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It’s a Wedding Banquet You Won’t Want to Miss!

Matt 22 2

Matthew 22 – Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Day by day, I am continually reminded that this life is ever short and ever precious. The saying “you never know what you have until it’s gone” has seemed to be a very frequent, very loud, and very clear message to me as I have gone about this year and have witnessed several loved ones finding themselves face to face with the most trying of situations. Though we walk through many trials in this life, comfort can be found in the eternal hope of the coming Kingdom of God.

 

Today, you have read through Matthew Chapter 22. In verses 1-14, Jesus uses a parable to compare the Kingdom of Heaven to a Royal Wedding Banquet.

 

As listed below, there are several points that can be taken away from this parable.

 

  1. “I have prepared my dinner. . . Come to the banquet” (Matt. 22:4).

This banquet wasn’t thrown together quickly. Rather, preparation took place to make sure that everything was just right. In the same way, our Father too is preparing His coming kingdom.

 

  1. Some of those invited “paid no attention and went off- one to his field, another to his business” (Matt. 22:5).

How many times have you heard the message of the Kingdom of Heaven yet ignored it? Maybe life has been “too busy” for you to RSVP to this wedding banquet event. Maybe your mindset is “I’ll look into it tomorrow.” What if tomorrow never comes? Are you actively preparing for the wedding banquet? Or in other words, are you seeking The Kingdom on a daily basis?

 

  1. “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come” (Matt. 22:8).

Do you feel unworthy of your invitation? That’s okay, I do too. It is true! None of us are deserving of the sacrifice that has been made on our behalf, such a sacrifice that bridged the gap between our sinful nature to a pure and holy God as we were washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

  1. “Go into the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find” (Matt. 22:9).

Anyone is invited. We have the ability to spread the news of this coming Kingdom.

 

  1. The king noticed a man at the wedding banquet who was not wearing wedding clothes. He was thrown into the darkness. “Many are invited to this banquet, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22: 11-14)

Many are invited, but few are chosen. Let’s not waste our invitation to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven. Rather, let’s live a life pleasing to God.

In doing so, may we hold true to Matthew 22:37-39.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment, And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Your invitation is ready. Do you accept?

 

-Kayla Tullis

 

Hello everyone.  My name is Kayla Tullis and I am very excited to spend this week digging deep into the FUEL Bible Devotions with you all. I am nineteen years old and I attend North Hills Church of God in Ohio. I am currently studying at Edison State CC with the pursuit of becoming an educator one day. In addition to attending school full time, I play basketball at the collegiate level and work in childcare at the Kids Learning Place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have Confidence!

1 Corinthians 15 58

We have come to the end of I Corinthians 15, also known as the Resurrection Chapter. The last few days we’ve had chunkier denser passages but today we end with just one verse:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Paul has explained a lot in the previous 57 verses, such as:

  1. The resurrection appearances of the Lord to many groups and individuals including Paul himself (3-8)
  2. The absurdity of denying the resurrection if you hold to the faith (12-19)
  3. Jesus being the prototype of those who have fallen asleep in him. Just as Jesus was raised, so too you and I will also at his return (20, 23)
  4. All those “in Christ” can and will share in the victories of Jesus and have life (22)
  5. Our bodies will be raised completely transformed and glorified and we will receive the gift of immortality. Because of this transformation through Jesus we are able to have access to God and entrance into his kingdom (42-50)
  6. At the resurrection event sin and death will finally and completely be defeated and those “in Christ” will experience victory made possible by God in and through Jesus (54-57)

Then Paul concludes, “therefore”. In light of the resurrection and its implications, this is how you you should live. Paul says four things: be steadfast, be immovable, abound in the work of the Lord, and know your work is not in vain in Jesus. I want to take a moment to look at each one briefly.

To be steadfast is to hold onto something tightly and to be without waiver. In light of Jesus’ resurrection, no adversity we face in this life should have the power to keep us from remaining in the faith and and stop us from being obedient. In the same vein, we should be immovable. Our hope and faith in Christ should be immovable with the reality of Jesus rising from the dead and God’s promise to those who are in Christ. The next phrase is a call for action. Because Jesus rose from the dead and is coming back we should strive to work for the Lord. One, because we want to share the good news with all people and disciple them, and two, he will hold us accountable for the works we have done in the body, “for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Cor. 5.10). Lastly, Paul offers encouragement. Being in ministry can be a grind and sometimes you wonder if you’re making a difference at all. Sometimes you won’t see the fruit of your labor and someone else will. But you know who won’t forget or miss all the work you do and the fruit that comes from it? God and Jesus. Because God is faithful and Jesus is returning we can have confidence and assurance that our work is not in vain because even though no one may remember the work we did or see anything come from it, God and Jesus see it. And you will be rewarded as such when Jesus returns and you are given life.

