Friday, February 20, 2009

Crown of Righteousness

(Friday Funnies post is below)

Christ was present before the world was even formed.
"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." ~ John 17:24 (NIV)

Centuries later the Word became flesh and lived among men.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." ~ John 1:14 (NIV)

Christ performed many signs, wonders and miracles and taught so much about the Father's love. He assured us of so many promises and truths. He bore our sins and died for us on the Cross, forever redeeming us by His grace.

"And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" ~ Philippians 2:8 (NIV)

Death did not defeat Him, though. He rose again on the third day, just as prophesied long ago.
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve." ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (NIV)

Again He lived among humans, appearing to many and performing signs, miracles and wonders.

"Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." ~ John 21:25 (NIV)

Can you imagine, given all that is written, the things we do not know? How precious it will be to sit at the feet of Christ, learning and knowing all the things He did say and do while upon this earth. In the days before His ascension to Heaven He promised:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." ~ John 14:1-4 (NIV)

He also promised to send His Holy Spirit until He came back for us with these precious words.

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live." ~ John 14:16-19 (NIV)

Forty days after His resurrection from the crucifixion, He ascended into Heaven.

"When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God." ~ Luke 24:50-53 (NIV)

That is not the end of the story, my friend! Just as He promised us, He is preparing a place for us, that where He is, there we may also be. 2,000 + years later, the signs are everywhere that His return is going to take place soon. Do you long for His appearing?

"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 (NIV)

The apostle Paul tells us that if we do long for His appearing there is stored up for us a crown of righteousness. What is this crown of righteousness and what does it mean to long for His appearing?

The crown is in storage for us. The Greek word for in store is apokeimai. This verb means:

1) to be laid away, laid by, reserved
2) reserved for one, awaiting him

It's there with our name on it. It isn't something we have earned but a gift, a reward. This crown is appointed for us and is on reserve! This crown is waiting to be placed on those who long for His appearing by King Jesus Himself.

The word Greek word for crown is stephanos and means:

1) a crown
a) a mark of royal or (in general) exalted rank
1) the wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games
b) metaph. the eternal blessedness which will be given as a prize to the genuine servants of God and Christ: the crown (wreath) which is the reward of the righteousness
c) that which is an ornament and honour to one

What a privilege it will be to have placed this prize upon our heads by our Savior. Will we wear them for eternity or return them to our Savior as the saints in Revelation do, casting them at His feet? I don't know. But what a privelge it will be to have it given to us. What an honor!

This Greek word dikaiosynē, or righteousness, describes the crown we will be given. It means:

1) in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God
a) the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
b) integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
2) in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due

Our righteousness comes from believing and accepting Christ's precious gift of grace, the penalty He paid via death in our place.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." ~ 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

Although He died and rose again and ultimately ascended into Heaven, He is not finished yet. He will appear yet again at the Rapture for the believers and the second return of Christ to the earth for the final time, to rule and reign for eternity.

The Greek word for longed is agapaŨ. We recognize this as the word for love. This means:

1) of persons
a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly
2) of things
a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

This is a longing to be with Christ in the highest sense possible. We entertain the thought and welcome the future appearance of Christ. We long to be with Him and we have faith that we will be, based on His promise given in John 14 above.

The Greek word for appearing is epiphaneia and means:

1) an appearing, appearance

This will be a glorious appearing, one that shines as bright as the dawn. One that shines as brightly as only Jesus can. This world is not all there is. Heaven will not be a place where we sit on clouds and strum harps as depicted in many cartoons. We will be with Christ, in the new Heaven and Earth! The curse of this world will be lifted and we will live an active and restored life with Him.

Spend some time in Isaiah 65:17-25 and in other areas of the Word, reading about our lives with Christ.

I also encourage you to read Revelation 21-22 by clicking here and seeing what the new Heaven and new Earth will be like. The promise of knowing we will be with Christ forever in a resurected body and a world with no more sin is what makes me long for His appearing. No more wars, no more famine, no disease, no sickness, violence or evil.

To be with Christ forever should be our ultimate goal. It's one thing to have the assurance of eternal life and to know that we will be, but to have the promise of receiving a crown of righteousness just for longing for His appearing is a sweet, sweet gift, isn't it?

Father, thank You for reserving for us the precious gift of a crown of righteousness as a reward for longing to be with You. We know this crown is nothing we could earn on our own, but is a reward given by You based on the faith we have in the coming of Christ to bring us into Your kingdom. We rejoice that where He is, there we may also be. Set our hearts on fire to seek Your face, Lord, and to reject the things of the world in favor of the precious promises of eternity. Come, Lord Jesus, soon. Though no man knows the day or the hour, You have given us in Your Word signs that point to Your return. May we look forward to it with fervent hope and longing. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

If you enjoyed reading about the Crown of Righteousness, you might like:

Crown of Life



Denise said...

Awesomely beautiful.

saleslady371 said...

When I read about "death did not defeat Him..." I could hear a drumroll. So much good is in store for us because of Jesus. Yes, Lord, I agree with Laurie Ann: set our hearts on fire!

LauraLee Shaw said...

So powerful!

Peggy said...

Blessings Laurie Ann...Powerful writing on the JOY yet before us!

Beautiful prayer, great insights
and wonderful teaching putting it altogether as to such an honor and privilege we have to know Jesus!

Thanks & bless you for your words for me! I need the strength & power! EnJOY your weekend!

Marsha said...

Wonderful insights. Thank you so much for all you so faithfully share with us daily.