Monthly Archives: March 2017

Crown of Righteousness

 

 

 

2 Timothy 4:8

Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day – and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.

 

How many today are longing for Jesus to return?  Why do we want Him to return?

I’m not sure that a lot of people today are longing, waiting expectantly for Christ to return. We long to be trouble-free, and free of many other things in this life. Suffering, debt, bad situations in which we have got ourselves, situations not of our making into which we have been caught up in. Yes, sometimes we just want an escape.  But that is NOT the longing of which Paul speaks here in 2 Timothy.

Where is the desire to pursue God?  Where is the longing to know Him.  The Old Testament speaks of men and women who really seem to have an intimate close relationship with God.

Adam and Eve walked with Him in the cool of the evening….naked and unashamed.

Enoch walked with God and God took him .. never to experience the curse of the garden. Death.

Abraham believed that even if he obeyed God and sacrificed his son on an altar that God would raise him up. He knew God’s character and trusted Him.

Samuel ,Hannah, David ,Jeremiah,Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, Hosea.. Many many others knew God and pursued Him as a man pursues a trusted friend.

Moses in Exodus 33 “Show me thy will that I may know you-that I may find grace in your sight..Show me your glory.”

The crown of righteousness is given for a life that desires to know Him, Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.  In Psalms 42 the psalmist says,’ As the deer pants after the waterbrooks, so my soul longs after you.”  Our heart’s should cry out to know Him, to walk with Him in the cool of the evening, to see his glory, and see Him at His next appearing to gather the saints to rule and reign with Him forever.  AMEN!    If that is your longing then you have waiting for you a crown of righteousness awaiting you in heaven one day.

To be sure it will not be our righteousness on which we stand.  We will stand in the righteousness of Christ who exchanged our filthy righteous rags for His perfect, complete, wonderful righteousness at Calvary. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

This prayer is from A.W. Tozer, a man of prayer which I believe made him the man of God he was.  One can read in his words the longing and the expectation he sought to pursue God with his whole heart and life.

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

http://www.faithbiblechurchnh.org/tozer_following.htm

My this be our prayer today!

Treading on,

Freda

https://youtu.be/8vNPcmLzlvI

by Micah Stampley  Holiness is what I long for

Farmer, Force, Foreigner

 

Simon the Cyrenian

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record one liners about a man who finds himself in the wrong place at the right time:  An appointment with the Son of God.   It was the wrong place because the crowd is raucous and a soldier grabs the first person he sees and forces this man of the country, a farmer,  into conscripted service.  The service of the Lamb of God, who is barely alive and has no more strength to carry His own cross uphill to Golgatha’s height above the city.  This man is forced to carry the cross of Christ.  This man I am sure did everything he could to refuse for we are told he is a farmer from a far away country who has journeyed to Jerusalem to bring his sons to participate in what is likely their first Passover.  This man’s name is Simon.  Another “pebble” in a sea of faces.  He is a foreigner from Cyrene, a settlement in what is today known as Libya in Africa.  The journey has been long.  As this father has traveled, he, I am certain, used the hours of walking to instruct his sons, Alexander and Rufus, in the traditions of the Jews.  This was all new for these young boys because in Cyrene there is only a small population of Jews.  (Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26)

I wonder what this man saw in Jesus as he looked into His battered, bruised, and bleeding face?  A man coming to sacrifice a lamb, is carrying the Lamb of God’s instrument of death.

I wonder what these two small boys thought as a Roman soldier grabbed their dad and compelled him to bear the cross of this “criminal?”

I wonder how the gospel writers got all this information when they were not even present!  They were nowhere to be seen!  The ones who should have been readily available to serve the Savior had run to save their own skin.  I am not judging these men, for if I put myself in this environment, I too, would run for cover.

Do you ever just sit and ponder all the writers don’t say?  Where did this Simon the Cyrenian go after he was done carrying the cross?  He is covered in the blood of Jesus.  A living picture of Christ finished work on the cross.  He must find his children.  He still has a lamb to purchase for sacrifice or does he realize what he has just done?  I have so many questions.

Was Simon still in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when Peter began to preach and in multiple tongues so he could understand the significance of all he has seen, heard, and experienced. (Acts 2:8-11)  Did Simon follow the Lord in baptism and receive the Holy Spirit?  Did he return to Cyrene and share the gospel or did he dispute with Stephen in the synagogue? (Acts 6:9, 11:20)  One thing is certain, the trip home was very different from the journey to Jerusalem.

