A Loyal Member of the Kingdom of Heaven

“I am going to give a cookie to the quietest child sitting criss-cross applesauce.” I have found myself saying these words while trying to control a room of fifty kindergarten and first grade students in our After School program. While these children may want to talk out of turn or run around the room, the one thing that can always get their attention is a cookie. Honestly, who can really blame them. I would do a lot for a warm, chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven.

Truth be told, much like these students, we all like rewards and will change our behavior to earn them. The greatest marketers know this about their consumers. Most fast-food chains, coffee shops, or retailers have reward systems in place. They know that customers will, at times, choose their business and spend money on their items because they have a free reward. I know I have gone to Chick-fil-A to get a free chicken sandwich as a reward I earned from spending a certain amount of money there. Somehow, I walked away spending money that day because I simply needed the waffle fries and an ice-cold Coke Zero. While these businesses know they can earn a little bit more revenue this way, they are much more concerned with our loyalty to their brand. They don’t want us to consume their product for short-term gain; they want us to be a loyal member of their business.

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. - Matthew 5:7-10

The rewards of mercy, seeing God, becoming a child of God, and having the Kingdom of Heaven at our fingertips, seem almost too good to be true. The reality is that these rewards can seem out of reach and almost impossible to earn. The truth is that God is always after our heart and our motives. God wants our deepest desire to be Him, not only the rewards and gifts that He gives. Like the businesses that value deep customer loyalty, the Holy Spirit draws us in a way that transforms our heart to pursue Him and all He has for us. Our role isn’t to check how many points we have earned and cash them in when we need them most. The Bible says that as we seek God, we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart. When we are loyal members of the Kingdom of Heaven, it doesn’t become about the rewards that we earn. It’s about us becoming more like Him every step of the way. As we draw near, the best Giver of all gifts desires to bless His children. We don’t have to earn a thing in the Kingdom of God. We only have to seek Him and receive the gifts our Father desires to give us.. 

JOURNAL: Are you currently seeking a promise or reward from God more than seeking God himself? Take time to reflect and repent of anything that you have sought more than Him.

PRAYER: Father, thank You so much for who You are. Thank You for being a generous gift giver desiring to give good gifts to Your children. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for showing Yourself to us. Thank you that we have the right to be called children of God. Thank you that we can now have access to the glorious nature of Your Kingdom here on earth because of Jesus. I am sorry when I desire Your gifts and rewards more than I desire a relationship with You. Holy Spirit, help me to live in a way that produces Your fruit in my life. Show me Your glory, Father. Draw near to me as I draw near to You. Today, I choose to seek You. I love You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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