LAYING UP REWARDS IN HEAVEN
Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
At what age do we officially stop laying up treasures in heaven? Asking it another way … when have we laid up enough treasures in heaven, so we can stop? I can’t find the answer in the Bible. But what I can find is: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Jesus said in Matthew 6:18-19: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, …”
By the enlightened grace and mercy of God, I hope you have purposed in your being to never stop “abounding in the work of the Lord,” because God will always give us opportunities to keep laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven until the moment we pass into eternity if we determine to be used of Him.
On the 23rd of September 2004, Kathleen and I had the opportunity to celebrate my father’s 100th birthday in John Day, Oregon, along with about 100 friends and relatives. My father, Raymond Rasmussen, is a remarkable person in many ways.
I’m very thankful for God giving him to be by earthly father, and I feel very blessed to be one of his offspring. My heart’s desire is that in eternity, I’ll be a blessing to him as well. I’m not so sure in this life that I have been as well as I could have, but I’ll let God be the judge of that.
(You can read about a remarkable incident that happened earlier in his life that some might considerable a miracle, by clicking on this link: http://precious-testimonies.com/Hope_Encouragement/p-t/RRasmussen.htm).
At the assisted living/nursing home he lives at, most of the people are just waiting to die. Most of them have little to keep living for, other than their next meal, typical of many aged people in nursing homes across the country. I wonder how many people locked away in nursing homes and prisons around the world have stopped purposing to lay up rewards for themselves in heaven? I suspect that if we don’t get a good handle on laying up treasures in heaven when we’re in our younger years in our right mind, chances are very good it won’t matter that much when age begins to take its toll. I thought a lot about this issue as I walked passed the rooms of residents in that nursing home visiting with my father this last September. I had to keep asking myself this question: ‘Though most of these people in here are extremely limited in being able to “abound in the work of the Lord” as they once were in their younger years, I wonder how many of them have a prayer list of people they pray for daily? After all, praying daily for others is something most everyone can do, no matter how handicapped, if one realizes how priceless of a treasure prayer actually is before reaching old age, when the mind may not function as well as it once did.’
"One Man's calling: Marion Hite"
The day after my father’s birthday celebration I was eating breakfast at a quaint little restaurant in Mt. Vernon, Oregon, where Kathleen and I were staying. I like something to read while I eat breakfast by myself, so I picked up a newspaper dated September 23rd someone had left. One headline grabbed my attention: “One man’s calling.” Here are highlights of the story that caused me to begin thinking about priorities in one’s life:
When he slips from bed long before sunrise, Marion Hite’s body reminds him of his long journey: bad ticker, teary eyes and ears that, despite hearing aids so sensitive they occasionally squeal, don’t hear so well. He’s nearly 99 and doesn’t expect to see 100. Yet this old-timer considers himself a warrior whose only goal in the past 25 years has been to march – well, walk slowly – into the enemy’s stronghold.
He has no use for the exercise class or the coffee-and-conversation sessions held at the Northeast Portland senior-citizens complex where he rents a studio apartment. What gets him up long before anyone else in the building is the fight. He skips breakfast, getting sustenance from a prayer asking for the strength he needs to wage a solitary battle played out each day – rain or snow, heat or cold – on a street corner just across the river.
There’s nothing in his apartment to distract him from doing what he calls “God’s work.” He clutches a battered prayer book in one hand and leaves his apartment at 5:45 a.m. He waits outside the complex for a friend who drives him to his post at the corner of Northwest Lovejoy and 25th Avenue, in front of the Lovejoy Surgicenter.
Hite protests against abortions carried out inside the nondescript building. In years past, protesters filled the street, and Surgicenter employees often called police. Hite has been convicted of criminal trespass and cited for contempt, and he says he once spent a month in jail. Over time, the number of protesters dwindled away.
Says a longtime employee of Surgicenter, “It’s hard to remember what it used to be like around here. We used to have 30 people out there. Now, there’s only one.”
The streets are dark and empty when Hite hoists himself out of the car up the hill from the Surgicenter. He collects his tools from a home on the same block. A good five minutes later, he slowly makes his way down the hill. He looks like a man trying to beat the crowd for a good spot at the parade. He carries a lawn chair in his right hand and a large sign in his left. Although the Surgicenter doesn’t open until 8:00 AM, Hite believes if lights are on, they could be doing something. So he insists being in place before 6:30 AM. He opens the chair and pushes it up against a pole that supports a stop sign at the intersection.
Hite comes prepared for all kinds of weather. He has a second jacket in case it gets cold, and a blue-and-white umbrella he can use to ward off the rain or the sun.