I find it interesting that John the beloved disciple who was at the cross is the only gospel writer who does not mention Simon the Cyrenian.  The other gospel writers give us so few words, so much information:  Names, dates, what happened.  Makes me wonder how my/your story of an encounter with the living Jesus would be written!  We each have one.  At some point in our life, we will come face to face with the living Lord, entreating us (Matthew 11:28-30) to “take up a cross and follow Him.”  Our immediate response will be vital to the outcome of our record in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  (Matthew 16:24-26, Luke 9:23)

A father with two sons.  A savior with two thieves.  So much of this points to choices we face each day.  Choices to serve the Lord or serve other gods.  Joshua made a stand as he entered the Promised Land:  “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”  (Joshua 24:15)  Jesus is dying and still demonstrating His lessons.  He is insuring His followers will have a snapshot of all He has taught them.  Every detail of His last hours so symbolic and providing indisputable evidence of Jesus being the long expected Messiah.

This Easter season is a perfect time to examine our hearts honestly and ask the only question we can chose to answer:  Today, I must choose whom I will serve.  Whom will you serve from this day forward?

Like Simon the Cyrenian let us look deeply into the eyes of Christ.   Remember the sacrifice He gave as you see the reflection looking back at you from HIs eyes……………it is you!  Then pick up your cross (Luke 9:23 and Matthew 16:24) and watch the Lamb.

Watch The Lamb  by Ray Boltz

Three Thieves

 

 

Call me a bit slow on the uptake but I just realized there were THREE thieves involved in the crucifixion of Jesus.  One got off scot-free and two were crucified with Jesus.  As I have been deep in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and piecing the story together through their eyes I too have seen anew some of the details I have always missed.  The most shocking was the “streaker” in the garden of Gethsemane;  (Mark 14:51)  I mean, really?  Today, I have three prisoners who God used to demonstrate the incredible love of Jesus.

What led me to these “robbers” was a realization the two thieves on the cross represented believers and doubters.  I was dusting my curio cabinet and needed to move a plaque given to me by my daughter after her Dad went to be with Jesus.  It was a quote she found in her Dad’s Bible written during the height of his chemotherapy treatments as he searched God’s word for direction, prayed for healing, and came to peace with what was to be.  As I thought about this quote again, I was struck by how the robbers were a picture of all Christ was willing to die for: the believers and the doubters and those who never give HIm a thought.  Let’s look at these men.

Barabbas, the murderer and robber.  He is also called an insurrectionist.  He was called a “notorious prisoner.”  A known felon and yet the people demanded his release back into society in place of the humble teacher who had healed them, raised their loved ones from the dead, forgiven their sins, and taught them the law was meant to provide guidelines not be a heavy burden.  “Give us Barabbas,” was their collective cry.  This one, controlled by the enemy–a thief and a murderer himself–is getting a second chance.  I wonder did he watch Jesus die on the cross that should have been his own?  Did he have one grateful thought?  Or did the original sin of ingratitude continue to permeate his life?  God was so merciful to this thief that day.

The thief on the right and the thief on the left of Jesus are hanging on crosses for convicted criminals.  They are known as “robbers” too.  These two hoodlums join the crowd of Pharisees, Roman soldiers, and those who stood watching in “reviling” Jesus:  Demanding He prove HIs claim that He is the Son of God, King of the Jews with some miracle.  Taunting Him with cruel words to add to His pain and agony and the distress of the women and John the beloved watching the spectacle.  The one on the left, is dying just like Jesus.  He is dying for crimes committed.  He has no remorse.  He is Satan dominated.  The enemy is using this soul to hurl insults at the Holy One of Heaven.  He demands a miracle for his dying pleasure:  prove you are God by coming down off your cross. He is a doubter.   The thief on the right is also a known robber.  He is a bit different.  As he hangs on his cross, he watches Jesus.  He listens to Jesus.  He hears his fellow death row inmate and speaks up in defense of Jesus!  He realizes there is something very different about this Man.  Jesus speaks no words of condemnation to them or anyone associated with his torture!  Suddenly, Satan’s dominance is broken, and the works of the devil are destroyed in this life as he confesses he is a sinner and believes Jesus is WHO He says He is!  Satan is unmasked and the man who once was a thief asked for Jesus “to remember him when He came into His kingdom.”  The Savior said yes!  No miracle was required by this new believer.  He had seen enough.

