No Room At The Table Unless You’ve Been Invited

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Matthew 22:1-14

CRAZY THINGS can happen at a wedding:

“How did the wedding go?” asked the pastor’s wife.  “Fine, dear, until I asked the bride whether she would ‘Love, honor, and OBEY her husband.’  “She looked at me and said, ‘Do you think I’m crazy?’  Then she looked at the Groom, who awakening from a dream, said, “I DO!”  Then things really started to happen!”

In the culture of this biblical setting in Matthew, TWO invitations were expected, the FIRST to inform the guest there was going to be a wedding.  The SECOND was to let everyone know that everything was ready!

Jesus used PARABLES for comparisons, stories used to illustrate and explain and emphasize His point.

Who Are the “THEMS” Jesus is speaking to?

They are the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, and Sadducees.  The ‘finger pointers’ of the day.

In Matthew 13, the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in PARABLES.  Jesus answered that those who love the TRUTH will understand the PARABLES and those who don’t love the TRUTH will not understand His PARABLES.  It wasn’t because God was hiding the TRUTH from them, it was because they didn’t want to hear the TRUTH.

THE STORY BEGINS.

We see that the king has sent out THREE invites.

Number ONE isn’t written down but the people of the time would have known that the GUESTS had already been informed of the WEDDING.

Number TWO was when he sent the servants out to tell everyone the BANQUET was ready, and afterward, everyone refused to come.

The THIRD invitation went out and some had other things to do and ignored the invitation while others grabbed the messengers and insulted them and killed them.

This is about the rejection of the Jews.  The prophets were rejected by the Jewish people, most of the Jews ignored John the Baptist, and they killed Jesus.  So this PARABLE in Matthew 22 must have hit home with the Jewish leaders.

Then the king opens up the invitation to everyone, the good, the bad and the ugly to use a cliché.

He told the servants to go out on the streets–are you ready for this all you “servants for the Lord”–you followers of Christ?– open the invitation to all!

The BANQUET HALL had been readied and it was filled with guests but one wasn’t dressed for the occasion.  Athletic gear perhaps? (just a reference).  So the king asked him why and he didn’t have an answer, so the king had him tied up and thrown out.

And Jesus ended the PARABLE with this statement:  “for many are called but few are chosen.”

So you may be asking why the King was so harsh on this man, after all, he did come on short notice.

What I’ve come to understand is that the King would have provided the wedding clothes for unsuspecting guests, and for whatever reason, arrogance or just plain, “you’re not gonna tell me what to wear,” kind of attitude.  So he threw him out where there were great weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Have you ever heard people in their sleep grinding their teeth?  It sounds really annoying I’ve been told.

It’s plain to see that this parable is about the rejection of Jesus by the Jews and the invitation to the Kingdom of heaven being opened to the Gentiles.

It’s a great thing that you and I have been invited to the banquet but something in the parable when you think about it bothers some.

The “something” is that the GUEST got tossed out.

It bothers people not everyone is going to make it to the right side of ETERNITY–it troubles us when we realize that not everyone will make it to heaven.

There’s a current societal mindset out there in the world that all roads lead to God and that any religion will get you to heaven.  Don’t be fooled by this misconception.  JESUS said that He was the way, The Truth & the Life and no one came to the Father except through Him.

Scripture is clear that not everyone will make it to heaven.

Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

[13] “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  [14] But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”

Matthew 7:21 (AMP)

[21] Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.

Matthew 25:32 (NIV)

[32] All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

We have ALL BEEN INVITED.

Yes, we’ve ALL been invited, the passage of scripture makes it clear as well as other scripture in the Bible.

Isaiah 55:1 (AMP)

[1]  WAIT and listen, everyone who is thirsty!  Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing].

Revelation 22:17 (NIV)

[17]  The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

You see we have ALL BEEN INVITED, we have all been given an opportunity to put on the wedding clothes of righteousness.  

The but is…each person must choose to put it on!

But some are just too busy, some reject the invitation outright and some think they can sit at the table going unnoticed.  That’s not how it works.

WE MUST BE BORN AGAIN!

We don’t get into the BANQUET unless we have JESUS as our Savior.

