marriage feast

The parables that Jesus told really summarize the gospel message. I was reading the parable of the marriage feast today from Matthew 22:1-14 and this is easily my favorite one. In this parable, there is a king who invites his subjects to a marriage feast he is throwing for his son. But the people invited don’t accept the invitation and torture and kill the king’s servants who deliver the invitations. This is a stunning depiction of our attitude towards God before the gospel is given to us. We were hostile to God and didn’t want anything to do with Him. We were content to live our lives ignoring Him and living in constant defiance of His Word and Laws. So what does the king do when he finds his servants have been killed? He has the villages burned to repay their murder.

God’s wrath for sin is not far away. He will eventually repay all humanity for the sins they have lived in for so long. None will be left on the day when God brings His wrath against the world. Just as in the days of Noah, there will be no escaping the flood.

The only good news is that there is an ark! An escape route has been given to us so that we don’t have to face God’s wrath for sin. Our ark is Jesus of Nazareth. In the parable, the king needs new guests so he sends his servants out to invite all they meet on the road and in the fields. When they show up, they’re all wearing wedding garments.

Our wedding garments are the righteous robes of Jesus that He wore while on earth which He has given to us out of love. Without His robe of righteousness we cannot hope to gain access to God’s kingdom. The love of God to give up His own righteousness and give it to us who are most unworthy is so great I can’t even begin to fathom the depth of it! Thank you Lord Jesus for giving up Your life and Your righteousness You earned on earth for our sakes! All I can do in response is praise You!

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h’our dourves

The best part about going to a party at someone’s house, let’s say for New Year’s Eve, is usually the food!  The Super Bowl also is usually a great time with food and friends (that is if the Steelers don’t win).  The finger foods and h’our dourves are usually delicious and get you in the mood to socialize and have fun.  Good food at a party is often the warm up to having a fun time and a preview of good times to come.  God’s Word is similar to h’our dourves because they are a preview of what’s to come.  The Word of God is a preview of what God is like while we can’t see Him here on the earth so we have the Bible to show us what God is like and show us how much He loves us.  God has revealed Himself to humanity through the scriptures and the Word has revealed the glory of the Most High God.  As Christians we have a huge privilege to draw near to God through the reading of His Word.  The Word is a concrete entity worthy of praise. As the psalmist often says, “Who’s Word I praise”, the Word is a member of the Trinity and was with God before creation and has played His part in history by revealing the glory and character of the Godhead.  The Word is God and is with God.  The Word made a covenant with the Father and the Holy Spirit to be incarnated as a man to walk among the earth and to be born under the Law to redeem our fallen race.  When we think about Jesus, we think about the Word that we read.  They are one in the same. 

We have been granted a huge privilege to have been given the Word.  Whenever we read the Word join God in communion and peek at His glory and righteousness.  Basically, we have been given a glimpse of what our redeemed and glorified lives will be like when we attain perfection and reside with our Lord in heaven.  This side of eternity, the best we can get to this glorious experience is spending time in the Word.  But we often don’t take advantage of this privilege because we don’t recognize how important it is to our souls.  Brothers and sisters, I exhort all of us to fervently seek God by spending time in His Word because it is a fountain overflowing with love, grace, and mercy.  Within lies the power to forgive sin and live a life that is pleasing to God.  The Word is also the power of God to offer salvation.  I pray that we would refocus our vision to desire more and more of God’s Word!  God desires to refresh our souls when we are weary and to have us fall into His mighty hands in times of trouble. 

Psalm 50:15

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble;  I will deliver you and you will glorify Me”

As Isaac Watts says in his hymn “How Sad Our State”, God is our rest from trials, weariness, and sin:

To the blest fountain of Thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul
From sins of deepest dye.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
Into Thy hands I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Savior, and my all

be salty!

It’s been a while since my last post cuz school has been kicking my butt!  But I’ve decided to kick school’s butt for the rest of the semester so I’m gonna try to get back into a regular pattern of posting.  But I was reading Colossians 4:2-6 today and was impacted by the words in verses 5-6.  Paul writes, “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let you speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”  These verses stood out in particular because of this week’s care group discussion.  We talked about our own successes and failures in personal evangelism.  We just started reading the book The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever and so far it’s been very convicting.  My recent evangelism history is pathetic and is embarassing to discuss because it is so poor and infrequent.  During our care group discussion we mentioned how non-believers will see that we are different from the rest of the world by the way that we act and the things that we do and don’t do.  We are set apart from the rest of the world, we are salty.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet“.  God’s people are described by many analogies and metaphors throughout the Bible such as a beacon, the light, a city upon a hill, and the salt of the world.  The salt metaphor is the strongest to me.  Since salt is a seasoning and a preservative, we must be the same way with our thoughts, actions, and words.  We season the world with the truth of God by representing the Gospel of Jesus and we preserve righteousness in the world by standing for truth and promoting the worldview of the Bible.

