Posts Tagged ‘2 Timothy 4:7-8’

More than the crown

March 23, 2020

James-1 12The Verse of the Day for March 23, 2020 comes from James 1:12 (NIV):

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Today’s post, a revision of a previous entry, focuses on some of the references to “crowns” found in the Bible. Translated from the Greek word stephanos, the word crown relates to the symbol of victory given to athletes in the Greek games, such as the Olympics or other contests, where winners are honored or crowned with laurel leaves or olive branches. This reference to “the crown of glory” is one of five different crowns mentioned in the New Testament.

Incorruptible crown:

Paul uses athletic imagery in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 where he describes the crown placed on the head of those who win a race. He contrasts this “corruptible” or perishable crown with the “incorruptible” or imperishable crown awaiting believers who discipline themselves and compete lawfully, those who “run their best race and win it”:

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.

Crown of joy

The apostle Paul looked forward to a “crown of joy” or a “crown of rejoicing” to be enjoyed in the resurrection when he is reunited with fellow believers whom he led to the Lord and taught and served.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NKJV):

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

Crown of righteousness

In the second epistle to Timothy, Paul’s offers sobering yet encouraging words to his beloved son in the faith and makes reference to a crown of righteousness awaiting those who have remained faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and those who eagerly awaiting his return:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (New Revised Standard Version)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Crown of life

The Verse of the Day mentions a “crown of life” awaiting the individual who endures trials while carrying out the purposes of God’s plan,

James 1:12:

Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Crown of glory

1 Peter 5:4 speaks of a “crown of glory” awaiting those who fulfill their calling and finish the work that has been set before them:

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In reflecting upon the various aspects of crowns as they relate to athletic endeavors, I also think of what motivates me beyond the desire to receive rewards at the bema or the judgment seat of Christ, in that I am striving to hear something that will make all the time, energy and effort put into living my life for Christ worthwhile. I express that deepest yearning in the poem:

Much More

His lord said to him, “Well done,

good and faithful servant;

you have been faithful over a few things,

I will make you ruler over many things:

enter into the joy of your lord.”

Matthew 25:23

 

More than mere status or the embrace of the crown

Around the head or glory, honor or renown;

More than medals of gold or laurels that fade

With the thundering applause and ceaseless accolade;

More than any crowning achievement or success

Or the rarest prizes eyes could ever witness;

More than the taste of victory every time you try:

Such alluring sweetness can never satisfy.

So much more are these words when the race is finally won,

When we finish the course and cross the finish line,

And stand upon the bema where we shall incline

Our ears to hear God say, “Good and faithful servant, well done.”

We shall bask in ultimate ecstasy of victory

And savor the goodness of God for all eternity.

The phrase “Well done, good and faithful servant” is used in the Parable of the Talents and is the inspiration behind the contemporary rendition of “Well Done” by Erica Campbell:

 

Pressing toward the finish

July 28, 2018

The Verse of the Day for July 28, 2018 comes from Philippians 3:14, but we need to take a look at the preceding verse as well:

Philippians 3:13-14 (Revised Standard Version):00

Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

To understand the passage more fully, we can explore some of the athletic imagery Paul uses in Philippians and elsewhere, particularly his references to “the race.” In this case, “to press toward the mark is to focus intently, to “scope in on” the finish line. The runner blocks everything out except the thin white line which is only visible when the competitors are right upon it. The athletes are “single-minded,” focusing all energy and efforts on finishing the race. Not looking to the right nor to the left, certainly not looking behind, but pressing toward the mark, athletes strive to cross the finish line in first place.

A recent blog post spoke of the Church, the Body of Christ, as God’s crowning achievement and made reference to the crown or the prize in a similar athletic context. Part of the discussion centered on the ending of the race or athletic contest that believers find themselves in today. “The Finish,” a poem written for that particular entry opens this way:

In this present season God is placing a great demand
On those who excel, those seeking to run and win the race.
Though the way seems grueling, we are still guided by His hand.
God exhorts us to run as He sustains us by His grace.
First we cross the finish line, then we mount the victor’s stand.

Philippians 3:13-14 reminds believers that we must finish the race that is set before us. We recognized that we have to cross the finish line before we can receive the prize.