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CREDITS

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

BLOG Reference:  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/consider-this-an-invitation/

 

No One Is Guaranteed One Minute Beyond Now

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 16:26-28

[26] “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  [27] For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. [28] “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming to his kingdom”  (NIV Bible).

Let’s face it; we live in a world that bases our success on how much stuff we’ve accumulated.

And Jesus, on the other hand, told us that our success won’t be based on stuff.

Matthew 6:24 (AMP)

[24] “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon” (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).

So I guess what we really need to be asking ourselves each and every morning before getting our day started is “What’s really important to us?”

Are we more concerned with our bank account that the account we have with Christ Jesus?  Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10,

[10] “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

And it isn’t always money.

For a lot of us, we put the stuff that money can buy ahead of our RELATIONSHIP with the Lord.  And for a lot of us, it comes down to not so much how much we’ve got but what we do hang on to what we’ve got.

For some of us, even if we don’t have much, we put our relationship with the Lord on the back burner in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  We live in a material world that shoves it down our throats by having the latest and greatest.

We want more, more, more!!!

Yet we fail to hear the Lord’s words of wisdom on how we handle our STUFF.

Read what He says…,  Matthew 16:26 (a)

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

What we need to remember, and I don’t want to ever take things from Scripture out of context if I can help it, that this particular sentence was spoken AFTER Jesus encouraged us to deny ourselves of worldly pleasures, take up our crosses and follow Him.

He was asking us what would it matter if we had everything of earthly value in our possession; what if we had everything we ever wanted?  What if we never wanted for anything because we already had everything there was to have?

And we were still locked out of Heaven.

If we could have it all and do nothing but seek the pleasures of this world we would still be waiting in the end.

Because if our SOUL was lost, we couldn’t and wouldn’t find anything to replace it.

You lose it, it’s gone forever!

You lose it to Hell and it’s lost forever!!!!

Even so, we as the Body of Christ seem to not see the importance of a person’s SOUL.

Yet Jesus wanted us to understand that we gain nothing from the world if we turn our backs on God.

YOU CAN’T PUT A PRICE ON A SOUL –

If you die with the most toys, you still die.

You can work hard all your days and have everything money can buy.

You can hold all kinds of powerful positions, awards hanging on the wall, trophies on your desk…and your portfolio will never stack up to the condition of your SOUL.

THE HUMAN SOUL will either go to HEAVEN or HELL.  It will either be SAVED or LOST.  There isn’t a middle ground, no exchanges, and no do-overs once we close our eyes for the last time.

Your family can’t buy your way or pray for your way out of Hell.

You can’t bargain your way out either.

You may be wondering right now as you read my words why I’m writing a blog on a subject like our souls. 

You may be sitting there thinking “I’m saved, what difference does it make?”

What about those that you know who haven’t made that decision?

I wonder at times if any of you give two cents about the lost people who you know?

DOES HELL EVEN KNOW THAT YOU EXIST?

I remember the story from Acts in the Bible about the demon-possessed man who told some Christian wannabes  “Jesus I know, Paul I’ve heard of.  Who are you?”

When you fail to tell them about the life-changing, life-saving POWER of Jesus Christ, you’re basically telling them that it’s okay that they go to Hell!

Is that a harsh statement to make?

 Matthew 16:26b – “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Jesus asked this follow-up question regarding our service or lack of it to Him.

What will you give to SAVE your soul?

What are you willing to  SACRIFICE, give up?

What’s ironic here about life is this:  The more we live for our own selfish needs, the more miserable we become.  But the more we do for the Lord, and the more we do in His name, the happier and more satisfied we become.

Can we really put up enough for our souls?

Jesus seems to be telling us that there are many people who would rather spend their entire life pursuing gold, silver and “stuff” in this world of ours than to hear about your Jesus.

Is there anything in this world that you possess right now that can or will be a suitable payment in exchange for your SOUL?

Jesus knew ahead of time that people would wait until the last-minute and get in by the “skin of their teeth.”  Who in their right mind would ever believe that this world gives us the best we can get and that’s all there is to it?

If we were to correctly answer this question, we would have to say we would give EVERYTHING in exchange for our soul!

And we should be willing to do it right now!!

And we should want to tell everyone we come in contact with!!!

And why is that?