He settles into the chair and hoists the sign on his shoulder. He slips the butt of the wooden pole into a black baby shoe that rests next to his thigh. He adjusts the sign, which has the same message on both sides so people approaching the center from either direction can read it: Please let your baby live. We will help you; give him or her to us.” Below is an 800 number for an adoption service.
Hite came from a family of seven, and he was raised in Eastern Oregon. He discovered religion after hurting his ankle – herding sheep in his early 20’s. He came home to recover and to discover his mother had found the Roman Catholic Church in a big way. His father didn’t attend church, but Hite became a regular and says he learned he was living a life of sin.
Hite wanted to be a priest
He wanted to be a priest and enrolled, he says, in seminary. But he got sick, dropped out and never looked back. To earn a living, he drove trucks. He never married, never had children.
“Yes,” he says after a long pause, “I would have liked kids. But Saint Paul said it’s better to be single …”
He bowed his head, thought awhile and then looked up again. “I may have that one wrong,” Hite says. “I think that’s what he said. What he meant was if you don’t have a wife, don’t go looking for one.”
He doesn’t remember who first brought him to the corner of Northwest 25th and Lovejoy, doesn’t even remember what made him raise his voice that first day.
“My memory’s real bad,” he admits. “When you get to be 99, see if you can remember.” He knows, however, why he stays.
“They’re killing babies,” he says. “The Lord said what we do to the least of his brethren we do to Him. Those babies are human beings created by God, and one of the commandments is that we should not kill. And we are killing those babies.”
Commuters coming down Lovejoy pay no attention to Hite. He turns to his prayer book after adjusting his sign. He believes that over the years He’s made a difference, but he can point to only one instance for sure. He says a woman came up to him one day and said she’d decided to continue her pregnancy after approaching the center and seeing his sign. She told Hite that, as a result, she had a 9 year-old-daughter.
Hite sets his prayer book in his lap and checks his watch. The Surgicenter opens soon. He sees a woman in blue scrubs walking up the street toward the front door. She glances at Hite but says nothing. “They’ve talked to me over the years,” he says. “I’ve told them I wouldn’t work in there for a million dollars.”
Ten minutes later a woman and a man hurry by Hite and walk into the Surgicenter without a glance. “Don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this,” he says. “Don’t think I’ve too much more time to go. Guess I’ll quit when my heart stops.”
He tips the sign back against his shoulder, tucks the black baby shoe in tight against his leg and prepares to turn back to his prayer book.
“Most people ignore me,” Hite says. “From time to time, I go to sleep. When I feel the sign slip, that wakes me up.”
IS THIS MAN A CRAZY FOOL?
Is Mr. Hite “off the deep end,” or … does this man know “something” few others know about “laying up treasures in heaven,” and “always abounding in the work of the Lord?” I rather suspect Mr. Hite is one of the most blessed 99-year-old men in Portland, Oregon, because He is probably one of the wisest “investors” in the Western United States. Somewhere around age 75, Mr. Hite refused the option of being “in retirement.” Somewhere along life’s way Mr. Hite came to realize what Jesus was talking about when he made this statement of truth recorded in Mark 8:35: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
We can lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven by wise use of our time, talents, and finances. It doesn’t require talent nor money to pray for the needs of others. I remember an elderly lady by the name of Grace Pierce who lived in the little sawmill town my father worked at in Bates, Oregon when I was a kid. She was known as one of those “Christian fanatics.” Years after I had grown up and moved to Michigan, I had the opportunity to go back and check to see if Grace was still alive. She was, but had a lot of health issues she had to deal with. She was pushing age 90 as I remember. Being born again by that time, I asked Grace if she had ever prayed for me as a kid, the little troubled rebel that I was.
“Oh YES!” she answered, with a sparkle in her eye. God would get me up all hours of the night to pray for not only you, but for every child and parent in that town. My calling was to pray for the salvation of everyone in that town, and you want to know something … as tears started rolling down her eyes – you can’t know how thrilled I am to hear that you finally became born again and have been saved!”
At that moment, Grace Pierce had standing in front of her (yours truly) some of that “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (See Hebrews 11:1). Grace Pierce was a very wise investor, yet she was living in near poverty according to the wisdom of this world. Though Grace might have begged to differ with me, I don’t believe God forced Grace to pray for anyone in that little sawmill community of Bates, Oregon, which has long since turned to dust for the most part. Grace sought God for what He would have her do to “abound in the work of the Lord” when very, very few in that heathen environment would put up with her witnessing to them about truths from the Bible. No one cared much, that I remember.