The enemy is a thief and a liar.  (John 10:10)  He has been a murderer from the beginning.  (John 8:44) He is a roaring lion who comes but to steal, kill, and destroy. (I Peter 5:8)  He had at one point in all three of these lives been in control but suddenly, his control was broken in one.  Jesus even as he was dying saved a soul by the power of His gentle Words.  The angels rejoiced!  (Luke 15:7, 10)

These robbers represent all of mankind Jesus came to save.  We, each one, must decide who we will follow.  Who will we relinquish control of our lives too?

Jesus proved it is not our works which save us but our belief He is who He said He was:  The Son of the Living God.  (Matthew 16:16)

The officer and gentleman wrote:  “To those who believe no miracle is necessary; to those who doubt no miracle is sufficient.”  He knew the Lord.  He asked for healing, but the fact it did not come this side of heaven mattered not, for he BELIEVED Jesus was who He said He was and this Jesus is who he put his trust in.

These thieves fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5, 7, 9, and 12 and Jesus asked the Pharisees as they arrested him why were they coming to Him with weapons as if He was a robber instead of the teacher they knew Him to be! (Luke 22:52)

I Peter 2:21-25 reminds us we are to follow Christ’s example:

“ For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

The thief on the right hand of Jesus proved Jesus did indeed “destroy the works of the devil” and new life was found for Jesus said to this thief He loved, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43) for when we “claim the name of the Lord, we shall be saved.”  (Acts 16:31)

All four gospels recount this “hour and the power of darkness.”  We can find ourselves in one of these three thieves.  We learn it is not yet too late to come to faith in Jesus as our only source of hope and salvation.   Have you decided to follow Jesus?  I pray this will be your choice.  You will never regret following Jesus.  Yes, the way is narrow and many do not choose to go the way of the cross.  (Matthew 7:13)  Listen to the still small voice of the Savior (I Kings 19:11-13) as He beckons you to come.  Silence the screams of the enemy………..it is a distraction tactic.
Matthew 27: 16, 38, 44
Mark 15:7, 27-30
Luke 23: 25, 32, 39-43
John 18:40

Treading in Amazing Grace

Von Jones

https://youtu.be/nGpdRpjoxUA

Power of the Cross  Natalie Grant

Crown of Rejoicing

 

 

 

Proverbs 11:30  “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.”

“Must I go, and empty-handed,”
Thus my dear Redeemer meet?
Not one day of service give Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?   
Refrain:
“Must I go, and empty-handed?”
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Must I empty-handed go?

The Crown of rejoicing.  Sometimes it is called the soul winners’ crown.

How much thought have you given to meeting Jesus empty handed?

The hymns says, “not one day of service give Him”.  Will that be me or you? What service have we given that pleases Jesus?

One day we will stand before Jesus and give an account for every word and every deed.   For some it will be a thrilling to meet with Jesus and receive rewards for service to the King of Kings.

Daniel 12:3 tells us, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven,  those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”   For the Christians who have led others to  Jesus, they will shine brightly like stars forever.   In heaven, there is rejoicing any time souls are converted. Luke 15:10. “In the same, way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica, “For this cause also we thank God without ceasing, because when you received the Word of God you heard from us, you received it not as from men but as it is truth.” (I Thessalonians 2:13.)

They received the Word as the truth.. They were saved by believing. Paul continues in verses 19-20. “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation?  Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy.”

Philippians 4:1 Paul writes again to the church at Philippi. “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.”

Paul loved God’s people.  He loved that he was an instrument used by God to bring people out of the darkness into His marvelous light.

The song “Thank You” in the 90’s  was a wonderful reminder that there will be those in heaven that we helped along the way.  Those we walk along side on this earth will be our crown of rejoicing.   Hopefully, we will have been obedient to the call of service.  Winning others to Christ is the last command Jesus gave before He left. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you, always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

In 2 Corinthians 5:11, we read, ”It is because of this solemn fear of the Lord, which is ever present in our minds, that we work so hard to win others.”  Paul’s greatest desire was to bring others to the saving faith and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He continues in verse 14 of the same chapter in Corinthians,” the love of Christ constrains (compels)  me so that I do not rest–I will not rest–until I have expended every effort to win men to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 5:11 & 14). The Living Bible.

