“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 9:25)
Ancient athletes who competed for the prize devoted their whole lives to training and practised “self-control in all things,” hoping thereby to receive the victor’s crown someday.
There are 21 references to the victor’s crown in the New Testament, in either the verb or noun form. In most of these, the crown is used as a symbol of the Christian’s “incorruptible” reward at the end of his spiritual race.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, it is called a “crown of rejoicing,” speaking of the joy awaiting the faithful witness when he meets again with those he has influenced for Christ in this present life.
Paul spoke of our “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8) when we shall be “like him” (1 John 3:2), with our old sinful weaknesses and desires gone forever. Peter said it would be an “unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4). James and John both said it is a wonderful “crown of life” (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10), that is, eternal life, in contrast to this present life of faithful submission to trials and persecution and possible death, for Christ’s sake.
The first four references to this victor’s crown, however, refer to the crown worn by Christ Himself. “Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, Behold the man!” (John 19:5).
Marvellous irony this, that a crown intended as an instrument of ridicule and pain would be transformed into a kingly crown of triumph! “But we see Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). In the very suffering of death, He defeated death and sin and Satan himself, and His crown of thorns became a crown of eternal glory and universal honor.
We noted last week that the letter of John called Revelation has a point of origin and a destination. What about the time element? Here is what we find relative to the time of application.
Rev. 1:1- The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bondservants, the things which must soon take place
Rev. 1:3– Blessed is he who reads…..and heeds … for the time is near
Rev. 22:6- the things which must soon take place
Rev. 22:10- “….for the time is near. “
“Soon” in these verses is the word found in II Timothy 4: 9- Make every effort to come to me soon. We get understanding from v.21. where he asks Timothy to come before winter. Soon means soon.
“Near” is the same as found in Mark 1:15– Jesus was promising the kingdom would come about 50 days after his death. This “near” is sometimes called “at hand.” Someone is bound to remember II Peter 3:8– God doesn't distinguish between one day and one thousand years.. However in passage in Revelation God is talking to human beings so this does not apply. This would be very confusing and misleading if we read in John that Lazarus had been dead for four days, and we then began to believe it might be many thousands. Revelation is a letter like Romans or James.
“And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.” (Acts 1:19)
Never was a tract of land more fittingly named than Aceldama, an Aramaic word meaning “field of blood,” for it had been purchased with blood money, “the price of blood” (Matthew 27:6). The purchaser had been Judas (through the “executors” of his estate, as it were, following his suicide), but the blood he sold, to acquire the price of the field, he had deemed “innocent blood.”
The miserable thirty shekels of silver which consummated this transaction was the price of a slave in ancient Israel (Exodus 21:32), but this slave was none other than God incarnate, so the thirty pieces of silver—the price set by the religious leaders of Israel—was the price for the sale of God.
The prophet Zechariah, more than 500 years before, had acted out a prophecy of these strange events: “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver . . . a goodly price that I was prised at of them” (Zechariah 11:12-13). Next, according to both prophecy and fulfillment, this blood money was cast down in the temple and then used to buy the potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5, 7-8).
These and many other such details in these accounts constitute a remarkable type and fulfillment of prophecy, and thus a testimony of both divine inspiration and divine foreordination. But, more than that, it is a striking picture of the price of our salvation, for the “field of blood” typifies that great field is the world (Matthew 13:38) and Christ is the man who, searching for “treasure hid in a field . . . sold all that he had, and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44). All that He had—the very blood of His life—was willingly shed that we, dead in sins and hidden in the world, might be “purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
What’s in a word, especially a small word? Sometimes, plenty! Let’s see just how important a three letter word can be to our eternal spiritual salvation.
Our English dictionary gives us 22 different meanings for the preposition “for.” New Testament Greek uses different words to describe various shades of meaning, yet all are translated “for.”
Three of these Greek words have direct links to our salvation.
HUPER, Jesus is my substitute. He says of Himself, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”-John 10:11. In Bible times the shepherd’s life was so entwined with his sheep he literally smelled like them. His job was to care for and protect his sheep at all costs. The committed shepherd would fight with a wild animal or a thief who attempted to harm or steal his sheep. One of the most helpful verses is I Timothy 2:6. It tells us “Jesus Christ…gave his life as a ransom for all.” Another verse that speaks directly to our subject is I Corinthians 15:3. “Jesus died for our sins…”
Using the analogy of a ball game, we could say “Jesus went to bat for me.” This happens frequently in real games. A runner gets hurt on the base-path and another player takes his spot in the batting lineup. We sing it this way: “There was One who was willing to die in my stead, that a soul so unworthy might live.”
