Joseph Prince - God Is A Gracious Rewarder
Right into the Word of God. Today I'm gonna share about "What is Faith"? Rather, what is the faith that pleases God, the kind of faith that God wants to see in our lives. Very simple teaching. I know many of you have been taught faith. I was taught faith growing up and all that. But sometimes I think that, I mean, growing up spiritually. I think we have made faith into a formula. We have made faith, with all the intricacies of the nuts and bolts until it becomes so dry and mechanical. Faith is a walk with God, and we are about to see right now from Hebrews 11 what faith is, the kind of faith that pleases God. "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death".
So Enoch was a man. He was the first one to experience a Rapture. Maybe he was walking with God one day, you know, and he had the kind of faith that believed God is a good God. "God is close with me. He's not far away". And he talked to God and says, "God, must people die"? And God says, "Well, you know, when Adam sinned, Adam's sin brought death unto all mankind". "Lord, I really would not like to die". And God says, "You don't wanna die"? "No, can you arrange it for me"? Now, it's a special favor of a friend. "Can you arrange for me"? And the Bible says that he asked God because there's faith involved. "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death". Next thing he knew, voom, he said, "God, what place is this? It's so bright". And God says, "You are in heaven, and you're the only one that is in heaven in your old body".
Now, the Bible says that "'he was not found, because God had taken him'; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God". "He pleased God". How many of you wanna please God? People have funny ideas about pleasing God. You ask an average person what it means to please God, you know what they will say? They will say, "Well, you know, you just give money to charity, you know? Do your best". But the Bible way, you see, when I wanna please my wife, I don't think about what I want. I think about what she wants, amen. I don't give her an iPad that I like, amen? I give her something that she calls it the language of love. She likes it. She appreciate it.
What is pleasing to God? Faith. The next verse says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God". And the kinda faith, what kinda faith was it? God's not only gonna tell you that faith pleases him, but what kind of faith. "He who comes to God must believe that he is," number one, that he is, and number two, "that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him". Now, when you come to God, the kind of faith that pleases God is the faith to believe that God is. Now, God is. We all know that God exists. God is, he is. Actually, the idea of, like, Jesus saying, "I Am," is a blank check. God is blank check to whatever you, you know, you must believe that God wants to be everything to you. If you are sick, God is your Physician, amen. If you are lacking, you are broke, God is your supply. Can I have a good "Amen"?
You gotta believe God is a good God. He wants to be whatever you need him to be, amen, in your life. Praise the Lord. And number two, God wants you to believe that he is a rewarder. He is a rewarder. For some reason, there are religious Christians, and I call them, "Religious Christians," okay, because they have this idea that, you know, "You can't do things for reward. If reward is your motive, you have it wrong. You must not be reward minded". But my Bible tells me the faith that pleases God is the faith the believes that God is a rewarder. God will not bypass a single good thing that you do. "But how do you reconcile this with grace, Pastor Prince"? Because grace has got nothing to do with what we do. You are right, it's both.
Let me tell you this. The Apostle Paul says of his secret of success as a minister, and he's the most successful minister ever. He says it like this: "For I am least," 1 Corinthians 15, "of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God". But look at this. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all". In other words, it was possible for God to give you grace for something, but it's in vain. That means as far as you're concerned the grace is there, but how does God do it?
For example, God put the grace, you love children. You want to work among children. You think about working among children, and God gave you the grace, even the desire. The Bible says, "It is God who works in you the willingness and the performance of it," in Philippians. So even the willingness is from God. So you have a desire. God will never tell you to do something, to work among children, and then you got no desire for children, in fact, you hate children. Please, we don't want you also, and the children don't want you also. So, in other words, God will work in something so that you can work it out.
So the Bible says that grace is always something that comes with a desire for something. Or you hear Pastor Lawrence about missions, you know, in Philippines and all that, and you have a desire to go. You have a desire to go. But then you start counting the cost. "I can't afford to go". I'm not referring to finances. I'm referring to like, you know, "My time is so busy. I need to make money. I need to, you know, impress the boss. I need to do more things, you know? I can't afford to take time to go". The grace came, the grace give you the desire, but you let it be in vain. And let me tell you that God is not hard up, because God finds somebody else, okay?
You know the story of Judas who betrayed Jesus. In Acts 1, the Bible says, after he hung himself and all that, they actually came together to pray that God would choose someone to fill the position. Let his office another take. His office of what? Apostleship, let another take. In other words, what we don't want, God is not hard up, in a sense. Somebody else will fill it and they'll take your blessings, and they'll take your rewards as well. You understand? It's a privilege for us. When God start moving in our hearts, it's a privilege for us, amen. It's a wonderful grace gift.
