Party Time!

god-is-faithful-romans-11110-1-638

Do you like a party?  This parable in Matthew 22:1-14 is a personal invitation to a great wedding feast with Jesus as the host.  This parable illustrates how God sent Jesus into our world asking all people to attend His joyful celebration.  In this story the people who should have come to the party turned down the invitation and made poor excuses about why they couldn’t come.  “Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.”  Matthew 22:9  This means that anyone can come if they will only set aside their pride and belief in their own goodness and look to God with humility.  You see when we trust in Jesus we trade our shaky virtues and downright offenses for His permanent righteousness.  It seems as though we either find man trying to get to God his way or we find the redemptive cross of Jesus.  So we exchange something valueless and empty for something of immeasurable worth.  “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins.  Then in exchange He poured God’s goodness into us.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 What a deal!

Jesus always takes us to the cross, the beautiful, the ultimate, the undeniable cross.  Can we deny its power, the absolute fulfillment and crowning glory of God’s love?  There everything bad that has happened to us can be redeemed.  All questions are answered at the cross.  But the full understanding of the events of our lives won’t be disclosed till heaven.  Oh, the powerful wonderful cross.  How we thank our God for something big enough to absorb all hurts, personal violations, and sorrows.  Because Jesus is the final sacrifice for sin we can now truly forgive others.  When we go to the cross and leave our burdens there we can experience resurrection, the new life we need so badly.  God’s divine power, the very same power that brought Jesus back from the dead, is now available to help us live life to the fullest.  We can conquer the persistent pull toward wrong responses and faulty character.  The cross is Gods way to salvation.

Will we as a nation and as individuals respond in humility, truly sorry for thinking we could live without God?  The famous hymn by Isaac Watts reminds us, “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away, it was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day.”  Friends, together let us find our happiness as we look forward to the great wedding feast where Jesus will be the beloved honored guest.  Yes, we were born to experience a relationship with the one and only God who is faithful to save.

Click here to read a Dutch carol about the beautiful hope found in Jesus.

Got Attitude?

harvest

What’s your idea of fairness?  Matthew 20:1-16 teaches us that our personal concept of fairness may not always be in agreement with Gods.  This parable goes a long way toward opening our eyes to the heart of a God who is much more than fair.

In first century Israel there was so much to do whether planting, cultivating, or harvesting the vineyards.  It was hard physical labor working in the heat of summer.  And so the owner of one vineyard went out very early in the day to hire workers.  At 6:00 in the morning he hired laborers for a whole denarius, a Roman soldiers pay for a day.  At intervals throughout the day three more groups of laborers were hired all for the same pay.  They were grateful for their work until this climatic moment.  What!  Is it fair to give all the same amount?  “Those fellows worked only one hour and yet you’ve paid them just as much as those of us who worked all day in the scorching heat.”  Matthew 20:11, 12 TLB

Do we have the right to dictate how the landowner pays his workers?  Wasn’t his decision to pay the same an act of mercy?  Our demand of fairness from God reveals more about us than we would like.  Could this be exposing attitudes of selfish ambition and pride?  “The world’s definition of fairness is based on the sliding scale of society’s values and the changing will of the majority.  But God doesn’t buy that definition.  That’s why He will never be ‘fair’ from society’s perspective.  His values are higher, far exalted above yours.  His timetable is different… that’s why I praise you for being just, not fair.”  Joni Earekson Tada

As believers in Christ we must put aside a competitive spirit and think like Jesus.  In Jesus’ day people often felt superior because of their heritage or faithful obedience to the law.  But salvation, God’s great act of mercy, is not an elite privilege for a few but a worldwide invitation to all.  As we struggle in a world that often lacks attitudes of mercy and justice we can remember Jesus gives us something far greater than fairness.  He lived the sum total of mercy and justice.  This is the wonderful grace of Jesus.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;
O the Wonderful Grace of Jesus reaches me!