This word “for” tells us that Jesus is our one and only Saviour.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Henry C. Morrison, after serving for forty years on the African mission field, headed home by boat. On that same boat also rode Theodore Roosevelt. Morrison was quite dejected when, on entering New York harbor, President Roosevelt received a great fanfare as he arrived home. Morrison thought he should get some recognition for forty years in the Lord's service. Then a small voice came to Morrison and said, "Henry you're not home yet."
In the 1980 Boston Marathon, a young unknown runner named Rosie Ruiz was initially declared the winner in the women's division of the 26-mile race. An investigation followed and it was discovered that this was only the second marathon in which she had ever run, she had no coach, she trained on an exercise cycle (others did 120 miles of road work per week), and she had not been seen by any of the other women runners in the race. It was speculated that she probably rode a subway for 16 miles to get near the finish line. Rosie was disqualified and lost the reward not just the prize for finishing first, but the more lasting satisfaction of attaining a difficult goal.
Be thinking of the following:
What was the Apostle looking forward to? A crown. This crown was not a crown worn by royalty, but by winners. It was made of gold and costly Jewels but from a twisted stick, possibly an olive branch. Its value came from what it signified not what it cost.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by
describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.
It faced a blank wall!
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.
‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .’
The origin of this letter is unknown.
The Bible is painfully honest. It shows Jacob, the father of its "chosen people," to be a deceiver. It describes Moses, the lawgiver, as an insecure, reluctant leader, who, in his first attempt to come to the aid of his own people, killed a man, and then ran for life to the desert. It portrays David not only as Israel's most loved king, general, and spiritual leader, but as one who took another man's wife and then, to cover his own sin, conspired to have her husband killed. At one point, the Scriptures accuse the people of God, the nation of Israel, as being so bad they made Sodom and Gomorrah look good by comparison (Ezekiel 16:46-52). The Bible represents human nature as hostile to God. It predicts a future full of trouble. It teaches that the road to heaven is narrow and the way to hell is wide. Scripture was clearly not written for those who want simple answers or an easy, optimistic view of religion and human nature.
Just as the modern state of Israel was emerging from thousands of years of dispersion, a bedouin shepherd discovered one of the most important archeological treasures of our time. In a cave of the northwest rim of the Dead Sea, a broken jar yielded documents that had been hidden for two millennia. Additional finds produced manuscripts that predated previous oldest copies by 1,000 years. One of the most important was a copy of Isaiah. It revealed a document that is essentially the same as the book of Isaiah that appears in our own Bibles. The Dead Sea scrolls emerged from the dust like a symbolic handshake to a nation coming home. They discredited the claims of those who believed that the original Bible had been lost to time and tampering.
It's important to know what the Bible says about itself. If the authors of Scripture had not claimed to speak for God, it would be presumptuous for us to make that claim for them. We would also have a different kind of problem. We would have a collection of unsolved mysteries, embodied in historical and ethical literature. But we would not have a book that has inspired the building of countless churches and synagogues all over the world. A Bible that did not claim to speak in behalf of God would not have become foundational to the faith of hundreds of millions of Christians and Jews (2 Peter 1:16-21). But with much supporting evidence and argument, the Bible's authors did claim to be inspired by God. Because millions have staked their present and eternal well-being on those claims, the Bible cannot be a good book if its authors consistently lied about their source of information.
Israel's exodus from Egypt provided a historical basis for believing that God revealed Himself to Israel. If the Red Sea did not part as Moses said it did, the Old Testament loses its authority to speak in behalf of God. The New Testament is just as dependent upon miracles. If Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead, the apostle Paul admits that the Christian faith is built on a lie (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). To show its credibility, the New Testament names its witnesses, and did so within a time-frame that enabled those claims to be tested (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Many of the witnesses ended up as martyrs, not for abstract moral or spiritual convictions but for their claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. While martyrdom is not unusual, the basis on which these people gave their lives is what's important. Many have died for what they believed to be the truth. But people do not die for what they know to be a lie.
Forty different authors writing over a period of 1,600 years penned the 66 books of the Bible. Four hundred silent years separated the 39 books of the Old Testament from the 27 of the New Testament. Yet, from Genesis to Revelation, they tell one unfolding story. Together they give consistent answers to the most important questions we can ask: Why are we here? How can we come to terms with our fears? How can we get along? How can we rise above our circumstances and keep hope alive? How can we make peace with our Maker? The Bible's consistent answers to these questions show that the Scriptures are not many books but one.
