Your Reward is in Heaven

Do it for Jesus

CHAPTER TWELVE in the story of college students Josh & Emily discovering lessons from the Parables of Jesus.

Parable of the Persistent Friend – Luke 11:1-10

Persistence in your faith demonstrated through prayer will be rewarded.

Parable of the Rich Fool – Luke 12:16-21

Wealth comes from God and should not be spent on your pleasure but His.

Parable of the Faithful Servants – Luke 12:35-40

Believers are to remain faithful in light of what they have already received from Christ, in hopes of great reward at His return.

Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree – Luke 13:6-9

True faith in Jesus will produce righteous fruit.

Your Reward is in Heaven

Josh dedicated himself to discovering ways to connect people who need help with people who have the talent and resources to help.  Faith Bible Church had a relatively large congregation of about fifteen hundred people.   It seemed obvious to Josh that within that group there must be lots of people with the skills to help others.  The only problem, as Josh saw it, was they simply didn’t know who needed help.  So Josh made it his mission to gather groups of like-minded people together and then make it well known within the congregation that help was available.  He called the program the Helping Hands small groups.  On this day, Josh was about to introduce his newest Helping Hands small group to the rest of the Helping Hands volunteers.

About eighty chairs were set up in the largest church meeting room with a table in the back dedicated to homemade snacks that included cupcakes, cookies, and small sandwiches.  Plenty of coffee was on hand along with soft drinks and bottled water.  The room was full of volunteers, and the food table was picked over pretty good as the meeting was well under way.

Josh stood at the front of the room next to a power-point presentation that listed all of the Helping hands small groups:  Home Repair Network – Homework Helpers Network – Master Chefs Network – Master Mechanics Network.

“Now let’s move on to some great news,” Josh announced to the group.  “We’ve all continued to pray that our Helping Hands small groups continue to grow, and God has answered those prayers.  As most of you know we already have the Home Repair Network, and the Homework Helpers Network, and the Master Chefs Network.  And this week we started the Master Mechanics Network with eight members that I’ll be introducing in just a moment.”

The room erupted in applause at the good news.  The energy in the room was a sincere connection to the spirit of God and the desire to serve him by serving others.

“Most of these guys are working mechanics,” Josh continued.  “The rest are dedicated backyard mechanics.  They all know what they are doing and when you call them for help, they may be able to flat out fix your problem or help you fix it yourself.  At the very least they’ll be able to direct you to someone you can trust to make the repair at a fair price.”

More applause for the future possibilities rippled through the room.

“I’ll just ask them all to step up here now so you can meet them…”

Eight men from the back of the room filed toward the front.  Josh watched them make their way forward and was genuinely filled with gratitude for their willingness to offer their expertise to those in need.

At the end of the Helping Hands meeting, Josh and Emily were the last to leave.  The room had gone quiet, the food table had been cleared, and Josh flipped off the lights before pulling the door closed and using his key to lock up.  It was dark out as Josh and Emily casually strolled across the church plaza toward the parking lot that was quickly draining of cars.  Emily had a big smile on her face still filled with the joy brought on by the success of the Helping Hands small groups.

“When we see God working like we do in these Helping Hands small groups, it only confirms He is with us and will continue to help us do more great things,” Emily confided in Josh.

Josh agreed completely with Emily and he was totally on board with her sentiments, but he was unwinding from the meeting and starting to feel the weight of his own personal issues.

“I certainly felt his presence in that room tonight,” Josh offered, with much less enthusiasm than Emily.

“Yet you look troubled,” Emily observed.  “What’s up?”

Josh stopped his forward progress at the edge of the parking lot under the glow of one of the halogen lights.  He watched the last of the volunteers pull out of the driveway onto the street.  Only his battered Toyota Corolla was left in a parking space not far away.  Josh and Emily were alone in the still of the night on the quiet church campus.

“God has given me a great blessing that I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do with,” Josh confided to Emily.

“You’re having a hard time with a blessing?” Emily asked, not understanding how that might be possible.

“That’s right,” Josh said, taking a moment to gather his thoughts before explaining.  “You know I did really well in school last semester.  And my grandfather was so impressed he wrote me a check for ten thousand dollars.”

Emily was shocked.  A big smile formed on her face as she playfully gave Josh a shove.

“Get out of here!”

“It’s true,” Josh confirmed.  “And there are a hundred things I could do with that money.  I’ve been praying about it and the answer I seem to be getting is I’ve got to figure this out on my own.”

Emily was starting to understand Josh’s dilemma.  “I see your problem,” she said.  “You don’t want to be selfish and just buy a new car.  You want to be a good steward.”

“Exactly!  Josh paused a moment before continuing.  “But I do need a new car.”

