Christian Images

Prayer, Service and Rewards

The following 'Free Christian Illustrations' are written and illustrated by Ian Coate. They can be used without charge or obligation and can be downloaded, copied or distributed without permission as long as no cost is charged and source is recognized.

The Amazing Opportunity

Talking to GodImagine you received an invitation to meet your nation’s leader so you could make a personal request.  Providing no laws were broken, the nation’s leader would then do everything possible to make sure your request was granted.  What an opportunity!  What would you ask?  Your request could have a great impact on so many lives.

Truth is God is far more powerful than any president or prime minister – more powerful, in fact, than any king or queen throughout history – He is the Creator of the universe.  Every living thing depends on Him.  The laws of science, time and space are subject to Him.  He has unlimited power with all the riches of the universe at His fingertips.  We are so insignificant compared to God; it’s hard to fathom why He would even take notice of us. But to the contrary, God has given us the amazing opportunity to go boldly into His ‘Office of Grace’ to obtain mercy and help in time of need.
Even so, there is a problem.  As with every good ruler, God is restricted by His own laws.  He created mankind with free will – we are free to succeed and free to fail – we are free to use God’s power and free to use our own.  We should remember this next time we point our finger accusingly at God and say: ‘Why did You let this happen?’
God will reply sadly: ‘I did not desire for that to happen, but no one asked Me to help.   If I had acted without being invited, I would have broken the Laws of Free will.’  Then, God will point a finger at us and say: ‘My office is open 24 hours a day.  Why didn’t YOU take the time to come and ask?’
We Christians, have been given an amazing opportunity, if more of us took the time to seek God and ask Him to work His will in various circumstances, what a different world this would be.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

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Petitioning God

Jesus Christ with a Prayer PetitionA petition is a formal document containing signatures that seek action from those in authority.  Petitions have little effect when signed by only a few people; however, governments and ruling bodies are often moved to action when they receive a petition with a majority of signatures.

In a general sense, praying is like signing a petition.  Prayer is our great opportunity to effect change in the Devil’s world.  We must remember that mankind is created with freewill and God must respect that freewill.  He greatly desires to fix many of our dire situations but must wait patiently to be invited into action.
As Christians we are citizens of Heaven; we should constantly be petitioning God to bless our earthly nations and to open doors for evangelism.  We need to pray for our leaders, our churches and yes, even our enemies.  The more citizens of Heaven petitioning, the more likely God is to make that request a reality. 
On examining history, we will find that nations with a strong Christian focus generally prosper.  However, when Christians stop praying, God must reluctantly leave them to their own devices and the consequences of bad decisions.  This is also true individually; if no one is petitioning for your family or friends, God must step back.  We may be the only voice praying for our family members and those in our neighbourhood.  This should certainly motivate us to invite God to work “His will” into our personal lives, our families, our neighbourhoods and nations.
Christ is our representative and mediator before God.  He takes His and our petitions before the Divine Throne.  Yet if few Christians are praying, Christ will have few signatures.  What a tragedy to send our Lord Jesus Christ to God’s Throne of Grace with a blank petition.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

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The Great Investment

Investing in God and ChristianityInvesting is often a scary venture.  We are told to invest in our future.  So do we invest in superannuation, property, shares, or stuff our money in a mattress?  Some investments will make us rich – others will take the shirt from our back. 
The truth is even if we are extremely successful investors, we can’t take it with us.  Furthermore, our children and grandchildren can’t take it with them either.

We all want to be wise investors.  As Christians, we believe life continues after death.  Furthermore, we read in the Bible that God has given us an incredible opportunity to invest in our eternal future.
Let’s be clear, we are not doing God a favoureach time we give sacrificially or serve in a spiritual capacity.  God does not need our money; He has the riches of the universe at His disposal.  God does not need our service; He is omnipotent, plus has a host of angels eager to do His bidding. So why would God use us – we make such bad servants?  Answer: God is giving us a golden opportunity to invest into our eternal future – spiritual service is how we capitalize.
What an unprecedented investment opportunity for us!  God is allowing us to be joint partners in His glorious plan.  Whatever we contribute will be multiplied and bring us dividends forever (Mark 10: 29,30).   When we truly consider this amazing offer, we will immediately stop wasting time investing in earthly things that will be eventually taken away.  Instead, we will start investing our energy and resources in the Bank of God which promises to pay dividends that will continue throughout eternity. 
Let us hope we are not kicking ourselves forever because we let the greatest of all investment opportunities pass us by.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7.