No one is guaranteed one minute beyond now.

We could leave here this very minute and step into ETERNITY.  And the truth is that so could any of your friends, neighbors, or relatives who think they’ll skate by because they’re nice and don’t bother anybody.

And a lot of those ‘nice people’ aren’t gonna make it because they’re embarrassed that someone will find out they’ve become “religious”.

Mark 8:38 says:  “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

I sometimes find myself wondering how much of my church family, and when I say “church,” I mean the greater Church, is ashamed of their relationship with Jesus Christ.  A lot of self-professing Christians talk a good game on Sunday, but when it’s time to put up, they clam up!

What will you give in exchange for your soul?

Better yet, what will you give in exchange for your SAVED SOUL?

If you are SAVED, you were SAVED with time to spare.

What about that person who isn’t SAVED yet?

If living for your own selfish desires does nothing but make you miserable and unsatisfied, why not SURRENDER ALL of that and turn it all over to Christ?

EVERYTHING I do, say and experience can attribute to what He is doing in me.

I’M HIS!

HE BOUGHT ME with His blood on the Cross!

So what would I give up in exchange for my SOUL that belongs to Jesus?

EVERYTHING OF ANY VALUE!!!!

We have something much better to look forward to ~ Matthew 16:27 (AMP)

[27] For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory (majesty, splendor) of His Father with His angels, and then He will render account and reward every man in accordance with what he has done.

The same JESUS of Genesis 1 is the same JESUS of John 1 and Acts 1.

It was JESUS who originally said “I’ll be back,” not The Terminator.

None of us know the date and time that He shall come but the bottom line is that everyone is going to know when He gets here.

Acts 1 says:  [11] “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you to heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

It will be unlike any event in human history.  And those who have intentionally lived to fill their pockets and fatten their bank accounts will find themselves in a world of trouble.  For all that they have won’t be enough to pay the COST for their SOUL.

On that day there will be TWO kinds of people in the world.  Those who have a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ and those who don’t!

The SAVED and the LOST.

There’s GOOD NEWS for you if you feel that you’re missing the mark.

We can prepare for ETERNITY now.  We still have time to turn it around right now.

You may not be guaranteed one more minute but you can make a commitment to Christ for the next minute of your life right now.

It’s impossible to live a perfect life.  No one can.  But if I have learned nothing else in this long life of mine, over those years I’ve learned the difference between living for Jesus and living for me.

Jesus came to SEEK AND SAVE the LOST.

He commanded us to go into the world to SHARE the Good News, to witness for Christ, to disciple, baptize and teach.

A few years ago my wife gave me for Christmas one of my favorite Bible verses framed and hung on the wall over my desk as a reminder of my commitment to spreading the good news–to teach and disciple others around the world for Christ.

He will come back soon I hope.  But in the meantime, what will He find us doing?

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CREDITS –

Source:  Bible Study Tools, Matthew 16:26-27

Bible Translations:  NIV Bible, except where noted.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search, setting advanced; 

Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet…” image unknown source.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

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CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

There’s A Time And A Place For Everything!

SCRIPTURE ECCLESIASTES 3:1-15

I have always been musically inclined, from a small boy pretending to direct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in front of my parent’s radio that rested 4-ft. high on the floor in the 1940’s to singing in choirs in elementary school and then in church choirs as an adult.

So in preparing for this study in Ecclesiastes, a tune began playing on my memory’s turntable of a 1961 classic Marty Robbins song:  A Time And A Place For Everything [See Footnote [i] ].

There’s a time and a place for everything

So let’s pretend we’re not blue.

There’s a time and a place for everything

Someday our dreams will come true.

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN –

We Christians tend to sing happy songs about God, and His blessings, and His goodness, and our relationship with Him.

I like happy songs; I’m in favor of happy songs.  The world’s songs, on the other hand, are often not so happy.  Even the ones that sound HAPPY and peppy are often not so happy when you listen carefully to the lyrics.

ECCLESIASTES sounds more like popular music today than the happy Christian songs we tend to sing.

We need to be careful.  Sometimes it is really easy for us to enter into a Christian cocoon.  Christian music, Christian friends, Christian decorations for our homes, and we even speak “Christianise”, as a pastor once mentioned in a Sunday message.

