James 1:12-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
Loving God Under Trials
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Crowns! For you and me? This is what God promises.
--"The crown of life which the Lord has promised, to those who love Him"-(James 1:12), will be given.
--Do you love Him? A crown awaits all who do!
My wife and I have visited the Tower of London; very historic, beside the Thames River, seeing all royal crowns, and elaborate jewels, guardedly displayed.
--The most lovely was worn by Queen Elizabeth, as she was crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1953.
--It is priceless, both in beauty, and what it represents, of dignity, authority, and honor.
--Few have earthly crowns. All may have a heavenly!
You may think, Why give thought to some crown? Why?
--Because God does. He has several He offers to us.
--"Crown of life, crown of righteousness, crown of rejoicing, and crown of glory," we shall consider.
Think of them as Olympic medals, worth striving for.
--As rewards, for those who live, or suffer, for God.
--Another of the many ways God blesses believers.
--Crowns! Something to know about .. strive for!
In glory Jesus wears a heavenly crown, but carrying a cross up Calvary's Hill, He wore a crown of thorns.
--"In His own body," He bore our sins. To save us.
--Jesus, died on a cross. Bless God, He arose alive!
--He proved He is God. Ascended back to heaven.
--There He is praying for us. Is soon coming again.
--So crowns have a place. For us. Let's explore.
I. THE CROWN OF LIFE - TO ALL WHO LOVE THE LORD.
--For those who endure testings, trials, in triumph. ".. Will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (v 12).
--"Who endures temptations." That is testings.
--God does not "tempt" anyone - the devil does that.
--God does allow testings to prove and improve us.
--As we endure these, in faith and patience, we win.
--"Endure to the end." "Love Him." A crown awaits.
Every "born again" person has eternal life in Christ.
--But not all receive the "crown of life."
--The new birth is free. The "crown of life," earned.
--Like every athlete who goes to the olympics, or the Rose Bowl, that privilege is earned, by his effort.
--We to triumph over "testing" and loving the Lord.
As we mature, we face testings, trials of faith.
--These call for discipline. Training. Endurance.
--Nowhere does God promise an escape from all these.
--But He does promise, "to be with us," and His help.
--We are so much better off, if we know the Lord!
One without God, without Christ, needs our prayers.
--Adversity can drive us low. Troubles can multiply.
--Without the Lord, one has no spiritual reserve.
--No heavenly resources, of His Word, to gain from.
--Easy to resort to drink or drugs. Or deep despair.
--Those who often need the Lord most, go farther away.
--They need love. Help. The Lord God. Need us.
You and I need to "let your light shine." His light.
--Queen Victoria did! A good Queen; a Christian.
--Her statue is in front of famous Buckingham palace.
--Often publicly she said, "I hope Jesus returns during my reign, so I may lay my earthly crown at His dear feet." How many today take such a stand?
--She had trials, but "loved the Lord, endured them."
--In heaven this Queen possesses "a crown of life."
--Common folks, as we, may have it also!
II. A CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS - WHO LOVE HIS APPEARING.
--Another crown, "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness .. to all who love His appearing," we read in II Timothy 4:8. To "all who love His appearing," that is Christ's coming again, one day.
--This is a "crown of righteousness." For holiness.
Love for the Lord helps overcome our temptations.
--Love for His appearing strengthens righteousness.
--We want to please God. To be ready for His return.
--Like many of God's promises, a crown is for saints.
--Those who, in His Word and Prayer, seek godliness.
--Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
Those close to Christ are blessed - here and hereafter.
--"No good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly before Him"(Psalm 84:11). For the godly.
--We stand up to temptation as we kneel in prayer!
--Without the Lord God, who can live righteously?
If a thing is right, it can be done, depending on God.
--If a thing is wrong, it can be done, without.
--As a rule, Christians seek to avoid evil things.
--They seek to do as Jesus did, and commands - we do.
How can we know what is pleasing-to God, and proper?
--Here are four simple ways, every age can use.
1. The Bible teaches us, what is right and wrong.
2. For that not specific, ask God, in prayer.
3. Seek the wise counsel of pastors and believers.
4. A Spirit-sharpened conscience is also helpful.
Most of what we face, others have, before us; and, we can learn from them without making our own mistakes.
--The ear of God is open 24/7 for us to call on Him.
--Like an axe, conscience needs to be sharpened.
--The life of Christ is like a compass, to guide us.
Some things - like dating, marriage, problems, daily decisions - we need to ask, "What would Jesus do?"
--In such, "What would Jesus do - and have me do?"
--May it not disobey any of God's commands.
--May it help others. May it bring us real peace.
--All this and more help us gain a righteous crown.
--"There is laid up for me (and you) the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me .. also to all who love His appearing."
--Do you love and look forward to the Lord's coming?
--Being ready, qualifies one for this fine crown.
III. A CROWN OF GLORY - FOR CHRISTIAN SERVICE.
--We find it in I Peter 5:4, "When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory..."
--This is a crown of glory that does not fade away as those of the original Olympics. God's are eternal.
--The context of this verse enhances its contents.
--This is for our work and witness, for the Lord.
--Have we done our best. For God? Or just for self?
Each Bible crown is for a specific purpose, or goal.
--This one is "a crown of glory .. fades not away."
-—It is for glorifying God. Honoring the Lord Jesus.
--There are about 12 different words used for "glory."
--They reflect the diamond like holiness and achievements of Almighty God. His majesty, power, grace!
--Like, "The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament (the earth) shows His handiwork" (Ps. 19:1).
--The glory of God in a newborn. Or one born again!
--And we will see it all, share a "crown of glory".
--I pray that for everyone .. everywhere. You. Me.
You see, these are incentives to spiritual excellence for every believer in the Lord to strive for.
--Not only to please God, serve others .. we benefit!
--Whatever is "a crown of glory," let's not miss it.
King Edward VIII, crowned 1/20/1936, King of England.
--But in less than a year, he gave up his crown!
--He did not value it highly. George became king.
--Gave the crown to his brother, "let George do it."
--Let's seek, and keep, the crown God meant for us.
--Don't let tears, temptations, trials, hinder us.
IV. A CROWN OF REJOICING - FOR SOUL WINNERS.
--"Of rejoicing!" Don't you like that? A joyous one.
--"What is our hope, joy, or crown of rejoicing ..?"
--I Thessalonians 2:19-20 tells us, "Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" It is for those we have won to the Lord!
--A soul-winners crown, For any part in saving souls.
--Those who did their best, witnessing to win others.
Have you ever tried to win another to the Lord Jesus?
--When they trust Him, doesn't it give you joy? Much!
--But think how much more, when rewarded of the Lord!
--We must be winsome - prayerfully, Spirit-filled-to win some. We won't win them all; Jesus didn't.
--But sow the seed. Let God give the harvest.
--"God gives the increase." Let our "light shine."
--"Hold fast, that no one take your crown" (Rev 3:11).
These are crowns for you. Anyone, who loves the Lord.
--Who follow Jesus.
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 30