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Childish Gifts

Christian Giving like a ChildQuite often children are motivated to draw pictures, pick flowers or even give rocks to their parents as an expression of their love.  Children don’t have any resources themselves and usually the flowers they pick are from their parents’ garden, the pictures are drawn on their parents’ stationery and gifts are purchased with their parents’ money.  However, good parents don’t dwell on these things.  They are aware that their child is trying to show appreciation in their own unique way.  A good parent sees the motivation behind a simple gift and proudly displays such little trophies so all who enter their home may see their child’s expressions of love.

God has told us to be childlike and there is no better way to be childlike than by giving.  When we are focused on God, like a loving child is focused on their parent, we will be motivated to give as an expression of our love. 
We should be delighted to give flowers and draw pictures for our Divine Parent (our spiritual giving and service).  But if we do it begrudgingly (because we feel we have to, or out of guilt), this simply shows we are not properly motivated.  Forced gifts bring no glory to God.  We should give with delight and cheer or not at all.  God always sees (and rewards) the motive behind the gift – never the gift itself.  For God, like all of us, loves a gracious giver.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7.

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Extinguishing the Fires

Falure in Christian PrayerWe are all equal before God, so why are some Christians more effective with prayer than others? 

To successfully put out the fires in our life, God has given us prayer.  Prayer is our fire hose.  As Christians, we are all issued with an identical hose, each one connected to the same water supply (God’s Power).
We must unravel the hose and connect it to God’s water supply (the right procedure of getting in fellowship, 1 John 1:9). 
Then we must check there are no kinks in the hose (false motives or unresolved issues, Psalms 66:18, James 4: 3).
Once the hose is prepared we must turn the tap fully on (faith in God’s power, Mathew 21:22). 
If we are standing on the hose we should remove our big foot (allow God to have His way without interference, Psalm 37:34, Psalm 130:5). 
It always helps to aim the hose in the right direction (knowing God’s will, 1 John 5:14).
Finally, we must persevere until the fire is extinguished (persistent prayer, Psalm 55:17)
Sometimes, one organized person following precise procedure can quickly extinguish a raging fire, while a thousand clumsy people untangling their hoses cannot.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

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Prayer Shooters

Christian Prayer ShootersHollywood has given us many images of gun-toting individuals shooting off their pistols wildly into the air.  They make a lot of noise but usually end up shooting themselves in the foot.

Let’s be honest, most of us Christians are prayer-shooters.  When we come together at church, we make a lot of noise shooting off numerous, repetitive prayers to heaven – but we rarely hit the target.  Often, our prayers are said simply to impress those around – for when we are alone, we hardly pray at all.
On the whole, prayer-shooters don’t make good Christian soldiers.  A “shoot first & aim later mentality” is rarely seen as an asset in any organization – including the church.  In combat, the soldier that is careless is usually the first casualty.
Do we talk the Christian talk but don’t walk the Christian walk?  Are we easily distracted by things of this world and find it hard to focus on God’s plan?  When we privately pray, do we consider what God wants or are we too absorbed with our own needs? 
To be an effective Christian soldier, we must stop being self-absorbed and worrying about what others think.  We must start living our life before God – not people. We must consistently check our motives and align ourselves to God’s will.  We do all this by studying His Word and applying it. 
Successful prayer is always a result of a good relationship with God and knowing His will – not from endless repetition, elegant words, or the number of people we have impressed. 
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14

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Prayer Snipers

Christian Soldier Prayer SniperSnipers are among the most feared soldiers in warfare; they are seldom seen and can cause complete disruption to the enemy’s plans.  Snipers are patient soldiers who excel in marksmanship and are experts at concealment.  They use long-range rifles, usually equipped with silencers, so as not to draw attention to themselves.  A good sniper does not waste bullets – every shot must hit its target.