Now I’m very much in favor of all these things…but there’s a DANGER if we become so isolated that our message, even our lives, become irrelevant to the world around us in which we are to be salt and light.  We have to be careful we don’t become so isolated, so deaf to the regular questions of living and struggles of life without God, that we become MUTE to our neighbors and coworkers and families.

IN THESE TIMES…

More and more people are struggling to keep their heads above a rising tide of PESSIMISM about future prospects.  Of course, there are exceptions from a handful of optimists, predicting a better and brighter tomorrow.  Still, the larger portion of humanity is less convinced.

A hundred years ago [in the “modern era”], FAITH in human reason and progress was probably at an all-time high.  TODAY, it [seems] as low as ever with growing doubts whether the world can ever solve its problems on its own.

ECCLESIASTES speaks to this condition.

It expresses the intense disappointment that people feel when they realize, “Life should be better, but it isn’t.”

There is a classic rock tune that was released a year after I was married.  The group, The Byrds, in 1965, came out with “Turn, Turn, Turn” – YouTube has the original recording if you want to listen.  Apart from the title, all the other words in these lyrics were pulled directly from Ecclesiastes 3.  52 years ago, the Byrds understood that these words in ECCLESIASTES would resonate with the regular people.

[1] There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven;  [2] A time to be born…and a time to die.

Of these fourteen couplets…the FIRST THREE are along the same lines:

  • Born – Die
  • Plant – Uproot
  • Kill – Heal

We ALL have a time to DIE.

I know this isn’t a popular subject but try as we might to deny it, ignore it, avoid it, put it off…these lives as we know them, in these bodies, will come to an end.  We ALL have a time to die,  We just don’t know when that is.

Well, actually, we can know if we’d just visit http://www.deathclock.com.  Out of curiosity, I visited and answered a few simple questions and found out “Your time has expired.”  

The good news in all of this is the actual timing of my life here on earth is known only by God!

ECCLESIASTES 3:1-4 – New English Translation ( NET Bible)

A Time for All Events in Life

3  For everything, there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth;

  • A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted.
  • A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and time to build up.
  • A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

The TEXT says that there IS a time and a season for everything!

EVERYTHING, a full rich life with all kinds of experiences, a robust life, lived fully.

It seems to me the trick is to get the TIMING right.  We sometimes seem to get things backward and we’re doing the opposite of what we should be doing.

When you say “time” to a musician, I think in terms of RHYTHM.  There is something wonderful about locking into a groove.

LIFE ought to be like that…A RHYTHM to die…  But get that RHYTHM OUT OF SYNC, it becomes like clapping on the wrong beat.  We get out of sync.  When we should be PLANTING Encouragement and UPROOTING Discouragement, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around.

When we ought to be putting to DEATH our old, rotten, selfish ways and nursing RIGHTEOUSNESS and HEALTH in our lives, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around, killing righteousness and nursing back to health our rotten sinful ways.

We LAUGH at what’s disgusting and evil when we should WEEP.

So, when should we DANCE?

Here’s an idea:  Believe we can get ‘circumstantially’ out of rhythm in life.  For an example, this very CIRCUMSTANCE:  CHURCH.

When we are together reflecting on and our singing about God’s goodness and greatness, we probably ought to DANCE, but some of us seem habitually out of SYNC and rather MOURN in church instead (at least the look on our faces seem mournful).

FOURTEEN COUPLETS OF POLAR OPPOSITES…and each has a time.

Some Bible commentators say that the numbers here of 14 couplets (7x2x2) is a significant indication of COMPLETENESS.  From BIRTH to DEATH and everything in between.  ALL of it intentional…ALL of it work!

AND NO, IT’S NOT YET TIME FOR ME TO BE SILENT (v. 7).

Our country is torn today in regard to whether this is a time for PEACE.  The TEXT brings back to this rhetorical question seen before in Ecclesiastes.  “In the grand scheme of things, what good is all the toil?”

HERE, THERE IS AN ANSWER:  “GOD HAS GIVEN US A BURDEN (TASK, CALLING, WORK) AND HE HAS MADE IT BEAUTIFUL (OR GOOD) IN ITS TIME”  [VERSE 11].

