Come to the banquet

He’s talking about us.

In Matthew 22 Jesus was talking to the religious leaders of his day about you and me.

“22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

“‘So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’”

We are invited to the wedding! God has invited us to the party. In days gone by it wasn’t so easy to become part of God’s family and to be invited in but now through Jesus all we have to do is confess and believe to become part of his family and to be invited to the party.

Paul explains it in his letter to the Romans:

“21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Then later in his letter he says this:

“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’

Come today, come to the party, God’s invitation is open to any and all. Welcome.

On our last night in Italy we stayed at a hotel that had a wonderful restaurant. As we entered the restaurant the owner stood at the door with his arms stretched out and said “hello! My name name Guido and this is my restaurant, come in and enjoy!”

That’s how I see God right now waiting for anyone who will hear his voice.

Listen! He’s calling us! Today, Right now, today.

Will you enter? Today?

He loves me too much to leave me like this

“Have done, then, with impurity and every other evil which touches the lives of others, and humbly accept the message that God has sown in your hearts, and which can save your souls. Don’t I beg you, only hear the message, but put it into practice; otherwise you are merely deluding yourselves. The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God’s law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness.”

James 1:21-25

I am working on 2 transformation projects right now. My wife and I bought a house in 2006, we loved the house, everything about it, but we have not stopped making changes to it.

The second project I am working on is a 57 Chevy truck that I affectionately call Rusty. Since I was given him i have been in the process of making him better.

As for the house, on our first tour my wife said, “I even like the room colors!” And since then we have painted every room in the house, some more than once.

Rusty was modified from being a 2-Tom flatbed into being a 1/2 ton pickup. I have been in the slow process of making him the best I can. In the early stages I wouldn’t let myself buy another part or piece until I had the last part or piece that I bought installed. I gave up on that and now I have a back log of little projects.

When I came to Jesus I was more like Rusty than our house. I was broken. Jesus accepted me just as I was. He didn’t require me to clean up or shape up or behave better. His gift of salvation was free and freely given.

There’s a verse that the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5 that makes me happy weepy every time i read it.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-11

I am God’s project. He received me as a broken down human with a truck load of issues and problems. He has slowly been working on me and in me. I have to participate in this process for it to work. On the day i was saved the Holy Spirit took up

Residence in me. I see him as this smart young energetic very positive and solution oriented engineer walking around in my head and my heart with his crisp white shirt and tie, hard hat and safety glasses, carrying a clipboard and making notes on how he can turn my mess into something useful for expanding God’s kingdom. My part in this is reading God’s word, to see what life CAN be, and to listen to and obey God’s Holy Spirit when he says “this can change, we can make this better.”

God’s word has the power to change lives. Starting with my own. I can choose to read it, agree with it and yet not let it change me. OR I can read it, believe it and let it become a change order on the project list that the Holy Spirit keeps on his clipboard. My choice.

Anyone reading this has the same invitation from Jesus, to be forgiven and welcomed into God’s family, and will then begin the restoration of your life.

As I write this it’s Sunday morning and I’m getting ready for church. Another avenue of change is to be connected to and submitted to a group of Christian believers. The Holy Spirit that is resident in them can also speak to us to encourage, direct and guide us.

It’s a process. Will you join me, join us?

The group was disbanding

There were 2 missing. One was dead, suicide, and the other was AWOL.

John 20

Where was the second guy? The group had been tight for 3 years now it seemed to be unraveling.

I speculate that the second guy was being proactive. He was moving on to plan B. Plan A had been a miracle working messiah but he was dead. I think Thomas had seen Jesus body some where, either on the cross or on the way to the tomb.

“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

I don’t blame Thomas. I have seen dead bodies before. My uncle Charlie and my mom. They don’t look the same. Jesus was dead. But not for long. Thomas said “unless I see, unless I touch”. He got to do that but today we don’t have that option. We do however receive a blessing by believing without seeing.

Jesus suffered and died. He was dead. But he came back to life in a way that a doubter could see and believe.

What do you believe about Jesus?

There is a lot weighing in the balance of your answer. Believe and come home to our Father.

No cape, just a cross

He did it without a cape.

No costume. No mask. No sidekick.