God desires His Christian soldiers to develop the skills to become prayer-snipers – elite spiritual warriors whose prayers hit the mark and cause complete disruption to the enemy’s (Satan’s) plans.
To become an effective prayer-sniper: Christians must be occupied with Christ (not themselves); they’re dependent on God for motivation (not on other people); they’re focussed on God’s objectives and targets (not on personal targets).
We rarely know who the prayer-snipers are.  These Christians are experts at concealment and bring little attention to themselves.  They know the spiritual terrain and do not waste time on unnecessary prayers or vain repetitions.  They know God’s will and pray accordingly.  They have the ability to focus on a prayer-target without being distracted, and when they shoot their prayers they usually hit the mark. 
Here on earth, we may not know who the prayer-snipers are, but we will certainly know them in Heaven – they’ll be the ones with all the medals and awards. The question we must ask ourselves: are we quietly developing our spiritual skills to join the ranks of effective prayer-snipers?
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:6)

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Joining the Family Dinner

Christian ImageA very rich man sat at his dinner table and watched his three children fight over the TV remote.  He decided to make his children an incredible offer.  If they would stop what they were doing and come to the table as a family for dinner, then join him to clear away the dishes, he would reward them generously.  He told them that after dinner his private jet would fly them to the best theme parks.  Then they could tour the world and visit any location they personally desired.  Added to this, they could invite all their friends and the same offer would be made to them.
Two of his children leapt eagerly from their chairs and joined their father at the dinner table - this was an extremely generous offer not to be missed.  They were so overjoyed, that spending ten minutes afterwards doing the dishes was just an opportunity to discuss the fantastic wonders to come.  As for phoning their friends with the invitation, that certainly wasn’t a chore. 
However, one son didn’t join the family dinner - his favourite show was on.  He gave away the opportunity of a lifetime to watch a half-hour sitcom.

When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are ‘reborn’ into God’s family.  As our Heavenly Father, God has made us a generous offer, which makes the offer described above look dull.   God has said, if we join our family at the table (Christian fellowship), help with the dishes (Christian service) and invite all our friends (evangelize), He will give us fantastic rewards, far beyond our imagination and expectation (2 Timothy 2: 11-13).
What we do in life ‘does’ have repercussions throughout eternity.  Life is so small compared to forever – less than a half-hour sitcom.  We would be pretty stupid not to switch off ‘life’s distractions’ and join the family dinner for an eternity of riches.  
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9.

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Motivated Rewards

Christian Rewards and motivationsA church bus returning from a function slid off the road and dropped over a cliff.  All the church members died.  They were welcomed into Heaven by angels cheering and trumpets blazing.  A great victory feast was held in celebration.  At the end of the feast, God called the church members forward.
‘Before I show you all to your mansions, there are some rewards outstanding.  John Smith – you have focused your life on Me.  You served because you saw in My plan something to believe in and worthy of sacrifice.  Well done, My good and faithful servant. Your life has brought Me glory.’  God then showered John with eternal rewards.
In anticipation, the other church members looked at each other excitedly, for they had worked side-by-side with John.  God turned to them. ‘Well, I see all rewards have been paid in full.  Let Me now show you to your mansions.’   The church members looked aghast.  It was Jill Jones who first spoke out: ‘Begging Your pardon, Lord, I think there’s been a mistake.  I have done as much as John, if not more, and I haven’t been rewarded yet.’ 
God looked at Jill tenderly and replied: ‘Yes you have.  Remember, you served so that your fellow workers would like you – most did (some didn’t) and so you have already received your reward.  Joe Bloggs, you served out of guilt; whenever you gave an offering, didn’t your guilt temporarily disappear – you also have been paid.’  God then pointed to each one and told them what they already knew: ‘You were motivated by power, you by fear, you by bullying, you by jealousy and you by competition.  You all sought your rewards on earth and have been paid in full.  Only John Smith was motivated by the love for Christ and has waited until now to be rewarded.’

We must privately question our motives every time we give and serve.  If we are ‘not’ doing our good deeds in fellowship with our Lord and for the love and glory of God, we are simply creating a lot of wood, hay and stubble to be burnt at the Judgement Seat of Christ.  We must remember: right actions must be done for the right reasons.  
‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruits of his doings. (Jeremiah 17 9-10).

