|Vol. 16 No. 1 January 2014||
As we have been granted the priceless gift of life in this New Year, we must keep the hope of heaven fresh in our hearts. Jesus said to the church at Smyrna in Revelation 2:10b, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This verse is among some of the most familiar passages in the Book of Revelation. In the Truth for Today Commentary by David L. Roper, a few of his comments on the last part of this passage are as follows: “In context, the phrase until death means ‘even if it means your death.’ Jesus did not promise to deliver these Christians from trouble; rather, He would bring them safely through their trouble. In Jesus’ promise, the crown consists of life—eternal life” (124).
The Lord’s strong encouragement to the church at Philadelphia certainly applies to those of us who want to make heaven our eternal home. Jesus said in Revelation 3:11, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Brother Roper makes this noteworthy comment: “The Christians in Philadelphia may have possessed little—but regarding the important things, they had much: …They were to take a firm grip on what God had given them and never, never, never let go” (180). To let our crown be taken through any circumstance, condition, event, incident or situation is so past comprehension!
It is noted that of the seven churches that Jesus addressed in Revelation chapters 1-3, the congregations at Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only two that received no condemnation, no warning and no impending harm. They are also the only two churches that Jesus spoke of the crown being their reward for a life of perseverance and obedience.
Our beloved brother Paul spoke of that crown in two of his letters. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, he said, “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 [win] 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.”
In his second letter to Timothy nearing the end of his life, Paul wrote, “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 to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul had unshakable assurance and conviction in receiving this ultimate reward.
Earlier in that same letter, Paul wrote to Timothy, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:4-5).
Do we want to receive the crown above all other possible crowns? Then, we too, must run with endurance the race that has been set before us (Hebrews 12:1). James 1:12 urges us to keep the hope of heaven fresh in our hearts. “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.”
One of the many songs that speak of this crown of life is in the final verse of My Jesus, I Love Thee. “In mansions of glory and endless delight, I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow; if ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.” Our love for the Lord is demonstrated in our actions. Receiving the crown of life will be His supreme approval of the actions in our lives.
It is not just getting on an airplane and flying overseas. There is also a lot of mission work to be done in the US. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that we as Christians are not involved with and do not know, see or understand. I do know a little something of this behind the scenes work from watching, helping, and spending time in Winona, MS with Louis and Bonnie Rushmore, Jerry and Paula Bates and Betty Choate at the World Evangelism work in Winona, MS. They take a lot of orders and pack and ship books and tracts all over the world. They do the bill paying and a lot of office work.
The men have to continue to study as they prepare for preaching on Sunday and Wednesday appointments, on lectures, group meetings in different areas of the US to build up the work and win souls to Christ and His church. There are also many articles written and proofed by at least 5 different people. These articles are for Gospel Gazette Online, The Voice of Truth International, Global Harvest, Gospel tracts, books, newsletters, personalized and thank you cards for all contributions for personal and work use and whatever else they need.
The ladies are also busy with writing articles for different Ladies’ Christian magazines, Gospel Gazette Online, The Voice of Truth International, books and many other routine office duties. They are also busy writing and planning for ladies' classes here and overseas, for ladies’ retreats, ladies’ days and wherever else they are needed. Sometimes, they also teach at local congregations where they attend on Wednesday evenings.
There are groups who come in and help with work such as stuffing envelopes with newsletters or financial statements. The Rushmores, Bates and Betty Choate send out over 1,800 of these letters every two months. They also sort and divide tracts into groups of 25 each; the tracts come in bundles of 100, and each box has 2,400 tracts in it, and there are over 100 different tracts.
The warehouse space is stacked with many rows of books and tracts that are sent out all over the world. They come in on trucks and have to be unloaded and sorted into perspective places where they belong. They also have to be sorted and repacked for shipments for overseas and stateside into different boxes because they go to different preachers in different areas.
When these missionary Christians are not in the office, they take laptop computers with them and work on the go. When traveling, they get phone calls for books, articles and many other items. When and if they take a few days for themselves (a vacation), they still are on call. These fine Christians have the Lord and His church first and foremost in their lives. We as Christians in one local congregation should and need to take lessons from our missionaries. Teach, teach and teach!
[Editor’s Note: Sister Martha Noland is a dear friend and preacher’s wife. Bonnie and I stay in her and her husband Bob’s home when we are in Ohio. They stay with us in Winona, MS. In addition, Martha stayed with Bonnie as she recovered from cancer treatments while I was abroad doing mission work. From time to time while visiting us, Martha helped us out at the warehouse/office of the World Evangelism Building. She jotted down her observations in the foregoing article. All of us appreciate her help and moral encouragement. ~ Louis Rushmore]