My Gentle Wife & God’s Chisel

“…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4

 

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My wife is a quiet and gentle woman; I am not a quiet and gentle man. I want to be. I pray daily to be…but I am constantly acting in pride, selfishness, and harshness. I grieve these sins, because I know they grieve my Master. But thank goodness, my God has given me an amazing wife-a daily reminder, and frequent conviction, to pursue gentleness, and to be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen. Continue reading “My Gentle Wife & God’s Chisel”

The Heavenly Wedding Feast…Do You Have The Attire?

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In Matthew 22 Jesus speaks to the disciples in a parable that we regard as “the parable of the wedding feast.” He starts of by telling them that “the kingdom of heaven could be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son..” (verse 2). He proceeds to tell them that the king sent out his servants to invite people, but the people would not come. He sent more servants to invite them to the wedding, but the people paid no attention to them, treated them shamefully and even killed them. He sends out new servants with new instructions, “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” These servants gathered good and bad (a foreshadow that Gentiles would later have the gospel message offered to them, but more on that in a different post) people, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But the king comes in and sees a man without the wedding garment and asks him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” (verse 12). The man was speechless, and at once the king had him bound and cast into outer darkness.

If your like me, you may read this and think, “What in the world? The man didn’t have on the right clothing…so he was cast out? What about meeting people where they are and welcoming them into our churches no matter what?” These are the things that I thought before the Spirit revealed to me the much deeper meaning of the passage. Here’s the deeper meaning:

The wedding feast represents heaven, and the King represents God. The servants that go out and invite people (the Jews) represent God’s prophets in the Old Testament, that proclaimed repentance and prophesied about Jesus, but were treated badly and put to death.  The good and the bad people represents everyone else (because the Jews refused to respond). All of this so far may or may not be obvious, but what on earth does the poor man without the wedding garment have to do with anything? Well, he is truly a poor man, and I’ll tell you why:

The wedding garment represents Christ’s righteousness that is laid over us. This is the way that Jesus taught that our self-righteousness would never be enough! From the very beginning of creation, God has provided a “covering” for our sin. To insist on covering ourselves is to be clothed in “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Adam and Eve tried to cover their shame, but they found their fig leaves to be woefully scant. God took away their handmade clothes and replaced them with skins of animals (Genesis 3:7, 21). In the book of Revelation, we see those in heaven wearing “white robes” (Revelation 7:9), and we learn that the whiteness of the robes is due to their being washed in the blood of the Lamb (verse 14). We trust in God’s righteousness, not our own (Philippians 3:9)! The man who did not wear the wedding garment is an example of one who trusts in his own righteousness and merit to get into heaven! It simply cannot be done, if we try to do so, we will be cast into outer darkness.

The king provided wedding garments for his guests, and God has provided salvation for mankind through Christ! My friends, our wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ, and there is no wedding feast for us if we do not have it! When the religions of the world are stripped down to their basic tenets, we either find man working his way toward God, or we find the cross of Christ. Jesus crucified, buried and resurrected is the only way to God, for He himself says, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

God has invited us to a wedding feast, and an eternity with him. Our invitation comes with a garment that we must receive and put on to enter: Christ’s righteousness. We do this by trusting in His life and finished work on the cross to cover our sins, without any bit of trust in our own merit or good works. If we trust in ourselves, our own righteousness, and our good works to gain us entrance to the feast, we wil be cast in to utter darkness: eternity in hell. However, the kingdom of heaven is opened to those who will set aside their own righteousness and by faith accept Christ’s righteousness.

My friends, there is a heavenly wedding feast awaiting, and your invited. The question is, do you have the attire?

 

“It Is Finished.” Jesus vs. World Religions

Faith in Christ compared to every other world religion or belief system is amazing in that- one man and his life changes everything. Every other religion in the world spells D-O and is all about trying to do enough to please God. Whether it be keeping laws, praying certain times a day, refraining from foods, sharing your belief so often, or taking part in rituals or traditions, the main goal is to do enough good things to achieve eternal life. In the Bible, Romans 3:23 lets us know that this is not achievable because “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Our faith in Jesus Christ is drastically different than any religion. Where every other religion says D-O, Jesus says ,”D-O-N-E.” His final words on the cross exhibit this beautiful truth: “It is finished,” (John 19:30). Jesus did what we could never do by living a perfectly obedient life to the Father’s will. In addition to this, He willingly laid down his life for us on the cross and by doing so He paid for all of our wickedness and sinfulness by taking the Father’s wrath upon himself. This was done so that “whoever calls on his name shall be saved (Romans 10:13).” One of my favorite examples of how our salvation is not about doing is found when Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a generous landowner Matthew 20:

In my own paraphrasing, this is what happens: A master goes out and hires a group of workers early in the morning and promises to pay them a denarius (a day’s typical wage.) Then the master went back out around 9:00am and picked up some more workers, and he did the same thing again at 12:00, 3:00, and then even 5:00. All of the workers worked until about 6:00pm, and each were given one denarius. The workers that had worked for twelve hours exclaimed,” these last have only worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us.” But the master replies, “Am I not allowed to do what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matt. 20:15).