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Working Side By Side

Christian ServiceWhen people voluntarily work side by side it brings them closer.  When you work with someone, you really get to know them.
Parents know how hard it is to encourage their children to assist around the house.  On those rare occasions when they help with a happy heart, it is pure delight to the parents and is frequently a bonding experience. 
Alternately, when their children are uncooperative and sulky – it brings no pleasure to either party.  It is usually easier for the parents to do the work themselves.  Sadly, the children have deprived themselves of the opportunity to improve themselves and bond with their parents.

God doesn’t need our help in the ‘Kitchen of Life’.  We may think He does, but God is all-powerful and we only get in His way.  When we help God we are like little children; no matter how good we think we are and how important our service is, we generally make a horrible mess of things.  God usually needs to tidy up after our tidy up.  With this in mind we should seriously consider the following questions:
God is omnipotent – He can do all things; so, if we are not helping out with a happy heart – why are we helping at all? 
God owns the riches of the universe – He doesn’t need our money to accomplish His purpose; so, if we aren’t giving freely – why are we giving at all?  
Working with the wrong attitude or from guilt, brings no pleasure to God. He has given us an amazing opportunity to be part of His work, and in so doing we begin to know Him better.  God understands that two people voluntarily working side-by-side is an excellent relationship builder.  His greatest desire for us with Christian service is to improve ourselves spiritually by getting closer to Him.
Our Christian service may benefit others, but the one it was primarily designed to benefit was ourselves. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

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Missing Dessert

Christian rewards missing DessertEating vegetables is absolutely necessary if we are to maintain a strong, healthy body. To encourage children to eat their vegies, parents often place sweets in front of them and say: ‘If you don’t eat your vegies, you won’t get dessert.’

When we refuse to follow God’s plan, we may wonder why nothing bad seems to happen.  Have we got away scot-free?  No, we haven’t - God is not mocked (Gal 6:7).  Sometimes, discipline comes in the form of withholding something wonderful that we may have otherwise received.  Just like eating vegies, God’s rules are for our benefit.  Abide by them and we will be stronger, healthier Christians.  God desperately wants to bless us, but our capacity to handle blessing must always come first.
God is not bribing us with blessings – He only wants what is best for us.  Just as children benefit when they eat vegies – we benefit in so many ways when we follow God’s mandates.   God has simply dished out personal blessings (before time even began) and put them in front to encourage us to do the very things that will make us stronger Christians.  It’s like a double blessing; we benefit in life by following His rules and are blessed for doing that which is good for us.
Alternatively, if we refuse to eat our vegies (follow God’s mandates) here on earth, when we arrive in Heaven won’t we kick ourselves when we find out all the sweets we ‘could have had’ in life and the many rewards left unclaimed for eternity!  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

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The Tide

Christian serviceTwo men took their boats out to sea to fish.  After a very good catch, they rowed their boats back toward the shore, but while they were fishing the tide had gone out leaving their cars some distance from the water.
The first man decided to wait for the tide to turn and started cleaning his fish. However, the second man became very frustrated as he had many things to do and didn’t have time to wait for the tide.  So he jumped out of his boat and started dragging it over the long stretch of beach.  It was exhausting work as his boat was very heavy and laden with fish, but being a stubborn man he was not easily deterred.
It soon became evident that he was getting nowhere fast so he decided to lighten his load.  He threw out his oars, lines, nets and catch of fish then kept dragging.  Step by agonizing step he advanced.   Every few metres his boat caught in the sand or wedged on a rock.  In anger, he lifted it free then heaved it out.  Ever so slowly he advanced closer to his car. 
Finally, with the last of his strength, he dragged his boat to the top of the beach.  He laughed in exhilaration and shook his fist defiantly at heaven.  Then, to his complete surprise, he noticed the tide had come in behind him.  He watched, speechless, as the other man rowed his boat effortlessly to his car, placed his oars, nets and cleaned fish into the back, then lifted his boat on top and drove away.  The second man fell down exhausted - he did not have the strength left to lift his boat.

