PSA… I had to take a break from writing over the past several months due to finishing up part of my degree. Thank you for your patience and continuing to check back here for updates. If you have been waiting for Part 3 of Crowned here it is! (Sorry it took so long…) More content on the horizon, be on the look out!
SO what happens after Christ death? What does it mean for us that He was resurrected? Take a look at Matthew 28:5-10. There were three dark days of despair. Scripture tells us that after the Sabbath toward dawn Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb and the Angel of the Lord said to them “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Don’t you love that Jesus first appeared to the Women? If you look back in Scripture you will see that Jesus gives radical love and honor to women. This scripture among others affirms the resurrection of Jesus. It affirms that Jesus is who He said He is and He did what He said He would do. It tells us that our King is ALIVE! Right now at this very moment He is seated at the right hand of the Father with all things under his feet.
Have you ever thought about how His resurrection impacts your life? What does His empty tomb mean to you? How does it alter the way you are running your race?
The early church knew the power of the resurrection and because of it they gave up everything to proclaim Christ to the world. The resurrection is everything for believers. Christ resurrected means that when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior we are reborn and raised to new life. Our heart of stone is removed and replaced with a heart of flesh! We are given the Holy Spirit and He helps us discern the things of God. The resurrection means that we have the ability to be transformed, even in a fallen world and even among difficult circumstance we can live abundant lives because Jesus lives.
You see here is what I think our problem is sometimes we have embraced Christ death for our sins meaning we accept His past grace that cleansed us from all of our unrighteousness. We embrace life after death meaning we accept His future grace for eternity but where we falter is embracing the power and promise of His present grace meaning His promise of Life before death!
Jesus said that He came so that those who are saved would have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10) He said He wants His joy to be in us so that our Joy may be full (Jn 15:11). But we cannot give more power to our circumstances than we do to God and His Word. We can not reject His grace for this present day and expect to have fruitful abundant lives. Citizens of His kingdom must run the race with a heavenly perspective, we must fight our battles differently than the world, we must fight on our knees and in the Word. We must continue to abide in Him and let His Word abide in us. We must focus on our obedience to God, on the rewards He has for us now, and on the rewards waiting for us in heaven – this is abundant life. Being Kingdom minded does not mean that we have spiritually arrived, and it also doesn’t mean that we should just be standing around waiting for heaven.
What awaits us in the kingdom of heaven should motivate us during our life on Earth
In Scripture there are 5 heavenly crowns that will be awarded to believers. I am going to share each one with you briefly but I encourage you not to stop at this message. Study these things out for yourself in Scripture. Embrace Jesus’s life as your example, embrace His death to understand suffering and the Joy that can follow it, and embrace the resurrection not just for eternity but for your present life today. Let the things that await you in heaven give you excitement and endurance on earth.
The Crown of Glory
1 Peter 5:4 says “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” Context shows us that Peter is speaking to Pastors here. This crown is reserved for Pastors who have served faithfully in this life. In Greco-Roman culture leafy crowns were giving for athletic and military victories. It was a crown that faded, its physical glory left as its leaves shriveled, it was a crown that perished. The crowns given by the Lord are not so. Their glory does not fade, their worth does not diminish, their structure does not perish.
The Crown of Righteousness
In 2 Timothy 4:8 Paul say “Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing.” How much do you long for the Lords return? By His grace we have escaped the wrath of God’s judgment for our sin but we will all stand before the Lord and recount how we have used our time. How does that make you feel? Is the flow of your life moving toward God or away from Him? Is it growing in the direction of Christlikeness? Are you allowing the Word of God to infiltrate and examine every piece of your heart? Is your life faith fueled? I don’t ask these things to make you feel guilty. I ask them because we should be checking our heart with questions like these regularly. Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek him.” There are rewards here and now and there are rewards in heaven. Do you live a life that is expectant of rewards from the Lord? How exciting is it to know that there will be a day when the children of God fully embrace the truth that in Heaven there is literally not going to be a single tear, there is literally no pain, no suffering, no negativity, no down cast soul, no financially burdened person, no individual wrought with fear, no person living in captivity because these things do not exist in His kingdom. If we are part of His kingdom, we can look forward to this period and we can embrace His joy, His peace, and His reward right now. Those who love the Lords appearing they will receive the crown of righteousness.
The Crown of Life
James 1:2 tells us to “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James goes on to say in verse 12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Revelation 2:10 also mentions the crown of Life when Jesus address the church at Smyrna – He tells them not to fear the suffering they are about to endure from the devil but to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” I love that God graciously gives this crown. I have been through some trials in this life and I am sure all of you have as well. I know with all my heart that when we put our pain in the hands of the Lord He will tenderly attend to us. But no only that. Our endurance through trials is pleasing to the Lord. James is motivating us to look beyond our burdens and look forward to the blessing that lies ahead. This is exactly what Jesus did! The Scriptures say that for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross. But what happens when we stop faithfully enduring through trial? We risk our faith. We let doubt creep in. If we aren’t listening to the Word then we are listening to the World. Hebrews 6 warns us not to fall away but to earnestly show full assurance of hope until the end being patient to inherit the promises of God. Endurance paired with Faith is a powerful combination yet we cannot endure alone in our own strength.
You might wonder, what do I do when I feel physically weak? You must lean into the God of Isaiah 40 who say “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.” You might wonder, what do I do when I feel spiritually weak, when my faith is thin? We must cry out like the father in Mark 9 who says “I believe, help my unbelief.” That is a cry of humble inadequate faith to the Lord and this kind of honest cry gives the Lord space to work in our lives.
When you have remained steadfast under trial, when you have stood the test, when you have trusted and loved the Lord through your hardship you will receive His royal blessing. He will exchange your earthly tears for heavenly treasure. He will crown you with life everlasting
The Crown of Rejoicing in Heaven
In 1 Thessalonians 2:19 Paul writes to the Thessalonians “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?”
