Monday, June 20, 2016

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Once, during my first year of teaching, I was invited to be an usher for the wedding of some close friends. Having missed the rehearsal dinner due to a marching band performance, I had not yet received my tuxedo. On the big day, I was the last member of the wedding party to arrive, due to teaching all day and the necessity of a shower. Upon my arrival, the host immediately greeted me, spoke to me as a friend and showed me to a room to change where a tuxedo complete with bowtie and shiny shoes awaited. There was a gift, a place and food already prepared for me, all that remained was for me to put on the clothes and take part in the celebration... 

In Matthew 22, Jesus teaches the Parable of the Wedding Feast, using powerful symbolism to present important spiritual truths. I have highlighted 3 important Truths we can learn from this parable. If you are unfamiliar with the text, I suggest reading it first. 


Objective: 

It is my goal that each reader can grasp the importance of accepting Jesus' invitation and feel empowered to extend that invitation to others by understanding 3 spiritual truths contained in this parable.

Truth #1: The Host Has Provided The Wedding Clothes

The wedding invitation represents being invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the great celebration when Jesus will be united with His bride, the church. People of every tongue, tribe, nation and language are invited. This is repesented by the host sending out his servants to the main crossroads of the great city, as people from all over the world came through Jerusalem, where Jesus was teaching as he delivered this parable. Putting on the wedding clothes represents salvation, being clothed in righteousness. Just as I needed to put on the proper clothes before participating in my friend's wedding celebration, only those who are clothed with salvation may take part in marriage supper of the Lamb. 

I will rejoice greatly in Adonai. My soul will be joyful in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wraped me in a robe of righteousness--like a bridegroom wearing a priestly turban, like a bride adorning herself with her jewels.  -Isaiah 61:10

Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him! For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. She was given fine linen to wear, bright and clean.  -Revelation 19:7-8

Truth #2: Preparations Have Been Made

The host had already killed the fatted calf and prepared the feast, when he sent his servants out to invite everyone to come, just as Jesus has already been sacrificed so that we can have communion with God and He has sent His servants into all the world to proclaim the good news. He has already paid the penalty for our sins and for the those of the whole world. Everyone is invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Preparations have been made. Everything is already paid for and Everyone is invited.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.  -1 John 2:2

He desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth.  -1 Timothy 2:2

The Spirit and the bride say "Come!" Let the one who hears say, "Come," Let the one who is thirsty come--let the one who wishes freely take the water of life!  -Revelation 2:17

Truth #3: RSVP Is Required

Anyone who heard this parable in the first century could have immediately understand that the offer to provide proper wedding attire was included with the wedding invitation and that the man in this parable had refused to put them on. This represents refusing Jesus, refusing to be clothed with salvation. There will be no tuxedo t-shirts at this wedding. No one is sneaking in without the proper clothing and you can't fake it. The host called him "Friend." It wasn't too late for him to respond, but he refused and was destroyed. Each individual must make the choice to respond to God's call. The servants of the host who were mistreated and killed represent the prophets who Israel killed when they refused to listen to them calling the people to repentance. The destruction ordered by the King represents the way that Israel was destroyed because of their refusal to respond appropriately to God's call to repent and this provides a prophetic picture of the ultimate judgement that awaits those who refuse to respond to God's Invitation.

I will consign you to the sword and all of you will bow down to the slaughter. Because I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not listen. You did what was evil in my sight and chose that in which I did not delight"  -Isaiah 65:12

Invitation

We have already read that God desires all people to be saved and to come to know the truth. If you have never accepted God's Invitation, I encourage you to take that step right now. Thank Jesus for the sacrifice He made for you. Ask for forgiveness and invite Him to come into your life, clothe you with salvation and be your friend. Then tell someone about your decision. 

Activation

If you are already a believer, then it is our role to invite others to the wedding feast. Just as the host sent out his servants to invite everyone to the supper, Jesus has sent us to share the good news with the whole world and to invite them to enter into a relationship with Him. Make a list of 5 people you know that you could share Jesus with, or invite to church. List specific activities or events you could invite them to such as a conference. Think of ways to cultivate conversation with them, perhaps over a meal. 




Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Turn Your Doghouse Into A Tent Of Meeting

Have you ever been in the doghouse for something you said or posted on social media? I have been, more than once, for comments I've made on some important Biblical issues. It's easy to get out of the doghouse when you've said something wrong. You simply repent and apologize and forgiveness will usually come. But what happens when you didn't do anything wrong? Apologizing when you've done nothing wrong is Lying.  It's a quick and easy way to get back in favor with people, but it is not honest and lacks integrity. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and true peace and unity only come through the truth. So what should we do when we're stuck in the Doghouse?

1. Check Your Motives

I have said wrong things before for which I had to apologize, or said the right thing in the wrong way, but there have also been times where I have gotten into the doghouse with a teacher, or many people, when I said something or wrote or taught something that I believe God led me to. Obviously prayer is very important. In this case, I also thoroughly checked with Scripture, consulted scholarly resources and sought wise, experienced and learned counsel, all of which agreed completely with my point of view. The SBC even made a strong resolution that supported one of the key issues I had addressed at the same time. My motives were to respect the Bible, teach the word of God rightly, correct misperceptions, keep people from being deceived, speak rightly about His character and promote the Gospel, even if it meant facing the disapproval of man. In this instance, I was in the Doghouse for the right reasons. Never turn your back on God or betray Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 says "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances." To despise means to ignore or turn away from what the Holy Spirit has called or led you to say and do. Stand fast. While we should always examine our methods and seek to deliver the message in the most gracious way possible, we should not abandon the teaching of Scripture or vacate a Biblical position just because man disapproves. 