Thank you for reading and live life in light of the resurrection reality.

-Jacob Rohrer

 

(Photo by Alice Railton of Lake Waubee at Camp Mack in Milford, IN)

 

 

Resurrection, Transformation & VICTORY!

1 corinthians 15 52

Today’s section is over I Corinthians 15.50-57. In these seven verses there are two themes; transformation (50-53) and victory (54-57). Paul begins by stating that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” and then the next phrase clarifies the previous. The perishable (flesh and blood) cannot inherit the imperishable (the kingdom of God). What this tells us is that we, in our current bodies and untransformed state cannot behold the nature to something such as the kingdom of God. In fact for us to be able to enter the kingdom, we need to undergo a transformation which happens at the resurrection and is only available “in Christ”. Paul says this in the next verse – that we will not all sleep (a euphemism for death in the Bible) but we will all be changed and then he specifies what change will occur in verse 52-53. He states that when the last trumpet sounds the dead will be raised “imperishable” and be changed. It it this act of being transformed that allows us to be in the presence of God and Jesus in the kingdom of God. Verse 53 restates and says that this mortal must put on immortality. In other words, at the resurrection the believer will receive the gift of immortality and will be granted entrance into the kingdom of God.

There are two things I would like to point out. First, you may be wondering, why would I have to change or go through a transformation to be with God? Well I think the answer is a practical one. For example, say I wanted to explore the sun. I want to get really close to it to explore and study it. The problem is I wouldn’t be able to get very close to it because of the intense heat and radiation. It would kill me if I got too close. However, if I somehow was made of the same elements of the sun I would be able to approach it because I would be like the sun. In a similar fashion, God is holy, bright, and other wordly. There is nothing in our experience to compare him to, he is incomprehensible. For you or I to be in the direct presence of God, we would have to be like him in some way or else we would die from his glory and majesty. The transformation we need in order to be in God’s presence happens and takes place at the resurrection. Philippians 3.21 says that we will be transformed into the image of Jesus’ glorious body. And where has Jesus been? He has been enthroned at God’s right hand.

A second point is notice what Paul says in verse 53 “…this mortal must put on immortality”. To be mortal means the capability to die. Immortality means the incapability of dying. Yet what does popular culture and church tradition tell us? When we die our souls or spirits go to heaven or hell. However this is only possible if there is a part of us that lives on after death, in other words, to go to heaven or hell would require us to be immortal. But Paul says that this “mortal” (this body that doesn’t have immortality), will put on, or be granted immortality. In short, we are not immortal now but those “in Christ” will receive it at the resurrection. Here are three verses to further this point:

I Timothy 6.16 – “who (God) alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

II Timothy 1.10 – “…but now has been revealed by the appearing of our savior Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

I Corinthians 15.52-53 – “…and the dead will be raised…and this mortal must put on immortality.”

In short, only God possesses immortality, it is available through Jesus and the gospel, and those “in Christ’ will receive it at the resurrection. Will we let this challenge our thinking about the traditional view of what happens after death? The hope that God has placed before Christians is the hope for the return of Jesus and the resurrection, not going to heaven. Paul finishes that once the resurrection event happens that death will finally be defeated and swallowed up. And the power of sin and death will be no more and God, Jesus, and those “in Christ” will be victorious! God has given us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ

-Jacob Rohrer

What Do the Stars Tell You?

Psalm 19

 

I have always been amazed at God’s creation here on earth.  The beauty.  The creativity.  The grandeur. In fact, I have always wondered a little bit about the the new heaven and new earth that Revelation 21 records will herald the new Kingdom of God.  Could God really create something more majestic than what we have already seen?  Is there a chance that the new heaven and earth will be a little bit of a let-down?  I am after all a tad attached to what we have here and now.

And then, I saw pictures of Jupiter!  They are breathtaking!  NASA’s space probe Juno has been on a carefully routed 5 year trip to reach Jupiter – and in August 2017 Juno sent back to Earth stunning pictures of the planet it is now orbiting.  Here are just two pictures … many more can be found at https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/images/index.html

jupiter swirling south pole            jupiter south pole from Juno

 

 

 

 

 

And all of a sudden, I am again in awe of Him and His creations.  And I know I can trust Him.  I can trust Him to create a spectacular new heaven and earth and I can trust Him today with my life.   There is so much He knows that I do not.  There is so much power that He has that I do not.  He is a great Big God and sometimes I forget how much I need Him because I think for just a few minutes that I have this world figured out.  And then my mind is once again blown away by how many stars there are and the new-found beauty of a planet we are just beginning to really discover.

David says it well in Psalm 19.  “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4).  God’s masterpiece speaks for Him.  His works of art tell us about the artist.