If you have slipped into some type of “retirement mode” (no matter how old you are) and have decided to let others “abound in the work of the Lord,” could you be robbing yourself of future joy that you could have once you cross over into eternity … without even realizing it? I’m not talking about “abounding in the work of the Lord” to get saved or stay saved. Don’t be confused. Doing the “Lord’s work” neither gets us saved nor keeps us saved. Asking and trusting and ongoing-surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ can only attain that. Don’t ever let the devil trap you into thinking that you must continually abound in the “Lord’s work” to earn your way into heaven, or try to prove to God that you are “worthy enough” to stay saved or get to heaven. Doing the “Lord’s work” is something we do after we get saved – after we become born again. And … it’s not something God makes us do either; it’s something we get to do. It’s spiritual life from heaven that pleases God that replaces the carnal life that exists to only satisfy ourselves. It is literally laying up rewards for ourselves in heaven that any penniless person on this planet can do if they want to bad enough.
If anyone reading this somehow thinks that laying up treasures for yourself in heaven is a waste or selfish thinking, may I challenge your thinking by quoting this portion of scripture found in 2 Cor. 9:6-7:
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I believe it is impossible to remain a “cheerful” sower for any length of time if we somehow allow the devil to trick us into believing that we have to sow, be it our time, talent(s), or financial treasure. God wants us to realize sowing is something we get to wisely do – not have to do. I also believe God wants our motive for giving to be a sacrifice of love – for appreciation to Him for what He has given us – and what will be given us throughout eternity – so giving to get is not to be our highest motive. Nevertheless, none of us would have asked Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior if we didn’t believe it would save us from our sins. Let’s not fool ourselves. Few of us would give anything to God if we didn’t have the hope that God will somehow bless us in some way for our giving to Him.
There will be many people who make it into heaven and be very thankful just to get there, as we all should. But there will also be people in heaven who will have greater capacities to experience greater dimensions of joy than others do I believe…because they pondered deeply early in life that the law of sowing and reaping was created by God, and the Bible in no way negates that law, but rather…reinforces it.
Every person who refers a friend to us to allow us to videotape them, or exhorts others to contact us about publishing their God-glorifying testimony on the Precious Testimonies website is sowing “into the work of the Lord.”
Meijer Community Rewards Program
People who shop at Meijer and will sign up for our ministry on the Meijer Community Rewards Program are sowing “into the work of the Lord.” People who pray for this ministry – pray for all ministries that the Holy Spirit lays on their hearts – praying for salvation of individual people - are laying up eternal treasures for themselves in heaven. There are so many ways one can sow if one truly wants to. If the intense desire is there…the Lord will provide Kingdom work for you to invest in, please rest assured.
None of us know how long we have to live down here. Few of us know if a nursing home will be our final dwelling place before passing into eternity. But while we have most of our faculties to make wise decisions…I hope the words written here will challenge you to be looking for opportunities to be “abounding in the work of the Lord,” right up to your last breath. I too hope I can rise to this challenge, when it’s very tempting at times to rationalize, “Let someone else do the Lord’s work. I don’t care about laying rewards up in heaven. I just want to get there!”
Maybe another reason God’s wants us laying up rewards in heaven is because He is seeking priceless building materials to help build mansions for other people, now that yours is completed and waiting for your arrival. Or, maybe even though your mansion is already completed … maybe God is seeking extra priceless building materials to build your “get-away-cabins” all over the vast universe (New heavens and new earth). By a wild stretch of the imagination, perhaps God is building you your very own planet, or universe to inhabit and enjoy, with the costly and precious building materials you are laying up for Him. The possibilities are endless…
Please don’t let old age stop you from “abounding in the work of the Lord.” If you don’t have a prayer list started yet, every lost soul or wayward Christian in your family can benefit from your prayers. And please remember this about prayer: If you prayers “seem” to change little – God won’t reward us for how many prayers He answered the way we want them answered. He will reward us because of our unselfish sacrifice of love...prayers on behalf of what is important to Him. Changed lives for His glory is what is most important to Him.
As a final thought, I want to leave you with this: I believe the highest revelation we can receive from God’s Spirit regarding eternal rewards is that the greatest joy we’ll ever receive from God is to not purpose to lay up rewards in heaven for ourselves, but lay them up for Jesus. That was the example Jesus lived out while he walked this earth for 33 years. It wasn’t solely for rewards that motivated Him to do what He did. It was the thrill of pleasing His Father that fueled His every action. In so doing, He knew that joy would follow. He knew that by His burning desire to please His Father…your soul would be saved from eternal torment…as well as mine. If what we are spending so much of our time, talent and finances on is not somehow being directed to helping win lost souls and helping them be discipled, but rather, being used for self-pleasure…Lord help us change our priorities! Lord, help that to be my ever-increasing primary motive for living, because I know I could do much better than I’ve done thus far. Finally Lord, please comfort those who have wasted so much of their lives and resources in selfish-pursuits, because it’s never too late to change. With trust in Jesus, nothing is impossible!
If you would like to read Norm's born again testimony, click on the following link: http://precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/L-N/Norm.htm
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