Jun 232016
 

heavenly-banquet-table“A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.” (Luke 14:16)

The Gospel can be compared to a great banquet, a rich and expensive supper.

Picture this supper: Jesus has been crucified for your sins; He has defeated sin and death for you; He has risen from the dead; and the Holy Spirit has been given.

In short, all things pertaining to your redemption and eternal salvation are now ready in this lavish supper, and the invitations are going out.

This banquet is an evening meal. It represents the fulfillment of all God’s promises to mankind revealed in Scripture. Just as supper is the final meal of the day, the Gospel reveals God’s final word to mankind concerning salvation. [I]n these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. (Heb 1:2)

“And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’” (Luke 14:17)

The servant must go out with the Gospel to gather in the people. There is one servant, not many. This servant is the Holy Spirit, who calls you by the Gospel to the banquet. The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Rev 22:17)

God works through means. The Holy Spirit works through the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion to call people to the banquet. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17) “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 2:14)

No matter where the Gospel is preached or by whom, there is only one true Gospel and only one Servant who bids us “come.

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” (Luke)

These are not a bunch of rabble or immoral or dishonest people. Neither is Jesus criticizing the vocations of business, employment or marriage. All of these examples are good endeavors if held with the right perspective. But Jesus is identifying a group of people who esteem their families and possessions above the Gospel. The Gospel includes the offense of the cross: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:39). But Christians who esteem the Gospel above all else have Christ’s pledge and promise: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matt 19:29)

What this boils down to is faith. In what or in whom do we place our trust? When something arises in our lives, which brings the Gospel and worldly concerns into conflict, to which do we yield? Jesus here teaches us that His great banquet is only for those who have true faith in Him. Those who receive the invitation, but do not have true faith, such as those represented by this first group, make themselves unworthy and exclude themselves from the banquet. Therefore, let us all repent of our unbelief and with Peter beseech our Christ: Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:9)

“So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’” (Luke 14:21)

God’s banquet is ready right now. He is not going to postpone or cancel it. So He issues new invitations, this time to the poor and crippled, blind and lame. The point here is not that this second group is God’s second choice, but that all types of people (even those who were previously excluded from full participation in Jewish worship) are to receive the Gospel and the benefits of this great meal.

To go out “to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor…” illustrates a greater level of effort, which often is required to reach this group of people with the Gospel. Many of them are outcasts and mistrustful of such a gracious invitation. Some are ashamed of their circumstances and scared of such an improbable invitation. Yet, we don’t read about any excuses. The servant found them, brought them, and unlike the first group who excluded themselves by unbelief, this second group entered the banquet in faith. All human life is sacred to God.

“And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” (Luke 14:16-24)

Everyone who receives the Gospel by faith enjoys the first fruits of this great banquet. This is a present, but everlasting banquet. We enter now by faith, but on the last day we will put on immortality. But until Jesus returns, “still there is room.” God by the preaching of the Word bids everyone, everywhere to come to His banquet.

He tells the servant “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in.” This third group of invitations takes the most work. This is not physical or legal coercion. But to “compel” carries a sense of urgency and encouragement. In this group are people of other religions, other languages, people who have never heard the Gospel, people burdened with great outward sin, and people otherwise despairing. This group may find it very difficult to believe that Christ died for them, has freed them from their sin, and now compels them to come to this banquet. With this third group, Jesus shows us that the scope of the great commission is the whole world.

The parable ends with a serious warning. Those who reject or deny the Gospel will not partake of the banquet. They will not receive the gifts that Christ won for the world. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’” (Heb 3:7-8). Beloved of Christ Jesus Come, for everything is now ready.”

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

 And he will swallow up on this mountain

the covering that is cast over all peoples,

the veil that is spread over all nations.

He will swallow up death forever;

 and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken. (Is 25:6-8) Amen.

Jun 222016
 

pinocchio_180x180Last week I wrote about the Orlando tragedy and our tendency to almost immediately jump in the fray and spout our political arguments while displaying little concern or mourning or grieving for the great death and suffering afflicted upon the victims and their friends and families. 

Part of the ensuing discussion revolved around at what point can we say something “political”. 

My thoughts were that it takes some discretion. 

I can’t speak to the perfect balance of timing and balancing political concern and personal concern in each and every situation because I’m not nearly wise enough to do so.  But I believe there are times where there is an obvious lack of discretion, and unfortunately those times are decidedly only growing in our evermore toxically divided culture.

Which brings me to my thoughts for this week on a related subject that shouldn’t take any discretion at all. 