In the New Testament Paul writes similar words to the believers in Rome.  This city was proud of what they considered their superior culture, amazing architecture and roadways (some of which can still be seen today), and numerous temples to foreign gods (amongst them, Jupiter and Juno).   In many ways it was not too unlike our society today.  Paul writes to the church in Rome: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).  His artwork proves the power and majesty of the artist.

And yet, as we well know there are those who prefer to be blind and create their own explanations for the intricate and beautiful creation.  Interestingly, not one but two psalms begin with these words: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1 and 53:1).   You get to decide which camp you will set your tent in, but there will be a day when everyone will acknowledge God (Romans 14:10-12).

This brings us back to the rest of Psalm 19 which you can read or listen to here –  (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+19&version=NIV).

The first six verses of Psalm 19 speaks of God’s magnificent creation and how it points to God.  The next 5 verses give us a little foretaste of Psalm 119 which we talked about yesterday: the superiority and importance of God’s Word and commands.  “By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:11).  And the final three verses emphasize watching my own actions, attitudes, words, and thoughts to see that they are in line with God’s laws and desires for his children – and seeking forgiveness and change when they are not.  I love the final verse of the Psalm as much as the opening verse: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14).

We serve an awesome Creator God who has provided a detailed guidebook for our lives and a brilliant plan for the future  – which will include everyone acknowledging him.  May we always strive to be pleasing in his sight.

Marcia Railton

(Stars photographed by Chris Mattison – thanks for sharing!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be More Open

Ephesians 1 18-19a

This week I have been talking a lot about all different New Year’s resolutions, that many Christians try to add into their lives every year around this time. Today, our last day is no different. This week I talked about looking for Jesus, and being willing to look silly for him, we looked at the story of Zacchaeus for this teaching. Then we looked at the parable of the talents in Matthew and talked about making good investments, not only with finances but also with the people that we surround ourselves with. We continued throughout the week talking about building our prayer lives, and trying to read our Bibles more. I also talked about striving for fellowship with other believers, and working on having more patience as well. (Let me tell you, patience is definitely one that I need to work on big time, and that is okay.)

The reading today is from Ephesians 1:15-21, & John 11:1-44

Today I am going to talk about something that is built into the rest of these “resolutions” this week. We as believers should be more open. How many times have you felt like you were not being heard, or that you were not hearing from God? How many times have you felt like absolutely nothing is going your way? Have you ever felt completely alone, and confused? God works in mysterious ways sometimes, and I am not always quick to understand what he is doing in my life, and I am sure you are the same. There have been times where I just want to ask God what in the world he is doing, because none of it makes sense to me, at all.

Sometimes I have felt like I was not being heard, or that God was not speaking to me, but I often forget to look in the little things. God gives us comfort when we need it, and he gives us hope and strength, and more often than not, it comes in ways that we would not have ever expected. This fall was one of the most difficult for my family, and I remember there being a few days where I felt lost and confused, worried, anxious and scared for so many things. There was one day in particular where I felt very lonely and forgotten. On that day I walked back to my room at school and on my door was a hot pink and sparkly card that said, “Peace, Love & Glitter.” I opened it and inside were many folded up little notes that had instructions on the outside that said, “Open when you need strength.” “Open when you need peace.” “Open when you need comfort” & me being the impatient person that I am, ( I said that I need to work on that) I opened all of them. Each note contained a Bible verse that had been hand picked by some of the residents in my building and given to me to help me through a tough time. This was God reaching his hand out to me and saying, “Hang on, I’m going to get you through this, I am always here, but I have given you people to lean on also.” Had I been closed off, I would not have been able to see the love and care that God was trying to show me through the people that he intentionally placed in my life.

One more moment I would like to share with you happened yesterday morning. A memory popped up on my facebook, and usually it is a post of pictures that my Grandma tagged me in years ago, but this time it was something that I said a year ago. This is what I said, “It’s always a good day when you get chills all over in the middle of a worship service. It’s like a big hug from God saying, ‘I’ve got you my child, I hear your praises, and I’ll never let you go.'” Again, this was a great reminder of how wonderful our God is, and as soon as I read this post on facebook I remembered the exact service I was at, and a wave of peace washed over me. If I was not open to hearing God in the moments that he makes himself known, in the moments where he is desperately reaching out to me, I may have missed these moments of peace and comfort. These moments that have gotten me through some pretty tough times in my life, and that I will bring with me into the countless storms of this life.

Ephesians 1 talks about Paul’s prayer for the hearts of the Ephesians to be open, that they would appreciate the calling of the Lord, that they would have their inheritance, and understand that power that God has, and they would know the reward for believers. That all sounds pretty awesome to me, God is going to give us rewards for being open to him and his powers. I feel like I have already been rewarded by being able to have a relationship with God, but I know that it will be better someday because the Kingdom of God will be here.