Baya the Beloved

Video

IMG_0280

This is the true story of Baya the Bunny.  Baya is a girl with a past.  She was a bunny who had once been abandoned.  She also has a crippled leg.  A few years ago she was given to my grand-daughter Anna but ended up being cared for by my daughter Rachel when Anna married.  Baya was pretty skittish and standoffish from the beginning.  She didn’t want to come out of her cage and would just stare off into space for hours on end.  Baya didn’t like to be picked up or held.  She was just a loner.  Could a bunny be described as unable to give and receive love?

Then one day, about a month ago, Baya developed stroke-like symptoms.  Her head tilted to the side and her legs would no longer support her so Rachel took her to the vet.  The doctor was very kind and concerned for her welfare.  She thought Baya may have acquired a brain infection and so the bunny was put on antibiotics.

Amazingly, there are new developments for Baya.  She seems to understand her need for help.  She now allows others to hold her and she loves to be petted.  Rachel even does physical therapy on the bunny’s little legs.  Rachel’s husband Shawn also does much of the bunny’s care including cleaning her matted and soiled fur.  When she was taken back to the vet for a checkup the doctor said she would not get better and recommended euthanasia (their word).  Rachel and Shawn said, “no!”  Rachel had discovered a website that explains the signs that show if a bunny wants to live.  Baya still can’t stand but she’s eating very well and grooms herself showing she is entering into life.

For Rachel, who has a chronic illness, loving Baya has been a window into the heart of God’s love.  Just because living creatures are reduced in their abilities and cannot perform as they once did is no reason to diminish their worth.  In God’s eyes we all have permanent value.  He teaches us wonderful lessons about love, His kind of unconditional love.  “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:6

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”  Matthew 10:29  Thank you God for not only seeing every sparrow that falls but caring about a little bunny named Baya.  She is no longer Baya the Bashful but Baya the Beloved.

Click here to read about an inspiring dog named Pegasus.

Click here to see a fun video about talented dogs.

Hidden Treasure

2013_11_treasure-chest

If you could choose a fabulous treasure that would bring you great happiness what might you pick?  Before you begin your list you may want to consider this compelling wisdom from God’s Word.  “Those who love and follow me are indeed wealthy.  I fill their treasuries.”  Prov 8:21   To find success in life it is crucial to remember the Giver of every good blessing.

Our giving God offers us wealth that far exceeds mere money.  In fact it is impossible to live for God and for money.  Scripture explains that no one can serve two masters for one will rise to the top taking our loyalty.  God and money become rivals that require us to choose.  If we decide to put God first we will reject materialism.  “When we give first loyalty to money we live for temporal things and walk away from God’s total claim upon our lives.”  William McDonald   Luke 12:34 tells us plainly, “Wherever your treasure is there your heart and thoughts will also be…”

Could it be that some blessings seem hidden at first?  The way we choose to live can be a continual blessing to others.  “A good man’s speech reveals the rich treasures within him.”  Matt 12:35   Our words change lives every day for better or for worse.  We are called to encourage one another to be rich in love and good works.  “There is treasure in being good…”  Prov 15:6   We often yield great dividends by simply returning to what we know is right.  “Ill-gotten gain brings no lasting happiness, right living does.”  Prov 10:2   What a joy to discover we are God’s light to this world, a true treasure.  “But this precious treasure- this light and power that now shine within us….”  2 Cor 4:7   Isn’t it exciting to realize that we as believers are God’s personal treasure?

Why is Jesus the source of all life’s incredible riches?  We serve and worship our unstoppable Jesus because in him alone we find the strength to continue on.  He is able to meet our needs for happiness and peace of mind.  It may be hard to believe but in fact all we could ever desire can be found in knowing him.  “In him lie hidden all the might untapped treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Col 2:3   There is no need to search any longer.  Our powerful God has ensured that Jesus is sufficient and will always be our real and lasting treasure.

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts on thankfulness and blessings.

Click here to read about the blessing of finding God’s peace.