Do we have a solemn fear of the Lord?  Is it ever present in our minds so that we work hard to win others? Does the love of Christ compel us to talk to others about Jesus?

Will we be like the verse in I John 2:28 below?
I John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

Reaching the lost for Christ is NOT a request from Jesus but a command.  Don’t let Satan steal your joy and your crown!  Evangelism is simple.  It should not be hard.  It is only the story of how you came to know Jesus.  Telling your story.  Telling His story.  Let the Holy Spirit do His work.  We never save anyone!  Only the power of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life will bring them to the truth.

Father I pray we will awaken from our slumber and finish the race set before.  May we desire, as Paul, to win others for the kingdom. May we have confidence in your appearing and not be ashamed at your coming.

In Jesus Name,

If  you have emotional courage, listen to these songs.  These four songs will challenge your heart for soul winning.

Must I go and empty-handed (Hymn) https://youtu.be/28NHRB5vew8

Each One Reach One- by Babbie Mason https://youtu.be/rJXIugwiN7Qhttps://youtu.be/rz15fa9g9IA

Casting Crowns  -Jesus Friend of Sinners https://youtu.be/rJXIugwiN7Q

 

Thank you -Ray Boltz  https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

 

Leading the Lamb to Slaughter

 

 

 

 

Joseph Caiaphas.  Son-in-law of Annas.  High Priest “appointed” by the Roman prefect, Valerius Gratus, in 18 A.D.  and served until 36 A.D..  The High Priest was the chief religious official and was suppose to be from the line of Aaron, the first High Priest.  The high priest was the presiding officer of the Sanhedrin, a political group of men from every city in the land of Israel numbering from 23-71 men.  The high priest “was required to be mindful of his honor and follow prescribed etiquette.”  The high priest was required to be married and according to Matthew 26:3 it was a position of wealth for he lived in a palace.   All this was during the time of the Roman empire and this High Priest is not even close to following the directions set out by Moses for the function of the High Priest serving in the Tabernacle.  During Roman times the church and state had a marriage of convenience.

This group of men entrusted with leadership for the Jews are “displeased with Jesus.”  (Matthew 21:15)  This all began when crowds began to follow Jesus because he was healing them and offering hope to a nation with little hope.  Could the Messiah actually have come?  These religious leaders (Pharisees) began attempting to trick Jesus with “loaded questions.”  (Matthew 19:1-3)  When the people began to hail Him as King, well then “it was ON” as the saying goes.  They set out to “entangle Him in His talk.”  (Matthew 22:15)  Jesus, however, was the Master Rabbi and He knew their hearts were full of wickedness.  So He asked them a question so deep they could not answer and they stopped asking Him questions at all.  (Matthew 22:41-46)

Caiaphas led the Sanhedrin in coming up with the plan to take Jesus and have him killed.  They felt “out of sight would be out of mind” and all the hoo ha would subside.  How thrilled he must have been when Judas Iscariot showed up with a scheme to “deliver Him to them.”  It was all too perfect!  Once Jesus was in custody, Caiaphas led the interrogation snarling like a mad pack dog.  Rationale was not even in the room for “false witnesses” could not even come up with a reasonable excuse to execute Jesus.  (Mark 14:55-56)

The scene in this room among religious leaders is nauseating.  They slap Jesus.  They spit in Jesus face.  They pummel Him with their self righteous fists.  They covered His face.  Where is the compassion?  Where is the leadership?  (Mark 14:64-65, Luke 22:63-64)

Tradition says Caiaphas put up the money paid to Judas.  We know Caiaphas knew the price of a slave, for he sent his slave with Judas to ensure Judas did what he said he would do; Looking after the investment this High Priest has made.   Caiaphas did not “leave the comforts of his own home” to do the dirty work.  He sent his slave and his slave saw The Master.

Caiaphas on the brink of the Passover, responsible for offering the sacrifice, was used by God to offer the perfect Lamb of God for the sins of the world.  Even evil is controlled by the Almighty God of the universe.  Every prophecy fulfilled by people clueless they are being used by the MOST HIGH GOD.  All things really do work together for good to those who LOVE the Lord and are CALLED according to HIs purposes.  (Romans 8:28)  Jesus set all this up before the foundation of the world.  (I Peter 1:20) Jesus orchestrated His own crucifixion.

