Daily Encouragement Net
The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Train in Jim Thorpe, PA
On Saturday I drove Ester and the entire Lapp family of nine up to to the Poconos to ride bikes on the Delaware and Lehigh Valley Trail. We got an early start due to the forecast of rain and high winds, but thankfully it held off until we were almost finished in the mid afternoon. This train is coming through a cut in Lehigh Gorge State Park about 3 miles north of Jim Thorpe.
(Click on photo for larger image)

"The Crown That Lasts Forever"

Message summary: Today we encourage you to keep in clear focus the heavenly coronation ceremony where we will receive our crown of righteousness. It will help to properly align our priorities on this side of heaven. It will also help us to run the spiritual race with our brothers and sisters in mind. We are not competing against them, but spurring them on as we run this race together with the mutual goal of receiving a crown of righteousness from the righteous Judge.

Listen to this message on your audio player.

“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). “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

My parents named me after the only Stephen presented in the Bible. Of course, based on that and many other characteristics, he is one of my favorite Bible characters. He was in the group of the first deacons chosen in Acts 6 but is best known for his power-packed sermon and subsequent stoning. When I feel like I'm experiencing a tough day or think that life doesn't seem fair I need to remember Stephen's life, and how God used it to further the Gospel message through Stephen's most ardent enemy and executioner, then known as Saul.

Stephen's name comes from a Greek word which means "crowned one". The New Testament uses the illustration of a crown seven times in regard to a future promise and today I want to examine just one of them, the crown that will last forever after we faithfully complete the race of life.

We heard an interview by radio host Janet Parshall with singer Twila Paris. Janet commented that "Runner", one of Twila Paris’ songs, had prompted her to request that a pair of worn-out running shoes be placed on her tombstone, indicating she had faithfully run the race! I like that!

Runner when the road is long
Feel like giving in, but you're hanging on
Oh runner, when the race is won
You will run into His arms

The Apostle Paul wrote today’s first portion of Scripture to the Corinthian believers. Corinth was located in Greece where the ancient Olympic games were held and many of his readers would identify with this illustration that stresses a vital spiritual truth.

I believe Paul was interested in athletics since he uses sport's illustrations in his writings such as running, wrestling and boxing. (I wrote about this last week in regard to using a baseball illustration.) In this passage he is urging diligence in the Christian life in the spirit of an overcomer. He urges the Corinthian believers and us to "Run in such a way as to get the prize". He reminds his readers of the strict training required for the serious contestant.

“They do it to get a crown that will not last.” The ancient crown of victory was a laurel wreath that quickly withered and died. Even the gold medals received by the winners in the modern games will one day perish.

Today many, perhaps most, are in pursuit of the various types of temporal crowns that will not last. For the great majority the pursuit of God is placed on a back burner in life to be dealt with at some later date, if at all.

“But we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  Praise God! This crown is not for a select few; note the plural pronoun “we”.  Earlier in the passage he wrote regarding the competition in the ancient games that "only one gets the prize".  Consider all the athletes who sacrifice many years of their time, money, and endure strict training to be in the Olympics yet they don’t receive a medal and may never even make it to the Olympics for that matter.

This is not so as it pertains to our future crown. All who faithfully live their lives for Christ will receive this righteous crown! It is not by our diligent works of righteousness; instead this crown is a gift because of the shed blood of the righteous One! In his final letter Paul expresses a tremendous assurance in God as he prepared for his departure from this life: “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).

Today we encourage you to keep in clear focus the heavenly coronation ceremony where we will receive our crown of righteousness. It will properly align our priorities on this side of heaven. It will also help us to run the spiritual race with our brothers and sisters in mind. We are not competing against them, but spurring them on as we run this race together with the mutual goal of receiving a crown of righteousness from the righteous Judge.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we know that when athletes go into strict training to reach their physical goals, there is great sacrifice involved. Their schedule, appetites, exercise, endurance, and mindset must be yielded to their physical training with the goal of winning the prize. As believers, we too must be willing to experience earthly sacrifice in exchange for heavenly gain. We must lay aside that which takes our mind off the prize and fix our eyes upon the Author and Finisher of our faith who will reward us with the heavenly crown of righteousness as we run the race to the finish line. This crown will never perish, spoil or fade and is awaiting us already in heaven. Keep us faithful and trusting till we receive it on that glorious day. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Runner"  Video  Twila Paris

Some scenes from our bike trip in the Poconos

Bike ride along D&L rail trail
Everyone rode a bike except 4 year old Stephen, who rode in a toddler trailer/caboose behind his dad. I caught a photo of the bikers looking in the direction of their one sibling who stepped out of line from the family caravan.  The colors were changing but still a lot of green. We were on the Delaware and Lehigh rail trail, one of the best rail trails we ride each year (with the exception of Brooksyne who is still recovering from surgery). This is the same trail we ride when we take the bike train, which I hope to do in several weeks on the last run of the season.

Lehigh River above Jim Thorpe
The Lehigh River looking toward Jim Thorpe
(Click on photo for larger image)

Train in Jim Thorpe, PA
It was a very busy weekend in Jim Thorpe with many excursion trains due to the fall foliage festival held on weekends throughout October.

Tunnel in Lehigh Gorge State Park
This long abandoned rail tunnel opening looks out over the Lehigh River and proved to have excellent acoustics for a family song!
(Click on photo for larger image)

Lehigh Gorge bluff
A view of the Lehigh River from a bluff over the tunnel taken by one of the adventuresome boys who likes to climb. Having severe basophobia the only way I could take a photo like this would be flat on my stomach. Even looking at the photo gives me the heebie jeebies to imagine standing on the edge and looking down!
(Click on photo for larger image)

Lehigh Gorge bluff
Another view taken from the bluff looking down at us on the bridge in the foreground.

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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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