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.

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An Awesome Value

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Do you know real value when you see it?  In Matthew 13, a pearl merchant found the pearl he had always dreamed of and recognizing its great worth “…sold everything he owned to purchase it!” Matthew 13:46 LB  Anyone who believes in the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and the salvation he offers has found the one thing that really matters.  This salvation is the most valuable of all treasures.

Every human has a great need to understand that Jesus alone knows their personal value.  How encouraging that in God’s eyes our value has nothing to do with our merits, what we can do, or the family into which we were born.  “In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing.”  Colossians 3:11 LB  It seems so natural to put more importance in tangible things like money, home, possessions, achievements, or physical attractiveness.  But the real value of a person has already been given us by God.  We have been created in God’s image.  “So God made man like his Maker.”  Genesis  1:27 LB  This gives us incredible worth because we have been created for a special purpose, to reflect the glory of God.  No one else can fulfill that purpose.  We are truly able to be free from any feelings of worthlessness or low personal esteem.  “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb.  Your workmanship is marvelous… You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe… How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly!” Psalms 139:13,14,16,17 LB

Our God sees us moment by moment, desiring to help and guide us onto right paths.  “…he will lift you up, encourage and help you.”  James 4:10 LB  Let us make Jesus the deciding difference in our lives by accepting the greatest treasure, new life through Christ.  “Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way…’”  John 14:6 LB  As the Way, Jesus is our path to the Father.  He will show us how to be people who reflect God’s awesome value.

Blessings Better Than Presents

christmas party 046           Did you know that all the Santa Clauses of the world can’t hold a candle to Almighty God?  While the gifts we give or receive often break in a short time, God gives gifts that last forever.  The best of these is the gift of salvation, Jesus dying on the cross to pay for everything we have ever done wrong.  God has warehouses, storehouses full of gifts for us.  Can you see the gifts?  Your name is written on them.

God also owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  All we have to do is lasso a few when we have real needs.  That lasso is prayer.  His gifts aren’t limited to just this earth.  “May the God of your fathers, the Almighty, bless you with blessings of heaven above and of the earth beneath.”  Gen 49:25  All the universe belongs to God.  Everything you see and the things you haven’t seen are all part of God’s resources and gifts.  We are rich because all that God owns is available to us.  “The Lord’s blessing is our greatest wealth.”  Prov 10:22  By the way how many blessings do we have?  “I will make my people and their homes… a blessing.  And there shall be showers, showerings of blessing.”  Ez 34:26  I think I need two umbrellas, no three!

How do I live a life to receive big abundant blessings?  The book of Deuteronomy tells us, “I am giving you the choice today between God’s blessings or God’s curse.*  There will be blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I am giving you today, a curse if you refuse them and worship the gods of these other nations. Deut 11:26-28  Look, today I have set before you life and death, depending on whether you obey or disobey.  I have commanded you today to love the Lord your God and to follow his paths and to keep his laws, so that you will live-, and so that the Lord our God will bless you- But if your hearts turn away and you won’t listen- if you are drawn away to worship other gods- then I declare to you this day that you shall surely perish.*  I call heaven and earth to witness against you that today I have set before you life or death, blessing or a curse.  Oh that you would choose life- choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and to cling to him, for he is your life and the length of your days.”  Deut 30:15-20  Are you ready for the bountiful showers?

These showers represent God at work in our life doing exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or think.  This holiday season I wish you God’s blessings because they are better than the best presents!  God bless you!

*Curse- Harm, disaster, unhappiness.

*Perish- A life that falls apart and comes to a sad end.

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Click here to read about sharing the true Christ of Christmas with your children.

Click here to read about spending quiet time with God at Christmas.

The Cross is Enough

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    As Christians do we realize we have it all?  Yes, we have found our heart’s desire, God’s peace, and the remedy for the penalty of sin.  This is all accomplished through the cross of Jesus.  However, man’s wisdom tells him that he can earn his own salvation.  The gospel rejects man’s efforts to save himself and presents Christ as the only way to God. 

    We find the message of the cross is the opposite of what humans consider wise.  While the world’s system exalts human wisdom only the message of the cross leads to salvation.  In Colossians 2:13-15 we are given a complete description of what happened at the cross.   “You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away.  Then he gave you’re a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed.  He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.  In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.”  The cross ushers us into a new life.  We can whole heartedly recommend this victorious life to every person on earth.  As Christ’s new creation we are promoters of the truth that Christ plus nothing equals everything.  Dear Christian, God’s plan is not the world plus the cross but a distinct and separate life which stands apart.  When a person comes to the cross, the world says goodbye to him and he says goodbye to the world.  Our own human philosophy loses its attractiveness because the believer has found the true desire of his heart.  Findlay says, “He can never believe in it, never take pride in it, nor do homage to it anymore.”  The cross is the great dividing line between the world and the believer.  God’s peace is now a reality because we are no longer defined by soul anxiety.  Christ controls us now and the sin problem has been answered. 

    May we never forget that Satan’s powers were once and for all disarmed at the cross.  We are free to live lives of increasing happiness and healing as we move closer to Christ.  Jesus is the victor today and for all eternity.  We can come to the cross confident that everything has been done to purchase our salvation.  Our expectation is of a bright future and a steadfast hope.  Friends, as we gather at the cross let us join together in remembering these wonderful words from the hymn Rock of Ages: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.”  The power of the cross is enough!

Click here to read another blogger’s thoughts on the love of God as revealed at the cross.