God has told us there is a time for everything (Ecc. 3:1).  When delayed, we should be patient.  We should do the things that are within our reach and relax about the things that aren’t.   If we trust in God, He will turn the tide at exactly the right time.  All our stubborn efforts, worries and fears are just a waste of energy and will leave us frustrated, discouraged and exhausted.
Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart… Psalm 27:14a

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Missing the Boat

Christian Soldiers God's EndeavourTraditionally, a naval ship’s purpose is to serve and bring glory to king and country.  In order to do this, every ship needs to be manned by a captain and a crew.  Each person has his own specific and individual duties that are necessary for the ship’s daily function.  The ship’s success will be determined by the captain’s focus, leadership and preparedness and the crew’s training, eagerness and dedication.  Ships that fail to reach their objectives are usually captained by a man seeking personal glory, or occupied by a mutinous crew. 
Every ship is given missions for the glory of king and country.  Some will be accomplished solo and some as part of the fleet.  On their return home, rewards and decorations await those ships that successfully complete their missions.

A church is like a ship of the navy.  Its purpose is to serve and bring glory to God in Heaven.
God has commanded us to board one of His ships and become a member of the crew.  We are directed to find a church that is fulfilling its spiritual missions and use our spiritual gifts to help that ship reach its objectives.  The more people that are on deck ready to serve, the more God can accomplish His glorious purpose through them. Historically, you will note that Christian nations have prospered but when they turn from Him they soon go into decline. Today, the Church is diminishing in Western Nations, but rapidly expanding in nations like China and India.
There will come a day, when we are in Heaven, where everyone is applauding the successful missions of certain ships (churches).  Let’s make sure that we aren’t one of the regretful people saying, ‘I could have been aboard that ship and been part of their successful spiritual assignments.  But alas, I was too busy with my own affairs and didn’t want to risk leaving the comfort and safety of the harbour.’
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  Matthew 9:37

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The Busy Robin

Christian service and God's GloryA little robin built a nest and laid her eggs.  While she gathered food, a cuckoo snuck an egg into the nest.  Later, the robin didn’t question why a new egg had appeared – she was far too busy for that.  When her chicks hatched, she didn’t question why one of her chicks was distinctly different from the others. Nor did she question why one chick ate three times as much as the others – she simply worked three times harder to feed it.  One day, the cuckoo chick pushed the other chicks out of the nest.  Yet, the exhausted robin still did not question; there was no time as the cuckoo now commanded attention around the clock. 

In our busy lives, we can easily forget that God desires a personal relationship and has given us an amazing opportunity to share in His eternal kingdom.   However, this fallen world has a habit of distracting us by sneaking cuckoo eggs in our nest for us to raise. (Luke 9: 59-62)
Cuckoos can take many forms – some good, some bad.  It may be an addiction or obsessive hobby that needs continual feeding.  It may be a demanding friendship or organisation.  Or, it may even be charitable work that needs round the clock attention. (Luke 10: 38-42)
We can become so busy that it’s hard to determine if we are raising a cuckoo.  Periodically, we need to stop and question our schedule and check our motives lest something of no eternal importance starts taking all our time and energy. 
We should ask ourselves – is what we are doing:

  • causing us to neglect our relationship with God, family and self?
  • motivated by guilt or seeking the applause of other?
  • causing undue stress, anxiety or depression?
  • taking all our time, yet bringing no glory to God?

God demands a right thing be done in a right way. No matter how outwardly honourable our busy endeavours may seem, if our motivation is wrong, all we have created is wood, hay and stubble that will be burnt at the Judgement Seat of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 3: 12-15)
Our time on earth is brief.  Let us not waste it by raising cuckoos that bring no glory to our Divine Father. Christianity is about developing right relationships.  If our first priority is relationship with God, our other relationships and ministries will gracefully fall into place – only then will our burdens be light. 
“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

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Glory Seeking

Christian Rewards and personal gloryNations award medals and military decorations to soldiers in recognition of sacrifices performed on behalf of their fellow countrymen.  These awards are for those who have shown great courage or served selflessly beyond the call of duty. 
Interestingly, there are soldiers whose focus is to win medals.  Their motivation is personal glory – not their nation’s best interest.  These soldiers, no matter how good they are at their job, will often place personal ambition above the welfare of fellow soldiers.    ‘Love of country’ is simply a term they use to justify their primary motivation – glory seeking and self- aggrandisement.