Yet, we may be even worse at this one.

That is, when we are making our case, whether political or theological or otherwise, and we misrepresent the opposition.

There should be no discretion needed here.  I’m not speaking to when we honestly get mixed up or are unaware about something, but rather when we knowingly misrepresent someone. 

When we do this, we bear false witness.  Sometimes our misrepresentations may even reach the level of libel or slander. Even if we don’t meet the legal definition of such, our spirit is certainly there. 

I believe even to the extent in cases where we’re unsure about something and know we could be wrong and yet don’t bother finding out the facts and just go ahead and make our charges and then end up being wrong, we still bear false witness.  Those times when we know there’s a good chance we’re wrong or know that we aren’t very well informed about the subject or know that we have little evidence or justification for our charges, and yet make them anyway.

Coming out of the Orlando tragedy I witnessed what I believed to be many misrepresentations and false witness in the political haranguing.  Many of them likely done knowingly, or at least with little regards in trying to find out what is actually true.  But this was no surprise as it seems to be par for our current course.

Let me pause to speak to one example.  That being of President Obama.  I have many disagreements with things he has said and done while in office.  Overall, I do not think he has been a good president for our country and too many times it seems to me as if he is more concerned with sticking to a political agenda than he is with doing what is best for the country.  (Of course, the same could be said of many politicians.)

With that said and the point of this post not being to argue about the Obama presidency, I don’t know how many times I have seen or heard blatant misrepresentations of President Obama.  Whether on social media or other forms of media or even in personal conversation.

Obama is a Muslim.

Obama is a closet homosexual.

Obama is about to take executive action to take all of our guns.

Obama is not going to allow the next election for president.

And so on and so on.

The saddest thing is that almost every time I hear one of these false accusations, at least in regards to Obama, it is coming from a professed Christian.  It’s as if anything goes in politics.  The “other side” does it so we can, too.  All’s fair in love and war.  And it ain’t the love part that’s doing the driving.

One more example – the transgender bathroom issue.  I previously have spoken my concerns here and other places about the opening up of restrooms and the like and the endangering of women and children because of men (non-transgendered men) who I believe will take advantage of the relaxed rules and will violate the women and children.  It is a very big concern I have, and yet why can’t we just stay honest when we’re making our arguments?

For instance, I recently came across a pamphlet proclaiming that some Pennsylvania bills currently in legislation would mandate all public places (schools, government buildings, etc.) to have open restrooms.  In fact, the information said it would even extend to private institutions such as Christian schools.  However, the truth is that these bills are for the expansion of current Pennsylvania anti-discrimination laws to cover people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  There is nothing addressing restrooms or the like in the bills.  Now, the real concern is that these bills could then later be used as a basis for requiring open restrooms.  However, there is no language in the bills themselves that would instantly require all restrooms be made open to one’s gender identity as one was led to believe by the pamphlet.  It intentionally misrepresented the bills to make them appear worse than they really are.     

Truthfully, these deceptions and attitudes extend beyond politics.  Whether it’s theology or work or anything with which we have a disagreement with another, too many times we will misrepresent the other in order to gain an advantage or win the argument.

Even here on this blog, I see it sometimes.  I don’t or can’t always keep up with all the theological debates but it seems to happen most often there.  Many times the debates are healthy and robust and much good comes of them.  But at the same time there appear to be times where people and positions are knowingly misrepresented.  Sometimes the misrepresentation occurs due to misunderstanding or lack of clarity.  But other times it seems to be pretty clearly intentional.  And I’m not talking about those times when an obvious exaggeration is made to make a point.  When everyone understands the exaggeration is not factually accurate but is made to make a point.  But when the accusation is made of someone or something that is knowingly not true and yet portrayed to be true, in efforts to make that person or position look worse than they really are and score points for yourself and your position.

Why can’t we stick to what we know to be true and put forth our best honest argument and then let the cards fall where they may? 

To trust God’s will be done and understand that it’s not up to us to make sure it happens. 

To let our yes be yes and our no be no… and let God take care of the rest. 

Jun 212016
 

links_image1Don’t you wish it were true?

Not doing ministry like Uzzah…

What is an evangelical?

Trumped-up charges…

The names for God in the Pentateuch…

The SBC,race, and a path to more growth…

Now, this is funny…

Will evangelicals sit this election out?

World Orthodox leaders meet…

More on the Orthodox synod…

When you are done with church…

Seven questions to ask an atheist…

Seven things Christians should know about refugees…

Who would Jesus blame for Orlando?