It cost him his life but he did it. Jesus saved the world.

John 19 & 20

Superheroes are doing it all the time, supposedly saving the world but they never fight our two worst enemies; sin and death.

Jesus took on the battle over sin and death and beat them both.

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”’

It doesn’t read like a victory but wait, there’s more to the story.

Jesus rose from the dead.

“11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,[b] “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

From the cross Jesus said “it is finished”. The battle over sin in our lives has been won. Sin wants to enslave us but Jesus paid for all of us and all of it on the cross. What is left for us is to confess our need of forgiveness and to receive the gift. It sounds too simple.

Paul summed it up in his letter to the Romans, ” if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’

Today could be the day that changes eternity for someone. If you have already received Jesus’ gift then take the next step and tell someone. Once everyone has heard we get to go be with Jesus in the home he has built for us. Maybe the last person that’s waiting to hear the good news is sitting across the aisle from us at work, or lives across the fence from us, next door. We need to Tell our story.

Jesus has defeated sin and death.

No cape, just a cross.

An IRS agent and a sex worker walk into a kingdom

An IRS agent and a sex worker walk into a kingdom.

Sounds like the setup for a joke but it’s part of a story Jesus used in Matthew 21.

“28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”

What we do, or have done will not keep us out of Gods kingdom. However, once we are part of God’s kingdom, a member of his family, we need to get on with the business of that kingdom.

It isn’t enough to preserve our life and family, there is a bigger job still to get done. There are lives being lived without hope or truth. There are untended wounds, uncared for people who don’t know that God loves them, loves them enough to send his only son to die on a cross for them.

We Christians are in the same danger as the religious leaders of Jesus’ day of missing the point of the gospel. The point is that Jesus came to save sinners, sinners like the worst people that we know, sinners like us.

The worst people of Jesus day were the prostitutes and the IRS guys. They were hated.

Who wrote this book we are reading? Matthew, an IRS agent.

God changes lives and changes people with love.

He sees, he knows, he loves

Jesus knows.

He knows stuff. He knows the future and he knows the past. In Matthew 21 Jesus predicts not only what would happen within days but then what would happen in about 37 years.

“33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’[h]?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”[i]

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.”

It all came true. They will arrest him. They will try and convict him. They will beat him. They will force him out of the city. They will kill him. And then God will boot them (the religious leaders) out of the city, destroy the temple and the city in 70 a.d.

Jesus knows stuff. Not just general events kind of stuff but heart and mind stuff. He knows my heart. Even when my heart wants something bad, something wrong, or when it will not forgive, or when it hates. He knows that stuff about me, about us. And yet…

And yet he died for me, for us. He died the death we deserve. And then…

And then he rose from the grave! Jesus is alive! Today, right now, he is alive and well and is waiting for us to choose to accept his deal, the deal of all of eternity, we confess we need him, and he forgives all of our bad and we become part of his family!

He knows stuff. He knows stuff about us. And he still loves us.

Today is a good day to accept his offer.

Let the remodeling begin

Change. Jesus brought it with him. He could change people physically and change them spiritually. He changed water into wine. He changed blind and lame and deaf and mute people into seeing and walking and hearing people. He changed dead people into living people. When he entered the temple he changed it from a market back into a house of prayer.

I can change my house, we’ve done a lot of changing it. I have the authority to do so because I own it. (I will own it after 456 more payments).

In Matthew 21 the religious leaders of the day questioned Jesus’ authority to make the changes that he did.

“23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”‘

Does the owner of a thing have to show his deed to the place at the hardware store? I never have. There are times when I should have. Maybe not questioned my authority but my ability.

Jesus has both, authority and ability. He has a master plan for each one of us. He is standing on the front porch of our lives with blueprints and tools and supplies patiently knocking on the door. He is the owner, we are only tenants.

Remodeling is a lengthy and messy business. Last night I just finished painting over the spackle that I used to fill in holes that I made by mistake. It was a project that I started almost a year ago. There is dust and junk and unexpected detours. But God has a plan. He actually knows how best to change us to make us into what he needs to expand his kingdom. That is the goal, kingdom expansion. God wants his flag flown over every home.

Will we let Jesus into our lives so he can change us?

Today is a great day to get started.