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.
This week I have been overcome with the sense that our trials and tests; not only as Americans, but as Christians, are soon to be upon us. Any number of respected economists are predicting an imminent collapse of the dollar, our economic system, and our society. Then there are the spiritual watchmen, who point out the prophecies of the Bible that are playing out in real time, and share their own personal revelations of these days. None of it bodes well for the world.
And none of this should take us by surprise, nor should we think it can be avoided. The Bible tells us it will all come to pass. From the Prophets in the Old Testament to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to the Apostle John in the New Testament, we are told that we will struggle and be persecuted in this life, but that faith in our Savior will be rewarded in the next. Our faith will be tested; our ability to trust in God will be challenged, and in the end, we all stand before Him to receive our just rewards.
So the fact that the trials are coming, is a given. The question is this: will we be able to resist the temptation to deny Him in order to make things easier for ourselves; or will we endure because of our strong foundation and belief in the saving grace of Christ? Will we stand for Him when the world promises certain death, clinging to the hope of eternal life in the world to come?
I pray that you are sure of your decision! You must be aware that you will have to make some difficult decisions in the coming days, months and years. In fact, in Revelation 2:10, Jesus's instructions to the Church at Ephesus is valid for us today: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
As in James 1:12, the Crown of Life is a promise and a reward for enduring the trials about to come. This crown is available to all believers, but is especially precious to those who endure sufferings, who bravely confront persecution for Jesus, even to the point of death. In Scripture the word “life” not only shows a relationship that is right with God, but is a description of who Jesus is to us ... He gives us spiritual "life" by bestowing on us "the living water" and the "bread of life".
What do we have to do to receive this Crown of Life? Our Scripture today says it is promised to all those who love God. And how do we love Him? By following His commandments. And I don't think there is one of us who can say our culture and the world are not doing everything they can to condemn us for honoring those commandments and "remaining steadfast".
But endure we must! So, as we encounter and persevere through the inevitable trials, pains, heartaches, and tribulations—whether sooner or later—let us keep our eye on that prize, and receive the crown of life that awaits us. It is by God's design and desire that we find ourselves living in these days; and it is through His strength and authority that we will be victorious!
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