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Monday, February 5, 2018

Soaring eagle along the Susquehanna
Soaring eagle along the Susquehanna River

"And Not Only To Me"

Message summary: Just five little words speak volumes to those who, like Paul, also strive to stay on course with Christ in this ever-increasing wicked age.

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"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).

Some are very happy with last night's Super Bowl outcome, especially those in our region of the country, who for many years have longed to see their team win a Super Bowl. But others, especially in New England, not so much including those die hard Patriots fans (one present in our household). That's the nature of sports where there are winners and losers.

We may tend to see it that way in life as well as we've all heard the derisive term, "What a loser". But to take the words from a song we enjoy, "In heaven's eyes there are no losers". The redemptive power of God is able to reach to the uttermost and redeem any the world may call a loser!

Super bowl ring
The personal token of a Super Bowl victory is a ring, what every professional football player longs for. Many 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 rings, although they didn't look comfortable to wear. Likely they're saved for special occasions. But today we want to consider something infinitely more valuable than a Super Bowl championship ring.

In our daily verse Paul is coming 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). What a peace-filled resolve these words reveal. We pray for grace that we might also face our inevitable death in such a way.

He looked forward to receiving "the crown of righteousness" that had been stored up for him, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award him. We don't know much about this "
crown of righteousness" but it was sure something that Paul looked forward to receiving!

Since his remarkable conversion on the Damascus Road Paul had given his life in service for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some 30 years had passed since that time and he had stayed the course, though he was beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, shipwrecked, often perplexed, and continuously dealt with a thorn in the flesh.

Consider the 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).

William Borden summed it up this way; "No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets." *

There's something else in the verse that especially speaks to me and I pray that it speaks to you as well, especially to any who may feel like they're a loser in life. 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 only to me only."

Paul gives us tremendous incentive in these five words. Let's 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 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 steadfastly 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)

The Bible mentions seven crowns and here's 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 years ago 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 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

* "No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets" The story of William Borden from a previous Daily Encouragement message.

"No Regrets"  Video  A brief video snippet concerning William Borden.

Here's a written account concerning William Borden. Here's another one from Randy Alcorn's blog.

Yesterday's medley from the Calvary Church choir that Brooksyne sings in.  Video  One of the songs fits with our message today in a line many will recognize, "Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea."

"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 In The Light Of God"  Video  Joyful Singers at Calvary Tengah BP Church.  An oldie that came to mind due to the phrase, "a crown of gold".  I don't suppose we've heard this hymn for 40 years! But there are some others who will remember it.

A robe of white, a crown of gold,
A harp, a home, a mansion fair,
A victor’s palm, a joy untold,
Are mine when I get there.

Finally today:

Pastor Beau Eckert
Our pastor has a wry sense of humor. He is a former college quarterback and is a longtime Green Bay Packer fan in spite of living in our area, which of course is made up mostly of Philadelphia Eagle fans. Yesterday he referenced the game in an interesting way and encouraged the congregation to keep a perspective regardless of the outcome. (Short video clip) I suppose some inside football knowledge would be required here to get the point!

Finally today (2): Last night the camera showed a ninety-nine year old Eagles fan who had followed the team since they started in the thirties. The Eagles have been known to let their fans down through the years so one fan requested in his obituary to have 8 Philadelphia Eagles as pall bearers so the Eagles can let him down one last time.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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