Saturday, January 16, 2016, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Sing of His Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 22:1-14 (NASB). A Wedding Feast (vv. 1-6) Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. When Jesus spoke these words, he was addressing these thoughts to the Jews. They were God’s chosen people at that time in history. They were the ones to whom the promise of the Messiah had been given. They were the invited ones to the wedding banquet, i.e. to the kingdom of heaven. But they, as a nation, rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah. Although they witnessed his miracles, and they listened to his teaching, and they saw with their own eyes the difference he made in people’s lives, yet they would not repent and believe in him. Instead, they hated their Messiah and Lord, they were jealous of him, and so they went about harassing him, and trying to prove him false. Then they falsely accused and arrested him, beat him, gave him a mock trial, and then hung him on a cross to die. Times really haven’t changed all that much, though. Their rejection of the gospel meant that the gospel was now given to the Gentiles, although still preached to the Jews, too. So, now the Gentiles (all non-Jews) were the invited ones, too. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him has everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). Anyone, whether Jew or non-Jew by birth has been given the opportunity (invitation) to God’s eternal kingdom via faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, many people in the world have not yet accepted that invitation. They have not repented of their sins and turned to follow Jesus Christ with their lives. Countless numbers of people today are still not willing to come to faith in Jesus Christ, numerous people refuse the invitation, and many more just ignore the gospel message and go their own way instead, disregarding God altogether, even among those who profess to believe in Jesus Christ and/or who call themselves “Christian.” So, what is the invitation to? What is it they are refusing? Well, coming to faith in Jesus Christ is an invitation to death to sin and to live for righteousness; to be crucified with Jesus in death to sin, and to be resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said his sheep know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him, and no one can snatch them out of God’s hands. Paul was called to open blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. He said if we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. So, it is an invitation to forsake sin and to follow Jesus with our lives. It is also an invitation to deliverance from the bondage to and the punishment of sin, to have eternal life with God beginning now and forevermore, and to become servants of Christ’s righteousness. By his stripes we are made right with God and are saved from sin. And, just like the Jews refused Jesus’ invitation to the kingdom of heaven, and did not repent and believe in Jesus Christ, but mistreated and killed God’s servants and messengers - and Jesus Christ, their Messiah - many people today pay no attention to Jesus/God, and refuse his gospel, and choose to go their own way instead. Many of them, as well, mistreat and even kill the Lord’s true followers and servants who are calling the people to repent of sin and to come to faith in Jesus Christ. They accuse them falsely, trump up charges against them, twist the scriptures to their advantage to try to make serious (deeply committed) Christians appear badly, try to trap and trick them, harass them, and try to prove that what they are teaching is false so that people won’t listen to them. Their goal is to try to destroy their witness and/or to try to get them to give up and to retreat. Into the Streets (vv. 7-10) But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. God judged the Jews for their rejection of Jesus Christ. He sent the Roman army against them, which killed many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and set the city on fire (around 70 AD). The temple was destroyed. The city of Jerusalem is no longer the Holy City, but is of Hagar, the slave woman (See: Gal. 4). The Jews are no longer God’s chosen people. They were cut off from the kingdom of heaven due to their unbelief, but they can be grafted back in if they believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah, Lord and Savior (See: Ro. 11). God’s people are now all those who repent of their sins and who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile by birth. God made believing Jews and Gentiles one by faith in Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are now the children of promise, and the Holy City is now the Jerusalem which is from above, i.e. it is spiritual, not physical. The Bible, as well, teaches that God will judge his church in these last days before Christ’s return. He will also judge the nations and the people of this sinful world. Cities will be burned, and people will be killed, and buildings called “church” will be destroyed, and are being destroyed. God will judge his church for her idolatry and her spiritual adultery, and for her poor treatment of his servants and messengers, and for her refusal and/or her neglect to obey God’s command to repent of sin and to follow Jesus Christ in surrender (See: Rev. 2-3). I believe that scripture teaches that, through judgment, the wayward church will be revived, and through the revived church the gospel will go out and many will be saved. Few are Chosen (vv. 11-14) “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are clothed in his righteousness, not just in being delivered from hell and being given the hope of heaven when we die, though. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). We are called to be holy, which means set apart from (different, unlike) this sinful world because we are being made into the image of Christ; becoming like him. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue to conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk according to the sinful flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). When we are clothed with Christ, and with his righteousness, we are not to think about how to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh (Ro. 13:14). We are to make no provision (no available avenue) for the flesh. We are to throw off everything that hinders our walks of faith, and every sin which entangles so that we can run with perseverance the race God has marked out for us (Heb. 12:1-2). If something is leading us into sin, we are to cut it out of our lives. The Christian life should not be like the lives of the unsaved people of this world. The Christian life is a life given to Jesus Christ for him to live out his life through us. It is a surrendered life to God, submitted to the cross of Christ. When we are dressed in the appropriate wedding clothes it is because we have put on Christ and his righteousness. The thing here is, though, that this man thought he was dressed for the wedding. He was convinced that he was acceptable. That is why, I believe, he was speechless when he found out he did not have the right garments. And, that is how it will be one day when many people will stand before God convinced that God is going to let them into his heaven only to hear him say, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” That is because so many people are believing Satan’s lie which says you don’t have to repent of your sins, and you don’t have to obey God, and you can still be saved and escape hell and go to heaven when you die, as though that is all there is to believing in Jesus Christ. They think God’s grace is a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, and that God doesn’t even see their sins anymore now that they are under grace. If they do not repent, they will be thrown out into utter darkness for eternity. So, if you are like this man, turn from your sins today and turn to follow Jesus Christ with your life from this day forward. I Sing of His Mercy / An Original Work Based off Psalm 32 / April 10, 2014 Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven By the blood of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does Not count against them; freedom found. When, in silence, I did not confess My sin to You; had no strength. Then I owned up to my sin and You forgave and cleansed me within. Therefore let the godly pray to You; Draw near to You; grace they’ll find. They will not be o’ertaken by afflictions, But in Christ peace abounds. Lord, You are my hiding place. I find my refuge in You secure. You protect me from all evil. You give songs of vict’ry in You. Lord, You teach me to walk in Your ways; Counsel me in love, I know. Help me to not be stubborn and Unwilling to follow in Your truth. Thank You for Your love and mercy. I put my trust in You always. I rejoice in my Lord and I sing of Him throughout all my days.