Preached to death…

Why would anyone sing in church these days?

The unbelievable tale of Jesus’s wife…

The church and the American flag…

Why Leroy Barber lets ministries go…

Excellent article on cultural anomie…

What missionaries aren’t telling you…

Dr. Packer answers your questions…

10 things you should know about election…

Wenatchee on the Driscoll lawsuit…

The dangerous divide between theology and practicality…

The Christian virtue that can change your life…

Gothard and the cult next door…

Trumps meeting with evangelicals…

Some bad bible teaching…

Satan and sexual abuse…

Good link…punching down on working class Christians…

Thanks to EricL not only for the link help, but for putting my book into the hands of 1200 more people in 7 different countries.

Support him at top right…just a blessing to work with him.

 

Jun 202016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Greg Laurie warns that unless America “turns back to God” we could end up like Pompeii.

Really? A big volcano is going to wipe us all out?

I wish one of these apocalyptic messengers would illuminate us about a few things.

For instance, when was this golden age of holiness and piety that we’re supposed to turn back to?

I can’t seem to find it in any history book.

Second, can any of these men show us biblically how America “parallels” Israel?

No they can’t, but they keep doing it anyway.

Israel was a theocracy, directly ruled by God.

We are neither.

All “parallels” collapse at that point.

Third, why is God so upset with the U.S?

Seems to me that there are any number of oppressive regimes around the world that deserve the Pompeii treatment way before us…

America is not the center of Gods universe…His kingdom is.

It would greatly aid us to discern the difference…

2. I’m keenly aware of our societal and cultural problems. I also have more problems personally than I’ve ever had. I still wake up every morning excited about what God might do today…

3. The message of the Gospel is all about how God has provided a path to reconciliation with Him, not about how much He wants to bury you in ash…

4. My guess is that I’m the only person here mourning the end of hockey season…

5. Pornography is a far greater threat to “traditional” values than transgender people…and it’s tearing up families in the church.

6. I watched another video of Laurie’s where he said that the reason that America isn’t found in Bible prophecy is that all of us are taken out in the Rapture. I think the proper answer to that question is “I don’t have a clue”.

7. The moment that you accept that there are “real” believers in traditions other than your own, you acknowledge that your tradition may have errors in it’s understanding of “what the bible teaches”. It’s in that moment that you can embrace others and have unity in Christ, rather than secondary doctrines about Him.

8. It’s when I started caring about how I would be remembered that I began caring more about how I live today…

9. Facebook must have sent out a memo that said the more names you call someone, the better your argument sounds…

10. Lord knows I’m on a lot of meds right now and my thinking may be skewed…but I truly believe that there never has been a better time in history to be alive. Perhaps the sin we are really being disciplined for (if we are being disciplined) is not some sexual or moral failure, but a lack of thankfulness for all we’ve been given…

 

 

Jun 182016
 

thumbnail.aspxO GOD, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind,

we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men;

that you would be pleased to make thy ways known unto them,

thy saving health unto all nations.

More especially we pray for the good estate of the catholic Church;

that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit,

that all who profess and call themselves Christians

may be led into the way of truth,

and hold the faith in unity of spirit,

in the bond of peace,

and in righteousness of life.

Finally we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those,

who are any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate;

[especially those for whom our prayers are desired;]

that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them,

according to their several necessities,

giving them patience under their sufferings,

and a happy issue out of all their afflictions.

And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.

Jun 182016
 

MYOA Book1 Cover-4jGet it while it’s  free on Amazon…

Update…

Big thanks to you who haven’t seen this news on Facebook…

Thanks to all of you we’re the #1 free book in Devotions, #1 in Meditations, #1 in Religion and Spirituality short reads and #23 in the whole Religion and Spirituality category.

Thank you and thanks to Reader Hill and Eric L for all the work this weekend!

Jun 182016
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbMatthew 5

The Sermon on the Mount

The Scribes were the keepers of the Scriptures – they were like the seminary professors who studied and knew the Law and interpreted it for everyone else.

The Pharisees studied under them.

The scribes put themselves under the scripture – but Jesus spoke as one who had authority over the scriptures – see Matt 7:28-29 – “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

So Jesus could come along and say something like “the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” That is kind of a big deal.

Or – Jesus could say “here is what I meant when I said it the 1st time. (in the OT)

_______________________________________________________________

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

  • Seeing the crowds, (back to 4:25) Jesus heads for the hills.
  • To whom is Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount?
  • It is important to distinguish between the masses and the disciples.
  • To whom did he give the Office of the Keys?
  • The responsibility for the Supper?
  • The Great Commission?