So it's possible for grace to be there to do something, but we don't do it. So it's in vain, all right? But Paul says, "But I labored more abundantly than they," the other apostles, including James, Apostle Peter, and all that. "I labored more abundantly than they wall, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me". He was very quick to say, "Yeah, I labored more abundantly, but yet it wasn't me. It was the grace of God that was with me". Like, if you are in a Christian organization, all right, year end is coming, assessment is coming, right? How do you assess your employees? How? If you say, "Just by grace," then everyone will get the biggest bonus 'cause grace gives you the best, right? Actually, it's still grace when you look at performance. Jesus looked at the performance of the seven churches and says, "I know your works. I know your fruit, your results".
In other words, if you are using the grace God gives you, it will result in a great outcome or in a successful outcome, or in it bearing fruit. That means you are using the grace. So, no one can tell a boss, a Christian boss, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know, God gives things by grace, unearned favor, and all that, but you are judging me based on my works". No, no, no, no, no, friend. In fact, your works reflect whether you're using the grace. "Preach it, Pastor Prince. Good preaching, amen". So, my grace is to preach, amen? And my grace is to say, "Amen," to my own sermons also. But the thing is, that if I don't want to use this gift, God would raise somebody else, and somebody else will enjoy the blessings and the rewards that was meant for me, amen.
So God wants us to not let the grace be in vain. Look at Jesus, Peter's, one of his first encounters with Jesus, Luke 5. Luke 5: "So it was, as the multitude presses about him to hear the Word of God, that he stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake". Jesus had a choice. There were two boats standing by the lake. He was preaching and the crowds were gathering and they were pressing upon him. And behind him is the Lake of Galilee. And he looked behind and there were two boats. Just imagine, somebody is about to be blessed. When the Lord comes to your boat, he comes to you and gives you a grace to do something, it is really, truly a privilege. If he chose your boat, it's because he's favoring you, amen.
You say, "Well, oh, man, I must do this". That's like a man who's in love, who's supposed to be in love with his bride, and on the wedding night, he look at her and said, "Oh, I must do this, ah". No, some things, it's not a work. It's a celebration. Okay, you don't understand, never mind. It's time for me, "Keep on preaching, Pastor Prince". So, "The fishermen had gone from them," from their boats, "and were washing their nets". It's not only one boat. There were two boats there. "Then he got into one of the boats".
Oh, this guy, whoever it is, is blessed. And who was that? Peter, "Which was Simon's," Simon Peter's, "and asked him to put out a little from the land And he sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When he had stopped speaking, he said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' But Simon answered," notice what Jesus said. "Let down your nets," plural, "'for a catch.' But Simon answered and said to him," maybe he thought that he's a fisherman and Jesus is just a carpenter, right? He knew that Jesus was the Messiah somewhat at this point, but this is what he said: "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net," singular net. Jesus says, "Let down the nets," plural.
God's vision for you is always greater than what you have for yourself. You pray for a job. God wants you to pray for a position and the supply that God has. In the same lake that they caught nothing the whole night, amen, now it becomes, that boat becomes a magnet compared to the other boat. That boat attracted the fish. Why? Because he gave the boat to Jesus. I said, "He gave the boat to Jesus for him to preach in," lost time. You can say that, amen. To give your boat to Jesus while he's preaching to the multitudes that was thronging him, that's lost time, lost revenue, whatever it is. But when you give something to Jesus, he's a rewarder. You can never, never give to him actually because you what you have came from him anyway.
David said it like this: "Both riches and honor come from you". Remember, my friend, grace is unearned, undeserved favor, amen. But yet, at the same time, when you use the grace God gives you, God rewards you for using the grace that he first gave you. What a good God. What a good God. It's amazing, isn't it? And now, watch this. The reason God gives you more than enough supply than you need is because he wants you to be a blessing, all right? "Their net was breaking". The next verse says: "So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them".
God wanna bless you so much that you bless others around you, it overflows to others. "And they came and filled both the boats, so that both the boats began to sink. When Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus's knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'" I want to announce to pastors, leaders, preachers, and all that under the new covenant, it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. Jesus never told Peter about his sin. Jesus never went into the boat and talked to him about his sin. Jesus just blessed Peter. Why don't we just pray for blessings on people and then tell them, all right, "Because you're my colleague, I'm praying a blessing over your life, okay? But know this, when good things to you, you know that it's beyond you, it is my God that's blessing you".
You know, there's a lady called Ruth in the Bible. There's an entire book. In fact, there are two ladies whose names mark the book of the Bible, which is Esther and Ruth. And in the story of Ruth, you find that she was a Maobitess. Present-day Jordan, on the east side of Israel, present-day Jordan, across the river Jordan is the land of Moab. They were not Jews. They were considered Gentiles, okay, goyim. What happened was this. There was, in Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born many years later, all right, there was a famine. Instead of enduring, the man called Elimelech and his wife Naomi brought his two sons to live in Jordan, in the land of Moab. They married two girls, okay? One of them is Ruth. And then, in a matter of time, the husband died, the son died. The two sons died. Left only Naomi and the daughters-in-law.