The verse continues and explains that it’s God who put ETERNITY in our hearts, our soul and spirit, a longing to know something beyond time in this life, in this world, and in these bodies.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (b):  “…yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

When, all is said, we only have a spark of eternity in our hearts; we cannot fully comprehend ETERNITY.

So, when you get right down to it, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD–

  • WE HONOR GOD BY ENJOYING THE GIFT HE GIVES US
  • WE HONOR GOD BY LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND BEING SATISFIED WITH HIS GIFT!

This becomes a reminder that God’s SOVEREIGNTY is powerful:

Ecclesiastes 3:14 (AMP)

[14] I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor taken from it,  And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].

It reminds us that any part we have in ETERNITY comes from our being in step with God; our soul’s attitude is in alignment towards Him with the help of the Holy Spirit in our life.  We are reminded that we are neither puppet nor parasite.   We are not merely running in program mode that’s set in place by a grand puppet master.

And…we’re not without resource to add or subtract from our lives and enjoyment.

We are invited to join God in His work, not adding nor taking from His work, but joining Him.

So, what exactly can we take from this PASSAGE of SCRIPTURE?

I know what I came away with, you, maybe something else.  It seems clear that the passage, like all of Ecclesiastes, meant to make think to ourselves.  It’s meant to call us to a REALITY CHECK.

We are called to wrestle with out humanity, this fallen world around us, and what God has to say about it.

NO ESCAPE!

It’s all about LIFE in a  fallen world.  ECCLESIASTES says we can deny it, fight it, hide from it, even try to make sense of it.  BUT…we can’t escape it!  The only response is to LIVE IN IT one day at a time, fearing God and cherishing as best as we can the STUFF of which life is made–food, family, work and not in that order.  These are GIFTS of God’s hand.

So we are to ENJOY THE GIFTS God gives us.

We WORSHIP Him by living abundant, robust, even happy lives.

We examine ourselves and the rhythm of our lives.

We should ask ourselves, honestly, are we honoring God by living full lives well?  Are we treating this GIFT OF TIME as a PRECIOUS GIFT?  Are we living in Relationship with God, or are we working for ourselves…which ends in VANITY, meaninglessness?

More importantly than asking ourselves…let’s ask our Heavenly Father.  Let’s be open to God, through His Holy Spirit, to speak to us, revealing where we can LIVE more fully and thus honor God.  And let us RELY on Holy Spirit to GUIDE, and STRENGTHEN and give us COURAGE,

Now it’s normal, I believe, when we stop and think along these lines, to have REGRETS…to wish we had done some things differently, to have different priorities over time.  BUT the GIFT we have right now, THE GIFT OF TIME, we are enjoying today and will enjoy tomorrow.  YESTERDAY is gone!

So where different priorities are often called for, we’ll need to make a FRESH START today!  I’m going to, will you?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  There’s A Time And A Place For Everything – songwriters Benny Joy Edidson –  Published By – Unichappell Music, Inc., Elvis Presley Music.

Photos:  Google Image, Advance Search Setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Version NIV), unless otherwise stated.

 

 

 

 

 

PARADISE, HEAVEN OR SOMEPLACE ELSE?

LUKE 23:42-43 (Amplified Bible):

[42] Then he [the criminal] said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory!

[43] And He [JESUS] answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

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I first began THE WORD DETECTIVE study on Paradise, Heaven, Or Someplace Else, actually, by reading and enjoying reading various EPITAPHS (Inscriptions of Tombstones).

I know you might be thinking, “You actually got inspiration from reading notices of DEATH?”  Well, no, I receive inspiration from reading daily in Scripture, prompted by Holy Spirit to write on a theme, topic, subject from God’s Word.

That said, I thought I would SHARE one Epitaph I enjoyed reading [see Footnote [i] ]:

“Here lies the body of old man Peas,

Buried beneath the flowers & trees.

But Peas ain’t here, just the pod,

Peas shelled out & went to God.”

PARADISE REGAINED –

In reading the two previous verses in Luke one morning, some questions came to my mind:

Are heaven and paradise the same thing?  Did the criminal on the cross next to Jesus go to heaven or paradise?

JESUS told the church at Ephesus,

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7~ NAS).