The Beatitudes

Follow along here and note – these are not laws, not instructions, not something to follow. These are pure gospel – the Christian is…

The Beatitudes are not a prescription to how to reach your spiritual potential.

It is a blessing – Jesus is blessing His New Israel

Blessed are you = Jesus’ words give what they promise

We often hear that the Beatitudes are to be the “BE” Attitudes – that we are to “BE” – and we are to “BE at it.”

But this takes away from the gospel of Jesus. When you hear the Beatitudes you should walk away trusting in Christ – faith in Christ. NOT scratching your head thinking – I must be doing something for my blessing.

If so, you missed it.

Just as when Moses went up on the mountain, before the 1st commandment God says “I am God” This is what Jesus is doing.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

  • Taught them – the disciples

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • What is a blessing or what does it mean to be blessed?
  • It is here 9 times
  • Again, these are not commands – not imperatives – they are descriptive.
  • Descriptive of who Jesus is … and those described get Jesus
  • But we are “in Christ” so they become descriptive of us
  • These are the marks of a Christian – are you in Christ?
  • How does the world describe who is blessed?
  • Rich – Great – Honorable
  • Who are the Poor in Spirit? They get Jesus and His salvation.
  • But we see Jesus’ description in Luke 18:9-14/ Pharisee & the Tax Collector
  • “9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

  • Mourn = Perhaps sadness over our sin – or the realization that we can’t do anything about it on our own.
  • Isaiah 61:1-3 – the God of Comfort
  • “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
    the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
  • 2 Cor 1:3-5 – The God of Comfort
  • “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

  • “Poor in Spirit” = our relationship with God
  • “Meekness” = our relationship with each other
  • Meekness = humble in recognition that we too are sinners.
  • An inner confidence that we are God’s holy children by faith in Jesus Christ.
  • We can safely trust his care and providence in our life.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

  • Because God gives it to you (the satisfaction)
  • Not their own righteousness, but Jesus’ righteousness imputed to you.
  • Righteousness = to be in the right place – to be doing the right thing – being back to being what you should be.
  • God does this for us / to us through Jesus
  • Jeremiah 23 speaks of a Messiah whose name is The Lord of our Righteousness.
  • We will also see in verses 10 & 11 that it is for Jesus’ sake.

In a grouping we can see that the 1st 4 are the same – the persons are the same. Jesus is giving to those who have nothing and they need everything. What he says he gives “Blessed are you.”

The last 5 will deal with the last days that are upon us.

 

Jun 172016
 

heart-200x148I fired my cardiologist this week.

Ironically, it was because he has no heart.

The occasion that prompted his dismissal was my appointment with him on Monday.

He was to review the latest test results and perhaps set the day for open heart surgery if the results merited such.

I was more than a tad nervous when he walked in the office.

He sat down and using the language of his trade spoke to the papers in front of him for a few minutes.

The only thing I understood was that I was to return in six months and he dismissed me from his presence.

I received my paperwork from the front desk and went to my truck to start home.

I glanced at the paperwork as I started the engine…and was stunned to see a new diagnosis on the front page.

“Aortic aneurysm: not ruptured”.

That’s a good thing…because if it was ruptured I’d be reading about how I died.

He hadn’t mentioned this new problem to me.

He evidently wasn’t concerned enough to do so.

He also was unconcerned that reading that would send a reasonable patient into a panic.

It could give them a heart attack…

It was really bad news with no words about a hope or a cure.

I tell you all that not because it’s important for you to know my medical history, but so you won’t imitate my cardiologist.

Christians have read all the paperwork and become adept at diagnosing the ills of the world and their fellow men.

We proclaim the sins of others and the world like that paper proclaimed my disease.

We declare the bad news without any words of hope or cure.

We pronounce that the end is near and judgment is upon them.

We do so, too often. without any semblance of the heart of God.

We wonder why, for the most part, we’ve been fired.

We speak the language, but not the concern, of our texts.

We see the problems, but have no heart.

Bad news can condemn and terrify, but knowing the bad news can be the first step toward healing.

However, it can only bring healing when accompanied by good news from a Healer.

I’m off to find one of those…I suspect that others who understand their diagnosis are as well.

Make your own application…

 

 

Jun 162016
 

Here is the video follow up to Calvary Albuquerque’s “Follow The Leader” sermon we wrote about last week.

I’m at a loss for printable commentary…

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