The next day Emily accompanied Josh on a scouting mission at the local used car lot.  They walked along a row of cars all marked with price tags below ten thousand dollars.  They weren’t shopping.  Just looking.  Just trying to see what ten thousand dollars could buy.  Triangle shaped, red, white, and blue plastic flags flapped in the breeze overhead.  No salesman was in sight.  Fortunately the only guy on the lot was busy with another couple.  Josh and Emily were essentially alone and able to speak freely about their situation.

“I simply need adequate transportation to get to school, and church, and work,” Josh stated matter of factly.

“What is adequate?” Emily asked.  “A lot of people take the bus.” She added.

“You think I should just buy a bus pass and give the rest of the money away?” Josh asked knowing full well that was not Emily’s position.

Emily continued to brainstorm.  “Wouldn’t saving the money to use on your education be good stewardship?” she said.

“My parents have been saving since I was a baby for my education.  They would want me to spend this money for something else.” Josh said with assurance.

“So you’re going to buy a car to protect your parent’s ego?” Emily asked, seeing a subtle bit of humor in the concept.

“I haven’t decided to buy a car yet,” Josh said.  “My old car still gets me where I need to go.”

Josh’s ten year old Toyota Corolla sat at the curb just a few feet away.  It was adequate.  There was no doubt about that.  Emily could see Josh wasn’t going to make a decision on this day.  She didn’t offer any more suggestions.  She let him think.  Josh led the way off the used car lot still searching for the right thing to do with his new-found wealth.

The next day, Josh opened the door of his apartment to Emily waiting outside.  She had a confused grin on her face.  “What was so urgent that I had to rush over here?” she asked.

Josh stepped aside and allowed her to step into his sparsely decorated living room consisting of a couch, a recliner, a rather large screen television sitting on a low media table, and not much more.  He then led the way across the room to a dining table in front of the open kitchen.  Emily could not believe her eyes.  The table was covered in cash.  All hundred dollar bills.  One hundred of them meticulously laid out with Ben Franklin’s face facing forward on every bill.  Ten thousand dollars.

“Josh!  Are you crazy!  Is that what I think it is?”

“It’s ten thousand dollars in cash,” Josh said as he stared at the table and into the eyes of one hundred Ben Franklins.

“Why did you get it in cash?” Emily asked, completely confused by what she saw as totally irrational behavior.

Josh looked at the cash for a moment before responding.

“I thought it was the best way to really understand what it is I have.  What it is I’ve been put in charge of.  To get a handle on my stewardship responsibility.”

“So what has this little experiment revealed to you?” Emily asked.

Josh answered without hesitation.  “Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.”

Emily took a long look at the cash then turned her gaze toward Josh.  He looked confused.  Maybe more confused than he was the day before.

“Okay,” Emily said in a take charge tone.  “Let me go with you while you take this back to the bank,” she insisted.

Josh took his eyes off the cash and looked at Emily.  “That’s a good idea,” he said.  “It’s scary having this much money laying around.”

Emily watched slightly amused as Josh gathered the cash together.

The next day, Emily was waiting in a half-full church parking lot for Josh to show up for a meeting they had with Pastor Mark.   She was watching for his black Toyota Corolla when a newer model red Toyota Corolla entered the lot.  She watched as the like-new car came closer and was shocked to see Josh driving.  Josh parked and stepped out of the red Toyota with a new aura of confidence.  He made his way toward Emily, no longer lost in confusion.  Emily could tell her best friend was beyond his struggle with how to spend his windfall profit.

“Well I guess you made your decision,” she surmised as he approached.

“I did,” Josh said with a satisfied grin on his face.

“That car looks like it cost more than ten thousand dollars,” Emily suggested.

“That’s not mine,” Josh said.  “That’s a rental.”

Emily’s initial assessment was deflated and now she was lost in a new wave of curiosity.

“Some drunk driver smashed into my car while it was parked on the street,” Josh revealed.  “I didn’t know insurance pays for a rental car.  How cool is that?” he said with a smile on his face.

Emily was still confused but she knew there was more to the story.  She knew Josh had found an answer to his dilemma.  “So at least you’ll have a new car for a few days,” she offered.

Josh was introspective.  “It’s nice, but it really doesn’t do anything my old car didn’t do.  It gets me from point “A” to point “B”.

“So what did you decide to do with your ten thousand dollars?

Josh answered Emily with a completely settled sense of a well thought-out decision.  “I’m going to create a fund for the Helping Hands Network,” Josh said.  “So people who can’t afford to have repairs made, can get a little assistance,” he explained.

Emily smiled.  She locked eyes with Josh and spoke to him from her heart.  “Your grandfather will be proud, Josh!” she said before enveloping him in a warm embrace.

As they walked together toward the church office, Emily couldn’t help commenting on her best friend’s unique personality.  “You frequently take the long way around, but you always get there.”

Josh smiled.  “And I always enjoy the journey.”

 

Where will you go next in your walk with Jesus?

 

CHAPTER THIRTEENThe Humbled and the Exalted

13 The Humbled and the Exalted