God has promised rewards and decorations for Christian soldiers who serve faithfully and selflessly.  Rewards are there to encourage us to stay the course and to reassure us that our Heavenly Father honours those who honour Him. 
Eternal rewards are a legitimate motivation, but should not be our primary motivation.  We should serve out of love for God, to save the souls of fellow humans and for the glory of our Lord in Heaven. 
We must do a right thing in a right way.  God always looks at our heart – He knows the motivation behind our deeds. A question we should ask: If we serve only for future rewards and recognition, do we really have God’s best interests at heart or are we simply glory-seeking?
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7.

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Resistance Fighters

Christian ResistanceIn the main, resistance fighters are average citizens fighting for freedom in a territory overrun by the enemy - often at great risk to themselves and their families.  Resistance takes many forms – gathering intelligence, producing underground newspapers, sabotaging enemy plans, assisting escaped POWs and allied troops.   Resistance fighters depend heavily on outside help to obtain valuable information and supply needs crucial to continuing their opposition.

God has called all Christians to be resistance fighters in a territory (the Devil’s kingdom) overrun by the enemy.  We are citizens of humanity, fighting for the spiritual freedom of our fellow man.  Outside help is crucial to our resistance.  We rely on God to supply our needs.  He has provided our essential information (the Bible), and equipped us with weapons (not physical - but spiritual). 
As Christians, we can do many things to aid the resistance: (1) Gather intelligence (learn Biblical truths). (2) Spread that information (the Gospel) any way possible.  (3) Arrange Christian meetings in safe locations (church).  (4) Sabotage the enemy’s (Satan’s) plans - through prayer.  (5) Refuse to participate in actions (sin) that aid and advance the enemy’s cause.  (6) Aid fellow resistance fighters (teachers of God’s Word) in any way possible.   
As with all resistance, the risk can be great, but there will come a day when the occupying enemy is cast out and all sacrifices (great and small) will be remembered and rewarded.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)

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Nothing Ventured - Nothing Gained

Christian RewardsEach week, two young, hard-working men considered what to do with their savings.  The first saw great potential in the property market.  He put all his extra money into land.  For a few years, he went without fancy holidays, fancy cars and many other luxuries – every spare cent he invested in his property venture.  The second man was not as enterprising as the first.  He put some of his money in the bank but spent most of it going to restaurants and having a good time. 
Eventually, the first man retired young and lived the rest of his life in luxury.  However, the second man had to keep working till he was old because he couldn’t live off the small amount he had saved.  The second man had done nothing wrong with his money, but at the same time he had done nothing right.

As Christians, do we see potential in investing our time and resources in God’s enterprise?  Are we willing to forgo things now for something better later? Our Heavenly Father has given us the opportunity to be partakers in His glorious plan of bringing salvation to all mankind.  Our time on Earth is the time to invest and our life here is so short compared to Eternity.  The Bible is our investment portfolio.  If we keep studying it, we will constantly be reminded of the many prospects available to us: things to pray for, give to and openings to serve.
Our quality of Eternal-Retirement is determined by what we do on Earth.  The Bible mentions many Heavenly rewards for good and faithful servants.  If we haven’t invested our time and resources wisely in God’s amazing plan, there will be no punishment in Heaven, but neither will we receive rewards.  
Won’t we kick ourselves in Eternity when we see the divine fortune that could have been ours and see other Christian reaping a hundredfold return on everything they invested on Earth (Mat 19:28, 29). Remember, right now is the opportunity of Eternity and nothing ventured – nothing gained. 
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6)
While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18.

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Wasting Great Potential

Wasting God's PotentialIf you had a team of doctors at your disposal, it would be a waste of great potential to employ them delivering pizzas instead of babies.    