Here are words of encouragement:

As We Finish the Work

Jesus said to them, My food (nourishment)
is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me
and to accomplish and completely finish His work.

John 4:34 (Amplified Bible)

As we finish the work God has sent us to do,
We seek to fulfill all His will and leave our mark.
The Lord will bless and refresh and make all things new.
The fire on the altar enflamed from a small spark
Beckons as we press to reach the top of the mount.
As servants of the living God, we have been blessed
To reap the good of this life’s bountiful harvest.
We reflect upon God’s favor as we recount
All the days of our lives in multiples of five,
Having received the fullness of grace upon grace,
As we persevere not just to survive but thrive
And triumph with renewed strength to finish our race.
Along the way will be many whom we will inspire
To serve the Lord, for this has been our heart’s desire.

A related passage in I Corinthians 9:24–27 offers a similar athletic analogy:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.

Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

As spiritual athletes, we continue to learn firsthand the fight we are in is real, and we are not just “shadow-boxing.” We recognize, however, we must “endure a great fight of afflictions” as mentioned in Hebrews, and “run with patience the race that is set before us.” We have already won, but we simply need to finish the course. Then we will be able to say along with Paul:

2 Timothy 4:7–8:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith: Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day: and not to me only but also all who have loved His appearing.

As I reflect upon my track and field experiences back in the day in high school, I now recognize many times we knew the outcome of the entire track meet beforehand, based on the accumulation of points from all the previous track and field events, with the last two races being relays. Drawing a spiritual parallel with the spiritual athletic arena we find ourselves in today, the believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot lose; however, the challenge is for each individual believer to finish the race, having achieved his or her P.B. (personal best).

In a similar way, we encourage all believers in their individual races to

Cast aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets,
Forget the past, press toward the mark,
Look straight ahead with no regrets.

We close with a beautiful song by the Wilds based on Philippians 3:13-14: “Press toward the Mark”:

Finishing the good work: Fight the fight of faith

May 27, 2018

The Verse of the Day for May 27, 2018 relates Paul’s final words, as he departs from the believers at Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome, the place of the final phase of his journey.

Acts 20:24 (New Living Translation)

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

This verse also brings to mind Paul’s admonition to Timothy expressed in 1 Timothy 6:12, the inspiration behind this exhortation in verse:

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life,
to which you were also called and have confessed the good
confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith, and be strong in the Lord.
Put on the whole armor; take up the shield and sword.
Draw from your inner resource, the Spirit of Might.
Step out of darkness into the marvelous light.
Keep the unity of the faith; walk in one accord.

What the past has consumed the Lord has now restored.
Blessed and highly favored, for you are His delight.
He watches over you; you never leave His sight.
Fight the good fight of faith.

We sing “No tender voice like Thine, can peace afford.”
From the endless fountain of blessings He has poured
Out His peace to soothe our souls with songs in the night.
No good thing will He withhold from them that walk upright.
Exercise the unfailing power of God’s Word:
Fight the good fight of faith.

Jude verse 3 also calls to our attention our fight for the faith:

Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.

In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 in the Amplified Bible Paul makes a similar declaration, as he recognizes that his departure from this life is close at hand:

7 I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.

8 [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).

Throughout the New Testament Paul uses a number of athletic references, such as “finishing my course, or race.” In such instances my thoughts often turn toward my high school track days when I ran anchor on the mile relay. Once the baton hit my hand, I grabbed it and focused on completing the race. If the other three members of the team had given me a lead, my task was to maintain it or if we were behind when I got the baton, I had to make up the distance and then pull ahead before crossing the finish line. My desire was not just to finish but to finish strong, to press toward the mark for prize and to win.

I recall that many times the outcome of the track meet was known before completing the last two races which were relays. As members of God’s Team with Jesus Christ as our champion, our captain, we have already won, but we still need to finish our course, the race that is set before us. The believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot possibly lose; however, the challenge is to finish our individual race with our P.B. (personal best). So that like Paul we can also make known that “I have finished my race with joy. . . I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

We close with this musical reminder: “Fight the Good Fight of Faith”:

The Lord our judge, lawgiver, king

August 7, 2016

Isaiah-33-22

Revised and re-posted is the following:

For the Verse of the Day for July 7, 2016 we look to Isaiah 33:22 (AMP):

For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us.

