Party Time!

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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.

Are You Listening?

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When you were young did you ever sing “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me?”  I sure did.  But when I came to Christ I understood the Bible was more than the “good book”, more than just great literature.  It is God’s inspired living words.  Its message is universal, applicable and practical for all people everywhere.  The real issue is whether we believe enough to stake our lives on the truth of its teachings.  “And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me?  Anyone whose Father is God listens gladly to the words of God.”  John 8:46 LB   He has given us the working principles, the very words of life.  The world obeys His voice because as Creator He holds the universe together.  The wise person understands that God is ready to teach us to hear His voice.  “All you listen to my instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock.”  Matt 7:24 LB

Most people crave “the good life”.  Could we have been deceived by looking to material prosperity?  The believer will discover that the good life is really a life of God’s blessings woven within the good as well as difficult circumstances of life.  But this first requires a person who is ready to listen.  “Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake.”  Is 55:3 LB  And yet listening must be coupled with action. There is no point in listening to God’s Word if we do not intend to do it.  “He (Jesus) replied, ‘Yes, but even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’”  Luke 11:28 LB   The reality of scripture comes alive by practicing it.  Do you try to be consistently kind?  Do you continually forgive those who hurt you, even giving love to those who act like enemies?  This takes time and much practice until you come to truly enjoy living out God’s perfect Word.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing God’s plan at work.  Jesus reminded His listeners that hearing the message alone will not change a life.  “…those who listen and don’t obey are like a man who builds a house without a foundation.”  Luke 8:21 LB

Someday every person will face an accounting, whether great in the world’s eyes or thought small and insignificance.  “There is going to come a time of testing at Christ’s Judgment Day to see what kind of material each builder has used.”  1 Cor 3:17 LB   We are God’s very own, part of His family and His dearest friends.  He will show us how to construct strong lives for “…now you have become living building stones…”  1 Pet 2:5 LB  Today the world is watching and waiting to see whether we will build lives on the foundation that lasts.

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts about listening to the voice of God.

Click here to read insights on how God is near each of his dear children.

Life Changing Forgiveness

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There is nothing so painful and characterized by darkness as unforgiveness in our lives.  The real truth is unforgiveness is an open door for Satan to come in to harass and torment us.  The first step toward healing is to acknowledge our need.  “O Lord, for the depths of despair I cry for your help.  Hear me!  Answer!  Help me!”  Ps 130:4   How we need God to show us the destruction unforgiveness is capable of working within us.  We can begin to pray that God may open our eyes and “… open their eyes to their true condition so that they may repent and live in the light of God instead of in Satan’s darkness, so they may receive forgiveness for their sins and God’s inheritance along with all people everywhere whose sins are cleanses away, who are set apart by faith in me.”  Acts 26:18

God has provided through Christ such overwhelming grace that we can truly bathe our lives in forgiveness.  Those who have been forgiven much sincerely love God and our Savior Jesus with a special grateful love.  Jesus then offers us access to the throne of mercy. “O Lord you are so good and kind so ready to forgive; so full of mercy for all who ask your aid.”  Ps 86:5   And the reward of extending forgiveness to others is life-changing, bringing us into a closer more personal relationship with Jesus.

We all experience hurt, some profound, yet we should never be afraid of the hurt we have experienced.  It has no power over us when we take it to God. This hurt is like a precious offering, a sacrifice given back to God.  In exchange He desires to use the hurt to change us into the very image of Christ.  In this transaction we are transformed to become sensitive, compassionate caring people.  Let us not put off what is so liberally available.  “A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.”  Samuel Johnson

The Christian’s capacity to love others is enlarged through recognizing how deeply we have been forgiven.  “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Eph 4:32   When we offer a pardon to those who have hurt us we have the chance to see others through the eyes of Christ.  Let us pass beyond the darkness of our personal pain and accept God’s life-changing forgiveness.

The Priceless Price

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    Change is a part of every day of our life.  Those who place their trust in the blood of Christ find mercy and stability by virtue of His shed blood.  We put our faith solidly in His blood, making Christ Himself the object of our faith.  His blood fully paid the price for all wrongs we ever committed, all unhappy circumstances, and all hurt that others have caused us.  “But he paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:19 

    The Lord Jesus gave us incredible worth.  We were bought from the slave market of sin.  How much did He value us?  A value so high that He was willing to give His blood to purchase us.  Because of the tremendous price paid we no longer belong to ourselves.  We no longer live our lives the way we choose.  One person explained it this way, “if we take our lives and do what we want with them, we are taking something that does not belong to us.”

    What happens when a believer is tempted to return to a decaying, corrupt worlds system?  To go back to the world is to re-cross the great gulf that was bridged for us at a staggering cost.  It is the blood of Jesus Christ that continually cleanses us from all wrongdoing.  All God’s forgiveness is anchored in the blood.  The blood provided God with the basis upon which He could forgive.  The moment a person receives Christ He receives all the benefits which come from the shedding of Christ’s blood.  How wonderful to have received a complete payment.  The outcome of our lives is now in God’s hands.  We are absolutely covered.  Covered by the blood of Jesus.

    Friends, today don’t forget the precious blood shed by your personal Savior. “His blood declares us not guilty.”  Rom 5:9   Now we can experience the renewal of 1 Peter 1:2 “May God bless you richly and grant you increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear.” The blood made the way and the blood will keep the way clear for God’s wonderful peace.  “For it pleased the Father by Him (Christ) to reconcile all things to Himself… having made peace through the blood of His cross.”  Col 1:20  All praise to the Father for Jesus’ blood paid the priceless price.

Click here for encouragement to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Click here to read about the power of the blood of Jesus.