Down through the ages, many have doubted the historical and geographical accuracy of the Bible. Yet modern archeologists have repeatedly unearthed evidence of the people, places, and cultures described in the Scriptures. Time after time, the descriptions in the biblical record have been shown to be more reliable than the speculations of scholars. The modern visitor to the museums and lands of the Bible cannot help but come away impressed with the real geographical and historical backdrop of the biblical text.
Many have spoken well of the Bible, but no endorsement is as compelling as that of Jesus of Nazareth. He recommended the Bible not only by His words but by His life. In times of personal temptation, public teaching, and personal suffering, He made it clear that He believed the Old Testament Scriptures were more than a national tradition (Matthew 4:1-11; 5:17-19). He believed the Bible was a book about Himself. To His countrymen He said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life" (John 5:39-40).
From the days of Moses, the Bible predicted events no one wanted to believe. Before Israel went into the Promised Land, Moses predicted that Israel would be unfaithful, that she would lose the land God was giving her, and that she would be dispersed throughout all the world, regathered, and then re-established (Deuteronomy 28-31). Central to Old Testament prophecy was the promise of a Messiah who would save God's people from their sins and eventually bring judgment and peace to the whole world.
The books of Moses were written 500 years before the earliest Hindu Scriptures. Moses wrote Genesis 2,000 years before Muhammad penned the Koran. During that long history, no other book has been as loved or as hated as the Bible. No other book has been so consistently bought, studied, and quoted as this book. While millions of other titles come and go, the Bible is still the book by which all other books are measured. While often ignored by those who are uncomfortable with its teachings, it is still the central book of Western civilization.
Unbelievers often point to those who claim to believe in the Bible without being changed by it. But history is also marked by those who have been bettered by this book. The Ten Commandments have been a source of moral direction to countless numbers of people. The Psalms of David have offered comfort in times of trouble and loss. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount has given millions an antidote for stubborn pride and proud legalism. Paul's description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 has softened angry hearts. The changed lives of people like the apostle Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Newton, Leo Tolstoy, and C. S. Lewis illustrate the difference the Bible can make. Even entire nations or tribes, like the Celts of Ireland, the wild Vikings of Norway, or the Auca Indians of Ecuador have been transformed by the Word of God and the unprecedented life and significance of Jesus Christ.
If you do see the evidence for the God who revealed Himself to us through His Son, then keep in mind that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and that all who believe in Him will receive the gifts of forgiveness and everlasting life. The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for effort but a gift to all who in light of the evidence put their trust in Him (John 5:24; Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-10.
If you lived during the fifties and if you happened to be hooked on country music, in all probability you became familiar with an old country doctor who lived and practised in a small town in the western U.S.A. Not only did Doc Brown make a significant contribution to society by engaging in his medical profession, but, as he worked among the people he loved, his services were rendered at a pitifully small fee, making plain his real reason for living.
The problem was, even at this nominal charge, there were many who could not pay. He simply wrote I.O.U. on all such accounts and hoped for a brighter day. That day of improvement did not arrive. In it's place came the time when he would have to move from his office on Main Street and take up his practice in a tiny room over the livery stable. One kind town person cared enough to remove Doc's sign, modify it and nail it to the door of the livery stable. It now read: "Doc Brown has moved upstairs".
Nobody lives forever; not even this gentle man who had given so much of his life in service for others with small remuneration. Doc Brown died. The wagon loads of mourners moving along behind the casket must have stretched down the road a quarter of a mile. As the preacher completed his kind and true words at the grave side, not a dry eye was to be seen.
It seems that as death was approaching, the doctor, knowing that these folks would never be able to cancel their debts, wrote across each I.O.U., "Paid in full". As might be expected, money for an elaborate headstone with appropriate epitaph was not available, so the towns people did what they thought was fitting. They placed the old doctor’s sign at the head of his grave. Passersby would now know for certain, "Doc Brown has moved upstairs!" The inference that this wonderful man went to heaven is not to be questioned by anyone. The suggestion as to the reason behind his "going to glory," does come under scrutiny.
Since Doc Brown "moved upstairs,"
The same medicine prescribed for Doc Brown by our Great Physician is available today. Would you consider these important facts? Do not trust in your own good deeds to move you "upstairs". Heaven is a matter of atonement and not attainment. Without Jesus in our lives we have nothing to offer to God. With him, there is nothing we do not have to offer.
LETS ALL MAKE PLANS FOR THE BIG MOVE