“THIS IS REALLY LIVING!!!” (James 1:12; Rev. 2:8-11)

“THIS IS REALLY LIVING !!!”
The Crown of LIFE (James 1:12; Rev. 2:8-11)
March 12, 2017 10:30 AM. Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor

TODAY’S SPECIAL This is in honor of this week’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day: What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a 4-leaf clover? A rash of good luck.

INTRODUCTION: The “Crown of Life” is the last of the 5 crowns mentioned in Scripture. It is an unique crown – it is available to every believer, but it is limited by the heart of the believer. Will you receive this crown when you appear before the Savior one day? It is mentioned in 2 passages: James introduces it, and John in Revelation vividly illustrates it. PRAYER

#1. Crown of Life Introduced (James 1:12)
* Here this crown is introduced. And the first thing we notice is the first word. “Blessed”. – HAPPY! [“what are you nuts? Happy in trials?]. Happy!
* James introduces us to GOD’S perspective of what He offers EACH of His children. Note the key words:
(1) perseveres
(2) stood the test
(3) promised – to whom? those who love Him? WHEN? Who love Him enough that in the midst of the trial, they persevere. They trust Him. They love Him. They worship Him. He LOVED THEM FIRST – even before the cross, yet demonstrated at the cross. So why shouldn’t we love Him regardless of the situation.
ILLUSTRATION What if an orchestra conductor got up front, picked up his baton to lead his orchestra, and the violin row started playing immediately. “We like this song. We like our parts. We’re on display.” Then the drummer. And then the trombones. Then Carl on bass guitar. John on keyboard. And then…and then the conductor sits down, for he is no longer needed. BUT WHAT WOULD THE MUSIC SOUND LIKE? The word is cacophony. A mixed garble of confusing sounds, worth nothing.
* POINT: the true Conductor of our lives is worthy to be followed, to be trusted, regardless of the storm or the calm. And He has a crown for all those who love Him, even through the storm. Give Him the glory!

#2. Crown of Life Illustrated (Revelation 2:8-11)
* We must go to Smyrna – not Sherburne, Lebanon, nor even Beaver Meadow. Smyrna! On the west coast of Asia, a seaport city, today’s “Izmir”, heavy Jewish population, very anti-Christian – they looked at Jesus as “the hanged one.” So the Christians were heavily persecuted.
* Note the speaker: red letters? The Lord Jesus! (NOT John!) An intimate, personal letter from the Savior Himself. Oh that we had such a letter. Hello! We do – it’s called “The Bible”. Read it sometime!
* He is called “The First & The Last” and “died and came to life again.” That’s worship in LIVING Savior!
* Note that, with Philadelphia, there is no condemnation against this city nor its church. He commends them for staying faithful in the midst of…suffering. Just like James. Same commentary. Same results.
* Note the first two words He gives them: “I know”. Your affliction and your poverty – even in the midst of a prosperous city which has nothing to do with Him. What else does He – and we – know:
“…that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25)
“…that You can do all things…no purpose of Yours will be thwarted” (42:2)
“…every bird in the mountains” (Ps. 50:11, right after “I own the cattle on a thousand hills”, v. 10)
“any God besides me. I know not one” (Isa. 44:8)
“I know I will not be put to shame” (Isa. 50:6-8 > Jesus!)
“…who you are – the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34, spoken by a demon!
“…that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.” (John 5:42, spoken by Jesus to the religious leaders of his day)
“I know Him [the Father] because I am from Him and He sent me.[Jesus]” (John 7:29)
“…where I cam from and where I am going.” (John 8:14)
“…My sheep”. (John 10:14,27)
“…what it is to be in need, …what it is to have plenty” (Phil. 4:12 – Paul was content!)
“…Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12 – Paul’s last testimony). * I KNOW YOUR AFFLICTION & YOUR POVERTY! I’m in the business of knowing all things!
* Note His commands: “do not be afraid” (v. 10a); “be faithful” (v. 10b). This is an obedience for a long time.
* “Suffer persecution 10 days” (v. 10) – a short time, in comparison with other times in Scripture, and with eternity.
* The overcomer personally receives from His Savior the “crown of life.”
* The overcomer doesn’t suffer “the second death” (v. 11) Gk.: “Gehenna”, initially, the garbage pit outside the cities. Same word is use for “hell”, the “lake of fire.”

CONCLUSION Crown of LIFE – Why? That’s Jesus’ nature, AND that’s our nature in Christ! “I have come that they might have LIFE” (John 10:10); “I am the way, the truth, the LIFE” (14:6); “I am the resurrection and the LIFE” (11:25). “I am the bread of LIFE.” (6:35) We hunger and thirst for NO ONE nor NOTHING else! He will give the crown of LIFE in eternity to those who have so lived their lives with that LOVE!!!!! YOU? close in prayer

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