Looking at this verse, we note special emphasis on three aspect of the Lord God Almighty, demonstrating three levels of authority in a personal way: The Lord is “our judge, our lawgiver, and our king,” representing the three branches of government—judicial, legislative, and executive–embodied in a single entity:

“Our judge”

Abraham makes reference to “the Judge of all the earth” in Genesis 18:25:

25 Far be it from You to do [a]such a thing—to strike the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right [by executing just and righteous judgment]?”

Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord is described, not just as a judge, but He is a righteous judge, as Psalm 103:6 reminds us that “The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”

Psalm 9:8 further describes our judge:

And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

In the New Testament, we find that a new judge has been appointed:

Acts 10:42

And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.

Finally, in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT) at the end of his earthly life, Paul makes this declaration that is layered with hope:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

“Our lawgiver”

Not only is the Lord our judge, He is our lawgiver, one who draws up and enacts laws.

James 4:12 reveals:

There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

God is the ultimate lawgiver who has implemented all the laws of nature, such as “the law of gravity,” laws that relate to the moral and social behavior of humanity, along with all the other laws of the universe. Psalm 19:7-10 also relates these truths regarding the law of the Lord:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

The Law of the Lord is given that those who follow His commands would be blessed and prosper:

Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless], who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.

 “Our king”

The final attribute of God expressed metaphorically is that of the Lord, who is our king.

Jeremiah 23:5 prophetically speaks of this king:

Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth

Isaiah 32:1 also further describes our king:

Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.

As the ultimate authority: “our king” rules and reigns in righteousness; indeed, Romans 4:17 describes His kingdom this way:

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Dr. S.M. Lockridge offers this stirring declaration entitled “That’s My King”:

In 1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV) we find  this blessing referring to the King:

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We conclude with a resounding rendition of this benediction: “Now unto the King Eternal” by Don Moen:

How comforting to know that as believers, the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king.

To finish my course

May 27, 2014

Acts-20 24

Taken from Acts 20:24, the Verse of the Day for May 27, 2014 relates Paul’s final words, as he departs from the believers at Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome, the place of the final phase of his journey.

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

This verse also brings to mind Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 6:12:

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 in the Amplified Bible Paul makes a similar declaration, as he recognizes that his departure from this life is close at hand:

I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.

[As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).

Throughout the New Testament Paul uses a number of athletic references, such as “finishing my course, or race.” In such instances my thoughts often turn toward my high school track days when I ran anchor on the mile relay. Once the baton hit my hand, I grabbed it and focused on completing the race. If the other three members of the team had given me a lead, my task was to maintain it or if we were behind when I got the baton, I had to make up the distance and then pull ahead before crossing the finish line. My desire was not just to finish but to finish strong, to press toward the mark for prize and to win.

I recall that many times the outcome of the track meet was known before completing the last two races which were relays. As members of God’s Team with Jesus Christ as our champion, our captain, we have already won, but we still need to finish our course, the race that is set before us. The believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot possibly lose; however, the challenge is to finish our individual race with our P.B. (personal best). So that like Paul we can also make known that “I have finished my race with joy. . . I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

Listen to the Overtones as they sing of “Unstoppable Joy,” inspired by Acts 20; 24:

Righteousness and Judgment: The Righteous Judge

August 6, 2013

psalm_119-160

My morning meditation focuses once more on the Verse of the Day for August 6, 2013:

Psalm 119:160

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. (KJV)

The phrase “righteous judgments” brought to mind one of my favorite passages from Psalm 19 which uses various expressions of the Word of God, such as the law of the Lord, statues, and commandments. I especially recall verse 9:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

This passage from Psalm 19:7-11 is offered as part of Christian Praise Worship with Lyrics in this video:

These verses also remind us of the truth expressed in Psalm 103:6:

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

As believers we, of course, recognize that, indeed, God is the “righteous judge” spoken of in 2 Timothy 4:7-9:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (KJV)

2 Timothy 4--7-8

Psalm 119: 160 and related verses from the Old and New Testaments remind us that God is righteous and executes righteousness in all His judgments.