Monday, February 17, 2014

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.  He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities.  He then left on his trip.  “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more.  The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.  But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.  
“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.  The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’  “The master was full of praise.  ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together!’
“The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’  “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together!’ “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.  I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth.  Look, here is your money back.’  “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank?  At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’  “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.  To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance.  But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.  Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14 - 30 (NLT)
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”   Revelation 22:12 (NLT)
Revelation 22:12 says that Jesus is bringing his reward with him.  The word literally means wages.  The Bible is full of information about these wages or CROWNS.
After an evening out, some parents returned home to their children, whom they had left with the baby sitter.  They were pleasantly surprised to find the kids fast asleep.  When the sitter had been paid, and just as she was walking out the door, she communicated this little detail:  "Oops –almost forgot to tell you; I promised little Sammy that if he would stay in bed, you would get him a pony in the morning."[1]
Life is difficult enough.  If you don't sense meaning, something to which you look forward, it can be an impossibility to enjoy, or even cope with life.  Sitting in the sixth-grade assembly at the end of the year, I was suddenly shocked to find that they were going to hand out awards for achievements.  I can remember thinking to myself, Why didn't somebody tell me?  I would've gotten better grades.  This morning we will put that excuse to rest. 
The meaning, or light at the end of the tunnel that we deal with today is, What about God's awards ceremony?

Certainty of Crowns

The reality that Jesus is coming again to the earth is hard to miss in the New Testament.  But the text says that He is coming soon.  From our perspective, two thousand years is not really SOON!  But, as Einstein pointed out, time is relative.  Factors such as speed and gravity have their effect.  God moves in a dimension you and I have little knowledge about. 
Many scholars believe the “quickly” part refers not to how soon Jesus would return, but the manner in which it happens.  It will be in the twinkling of an eye!
Here are the two possibilities about when:
A.   He is coming at our death.  For some, like my Grandmother who died many years ago, death carries us to see Jesus.  As Paul wrote, absent from the body is present with the Lord.  The other possibility:
B.   He is coming by His descent
This is the Parousia, the Second Advent of Christ.  Atheists laugh, skeptics explain it away, and agnostics refuse to think about it; but the Bible simply declares its reality.  Either way, the Lord is coming TO US!  That is a great comfort and hope to me.
God never lies!  The angel who spoke to the disciples (Acts 11:1) as they watched Jesus' ascension into heaven promised that He would come again in the same manner.  So whether by our death, or his descent, we should be prepared.  One of the best opportunities we have for getting ready is at Christmas, Advent season.  What better way to expect the second coming than to honor His first coming? 
A family moved to a new neighborhood, and the mother was registering her 6 year old for school.  He was a hyper sort, always getting into mischief.  The mother filled out all the required information on shots, Doctor, and previous school.  But when she came to the large open space for "COMMENTS," she simply wrote in huge block letters:  BRACE YOURSELVES
To the church John records the words of Jesus, Brace yourselves, I am coming again soon!

Catalogue of Crowns

I'm certain one could make a more exhaustive list of crowns that are going to be a part of God's awards ceremony; however I will list only four:
1. The Soul Winner’s Crown is for those who participate in bringing people to Jesus.  Daniel (12:3) talks of those who lead others to righteousness.  The writer of Proverbs (11:30) says it clearly that...he that winneth souls is wise
How do you participate in soul-winning?  In many ways, praying, giving, and going.  Is it your desire to see souls saved?  NOT GOOD ENOUGH!  The soul winner's crown is for participating.  When you have a strong enough burden to be involved, you will find a way.  A denomination, a church, or a believer not involved in efforts to win souls is not wise.
2. The Crown of Glory is a pastoral crown for those elders that feed the flock (1Pe 5:4).  Beloved, you don't have to be a pastor, or a deacon to win this crown.  You simply have to be willing to pass the bread and butter down the table.  
When I was young Thanksgiving was always at Mom & Dad's house.  While Mom was in the kitchen preparing the food, Dad and my brother and I would do the other stuff.  We would set the table; get out the extra chairs; dust, and get ready to gripe about doing the dishes.  All this was necessary.  My mother cooked the food....but we helped.
If you would receive the crown of glory just as pastor Peter and John and Paul will, then pass the bread of life on down the table!  Feed God's flock.
3. The Crown of Life is for being faithful in trials.  John wrote in a day when faithfulness meant death.  Roman emperors expected the worship of all the people.  To worship Jesus sometimes meant that you died the way Jesus did.  Do you love God enough to die for Him?  (James 1:12)
4. The Crown of Righteousness means God's approval of your response to His claim on your life.  Paul told Timothy in his last letter to the young pastor (4:8) that his fight was over, and the crown of righteousness was awaiting him in heaven. 
Paul had been faithful to answer the call of God, giving his whole life for the purpose of that call.
We must not miss the significance for you and me here:  God calls each of is our responsibility to fulfill that calling. 
·        Has He called you to be a policeman? 
·        Has he called you to witness to your neighbor? 
·        Has He called you to be a faithful steward? 
The crown of righteousness is God's smile over the fact that you have been willing to turn your back on your own desires and the allure of this world, and follow Him instead! 
In Chicago years ago the great evangelist D.L. Moody was preparing for a service inside the church.  Outside it was thundering and lightning, with torrents of rain.  A little girl ran in from outside and told him excitedly, Mr. Moody, the world is coming to an end.  Moody said, that's all right, Honey, we can live without it.
The very first thing God called you to is the salvation of your soul.  To win the crown of righteousness, you must accept the fact that you are not entitled to it, and that only Jesus' blood can purchase it for you. 
There is a certainty of crowns, the catalogue of crowns, and the…

Crowning of Christ

Two simple facts:
A.    THOSE WHO HAVE, WILL!  (Rev 4:10)
Those who, in this life, have been faithful to win crowns from Christ will then place them at His feet in heaven's glory.  It is the natural response of a thankful heart to give praise.  Saved people will act like it!
No matter what we have done in this life, if we have not placed a crown on Jesus' head, placing Him as Lord of Life, over my actions and thoughts, we will not be able to do so in heaven.      
In Revelation 22:16 there is a list of those who have not invited Jesus to be Lord over their life.  Instead they have made it a practice to invite the baser things of this world to be their lord. 
The question becomes, What are you preparing for....Who is your Lord? 
Boxer Joe Frazier said,
You can map out a fight plan or a life plan.  But when the action starts you're down to your reflexes.  That's where your roadwork shows (the discipline of training).  If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, you're getting found out now under the bright lights.
How do you feel about crowns?  Will you live this day, and every day with the expectancy of Advent...that our Lord may come back today?
Charles the Great was what they called him (Charlemagne); builder of empires, conqueror of the world.  He spoke, and it was done in all the earth.  His riches rivaled Solomon's. 
On Christmas Day, 800 AD he was crowned the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He was a man; like any other man, he died. 
A thousand years later his tomb was opened.  To the shock of the archaeologists, they saw the corpse of Charlemagne sitting upright in a chair.  The long, petrified finger of his right hand pointing to a verse in the Bible on his lap:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Mark 8:36    
If you are to receive the crowns of Christ, you must crown HIM King!

[1] Ed Vasciek quoted on 

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