Party Time!

The angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are this who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” and he added, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:9

Weddings are joyful and fun – who doesn’t like a party! But only special people get invited, and brides-to-be often struggle over who should receive an invitation and who shouldn’t.

The Bible describes heaven as a wedding feast; Jesus is marrying the Church. Like any other wedding, God only invites those He knows. We wouldn’t ask strangers to attend our wedding either. Jesus said only those who do the will of God can enter his kingdom. He’ll tell the others, “I never knew you.” Doing His will is easy: Accept Him as our savior and love others. Those two simple actions will open doors and usher us into an eternal party!

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Heart to Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Matthew 5:8

Don’t you wish the “God stuff” was easier? Being pure in heart can imply good motives, innocent actions, avoiding sexually charged images and, of course, the most challenging: humility.

Purity essentially comes down to putting others first, and not letting our selfishness influence how we work and interact with others. Jesus doesn’t cut us any slack. He knows that we’re going to be much more forgiving of ourselves than other people so He set the bar high to help us achieve big goals, like purity of heart. He doesn’t say purity of “actions” because if our heart is in the right place, our motives, actions, thoughts and words will be pure too. Pure isn’t sinlessness; it’s striving for that, while constantly trying to love the sinners around us.

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Separation Anxiety

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are Blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ ” Matthew 25:34

Most people say they’re going to heaven because they’re a good person, better than most. Some claim to have a “deal” with God that allows them to skirt the rules. There are only two unbreakable rules to getting into heaven: Acknowledge Jesus as our Savior, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

This verse emphasizes taking care of neighbors. The scene is the end of the world. Jesus separates those who have been kind to the “least” from those who weren’t. The kind go to heaven; the others to hell. What can we do to be kind to the least? There are plenty of opportunities – get busy now!

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Go With the Flow

Again the high priest asked Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Mark 14:61

Jesus’ reputation had swept through the country-side. He was performing miracles, challenging authority and drawing huge crowds. He was a rock star times ten thousand! But Jesus wasn’t playing by the rules. He was preaching authentic living instead of the phony holiness of the religious leaders. And they hated Him.

Jesus paid the price for rejecting their superiority; He was crucified. We’ll pay too. Outside of our holy bubbles is a society that increasing belittles and rejects Christ and Christianity. We’re an irritating reminder of sin. Intolerance is a word used today to indicate a refusal to “go with the flow.” Unfortunately, as in plumbing, the flow always goes downhill. After this verse, Jesus answered, “I am.” Is He truly God to us?

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Love-Hate Relationship

May those who pass by not say, “the Blessing of the Lord be upon you.” Psalm 129:8

We’re living in an imperfect world, and others want to destroy our way of life. That’s a fact. Why they hate us is a matter of debate. Is it our freedom or the way we rudely display it? It may be that the spread of our culture is seen as a threat to others.

Here the Psalmist is remembering the abuse he’s suffered for his faith. He’s been oppressed and tortured, but the Lord rescued Him. He is still bitter. We often are too. We’ve all been belittled and bullied. He wants the Lord to punish his persecutors and never bless them. Jesus might disagree with his request, but He does promise to avenge us. And we’d like to see that happen right now!

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Twelve Pack

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he Blessed them, giving each the Blessing appropriate for him. Genesis 49:28

Thomas Jefferson said, “All men are created equal.” He was wrong. We’re all created differently. This is best seen in families. Any family with more than one child has a great divide in personalities and temperaments. God does this on purpose, of course!

Jacob’s family was a total mess. He had twelve sons by four different women. For several sons, even Jacob’s blessing was a veiled curse. He wasn’t the perfect person and neither are we. Our imperfections should lead us to Christ. He had a special love for misfits and “sinners” just like us – and our kids. Thankfully, He didn’t come to save the perfect, He came to save us!

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Kids Stuff

And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and Blessed them. Mark 10:16

Why do we love children so much? They’re usually cute, that’s for sure. They have unlimited energy, and they love to play. Everything’s new to kids and that reminds us to appreciate the little things in life more often. They also love unconditionally and don’t seem to notice when we’re out of breath or ready to surrender!

Jesus loves children. He found in them the simple faith that was lacking in the adults He encountered. They’re not gullible, they’re innocent. They believe that what they hear is the truth, and they haven’t been dulled by lies or betrayal. Jesus wants us to have that level of faith in Him. He’ll never lie to us or betray us. Believe, trust, love and live!

 

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Game of Life

Then he said, “Please my son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my Blessing.” Genesis 27:25

As kids we played board games, card games and musical chairs. Games teach kids about winning, losing, acquiring skills and sportsmanship. In fact, wild meat is called “game” because of the skill-set needed in hunting.

Here, two games are on display. Esau went to get game to serve to his father to receive his blessing. Jacob played another game that involved deception. He won. We crave relationships where we can be real, without gamesmanship; those are rare. But God doesn’t play games – He’s real. And He wants us to be real with others. Game playing is manipulation. Play fair, play hard, play real. We’ll win some and lose some, but we’ll never lose His love for us.

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Mercy Me

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7

We tend to think we’re the only ones who deserve mercy. But we want justice for those who’ve hurt us! We’re all guilty of little and big things. The little ones are usually the result of stupidity or immaturity. The bigger issues are the result of selfishness and spite. Selfishness started with Adam and Eve. Spite is our deliberate attempt to harm someone, either emotionally or by smearing their reputation. We want to bring our own brand of justice to bear. Revenge seems sweet.

We should never pray for justice, only mercy. If God were to give us what we really deserve, our punishment would be eternally unbearable. Thankfully, because Jesus took our punishment, God’s merciful and forgiving to us.   When will we start being merciful toward others? Now?

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Calculated Risk

“For I tell you that you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” Matthew 23:39

Jesus told His disciples He was going away and would return. But they were either too dense to understand what He was saying or they ignored it, hoping it wouldn’t happen. It happened, they saw it, and we will too.

We’re like them. We can read the Bible and hear countless sermons, but unless we experience God directly, so much of it’s just a story or a theory. We discover how to depend on God by – depending on Him! Risking ourselves for Him, even a little, helps us experience God’s realness. Let’s accept His challenge, and go for it! He’ll help us overcome our fears and we’ll learn to trust Him instead of ourselves.

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