God is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient) and everywhere simultaneously (omnipresent).  He owns all the riches of the universe and has legions of angels eager to do His bidding.  Amazingly, God has placed His power at every Christian’s disposal – and yet our prayers are often insignificant.  We ask for such little things of limited consequence forgetting the great potential God has granted us.
This is not saying that we shouldn’t pray for small, personal things.  God certainly wants to lift our ‘brick’ burdens that are weighing us down, but let us not forget we also have an incredible opportunity to implore God to move mountains. 
Without realising it, we are all guilty of limiting God’s power.  God has ample strength to handle our daily dilemmas as well as any world crisis.  He can turn tragedies into eternal triumphs – but He must wait for our prayers inviting Him to intercede. 
How frustrating for God to have the potential to deliver a ‘new birth’ to a dying world, but most of us only call on Him to satisfy our personal needs. God has given us the opportunity to affect the course of nations, to resolve international conflicts, to bring divine light to billions in darkness – and it’s ours simply for the asking.
We often forget: praying in accordance to God’s will is the greatest work of our Christian life – because it allows God to work His perfect will in the Devil’s Kingdom.
John 15:7 states: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

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Calling in Support

Christian soldiersSoldiers on the ground can call air-support in times of need.  To do this, they simply get on their radio, make their request and give the coordinates.  If everything checks out at Head Quarters (HQ), supplies will soon be parachuted in and bombs dropped to remove obstacles. 

Christian soldiers on earth can call for heavenly support in times of need.  We simply get on our radio (prayer), make our request and give the coordinates (petition and intercession).  If everything checks out at HQ (God in Heaven sanctions the request) provision will soon be provided and obstacles removed.
We must have faith our prayers are heard and do get answered.  The answers are seldom in the manner and timing we desire, but when we truly trust that God knows best, even if we receive a ‘no’ to our prayer request, we are assured that God is working all things for good (Romans 8:28).  If we are steadfast, even when it seems we lose battle after battle, we can be confident the war will be won and God will be glorified through our life.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

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Successful Investors

Christian RewardsSuccessful investors keep ‘ears open’ for wise investment opportunities.  They watch current events and strike while the ‘iron is hot’.  Hesitate and they may lose a golden opportunity because the stock market is constantly changing. Tomorrow can be too late to invest successfully in today’s prospects.

News and events happening today are Christian opportunities to invest with prayer.  We should not hesitate.  As with all investments, should we be complacent, opportunities will pass us by.  Prayer is our opening to bring change in the devil’s world.  If we don’t pray, the only losers are ourselves - God’s plan does not depend on our input (investment). 
As Christians, we should examine events brought to our attention through TV, radio, newspapers or via the grapevine and quickly pray for God to intervene with His will (Due to human free-will, God must often wait for an invitation to intervene).  Remember, it can be too late tomorrow to pray for today’s circumstances.  Invest right now with prayer. (James 5:17-18)

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Running the Wrong Race

Running Christian RaceA man raced off to a closing-down sale to buy a TV.   He ran so fast that if he had been competing at the Olympics he would have broken a world record.  Yet, for all his effort and amazing speed, he did not receive either a gold medal or a lucrative sponsorship - nor was his name listed in the record books.  His trophy was a half-price TV he would soon put out for kerbside rubbish collection.

Are we running the wrong race?  Are we using our innate energy to gain something of limited value?  Why run after material gain or fame when death invariably takes it all away?  How does attaining personal riches and glory help us beyond the grave? (Job 1:21a: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return”)   
Nothing we acquire on earth can buy our way into heaven.  Only by accepting God’s gift of Salvation through believing in Christ can we be saved.  Once saved, we are on the starting block.  From that point every day is an opportunity to run our race before the Lord.  If our life is run in His direction, we not only prevail on earth but become eternal winners with perpetual rewards and trophies complete with a guarantee of everlasting satisfaction.  (Hebrews 12:1)

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Christian Soldier War MemorialA War Memorial is a monumental structure which commemorates the sacrifice of men and women in times of war.  Nations build these structures so citizens will remember the names of gallant heroes who have faithfully, bravely and at great personal cost served their country.

