“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..” Hebrews 12:1
Sometimes, as we struggle through life, I find it is good to remember what the goal is that we are working so hard for. I call it a Heavenly Time-Out, so I can reorganize my thoughts and desires and hopes. It isn’t just eternal life with Jesus, or fear of burning in an eternal lake of fire, that motivates a Christian to keep running the race with endurance. There are other things that sweeten the pot for me.
Sometimes, I think I’m running well, with endurance, surrounded by my own cloud of witnesses, and I feel like God
Himself is looking down at me, and He is seeing this:
But, it is entirely evident to me that I am fooling myself. I think a more honest picture of my running the race looks more like this:
It makes me feel sorry for my cloud of witnesses. How boring is my little race to behold.. :(
But, I am determined to not give up, and today I am reminding myself just how impermanent this life is, and sprinkling some goals back into my walk with the Lord today.
There is no fear of judgment for me.
The Christian’s judgment will not be a judgment for sin. Jesus took all sin upon himself on the cross, past, present and future. Instead, this judgement will be one that Jesus will assign our rewards, or take them away, if we lived in disobedience. It will be the ultimate Awards Banquet…. These are some of the rewards that are mentioned in the Bible.
- The Incorruptible Crown – given to those who master the old nature (1 Cor. 9:25-27).
- The Crown of Rejoicing – given to soul winners (Prov. 11:30, Dan. 12:3, 1 Thess. 2:19-20).
- The Crown of Life – given to those who successfully endure temptation (Jas. 1:2-3, Rev. 2:10).
- The Crown of Righteousness – for those who especially love the doctrine of the rapture (2 Tim. 4:8).
- The Crown of Glory – given to faithful preachers and teachers (Acts 20:26-28, 1 Pet. 5:2-4).
It isn’t a day to fear, as the unsaved will have, but is instead a day that we will see if our true motives in doing good can withstand the fires. Each and every act will be tested by fire, and all that will remain is what was truly good. I imagine we will all be surprised at how little we’ve done will make it through the test, but at the end of the judgment, our souls will still be saved. And in our excitement and awe of Jesus’s glory, whatever crowns we do receive will be cast at His feet.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:11-15)
There are some that I’m not entirely sure if they are going to be actual, widespread rewards, but this one is one I kind of hope I am in the running for…It sounds so mysterious and beautiful.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Revelations 2:17
The acknowledgement of God’s recognition has to be the greatest reward of all:
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:21)
The Bible really doesn’t go into specifics about heaven. Why? Because “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). Our minds simply cannot wrap around the glory that awaits us. We have no real point of reference to begin a comparison with down here on earth.
Here is some descriptions that barely scratch the surface of what we are anticipating:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the Throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the Throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” – Revelation 21:1-4
Revelation 21:2-3 tells us we will have a new home called “New Jerusalem”. Jerusalem means, “city of peace”. This New Jerusalem is huge! It will be about 1,500 miles wide, 1,500 miles long, and 1,500 miles high. (Revelation 21:15-16). The city will have 12 gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel
written on them. The foundation will be twelve layers to it with the names of the twelve apostles written on them. (Revelation 21:12-17)And the entire city will be made of gold and jewels.
The walls will be made of pure diamond and the city of pure gold – clear as glass (Revelation 21:18). The foundation will be filled with precious stones (Revelation 21:19-21). As God dwells in this city, the light from His glory will shine through these stones producing a brilliant rainbow of colors! More important than anything else is the fact that we will be with our Lord forever. From His throne flows the River of Life. It will be perfect, clear as crystal. And we will see Him face to face (Revelation 22:4). We shall worship Him and be His people and He will be our God.
Sometimes, all of this life seems filled to the brim with one disaster after another, and there are times, at least for me, that I feel like I will drown in all the tears that I cry. On more than one occasion, I’ve wondered if my heart can take anymore pain, or if God can really hear my cries. And He always answers me, assuring me that yes, He is aware of what is going on, and that this is just a short time of suffering. With His strength, I will make it out of this valley, too.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”