One daughter-in-law left home, or left back for home to her gods and all that. But the other one, Ruth, says, "Your God will be my God. Where you go I'll go". I have an entire teaching of the love story of Ruth. It's one of the best teachings you can ever have, amen? It's changed so many lives, okay? So I'll go more into detail how Boaz is actually Jesus Christ and how Ruth is the church, made up predominantly of Gentiles. So this Gentile girl Ruth came back and came back to Bethlehem because God was visiting Bethlehem by giving them bumper crops and all that. There's no more famine. And she, Ruth, the daughter-in-law, helped the mother by doing one of the most menial tasks.
When it was the barley harvest, and after the harvesters go through the field, whatever is left on the ground or whatever they drop, okay, it's called "gleaning," Ruth will pick up, and that becomes hers. That's under the law of Moses. God says, "Don't pick up again. Don't be like a Singaporean". No, God didn't say that, all right? "Don't pick up every little thing that, you know? But whatever's left leave it behind for the poor," God says. So, she did the most lowly task of gleaning. And then, that afternoon, this handsome young stranger. Not necessarily very young, but his name is Boaz, he owns the entire field. He was a mighty man of wealth, and he saw the beautiful young maiden from across the river Jordan, the Moabitess girl, not a Jew, and this is what he told her.
He told her this: "Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you"? He's falling in love with her actually. "And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn. So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes?'" Actually, the beginning of this chapter, when she told her mother-in-law she's going to the field, you know what she said? "I will go into the field and find favor in the sight of the boss". She said that. "I'll find favor". Now she found favor, she says, "Why have I found favor"? You know, that's how the girls get us, you know? "That you should take notice of me, since I'm a foreigner"?
Now, this is what I want you to get. Next verse, look at what Boaz says: "And Boaz answered and said to her, 'It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.'" A reward from God for running to him for protection. When you run to God for protection, God says, "I'm gonna reward you for that". A reward for running to him for refuge. What a God.
This is your God, people. This is your God. There's a reward even for you going to him for protection. And that's why the Bible says, people, "Without faith it's impossible to please God". And what's the kind of faith that pleases God is a faith that must believe that God is a rewarder. God is a rewarder. And the word "rewarder" there is actually the word for "wages," paying wages, amen, paying higher. It's a very interesting thing that, if you think about it, "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he's a rewarder". Show them that verse again. "He who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he's a rewarder". You know that word "comes to God" is the Greek word for "draw near to God". Draw near to God. Draw near to God.
I wanna end by saying this, this story from John 21. Many a times, we say that "Pastor Prince, you know, we say that both riches and honor come from God". I say, "Amen". Even the breath that you breathe, it comes from the Lord. Many of us take things for granted, but none of us can boast. Even when we get rewarded, it is something that we use that came from him first. He gave us the desire. We obey that desire. We got blessed for it. You know, he rewards us. God is such a good God. "But, Pastor Prince, when Jesus heals people, he tells them, you know, 'Your faith made you well. Your faith saved you,' like, to the churches of Revelation, he says, 'I know your works.' So, Pastor Prince, you say that everything comes from the Lord, but we have our responsibility".
I hope that you understand by now that even the reward he gives us is because of the grace he first gave us. And I'll close with this story from John 21, after Jesus rose from the dead. The disciples went back to Galilee, and, "Simon Peter said to them, 'I'm going fishing.' They said to him," he's, like, a born leader, you know? "'I'm going fishing.' They all said, 'We'll go with you.' And that night they caught nothing, nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, 'Children, do you have any food?' they answered him, 'No.' And he said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish".
So you know what they did? They cannot it into the boat. They had to drag it. As they paddled, they drag it behind all the way to land. It was huge, large fishes. And then on land, the Bible says, "As soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread". How many love this idea of the resurrected Jesus, having conquered death, and one of the things he did is that he makes breakfast? Some of us, we are too spiritual to make breakfast. "I gotta pray all the time. I gotta," you know? He makes breakfast for his disciples. "Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish,'" now, watch this. Watch this now, "Which you have just caught".
Now, all night without him they caught nothing. He gave them the word of power, amen, and all the fish came into the net, all right? And so much that they couldn't even pull it onto the boat. They had to drag it to shore. And yet he said to them, "Bring now the fish you have just caught". Something about the Lord. He gives you the credit. He will say things like, "Your faith made you well". Actually, he gives you the faith. You look to him and you don't even realize, faith springs eternal. Faith just springs up because you see him. You see how good he is. You hear someone like this, and then faith comes up, and then God rewards you for having faith in him. "Bring now the fish you caught," you caught.
All night they caught nothing, yet he'll give you the credit. But remember this, when he gives you the credit, don't think like, "Yeah, of course, you know what I mean". It's nothing to do with us. It is his, amen. Give him the praise. No wonder in heaven, yeah, go on, go on. Give him the praise. No wonder in heaven we'll take our own crown that he rewards us with, we'll cast it at his feet, all right? Because we know without his grace, we won't even have this. Don't ever come to a place where you think it's you. Even when you are rewarded, give him the praise and the glory, amen? Give him praise, church, one more time, hallelujah.