Did Caiaphas ever recognize the error of his ways?  It seems he may have.  Acts 4 relates how the position of the religious leaders had “softened” as evidenced by their “threatening” Peter and John not to “speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus,” then letting them go.

We are not told the end of Caiaphas story.    It is apparent that this High Priest was not understanding of the Scriptures.  If he had been and had he been more interested in “the flock” he was serving the story would have been far different.  This is why Jesus told his followers to beware of wolves in sheeps’ clothing. (Matthew 7:15)  Caiaphas was not a prophet, but he was entrusted with the highest position in Israel.  His actions belied his words.  However, God used Caiaphas to lead the Lamb of God to the slaughter where the sins of the world were laid on Him and it is now accounted to us as righteousness.  (Isaiah 53:7, I Peter 2:24, Romans 4:24)

Treading On,

Yvonne Jones

https://youtu.be/CimKKnKUYrU

Streaker in the garden

Pavel Popov's --Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

Pavel Popov’s –Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

And they (the disciples) all forsook him, and fled.
51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.  Mark 14:50-52

All I can say is “For Real?”  I immediately thought of Ray Stevens’ song, The Streak.

I digress.   Obviously, this painter was as fascinated by these three verses as I am.   How have I missed this juicy tidbit for so long?  I asked one of my Beauties who studied Greek in college and she said it was not discussed. Yes, I was looking for a quick explanation.    So off on a treasure hunt I went.  The information ranges from literal to symbolic.   What I think is unimportant.  What is important is what the Word says.  It has been my experience often times the scripture is both literal and symbolic.   Some theologians tie all references of “young man” in Mark’s gospel together as being one in the same person.  This requires more brain cells than I have to connect those dots for surely if this were one in the same person, Mark would have learned his name over the course of time and repeated contact with this young man.

It seems this “linen cloth” over a “naked body” references a body that has been buried.  It is the same Greek words used when Jesus’ body is wrapped in linen and laid in the tomb.  WHAT?  A resurrected “young man” in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Are you kidding me?  When and why did he get resurrected? If this is true, no wonder he is following Jesus closely.    Why are the “other young men” trying to catch him?  Where does a naked man run in the night who was dead?  My head is spinning.

The blog worddetective (https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/the-mystery-streaker-in-the-garde/) has some interesting thoughts on who this young man is and what his life represents. You can read this for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives for thousands of years because of Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 14:4) that the resurrection of the dead will begin here!  (wikipedia)

Rick Renner writes in Sparkling Gems from the Greek, found in Christianity.com the following:
When Jesus said, “I AM,” the power that was released was so tremendous that it knocked the soldiers backward (see April 8 article in Christianity.com ).  But evidently it also caused a rumbling in the local cemetery! When that blast of power was released, a young boy, draped in a linen burial cloth in accordance with the tradition of that time, crawled out from his tomb – raised from the dead!
The reason he “followed” Jesus was to get a glimpse of the One who had resurrected him. The word “followed” means to continuously follow. This tells us that this resurrected young man trailed the soldiers as they took Jesus through the Garden on the way to His trial. When the soldiers discovered the young man who was following Jesus, they tried to apprehend him. But when they reached out to grab him, he broke free from their grip and fled, leaving the linen cloth in their possession.”

Last Easter, I read in Matthew 27:51-53 how when the veil was torn, the graves broke open and the dead were resurrected and were seen in the city. (March 28, 2016 Fear Not, He IS Risen) Jesus entire ministry He was raising the dead!   So, in the Garden he healed an ear, raised the dead, and spoke in power to cast down evil, just as He had been doing for the past three years of His ministry.   He was the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever!  (Hebrews 13:8)  Isaiah 26:19 came to life:  “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”    All this taking place in full view of all.

