The Gospel

LifeWay® recently did a study that says 79% of unchurched people are open to talking about faith or the meaning of life. This means that they are open to taking part in community service events hosted at a church or going to church events. We are cleaning next weekend, The Eggstravaganza is 3 weeks away, Palm Sunday, Easter, the Spring Family Festival after that. Unchurched Americans aren’t hostile to faith, but they are mostly indifferent to organized religion. This is why we must build relationships with people, chat up your neighbors and co-workers. Why not ask people if there is something you can pray for them about? If you did not know, Easter is a time when the Lord opens many hearts to hear the gospel. Romans 1:16~ For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes. (JBP)

However, when the king comes to the feast, he sees a man who is not properly dressed for the wedding. Do you know what the required wedding garment is? We find out from those who come out of the Great Tribulation. Listen to how they are described in Revelation 7:14~I answered, Sir, you know. And he said, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (NIV) Jesus cleanses ALL!

Matthew 22:13~Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (ESV) This man represents the nation of Israel, as well as all those who claim to be saved but don’t have the proper wedding garment. Jesus must be Lord over all, or He is not Lord at all. Just because a person has been baptized, or has a membership in the local church, they may even live out all of the 10 Commands, it doesn’t mean he or she will be allowed to come to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Hear me, only those have been washed in the precious blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ can attend. Matthew 22:14~For many are called, but few are chosen (ἐκλεκτός eklektos).(ESV) 

This means not all those who are invited will actually be saved. Only those who respond to God’s invitation will be chosen or saved. The word translated chosen (ἐκλεκτός eklektos) means selected or elected Colossians 3:12~Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (NIV) Do you hear those fruit, they are grown in a life that has been grafted into the vine, where the vintner works in your life, and the sweet life-giving sap of the Holy Spirit flows freely producing spiritual fruit. 

Today, ask the Lord to help you cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life. As the Lord begins to bend you to His will and clean up some areas of your life, don’t hesitate. Rather, allow the Lord to help you become more fruitful. Keep in mind that we want to have a fruit stand that is full of good juicy fruit that will meet the needs of others that the Lord himself will send across our path.

Kingdom Come

Happy St Patricks Day. Many are staying away from large crowds that would typically be gathering for a celebration. It is almost as though they were reminded that Christ Jesus has already instructed us to, Come to Him. Matthew 11:28~Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. (ESV) The wedding feast is symbolic of what will happen when all saints get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be. Revelation 19:9~Then the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! And he added these are the true words of God.  (NIV)

After the second invitation, those invited still pay no attention and even act shamefully. Matthew 22:5-6~But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. (ESV) Jesus is reminding the religious leaders that the Lord sent prophets to offer wise guidance and correction. This is one of the great things the Holy Spirit does for us today. Matthew 22:7~The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. (ESV) 

Again, Jesus is prophesying in this apocalyptic parable sharing what will happen in a few short decades in 70 A.D. when the Roman general Titus sacks and burns Jerusalem, leveling the holy temple, causing a great Jewish dispersion. Moreover, His words go far beyond that moment in time, to the final war between good and evil described in Revelation 19:20~And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. (ESV) 

Finally, Jesus says, the king speaks and tells his servants in Matthew 22:8-9~The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find. (ESV) Matthew 22:10~And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. (ESV) This is us, why not just slip up your hand and thank the Lord for coming after each one of us.

The Lord is speaking to the New Testament church, made up of believers and faith practitioners who have confessed Jesus is the Lord over all and placed saving faith in the one who came bounding out of that tomb Easter Morning. How many invitations have you given out in the last few weeks? Have you invited others to your Father’s house that they may come and find salvation? That grace would be poured out on them and their families? The King is calling people to His house? Did you know it is as surprising now, as it was then, even some of the worst sinners will accept your invitation? 

Today after praying for yourself and your family and our community of faith, pray for those who are sick among us, asking the Lord to help them get better. Then ask the Lord who you can begin to sow the seeds of invitation with. Who needs to be encouraged by the Gospel? When He puts someone on your heart, reach out to them and allow the Holy Spirit to work through you. This is going to bring the Joy of the Lord into your hearts.

Called, but not chosen

In Matthew 21, Jesus shares two parables about Israel, the first is the rejection of Him as the Messiah, and the second is the resulting judgment. Matthew 21:28-32~But what is your opinion about this? There was a man with two sons…(ESV) Then in Matthew 21:33-46~There was once a…land-owner, who planted a vineyard…Then he let it out to farm-workers…But they took the servants, beat up one, killed another, and drove off a third with stones. (ESV) These are the events that set up our Lord teaching us this week. While still in the temple complex, Jesus continues to teach the people as He turns His attention to how we can please God. Saying to them all are Called, But Not Chosen.

Knowing that we are called means that we must accept His invitation (22:1-14). When the Lord invites us to join Him, we ought to accept His invitation. As Jesus again speaks to the Jewish leaders, He uses another parable. Matthew 22:1-3~The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. (ESV) In Jesus’ day, rejecting a royal invitation was a great insult. There is not going on Amazon and sending a gift. Obviously, the king represents God the Father, and the bridegroom is His Son, Jesus. In the Bible, the church is often referred to as the bride of Christ. Revelation 21:2~I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (NIV) This wedding feast is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Described in Revelation 19:7~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. (NIV) 

When the first invitation sent is refused, Jesus says the king sends other servants to tell those invited that the dinner is ready. Matthew 22:4~Again he sent other servants, saying, Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast. (ESV) These later servants no doubt represent John the Baptist and others. The fact that God repeats his invitation demonstrates His great grace, patience, and compassion for us. Did you know that God’s favorite word is, come? Listen to what He tells us through His prophet in Isaiah 1:18~Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (ESV) 

Today, place your whole life under the blood of Jesus. Ask Him to touch your family, to keep you in health and to camp round about your home. Ask Him to post angels at your windows and doors. I will also encourage you to go around your home and pray for it and anoint it. Reject the fear and embrace faith in Jesus.