As Christian soldiers, we are presently serving in a spiritual warfare that has been raging for thousands of years.  In the eternal future, when the war is over and we are all safe in Heaven, no doubt there will be a Spiritual-War-Memorial built by God to commemorate those who served faithfully, bravely and at great personal cost.   The most prominent feature will be of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.  The names of Apostles and other biblical heroes will also be well memorialised.  Martyrs will probably have their own ‘Hall of Valour’.  Pastors, teachers and missionaries will not be forgotten.  Christians who faithfully served but never received recognition on earth will be duly recognised.   Medals and crowns will be on display with the stories of the recipients carved in stone to stand as an everlasting testament to the Glory of God, Christ and Christian patriotism.
Take a moment to ask: ‘How will I be remembered at the Spiritual-War-Memorial?  Does my life bring glory to God?’  If we are truthful, we’ll most likely admit we spend most of our time chasing and doing things that have no eternal significance.
We can change that by choosing to don the Armour-of-God and serve our Heavenly Nation.  When we spend time in God’s Word and start applying His Truth to our lives, our actions and prayers will be effective in the Spiritual War raging around us.  If we faithfully stay at our post, our names will certainly appear among the honoured. 
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:7-8

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Sitting on the Bench

Christian Rewards and serviceIn professional sport, athletes have contracts that keep them on the team for an agreed period of time.  However, an athlete who does not apply himself during training may be confident he won’t be ‘kicked off’ the team while under contract, but he can expect to be benched on the sidelines when the big games are on.

When people believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, God immediately ‘signs them up’ as Christians.  They now have an unbreakable contract with God, secure for eternity.  Once in-Christ (a Christian) we can never be dropped from God’s team.  We learn in verses such as: John 3:16, Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 that when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (accept He died as our substitute on the cross) we are eternally saved. In grace God paid the entire price of our salvation at the cross – we just accept the gift through faith.  This is God’s eternal guarantee – His contract with us.
This is great news; we have an unbreakable contract with God that guarantees us eternal salvation.  However, this does not mean we idly sit around doing nothing in life.  God has a plan for us which requires our personal dedication.  If we fail to show up for training (study the Bible) and continually drop the ball (in Christian service), we should not be surprised if God benches us on the sidelines.  God only uses prepared people and won’t send Christians onto the field who don’t turn up for training, or whose actions allow the opposition to score. 
We read in the Bible there will be a great victory celebration in eternity. This is the time when everyone is applauding the Christian athletes who helped score the ‘touchdowns’.  When they are finally being recognised and rewarded, we may sadly regret how preoccupied in life we were with our own plans.  God is not going to punish us for choosing our plans over His, but we will probably kick ourselves when we fully realise we had an amazing opportunity to be part of the ‘big game’ yet we chose to chase worthless things on the sidelines.  Yes, there will be some regrets when we realise the decisions we make in life do have repercussions into eternity. 
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”.  2 Timothy 2:15.

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Making Our Mark

Making Our Mark Free Christian IllustrationsWhen we make a mark in sand, it will last only a few days before being blown or washed away.  Carve a mark on a tree and it may last decades, and if we chisel a mark on a rock it could last centuries.  In time, however, when the marked object is defaced or destroyed, so too is any evidence of what we did. 

Many of us want to leave our mark on the world, be it in business, arts, sports or the military.  Even though some are extremely successful and leave behind a giant mark, when the earth eventually ends so will all evidence of the worldly things done upon it. (1 John 2:17)  Sadly, if we invest our time and effort marking temporal things, when those things are destroyed so too is that investment.
If we really want to leave a lasting impression, we should make our mark on something eternally permanent: GOD’S PLAN.  Here’s the irony; to do this we have to give up on the idea of personal glory and dedicate ourselves to glorifying God.
To make our mark on GOD’S PLAN, we must follow the example of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Things our Lord did in His life were in perfect accordance to GOD’S PLAN and will be talked about and celebrated forever.  If we follow Christ’s example and use the resources God provides, it is guaranteed our life will also glorify God and our mark will never be erased, destroyed or fade.
We should always keep in mind: Life is but a drop in the ocean compared to eternity.  Personal glory in life is fleeting; however, the glory of GOD’S PLAN lasts forever.  In heaven, what a joy it will be to know our life glorified God.  Ironically, that is when God glorifies us and our mark on HIS PLAN will be on permanent display. 
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.’” (Matthew 25:21)

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