Jesus had told his disciples this was going to happen.  Matthew 5:25-29 tells us:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.  (KJV-emphasis mine)

Seems to me, this young man heard the voice of the Savior say, “I AM,” and he rose from his sleeping place.  This was a preview to what would happen in just a few hours and will happen again very soon!  Do you wonder if we will rise as this young man and Jesus, as naked as in the Garden of Eden?  If so, it won’t matter, for all our shame will be forever gone! We will be wrapped in His glory!  (Matthew 2:28-30) Praise God “the grave is overwhelmed” and we too shall rise!

https://youtu.be/WlHUKY3jBv0

Skinny dipping

Running to Win

 

 

What motivates you as a Christian?  Or are you running the race?  Are you saved and that’s all there is to the Christian life?  Are you an ambassador for Christ as though God were making an appeal through you (us)? (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Have you ever considered what it will be like when we meet Him face to face one day? Will He say “Well done” or will we shrink back and be ashamed?

It has been said that our motivation for obedience is the prize/ reward that we are promised in God’s Word.  Now I am not a big competitor!!  I would rather let you have the prize than compete.

God has promised in His Word rewards for those who overcome trials in this world.  There are at least 5 crowns to be given at the judgment for believers.

The first crown in this series in the Incorruptible Crown.  It is the victor’s crown or the runners’ crown.  This is the reward to those who have been faithful in service.   It is for those who have persevered and run the race set before them.

These are the faithful ones who have “made it their ambition to be pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9 NAS)  The important thing is not the reward itself, but the joy of pleasing Christ and honoring Him. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

I Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

In the Olympics in Greece, any athlete who won the race received a prize, a crown. The crown was actually a wreath made out of celery leaves. It only lasted for a few hours and then faded away. In comparison, Paul said Christians are seeking to get a crown that will last “forever.” Now, what is this crown all about? Athletes who won in the Olympics received a crown which entitled them to other ongoing rewards when they got home. Sometimes they would be given a new home, and their children’s education would be provided free. Sometimes, a home would be built for the athlete’s parents, and for the rest of his life and his family’s lives, none of them would pay taxes. So the crown symbolized continuing honors and rewards that continued for the rest of the athlete’s life.

I believe this is also true about the crowns God will give. Yes, we can throw our crowns at Christ’s feet, but the privileges they represent will continue to be ours even then, for all eternity.

For those who faithfully endure persecution, Jesus makes it clear, “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). Paul states it plainly, “But each will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor 3:8).  The author of Hebrews even reminds us that Moses was motivated by rewards, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb 11:26). (https://michaeljkruger.com/why-do-modern-christians-rarely-talk-about-rewards-in-heaven/)

We fail to understand that we will be judged on the basis of the life we lived after coming to Christ.  Our works or service is not the basis of our salvation.  Our works will be judged by our motivations.

There will be loss when we meet Jesus and our works are judged.  There will be shame that we did not finish the race well. Many have said, Oh I just want to get into heaven.  I’ll take a little shack in the back after all once we are there everyone will receive the same and we will all sing and praise and be happy to be there with Jesus and all who have gone on before!

We may very well be surprised!  It may be that God had wanted us to have more privileges

And responsibilities in the new kingdom but we shrunk back and would not run in this life seeking the prize of the high calling.

In an interview with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, the following story is told:

I’m reminded of that story about the Rajah, that wealthy man who was there in India. And if I may say, it’s a wonderful legend. He was riding along in a beautiful chariot and there was a beggar standing along the road with a bowl of rice, hoping to receive something. And the Rajah got off the chariot and went to the beggar and said, “Beggar, give me some of your rice!”

The beggar was incensed. “How could he ask me for something?” So very gingerly and angrily the beggar gave the wealthy man a grain of rice.

And the Rajah said, “Give me more of your rice!” And the beggar gave him a second grain of rice; and then a third. No more.

The Rajah got into his beautiful chariot and rode away. The beggar was absolutely furious! In anger, he looks at the grains of rice that were still in his bowl and he noticed that something glittered. He looked more carefully. It was a piece of gold just the size of a grain of rice. And then he looked even more carefully and found just two more. For every grain of rice, a grain of gold.

You know, that’s the way we’re going to find it at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. Our rice for His gold. Our lives and our witness for His blessing and the honor of belonging to Him throughout all of eternity. Let’s say today like the beggar did: “Oh! Oh! If I had only given him all of my rice!!” Well, we have the opportunity today to give to Christ all that we are and we will be rewarded.

Oh my friends!  Let us be about the Father’s business while we still can.  There is much He desires for us.  There is a crown for the victor’s.  The overcomers who set aside the treasures of this world for the sake of Christ.  Our reward is pleasing our Father God and ruling and reigning with Him in His kingdom.