So apparently, PARADISE is where God is at, because it is called the “Paradise of God.” 

JESUS told the robber, He would be with him in Paradise that very day.  The words in Luke 23:43, is taken as a great source of COMFORT & HOPE by most Christian believers. Many say, this is clear proof that we go to HEAVEN when we die.

Church Doctrine of Heaven Exposed

One of the most misunderstood doctrines within the Bible is the Doctrine of Heaven. There are a lot of false myths about Heaven and it’s easy to get caught up in them if we’re not careful.

The Bible tells us that we are going to spend an eternity there, so it made sense to me to investigate the place where we are going to LIVE FOREVER & FOREVER.

So what is up with HEAVEN & PARADISE…are they the same?

The word “Paradise” is a transliteration of the Greek word, “paradeisos”.  It is a word used only three times in the New Testament.  Also, the context of each of the three uses is different from the others, by three different authors.

As far as the original meaning of the word PARADISE:

  • (Persian) A grand park or hunting preserve, enclosed, protected, well cared for, but sealed off or contained.
  • A pleasure garden.
  • A grove or park.
  • (“Later” [?] Jews) The part of Hades set aside of the souls of the righteous until the resurrection [Also known as the Bosom of Abraham].
  • Heaven (possibly including multiple levels of “heaven” – sky or atmosphere, outer space/universe, God’s abode).

In 2 Corinthians 12:4, it appears to parallel or point to, the term “third heaven” in verse 2.

Since God is apparently immediately present there, this seems to be a reference to what is considered “HEAVEN”.

However, since the passage refers to Paul’s vision, it is difficult to relate directly to JESUS’ statement made in Luke 23:43.

In Revelation 2:7, this is given as the LOCATION of the “tree of life” – again, what we typically believe as an attribute of “HEAVEN”.

In this case, the word is modified with a prepositional phrase– “of God” — to set apart it from any other paradises.

Now in Luke 23:42-43, the meaning is somewhat more cloudy at first reading.  First of all, we have to understand JESUS’ destination after death on the Cross–did JESUS descend into Hell/Hades, and if so, how long did He remain there?  In other words, does “PARADISE” refer to an understanding of Hades as a “holding area” for the dead?  Or, would was He speaking in a sense outside of space and time, actually referring to HEAVEN?

Now THE STUDY gets really down to the ‘nitty gritty’ !

Teaching the Bible to others for over 30 years, in addition to my own study notes, I have utilized many available sources in helping me understand the application of God’s Word.

This study was no different [See Footnotes & Credits]. 

Here is one example pertaining to the bible verse in Luke 23:43 [The NET Bible Notes]

Note, #4 – sn.  In the NT, paradise is mentioned three times. Here it refers to the abode of the righteous dead.

In Rev. 2:7, the restoration of Edenic paradise predicted in Isaiah 51:3, Ezek. 36:35.

Sheol/Hades/Paradise:  IN THE BEGINNING…

Because of the CURSE of sin, all mankind faces the reality of physical death–100% Guaranteed (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12).

NONE can evade it by their own power, nor can any man or woman escape SHEOL/HADES/DEATH on their own.

While PARADISE is NOT now a part of Sheol/Hades, I wanted to mention here, that it was located in Sheol/Hades at one time.

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Before the death, burial, AND resurrection of Jesus Christ, everybody who died went to Sheol/Hades, which at the time was divided into TWO compartments.  One was a place of TORMENT (“Tartarus”) and the other place of BLESSING, referred to as Abraham’s Bosom–Paradise (Luke 16:22-25).

We know that since the CROSS, the souls of those who die “in Christ” do not go to Sheol/Hades (See 1 Cor. 15:19, 20, 51-57).

After the RESURRECTION and the ASCENSION of JESUS, PARADISE was moved to HEAVEN.  The area for the RIGHTEOUS (Paradise) was emptied out.

The BELIEVER goes directly to HEAVEN–

From the New Testament teaching, we can find that the new location of PARADISE is in heaven.

Tree of Life Location –

In the first PARADISE, The Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life was located in the “center of the garden (Gen. 2:8, 9).  

After Adam and Eve’s SIN, disobedience to God’s Word, God “drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and flaming sword which turned every way, to keep and guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).

