Are You Living To Receive Divine Applause?
Greetings in the precious name of Jesus! Here we are in a brand-new year. Many are excited about what the next 12 months holds for them. Others are simply hopeful that 2017 will be better than 2016.
Whether you’re like “a horse at the gate,” waiting to implement new plans and reach new goals in the new year, or you’re struggling for your spiritual footing because you’re still reeling from adversity in the old year — one thing is certain: God knows very intricately who you are and where you are in life — down to your every fleeting thought and every hair on your head! (See Psalm 139:2; Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7.)
That is such an important truth to know — therefore I must ask you: How well do you know it? How aware are you that God knows exactly what you’re going through and cares deeply about your life both now and for all eternity? God is very interested in seeing you bear fruit, gain victories, and receive answers to prayer on this earth. He’s also interested in the rewards you’ll receive in Heaven based on how you specifically obeyed Him on the earth and how you carried yourself in life.
What I’m about to share with you may change your perspective concerning the challenges you face — as you become more aware of His presence and His watchfulness in your life.
Located in the very heart of Moscow, Russia, just minutes away from the Kremlin, is the world-famous Bolshoi Theater. It hosts some of the finest opera and ballet productions in the entire world, and world-class singers and dancers regularly grace its stage. Denise loves opera, and I occasionally take her to the opera as a gift.
I am always in awe of the wonderful, God-given talents of these performers. Another aspect of these operas that has always impressed me is the response of the audience when they hear a singer who gives an outstanding performance. When the performance concludes, the enthusiastic crowds rise to their feet and boisterously thunder, “Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!” As they shout their approval, they also clap their hands to give a mighty applause that seems to go on forever!
When the evening’s performance finally draws to a close, the singers return to the stage for one last bow before the audience. As they walk past the curtain, the crowds rise to their feet and begin to riotously cheer and applaud again. Then from all over the front of the auditorium, patrons vigorously fling flowers at the feet of the artists. Within a few minutes, piles of flowers are scattered across the huge stage. As the applause and adulation begin to wind down, beautifully dressed ushers walk onstage to personally deliver magnificent bouquets that were brought for the singers by devoted fans who wanted to show their appreciation through a more extravagant gift.
At the end of the night when the curtain falls for the last time, the singers return to their dressing rooms to change out of their costumes and have their cosmetics removed, and the crowds file out of the theater to return to their homes.
Ultimately, this grand experience persists only as a memory in the minds of those in attendance. The rounds of applause, praise, approval, and adulation were wonderful while they lasted, but the truth is, they never last long and they are soon forgotten. However, there is one kind of applause that will last for all of eternity — and that is the applause that comes from God Himself.
Did you know that a day is coming in your future when you will be called onstage before God to give account for your life? Sitting “in the audience,” He will watch as the activities of your life are reviewed. In First Corinthians 4:5, the apostle Paul wrote about that moment, saying, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”
This verse clearly reveals that the secrets and motivations of our hearts will be made known as we each stand before God on that momentous day.
Notice the last phrase of First Corinthians 4:5 says, “…And then shall every man have praise of God.” This word “praise” is translated from the Greek word epainos, which actually means applause. However, it isn’t singers, ballet dancers, or entertainers who are being applauded in this verse — it is believers who have lived holy, consecrated, dedicated, obedient lives.
Paul used the word epainos to evoke a very strong image. By using this word, he let us know that a day is coming when we will give account for our lives. On that day, if we have lived right before God and the motives behind our service were pure, we will receive praise from the Lord Himself. It will be as if He rises to His feet to give a round of applause and a standing ovation! In fact, Paul’s imagery was so strong that the verse could be loosely interpreted, “…And at that time every man will have his applause of God.”
Think of God rising to His feet to give a standing ovation! Can you imagine His hands clapping as that thunderous sound reverberates through all of Heaven! That is precisely the picture the apostle Paul painted for the day when faithful believers stand before Him! The magnitude and nature of that divine applause will far surpass anything ever given by a human audience!
The truth is, much of your hard work and preparation unto the Lord is done in secret — behind closed doors. When you accomplish something for Him, people are often unaware of your actions or achievements — or perhaps they simply forget to show their appreciation or recognition. However, according to Paul’s teaching in First Corinthian 4:5, a day will come when God Himself will personally rise and thank you for everything you’ve done in obedience to Him for the advancement of the Gospel.
There is a massive, silent army of believers today whose work for the Gospel goes unrecognized in the public eye. Yet they are the engines that drive the Church and empower the advancement of the Gospel. Although they remain unseen, unrecognized, and often neglected, the fruit of their work is eternal, and Jesus sees it all. And a day will come when they will receive great applause from the King of kings Himself as He personally thanks them for their service.
The applause of men is a reward that is very short-lived and soon forgotten, but the applause of God lasts for all eternity. If you do what Jesus has called you to do — and you do it with a right heart — you, too, will receive this eternal reward. As you stand before Him on that glorious day, any hardships you may have endured will dissipate before your eyes, and you will have the eternal gratification of knowing you pleased the Lord. And as Jesus gives you His version of a standing ovation, I guarantee you that it will be the ultimate reward!
Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” God always knows where you are and what you’re going through. He never forgets your heart of love, faithfulness, and obedience toward Him — and He will not fail to reward you both in this life and in the one to come.
How can Denise and I and our team be praying for you this month? Please contact our Tulsa office and let a member of our Partner Care department know how we can agree with you in prayer. We pray for our partners every day, anyway, but we are especially thrilled to bring individual requests before the Lord in faith and to expect an answer!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families