John 11:1-44. These verses are all about the resurrection of Lazarus. This is an important story because we see a blessing where Mary and Martha did not expect one, but because they were open to the power and love that God has and that God had given to his son they were able to receive a tremendous blessing. Their brother Lazarus died of an illness, and they had believed that if Jesus had been there, their brother would not have died. They believed him to already be gone, but because of their intense faith and belief and openness to the power of God and of his son Jesus Christ, their brother was resurrected and they were blessed beyond belief. (I am not saying your loved ones will be brought back to life right now because of your belief) but I am saying that there may be unexpected blessings in the little things, that you would not notice unless you are open minded.

I want to leave you this week with a couple of songs that I think follow this week well, and will support you as you possibly add some or all of these resolutions into your life.

Thank you for reading this week!

“Blessings”- Laura Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ

“Open the Eyes of My Heart” – Michael W. Smith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnqb7Vn4AEE

-Thanks, Jana Swanson

The Ultimate Leap – Matthew 6: 24-34

In Quantam Leap, Dr. Sam Bekett was a quantum physicist. He had a scientific experiment go bad and in result became trapped in “quantum leap” traveling from various time frames throughout history.  He was morphed into all body types and had to fix the situation to try to get back home.  He visited the Wild West, became a high school basketball star and even was even a prisoner seated in an electric chair.  Each episode had forms of humor, drama and suspense with Sam hoping each “morphing” would bring him back home.

We know that our forever home will be in God’s Kingdom.  We wish and pray for the Lord’s return.  Unlike Sam in this story, we will be victorious in finally seeing our Heavenly Father.  It is ours.  All we have to do is commit, follow, have faith, lead and serve.  Pray today to follow God’s will to be done in your lives.  Pray for his coming Kingdom. The ultimate leap is coming: rejoice and prepare for that day!

~ Emily Moyer

 

The End of the Christmas Story

nativity

What is the end of the Christmas Story?

Perhaps when Mary was treasuring these things in her heart and the shepherds were  returning and praising God? (Luke 2:19,20)

Or maybe when the magi were worshiping and presenting their treasures? (Matthew 2:11)

Too often, that is where we stop celebrating in December.  A sweet baby (the Son of God) is born in humble surroundings and certain segments of the population respond with fitting praise and wonder.  The end.  But, as we have seen in our devotions this week, that is far from the end of the story.  I have enjoyed reading through Luke especially at this time of year to see once again what we are REALLY celebrating.

Jesus came as a baby – and what a great opening act that was (you, know the opening act that followed thousands of years of God setting the stage)!!  And 30 years later all sorts of people (fishermen, tax-collectors, sinners, chief priests, foreigners, the sick and diseased, teachers of the law, governors and kings and politicians, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, men, women and children)  all prepare to meet this traveling preacher, teacher, healer, miracle maker, story-teller, leader, servant.  His favorite topic is always the good news of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:1).  Through his teaching, his parables, and his miracles, the world sees a clearer picture of God than they have ever seen before.  The son truly has his Father’s resemblance.

And, he also is committed to doing his Father’s will – even when that means death on the cross, crucified as a criminal, to take away the sins of the world.  His followers are crushed as they were sure this Jesus was going to set up the Kingdom on earth and begin his reign right then.  How could they have been so wrong?

Thankfully, that is still not the end.  Three days later…the tomb is empty!  Joy to the World!!  Jesus appears to his disciples and uses Scripture to explain to them again how the Old Testament foretold what must take place.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.   Luke 24:22-28

A way was needed for both Jews and Gentiles to be washed clean before they could be full citizens of God’s Kingdom.  And Jesus’ death made the way.  And his resurrection gives the hope for a future resurrection.  For there is one more key element that must take place before Jesus will begin his reign over all the world and the Kingdom of God will fully begin.  This is hinted above in Luke 24:47 and spelled out in Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

There have been many godly men and women who have died while preaching the gospel – but still the good news has not reached all people in all nations.  The Church of God mourned the death of a very special and faithful pastor, Rex Cain, just this week.  But the mourning was not without hope because the Christmas story isn’t over yet.

In the final verses of Luke (24:51), Jesus ascends into heaven.  When the same event is recorded in the book of Acts (Luke’s sequel) the disciples are told, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).  The best is yet to come!

The end of the Christmas story is a new beginning.  A beginning that is still to come.  When Jesus breaks through the clouds at his Second Coming this will be the start of his reign on Earth over all who have been faithful.  The dead in Christ will rise and we will see Jesus coming – not as a babe but as a triumphant warrior and king.  A new heaven and a new earth will worship him and his Father.

I pray I will be found ready.  And I pray you will be found ready.  Let’s get to work and tell the nations!

“Come, Lord Jesus!”(Revelation 22:20 b)

-Marcia Railton