I can imagine that the Great Flood, no doubt, geographically speaking, the GARDEN PARADISE was destroyed…but NOT lost!

PARADISE REGAINED…

Revelation 22:1-3 Amplified Bible:

1353073853“THEN HE showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of the Lamb.  

Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the TREE OF LIFE…

There shall no longer exist there anything that is accursed…”

In PARADISE REGAINED, the Tree of Life is “on either side of the river” where “the leaves are used for the healing and the restoration of the nations.”

JESUS Words Spoken On The CROSS…

In the gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus responding to the religious leaders of His day. And when asked if He would give them a miracle or sign, that He was the Promised One, Jesus said,  “No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet JONAH” (Matt. 12:39 b.).

The Given CLUE (verse 40): 

“For even as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

He was saying that He would spend the time between His DEATH & RESURRECTION in Sheol/Hades (“in the heart of the earth”).  

We know that JESUS went into the depths, the heart, the center of the earth (Ephesians 4:9) for three days and nights while His body lay in the grave (Matt. 12:40).

The Lord Jesus told the repentant criminal that He would join him in PARADISE that same day.  This tells us the PARADISE was located in Sheol/Hades at that time.  I believe this evidence given, in God’s Word, was the same place referred to as Abraham’s Bosom in Luke 16.

However, AFTER Jesus rose from the grave, He ascended to the Father, taking the saints who were in Abraham’s Bosom to HEAVEN with Him.

He took “captivity captive”–including the thief on the cross–with Him.

Ephesians 4:8-10:

“Therefore it is said,  When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes]  and He bestowed gifts on men.

[But He ascended?]  Now what can this, He ascended mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth?

He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).”

That PARADISE was moved to HEAVEN (2 Corinthians 12:3-4) –

JESUS’ WORK COMPLETED…

With Jesus’ work now completed…FINISHED, the believers who had previously been confined in Sheol/Hades, are now taken to HEAVEN to wait in God’s presence until the time of their resurrected bodies to enter His Kingdom on Earth.

Sheol/Hades: The Present Location of the Unrighteous Dead –

HADES refers to a place of temporary torment; referred to as the immediate, or present HELL.

What I mean by this is, that at the time of DEATH, the souls of the LOST–the unbelievers–the unrighteous– that don’t confess Jesus is the Son of the living God–God incarnate, go directly to HADES to suffer in torment until the Great White Throne Judgement; where they will be resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire–“This is the second death” (Revelation 20:13,14; 21:8).  

The souls of ALL the lost who have already died and presently there, and… those who die now in their sins, immediately go there to join them.

The Simplicity of the Three Crosses –

One criminal’s REPENTANCE and acceptance of JESUS as his Savior went to PARADISE that day and then to HEAVEN.

The other criminal’s soul was delivered Sheol/Hades–the place of torment.

Three Crosses: Rejection, Repentance, Redemption:

The REPENTANT CRIMINAL didn’t have a degree in Theology.

He didn’t have the opportunity at this place in time to clean up his life (he couldn’t if he tried!).

He didn’t have time to “work his way to Heaven/Paradise (and he couldn’t if he did have the opportunity).

He didn’t have to offer a long and detailed “prayer of Salvation”.  There wasn’t a counselor at the foot of his cross telling him to “repeat after me.”

He simply TRUSTED in JESUS and CRIED out loud for Him to SAVE HIM!!  His life was changed because of what JESUS was doing on the Cross right next to him!

Both criminals made choices that day on Mt. Calvary:

  • REJECTION/HADES/JUDGEMENT.
  • REPENTANCE/REDEMPTION/PARADISE (Heaven). 

Which CHOICE have you made?  You don’t have to be nailed to a cross when making a decision for Christ Jesus. You can make it right where you are.  Remember, your choice is for an ETERNITY.

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Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  EPITAPH from Vernon Caruthers Sermons About Heaven.

Commentary Credits:

Bible Hermeneutics Stack Exchange (PARADISE); Hell, Sheol, Hades, Paradise and the Grave – Berean Bible Society; What did Jesus mean by Paradise?  www.bible-uk.com

Photo Credits:

Google Image Search; Photo Pin.