2. Avoid The Tent of Bitterness

Be careful not to let your doghouse become a tent of bitterness. It is easy to be hurt and feel bitter, sad, or even angry with God and people for the isolation that occurs in the Doghouse. Hebrews 12:15 says "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up to cause trouble and defile many." Bitterness and unforgiveness are poison to the soul. In my case, it was important to keep meeting together as Scripture also teaches, and I did, but still, I allowed resentment to make me miserable, steal my joy and send me into depression, hopelessness and despair. I had been working so hard to gain favor and approval so that people might allow me to teach or lead worship and do the things God has called me to do and when it seemed those opportunities had been forfeited due to my candor, I was crushed. It's been a very difficult year. I made a point of being consistent and reliable with my attendance and service and to be positive and friendly, especially to those I sensed were angry with me. It hurts to be left out, cut out and to miss out on opportunities. But I also began serving more with another group of people and it helped to share my struggles with other believers who were not angry with me and who could encourage me. 

3. Make It A Tent of Meeting

If you're in the doghouse for being obedient, then God is in there with you. When we try to please God more than man and when we place His word and being faithful over the approval of man, He is with us. Galatians 1:10 asks: "For am I now trying to win the favor/approval of man or God? Am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." The best thing we can do is to turn our doghouse into a Tent of Meeting. Anytime I have stayed faithful and refused to back down from a Biblical position, God has rewarded me with deeper knowledge and understanding of Scripture. When we sacrifice favor, position and standing with man, we offer one of the highest forms of true worship. While the doghouse can feel very isolated and lonely, it can also be a special place of spiritual growth and development as we spend time alone with God. I have learned a great deal over the past year. The lessons have been numerous and I have finally taken a step toward getting over my fear of man and need for approval. I have spent considerable time reading the opinions of those who are often marginalized or disagree with me dramatically so that I understand how to minister to them better. I have refined and adjusted my views on church leadership structure and gained a new respect for congregationalism. I have a renewed appreciation of the importance of the doctrine of the priesthood of every believer and the value of discussion. The beliefs that I hung my hat on a year ago will always be an important focus of my ministry. 1. That every person is created in the image of God and worthy of dignity, honor and respect 2. Expository teaching that presents the Bible in the correct context using good interpretive methods is essential 3. We should seek God's approval before man's

Being in the Doghouse is a Trial.

You know the testing of your faith develops patience and perserverance. And let perserverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:3-4

Trials can make us bitter or they can make us better. Let me encourage you to make your doghouse a tent of meeting and a place of refuge.





Friday, June 10, 2016

God's Word Is Good As Gold: Commentary on Psalm 19:8-12

The Torah of ADONAI is perfect, restoring the soul. 8

The Testimony of ADONAI is trustworthy, making the simple wise 8b

The Precepts of ADONAI are right, giving joy to the heart 9

The Mitzvot of ADONAI are pure, giving light to the eyes 9b

The fear of ADONAI is clean, enduring forever 10

The judgements of ADONAI are true and altogether righteous 10b

They are more desirable than gold, yes, much more than pure gold. They are sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them your servant is warned. In keeping them there is great reward. 11-12

8-The Torah, the 1st 5 books of the Bible, also called the Law, was given by God to tutor us, to show us how to break the curse of sin and live righteously. While we are really grateful to live under grace and receive salvation through faith, the Law demonstrates God’s character, His moral values, His heart for people and shows us how He hates the sin that corrupts and harms us. He gave the law to help people live in a safe, healthy, productive environment. Jesus kept the entire law in our place so that we can receive the benefits as the Holy Spirit guides us. There is a reason for everything in the Torah and if we understand the reason, we can understand how to apply to our lives today so that we can receive refreshing and renewing in our souls and restoration in our lives.

8b-God’s testimony, His witness throughout all of Scripture, the law, the prophets, the historical accounts, all of it is true, reliable and accurate. We can believe every word of Scripture is a truthful and correct account of history and that it reveals God’s loving plan of redemption to us. His word makes foolish people wise.

9-The principles set forth in God’s word bring us joy and make our hearts glad. God loves justice, fairness and righteousness. When His Word was first given, it stood out as strikingly different than anything else. It teaches us how to treat our fellow man with dignity, honor and respect.

9b-The Mitzvot, or commandments, of God are entirely pure, radiantly pure, they give light to our eyes. They help us to see the truth and allow our eyes to shine brightly with a fire of purpose in this life

10-To fear God means to honor Him with deep reverence, awe and respect. This will never fade away, as the true worshippers of God will never lose our since of wonder and amazement at who He is. In context, the fear of God also means that we should have a deep and abiding respect for His Word, the Bible.

10b—God’s judgement is always right. His decisions overrule all human wisdom. He is a loving Father, who loves justice and fairness and hates evil. He hates the harm and suffering that sin brings and He loves to put things right in our lives. God’s judgement is always for our good, whether mankind agrees with Him or not. All Blessings and every good gift comes from Him.

God’s word is more desirable than riches or the sweetest of honey and there are great rewards in following it. It is so very good, so completely different and set apart from any other book. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  (both Old and New Testaments)

Proverbs 13:14 tells us that:

“Wise instruction is a Fountain of Life.”

Jesus is the Word, the very mouthpiece and voice of God. All of the Bible is tutorial, a compass pointing to Jesus, revealing God’s plan for us, His character, His nature and showing us how much we need a Savior and what we need saving from. God will work through His word to:

-restore, refresh and renew your soul
-make you wise
-fill your heart with joy and gladness
-enlighten your understanding and make your eyes bright


Will you choose to believe? Will you drink from the refreshing fountain of God’s Word?