Several years ago I had two young neighbor girls who I adore. These girls had some real hardships in life. They started coming to church with us and I was blessed to come to the altar and be with them as they professed their faith in Christ. Heaven rejoiced and I rejoiced.
Living as kingdom minded people means we care about the lost, it means we care about encouraging and admonishing our Brothers and sisters in Christ and it is knowing that those who we have shared the love of God with, they will be our crown of Rejoicing before the Lord in Heaven!
Oh how we should long for this crown!
The Incorruptible Crown
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Paul was giving the Corinthians a metaphor here, one they could well understand. The city was known for its pagan biennial Isthmian games located 6 miles from Corinth, they were only second in fame to the Olympic games. The crowns athletes competed for were at different times were made from pine, celery, or leaves of a Sweet bay tree. These crowns were fresh and sweet smelling and beautiful for just a moment. Athletes trained hard and submitted themselves to rigorous physical and mental discipline all to win a crown that wouldn’t last. But believers are running for a crown that will never perish, it will suffer no decay, no disintegration. We are not running this race for dead vegetation we are running it for the living God who promises us great and indestructible rewards when we get to heaven.
So how do we live as kingdom minded people? How do we apply these things? Paul gives us four clues here for running our race well, for living a kingdom minded life:
First, he says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
- Kingdom minded living means we have in-view that prize that we are running for and we run to obtain it.
- Begin with the end in mind – Everything we do is focused, motivated, and centered on the end result.
- Knowing the prize helps us navigate life, it helps us push forward, it shows us what we’re running for.
- The ability to be transformed in this life toward Christlikeness is also our prize here and now. Think about that.
Second, Paul says “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.”
- In Kingdom minded living Self-control is key to running our race.
- Scripture teaches us that our fleshly desires will always go against the desires of the spirit (Gal 5:17) so we have to push those fleshly desires aside and purse God’s will for our life
- His boundaries are blessings, and we show our love to Him through our obedience
Third, he says “I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.”
- Being kingdom minded means you know what your aiming at
- What are you aiming at friends?
- Are you pointing your life in the direction Jesus has pointed you?
- Are you shooting for the target He’s given you?
- Do you even know what the target is?
- Do you often feel like your running in circles?
- Do you feel like you’re battling the same battle constantly?
- Are you boxing like your beating the air – striving for a target that isn’t even in front of you?
- Paul is urging us here to be intentional, every day, about every choice.
- Be intentional to obey, intentional to follow Him, intentional to do His will for your life and if you don’t know what that is then be intentional to get on your knees and ask Him because the God of all creation promises that when we draw near to Him He will draw near to us.
Fourth, Paul says “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
- Living a kingdom minded life means you do not disqualify yourself
- Paul was not going to be disqualified from the eternal rewards waiting for him.
- 2 Timothy 2:5 reminds us, “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” We must have the same mindset!
- No sin, no earthly pleasure, no period of pain or suffering is worth throwing away our rewards in heaven.
- Love His law, discipline yourself to obey, because at the end of the day you will stand before God only for the time He gave you and not anyone else. You will not stand for how your parents spent their time, how your husband spent his time, even how your children spent their time – you will stand before the Lord for your time alone.
5 Crowns – Glory, Righteousness, Life, Rejoicing, Incorruptible.
How exciting to know that we are enveloped by His grace which covers every foolish mistake we have made or will make. If you are saved you have eternal life and can live in victory today because of the life death and resurrection of Jesus and beyond all of that you have rewards in Heaven based on how you live your life on earth!
Belonging to one kingdom means resisting the temptations of another. (see Crowned Part 1)
Those outside of the kingdom of God will always try to pervert, distort, and insult the Kings calling for your life. (see Crowned Part 2)
What awaits us in the Kingdom of heaven should motivate us during our life on Earth
My daughter participated in a pageant when she was young, it was her first one and we were blown away when she received a huge crown and trophy and was awarded to go to the state competition.
Have you ever seen those pageant TV shows and the girls who participate in tons of competitions and they have crowns and sashes and trophies all over their walls? I wondered if it was going to turn into something like that with my daughter. Like this would become a new pageant obsession. But at the state competition she told she didn’t think she would do any more pageants. When I asked why she said “Because mom I already have a crown, I don’t need any more.”
That is what our perspective should be like. if you belong to Jesus Christ you are a daughter of the King, you are royalty, if you belong to Him then He will crown you with eternal life. You need not have any other accolade or award in this world. You need not take on or wear anything that the world is trying to set on your head.
Revelation 19:12: “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.” Truly living like a daughter of the king means you live your life acquainting yourself with the King.
Revelation 4:10 says “The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” How beautiful is this! The Saints – having been rewarded for their faithfulness – cast their crowns at the feet of Christ. They are confessing that Jesus Christ deserves all the credit and Jesus gets all the glory because He is the the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, to be honored and glorified today and forever and ever. Amen.
Perhaps you realize that you are not part of the Kingdom of God because you have never asked the Lord to be the King of your life. You don’t have to go on being separated from God’s kingdom, He is ready and willing to adopt you into His family right here and right now. He is fully capable of giving you new life and a new heart. Romans 10:13 says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. If you want to be part of the Kingdom of God you can pray right now, right where your at, you can call upon the Lord, you can ask Him for forgiveness of your sins and to be the Lord of your life eternally.
Perhaps you know you are His daughter, but you need to straighten up your crown. You need to decide to run your race differently by embracing your citizenship in heaven. Perhaps you want to cast your crown before the Lord giving God praise and glory by humbling yourself in prayer.
Don’t delay, the King is ready for you!