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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anchor in Plymouth Harbor
 I took this photo several years ago in Plymouth Harbor.
Here's a larger version.

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"Hope For That Day"

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Timothy 1:12). "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).

Over the next several messages we will consider Paul's wonderful statement of assurance in 2 Timothy 1:12. Today let's begin with the over-riding assurance of victory that Paul had even in the midst of his present suffering and looming martyrdom. Let us especially consider a blessed assurance that Paul says he had for
"that Day"; a two word phrase found in both daily verses.

I hesitate to use a Super Bowl illustration. (I refrained from doing so yesterday!) After all, many of our readers are international and even here in the states many have no interest at all in football. But here in America that day is called Super Bowl Sunday and is considered a de facto holiday. For those who may not know the Super Bowl is the largest single sporting event here in the USA and, yes, I did indeed watch it on Sunday evening.  I suppose I've watched about every Super Bowl since I was a young teenager from the Kansas City area and saw the Kansas City Chiefs lose to the Green Bay Packers in the very first Super Bowl in 1967. *

Super bowl ringThe token of a Super Bowl victory is a ring, what every professional football player longs for. Several years ago we had Lou Rousen over to our place for dinner when he was in our area giving inspirational speeches at schools. Lou has two super bowl championship rings from when he played for the New York Giants back in the 1980's. He was pleased to show off his ring although it really didn't look like it would be very comfortable to wear! But today we want to consider something infinitely more valuable than a super bowl championship ring.

Paul, in our second daily verse has come to the end of his life.  He knows it. He testified in the previous verse that "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).  He looked forward to receiving "the crown of righteousness" that had been laid up for him, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award him.

I don't know much about this "
crown of righteousness" but it was sure something that Paul looked forward to receiving.

Since Paul's remarkable conversion on the Damascus Road he had given his life in service for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some 30 years had passed since that time and Paul had stayed the course, though he was beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, shipwrecked, often perplexed, and continuously dealt with a thorn in the flesh. I sense such a confidence and peace in his words, even as he faced a martyr's death as part of his sufferings for Christ. Earlier in this very letter he expressed his assurance, "I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (1:12). A modern day servant of the Lord summed it up this way; "No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets."  We'll tell his story of faith in tomorrow's message.

There's something else in the verse that especially speaks to me.  Just five little words but they speak volumes to those who also strive to stay on course with Christ in this ever-increasing wicked age.

"And not to me only."

Paul gives us tremendous incentive in these five words.  You and I can cling to it today.  This crown is not for him exclusively. Nor does he go on to say "and for you also Timothy", to whom he was writing.

No, instead he informs his readers that this crown of righteousness is also laid up "
unto all them also that love His appearing."  This is a promise spanning the church age and is applicable to those of us reading with Paul's belief in our own day. Paul looked earnestly for that day when he would see the Lord and often expresses it in his writings.  The healthy state for the believer is to "love" or "long for" His appearing.  That's our greatest longing. Let's keep our focus on that today as we faithfully serve Christ and wait for "that Day"!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, help us to remember in the course of this day, when so much of our work and planning is intended for this life only, that we must also fix our eyes on the life yet to come.  May that which we say, think and do reflect kingdom principles that store up treasures for us in our heavenly kingdom even while we serve here below.  We anxiously await that day when we receive the crown of righteousness reserved for those who have fought the good fight, finished the race, remained true to the faith, and whose greatest longing is for the glorious appearing of Christ.  Amen.

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves... the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in.'" (C.S. Lewis)

* Some of you may be interested in seven crowns the Bible mentions and my homiletic attempt to identify them:

1. The crown for those who love His appearance. "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 4:8).

2. The crown for those who compete according to the rules. "Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).

3. The crown for enduring trials. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

4. The crown for those willing to feed the flock. "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;  not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5:2-4).

5. The crown for those who are faithful unto death.  "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

6. The crown for those who win souls. "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you?"  (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
7. The crown for those who master the old nature. "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. 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” (1 Corinthians 9:24,25).

Lee with EsterLee Rouson was in our area holding services and school assemblies with Sportsworld Ministries. He was a running back for the New York Giants and played on two winning Super Bowl games. He joined us for dinner a few years ago and Ester enjoyed teaming up with him while he visited. Most importantly he is a committed follower of Jesus Christ, serving as an associate pastor in New York City and sharing his testimony everywhere he can.
In the body of the message I show a picture of his hand with one of his two World Champ rings (the one on his ring finger). When people meet him and see his size, perhaps noting his rings, they often ask, "Who are you?"  His answer, "I'm a child of the King!"

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.

"Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Congregational singing with an unidentified female lead singer.  Sacred music at its best.

"Robe And Crown"
 Video  Vocal Union  Outstanding acapella.  See here for more of their songs on video. We especially enjoy "He Gave His Life".

"Marching On"
is an old gospel hymn some will recall, although I could't find it in modern hymnals nor on the web as a video. But I recall it from my early days in the faith:

Marching on in the light of God,
Marching on, I am marching on.
Up the path that the Master trod,
I'm marching, marching on.

A robe of white, a crown of gold,
A harp, a home, a mansion fair.
A victors palm, a joys untold,
Are mine when I get there!

"Who Shall Separate Us From The Love Of Christ"  Video  

We will leave the following musical resources up throughout our series on 2 Timothy 1:12:

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"
 Video  This is set to a newer tune but maintains the same wonderful words.  It is beautifully sung by a worship team in a local church.

Here's a beautiful piano version of the same song using the tune we are familiar with. Audio
All through our series of messages on 2 Timothy 1:12 we will be using this song as a background to our daily podcast.

421324: If God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil If God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
By Randy Alcorn / Random House, Inc

Note from Brooksyne:  I just delved into the first part of this book and find it to be very personable with stories of real people who've been dealt some very difficult circumstances in life.  Alcorn is clearly making this book very personable, not just theological.  If you know of people going through tough times this might be a book to consider.

Difficult times beg questions about God's goodness and power. Offering compelling true stories, fresh answers, and biblical insights, Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief and reveals the big picture of who God is and what He's doing in the world---equipping you to share your faith clearly with those experiencing pain and fear. 432 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

* For sport history buffs it was actually named the Super Bowl after the first game but that game is included in the count.  AFL co-founder and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt helped convert the nickname into the official name by 1970 (the fourth playing of the NFL championship). Hunt, who died in 2006, allegedly said he meant the silly name "Super Bowl" to be used only until a better one could be found, but the name became permanent. Tickets for the games played in 1967, 1968, and 1969 were printed with the title "World Championship Game". According to NFL Films President Steve Sabol, then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had wanted to call the game "The Big One". See here.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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