But if salt looses its saltiness it is “thrown out and trampled underfoot” as our Savior says.  If we are not representing the truth of God in our every action, thought, and word then we might as well be thrown out and disregarded.  God is all about His own glory and wants us to always put Him on a pedastal.  If we are not doing that, we are not glorifying Him and are instead valuing ourselves.  God has no use for people who think they don’t need Him.  But for all who are in Christ Jesus, we are about our Master’s work.  The Spirit of God that resides within us gives us a newborn passion for His glory and a passion to be salty.  If we are in Christ we will be salty!  So i pray for myself and everyone reading this that we would not hesitate to represent the truth of the Gospel which is the power of God to save our souls!  Go out and be salty!  Grace and peace.

Christ’s Preeminence

Quick one today!  I’m reading in Colossians now and was impacted by verses 1:15-18 when Paul is describing Christ’s superiority over all things.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, wheter thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consits.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

–Colossians 1:15-18

This passage reminds me of how small and insignificant we are compared to the glory and superiority of Jesus Christ.We are finite, He is infinte.  We are the created, He is the Creator.  We are all like grasshoppers to him who created the universe but yet He loved us enough to die on a cross for our sins!  What a Savior!  I love this passage and it really puts my humanity into place and really humbles me everytime I read it.  Praise God that our lives are not what it’s all about!  If my life were not subject to a higher authority I’d be completely lost.  Since Christ is king over all the earth, He is king over me and it is my joy to be His subject!  “For a day in Your courts is better is than a thousand.  I would rather be a dorrkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” –Psalm 84:10.

Your own preacher

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
–Philippians 3:12-14

The thing that worries me about Christianity is that some people don’t inquire of God themselves.  They tend to let their pastors do that for them and blindly accept everything they hear from the pulpit.  There obviously is no perfect church, no church has a completely correct interpretation of scripture because the lies and deception of sin occasionally creep in the Body.  But that is where personal inquiry comes in.  Each believer is subjected to the Sunday sermon and should take it very seriously.  But taking a sermon seriously involves more than swallowing it the second you hear it.  It involves discernment and research on your own part and time studying the Word.  

And(A) he gave the(B) apostles, the prophets, the(C) evangelists, the(D) shepherds[a] and teachers,[b] 12(E) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for(F) building up(G) the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to(H) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,(I)to mature manhood,[c] to the measure of the stature of(J) the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children,(K) tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in(L) deceitful schemes. 15Rather,(M) speaking the truth in love, we are to(N) grow up in every way into him who is(O) the head, into Christ
–Ephesians 4:11-15

I love this passage from Ephesians because it describes in full the mission and purpose of pastoral ministry.  Teaching and studying scripture is not just for the pastors, it is for the prophets, evangelists, the teachers, and the shepherds.  Teachers and shepherds may sound like they mean the same thing, mainly pastors, but the way I see it, it has a double meaning.  It surely does mean pastors and leaders, but every believer is a shepherd of his/her own soul by nature of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Hebrews 5:14 explains this well:  

But solid food is for(A) the mature, for those who have their powers(B) of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The writer of Hebrews is warning against apostasy in this verse and tells the Jewish believers that they need milk instead of solid food because their faith is wavering and they need to better understand the basics of the faith much like a baby needs milk in infancy.  The solid food is reserved for those who can discern good from evil in teaching to guard their souls against false doctrine and apostasy.  Therefore, we are called to be discerning for ourselves what we accept to be true and what is good or evil.  

I’m not censuring acceptance of everything pastors say, but advocating a spirit of inquiry among the Body of Christ.  The blind sheep approach to ministry is never a good idea and takes a great deal of discernment to each believer to determine what they personally believe.  As long as a believer’s individual beliefs and convictions don’t compromise the essential truth of the Gospel, then why can’t we accept others beliefs?  As long as you can say without conviction that “the Gospel… is of first importance” then, personal differences are fine.  If we claim to have figured God out all the way and say we absolutely know everything about God, then we limit Him.  Our God is infinite in all His attributes and our fallen human minds cannot fathom the characteristics of Almighty God.  

Don’t limit God by blindly accepting everything you hear from the pulpit.  Rather, prayerfully consider everything and study the Word with a spirit of discernment and love.  Allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit to shape your own personal convictions and beliefs that allow you to experience God to the fullest extent and to fully experience the joy of salvation in this life while we eagerly await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ when everything will be laid bare and the truth of God proclaimed across the earth.  Grace and Peace.