Hope, Joy, Crown, Glory

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will
glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?
Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

I Thessalonians 2:19-20

     Recently my wife and I attended a wedding which was similar to all other weddings but singularly different in one respect.  The music was superb, the attendants did their duties properly, the pastor’s comments were appropriately done and the couple themselves did a commendable job with their vows and greeting of guests.  Everyone gathered for the wedding supper and one by one they took their places at the banquet hall.  The flowers, the lighting, the tables of food were all ready for the bride and groom to appear.  And appear they did, to the shouts and congratulations of everyone.  They took their seats at the usual elevated table with the attendants, and the wedding feast was about to begin.  At this point the father of the bride stood up to ask the blessing.  But before the blessing was given, he paused a moment and then did something we had never seen at any previous wedding.  He related that the wedding was made possible to a significant degree by the efforts, time and prayers for the preceding five years which had produced spiritual fruit in preparation for the wedding.   As he asked them to stand and be recognized by all the guests, a couple sitting off to the side of the crowd slowly arose.  With joy the father continued recounting his thankfulness for all they had done to make this marriage possible.

On our way home from the wedding, my wife remarked that it reminded her of a wedding that will take place in the future.  It will be one of the most grand events in all eternity, the presentation of the bride of Christ (The Church) to the groom. (Christ) It has been called the marriage supper of the Lamb and its account is found in Revelation 19:7-9.  “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)  Then the angel said to me, “Write;  ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!‘ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’”   This wedding supper will be like none other we have ever attended.  Will it be located on the crystal sea, as described in Revelation, with 10,000 times 10,000 angels in attendance?  Will the Heavenly Father be seated on his throne of sapphire, resembling jasper and carnelian, with the radiance of His Glory resembling an emerald?  Will He, in unspeakable Glory, condescend to leave the throne and begin to tell us of His joy in the presence of the bride and then to proceed to make introductions of all those who have chosen to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him with His work in the lives of individuals?  Will He, one by one, call out the names of those people and explain what they have done; from great to small, from known to unknown, to those faithful with small things to those faithful with great things, those who went forth and preached and those who stayed and prayed, bringing to the remembrance of all the culmination of His words in I Corinthians 15:58.  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (KJV)  There will be much rejoicing at the wedding supper of the Lamb.  This side of eternity, however, we are given a window of time in which to prepare for that celebration.  The choice is ours as to the degree in which we desire to participate in the celebration of the joy of our Heavenly Father as He welcomes the bride at the wedding supper.

The Apostle Paul’s purpose in life is stated in Colossians 1:28-29.  “So naturally we proclaim Christ.  We warn everyone we meet, we teach everyone we can all that we know about Him, so that if possible we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ.  And this is what I am working at all the time with all the strength that God gives me.” (Phillips Version)  In I Thessalonians 2:19-20, Paul proclaims that others are his hope, his joy, his glory, and his crown.  Is our hope the same?  Or does our hope fasten on things of the world?  Does our joy come from seeing others mature in faith?, Or does it fluctuate depending on temporal issues?  Is the glory we seek that which comes from the world, or is it that which our Heavenly Father shares with us in the day of His celebration.  Are we living for a crown from men, or are we investing our lives with others in such a way that their appearance in Christ’s presence as part of His church will be our crown?  May His Spirit so direct our lives in such a way that we can say with Paul in the Lord’s presence that the bride of Christ has been our hope, our joy, our crown, and our glory.

In Christ, Richard Spann

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