. There will be disruptions in schedules. There will be tests to determine how badly you desire to know God personally and then make Him known to others. I pray that you will count the cost of going against the flow of the world and set your eyes on Jesus. Your focus on following Him will determine how well you finish. And for those who have not yet decided to join the journey, there is always room for you in the race to the finish.

Remember, the rewards are presented at the finish, not at the beginning or mid-way point.

Jesus declared that what we lose in this life, for His sake, we gain in the next. In Matthew 5:12, Jesus said, 'Great is your reward in heaven.' That is not for everyone. However, it is for anyone who is willing to invest what God provides today in what God promises tomorrow.

Hope to see you at the finish line. If so, you and I can expect to hear God say, 'well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your reward!'

It will be worth it all then. That makes it all worth it now!

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36