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!

Coming Home

start_over1Dear believers in Jesus, I bring you simply a plea.  I encourage you to receive a message of repentance and reconciliation with God.  As Christians we live where Jesus reigns, in a world within the world.  The Kingdom of God has set up residence within us.  In God’s time we decided that Christ held the best plan for living so we took Him up on His offer of both complete forgiveness and a life of purpose.  We all still have persistent struggles but we are never expected to change ourselves.  That is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.  “…the Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you to please him.” 1 Peter 1:2 Living Bible.

And yet something is profoundly amiss.  Too many believers are giving up on being led and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Often by default we are turning to another power.  Could it be Christians are purchasing property and establishing a second residence in the demonic kingdom?  Perhaps we haven’t spoken in plain enough words.  Ungodly influences can saturate our lives.  Do we no longer believe in the consecrated, abundant life that was promised us at the moment of spiritual conception?  Could we be pushing our senses beyond what they can absorb when we read or watch movies depicting the occult, violence, or explicit sexual content?  What cannot be processed will be acted out in some kind of overflow often leaving us hardhearted and insensitive to both God and others.  We live out anger, arguing, and bad language when we take in an impure bombardment of both mind and emotions.  We can become sick inside through frequent violations of God’s principles.  “Obey God because you are His children; don’t slip back into your old ways- doing evil because you knew no better. But be holy now in everything you do…” 1 Peter 1:14, 15 Living Bible.  Mental, emotional, and physical illness can develop after too many times of saying no to conscience and the wisdom of God revealed in His Word.

At times we all experience pressure even to the point that we don’t know which way to turn.  It’s easy to make family the whipping boy for our stresses because we haven’t walked closely with God, relying on him to bear our burdens.  We have been made in the image of God and only by returning to Him will we find relief.  As Creator He knows how we work, what makes us tick, and how we can become happier, healthier people.  We can overcome our doubts, fears, and struggles as we acknowledge that through the precious blood spilt at Calvary we walk away from the cross not only forgiven but whole.  We have been given a brand new lease on life with fresh clean pages to begin an exciting new story.  Turn the corner and dance like King David, praise with positive declarations about our Heavenly Father, and plead the blood of Jesus Christ to rescue and protect our minds.  Let’s pour out our feelings, our deepest longings before God, lifting our heart to God in song.  It’s time to take down that elaborate front of self-righteousness and pride.  Dismantle that false sense of security that says because we are Christians we are ok. Kick in those rotten boards of jealousy, gossip, and unforgiveness.  With God’s help we can build again!

Dear believers, take this opportunity to start over, to live again under God’s ways outlined carefully, perfectly in the Bible.  Let us have only one resident address- PO BOX Kingdom of God.  We don’t have to be unhappy!  God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the greatest holy trio known to man, are available every moment to help and deliver us from the worst scenario known to man, our destructive sin problem.  Don’t ignore the path to victory!  God did so much to make a way for us.  We don’t belong to any part of the darkness.  “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”  1 John 1:5  Living Bible.  We can step out into the light and enjoy all God has made for us and planned for us.  We were specifically created for such a time as this.  Friends, please believe me when I say it isn’t too late.  With all His heart Jesus bids us welcome back.  Come home to Jesus.  Come home.

Click here to read another bloggers encouraging article about the Conflict of Kindness.

 

The Pursuit of Power

yeast-used-bread-making_f299efb4b5d218a3

Faith in Jesus is unbelievably powerful.  Warning!  Believers may experience a multitude of explosions of resurrection life.  This dynamic Christian life continues to inspire and move us toward maturity.  In Matthew 13:33 our faith is compared to yeast.  It starts out small but quickly spreads.  Although yeast might seem to be a minor ingredient, it multiplies until it has affected the entire loaf. Let’s take a look at how faith grows through a relationship with Christ.  It’s truly phenomenal that when we reach out and receive God’s help we are guaranteed to move forward, developing Christian character and the ability to make good choices.

Our greatest support for the challenges we face is the mighty Holy Spirit who is a very determined helper.  Jesus declared, “…I will ask the Father and he will give another Comforter and he will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.”  John 14:16,17 LB  The Holy Spirit is the presence of God within us, helping us live as God wants.  “…Out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.”  Ephesians 3:16 LB   What a terrific start!  Here are abundant resources that far outshine any talents we may have.

Romans eight asks this compelling question.  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”  Romans 8:35 KJV   This is an unshakeable love that gives us warmth and kindness every moment of our existence.  It is also a love that teaches us righteous standards, leading us to excel in every area.  “…We never give up.  Though our bodies are dying our inner strength in the Lord is growing everyday.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 LB   Yes, faith and love give us real staying power.  Whether we are experiencing fatigue, pain or discouragement we need never despair!  Our very real weaknesses cry out for Christ’s resurrection power which is immediately available through the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Jesus’ extravagant love left us a very special gift.  “I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart.” John 14:27 LB  Despite continual inner struggles such as temptation to compromise, fears or doubts, the peace of God desires to reign in our hearts and offer comfort in place of conflict.  Do we have enough faith?  You bet!  That same trust that brought us to a saving faith in Christ now is waiting to grow and reach every part of our life.  “…I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him.” Ephesians 3:17 LB   All we need is a small amount of faith and confidence in a big God to change us and the world.  Since he will never leave us we are free to enjoy life, relying on him to guide us through our amazing life journey.

Click here to read another blogger’s post about how the love of God can overcome church hurt.