What a beautiful representation of the Gospel! When I have talked to some of my coworkers and friends who are nonbelievers about the Gospel, I have usually been asked, “So someone who sins their entire life….can have faith in Jesus the last year of their life and still be saved?” The answer is YES my friends! It simply does not make sense to those who have not been shown by the Holy Spirit. But I wonder, how many times have we acted like the men who worked the entire day..judging and thinking that we have done more, are more spiritual, and deserve more blessings and recognition because of our obedience, works, and “strength of faith”? Jesus tells his disciples after the parable, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” This is the great beauty that is found in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is all about our faith in him, and not about what we have done or how long we have done it! Each believer will be rewarded with heaven, whether he is a Billy Graham or a murderer who has faith in Jesus in the last moments. Don’t think this last part is sounds fair? Take it up with Jesus, who tells the thief who had just asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom this: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” Luke 23:43.

How beautiful is this! The man on the cross next to Jesus had spent his entire life in sin, but at the end of it, something was different. At the end of his life of rebellion and wickedness, he realized how depraved he was, which led to his realization of his need for a Savior. Regardless of his life experiences, his simple faith in Christ was enough for him to be given Jesus as his personal savior, and for him to be granted eternal life. My friend, this amazing love is at the door for you and me! Oh how he desires for us to come to Him, just like the thief, at the end of our rope and in desperate need of a Savior. Seek Him, and you will find Him. He longs to save us from the weariness of doing, and bring us into the fullness of joy that is found in resting in what he DID!

How can we not love, worship, and seek to know this amazing God! We no longer have to do, because it has already been done.  Trust in him, and him alone, because when Jesus said, “It is finished,” I promise you, HE MEANT IT!

 

Gospel Call: “Come to me….and I will give you rest.” -Jesus

We read Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  This is one of my favorite verses of scripture because it depicts the call to salvation, a demonstration of what saving faith looks like, and the promise of rest that Jesus intends for us to live with! So, let’s unpack it:

First, Jesus issues a command: “Come.” It’s a simple term, but can mean so much. How do we come to him? Well, we can’t come to him with the idea that he will just be the cherry on top of our lives. That’s not coming to him. We don’t just need Jesus as another component to our lives to just complete our lives, we have to come to him with the intent of making him the center of our life, laying everything down at the feet of the cross. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus declared; “he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

Jesus issues the command to “Come” to those who labor and are heavy laden. The Pharisee’s at the time were imposing so many religious laws, acts, and rituals on the Jew’s at the time, that if they made even a small error they were counted unrighteous and unfit for heaven. Jesus is saying, “Are you tired of working for salvation? Are you tired of worrying if you’ve done enough to get into heaven? Are you tired of trying hard to be good enough to please my Father? Good, you should be, because you can’t please him…on your own. ” If anyone at the time felt like this, they were personally encouraged by Jesus to come to him. Although the term itself is not used in the text, Jesus gives a call to repent, to turn away from the self-centered and works-centered life and come to Him. The person who is weary and heavy-laden despairs of his own ability to please God. He comes to the end of his own resources and turns to Christ. Desperation is a part of true salvation, because a person does not come to Christ as long as he has confidence in himself. To repent is to make a 180-degree turn from the burden of the old life to the restfulness of the new. If a person does this, Jesus promises them rest.

So, what is the rest that Jesus promises?

The dictionary gives several definitions of rest that remarkably parallel the spiritual rest God offers those who trust in His Son. First, the dictionary describes rest as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion. In a similar way, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation. Second, the dictionary defines rest as something that is fixed and settled. Similarly, to be in God’s rest is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. If we back up to verse 11, Jesus says that there is no one on earth who is greater than John the Baptist, yet the person who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he! Guys, we have such an amazing glory awaiting us in heaven. Jesus promises us that even the person who is the least in heaven, is considered much greater than the best person who lived on earth! And if we come to Jesus, he promises that this glory awaits us! At the end of our lives, if we are in the faith, we are not rewarded for what we have done, we are rewarded for what Christ has done! And how much glory and praise does He deserve!?- So much that there cannot even be a time frame on it, because it would not be enough-it has to be eternal!

Third, rest is defined as being confident and trustful. When we enter God’s rest we are given the assurance that “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Finally, the dictionary describes rest as leaning, reposing, or depending on. As children of God, we can depend with utter certainty that our heavenly Father will “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

My friends, you are invited to this eternal rest. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

He promises rest, and so much more. It’s up to you to go to him!