Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind Together

Posted by on May 30, 2010 under Sermons

Revisit Deuteronomy 6 … [read vs. 1-9]

Review: Our culture and our religious heritage have gone through a division of these components: heart/soul, strength/mind.

Strength/Mind is typical of the 19th and 20th century. It is the emphasis of the Modern Age, the Age of Reason and Enlightenment. Slogans: Better living through chemistry. The Age of Reason. Scientific Progress. Church: We are a people of the book. Bible names for Bible things. Common Sense. The Ancient Order of Things. Reasonable Faith. Study to show thyself approved. Bible Facts. Memorizing Scripture.

But what did we do with the Holy Spirit? Not much. What did we do with the mysteries of God? We de-mystified some of them. What did we do with imaginative texts like Revelation? We ignored it or said don’t take it literally. What did we do with miracles? We left them in the first century.

Heart/Soul is typical of the 21st century. It is the emphasis of the younger generations. Experience is equal to fact – or maybe even more important than objective fact in some cases. This is the postmodern age. Reason is good, but it has failed us. We live in a world of pure imagination.

But feelings are flexible. They change. Faith without work is dead and useless.

Imbalance:Heart-Soul w/o Mind-Strength: Non-reflective. Sloppy Agape. There’s no compass, no center. No memory of what God has done. No future. Focus is on the moment. Experience without the connection to something larger, without the mentoring and testing of community is narcissistic.

Mind-Strength w/o Heart-Soul: Rules without compassion. Sacrifice without Mercy. Action without Joy. Mechanical, legalistic. Outward. Believe the right thing, do the right thing, but feelings and heart are not surrendered to God. It is too rigid. Being rigid without mercy and humility becomes self-righteous and judgmental.

Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with God

  • Can you imagine what would happen if we combined all of these?
  • Can you imagine what it would be like for us to be fearless in exploring the infinite combinations of putting all of this into practice –
    • in our worship,
    • in our fellowship,
    • in our service?

I believe the enemy wants us to be imbalanced. To focus only on our strengths. That makes us self-reliant and we never have to rely on others. And we hardly depend on God.

    Is our slogan, “I’ll just do it myself.”
    How about, “To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.”

When we are imbalanced, we become divided because we treat one another with suspicion rather that respect …

  • Our family of faith is one.
  • But we are not all the same when it comes to gifts and experience.

Some of us are more comfortable in one quadrant, but the community has to give place to them all. When the community or group preferences one side or one quadrant, then people are excluded.

Of course the community has to be creative in connecting h/s and s/m.

  • See Acts 15.
  • Experience and scripture connected and the result was that God’s church increased and got stronger and healthier.
  • New solutions to problems were possible.

As an individual we want you to use your gifts (head, heart, hands). We pledge that there’s a place for you in our congregation.

  • If you lift your hands in worship during prayer because you really know how to worship God with all your heart – then do it.
  • If you can dig into the word in worship, class, or fellowship because you know how to reflect on the word with all of your mind – then do it.
  • If you clap during a song or say Amen because you know how to worship God with all your soul – then do it.
  • If you greet your brothers and sisters and are eager to help serve a tray or hold a door open because you know how to love God with all your strength – then do it.

Of course the application of this involves much more than just our Sunday morning assembly. It is much larger that because it involves all aspects of our lives and our life together.

Like the disciples in Acts 15, we will seek inspired wisdom and the guidance of the spirit to connect all of us for God’s purposes.

But doesn’t this mean we could seem different. Yes. But we can all worship God.
But doesn’t this mean we might not understand one another. Yes. But we can all submit to God.
But doesn’t this mean we might have some disagreements? Yes. But we will persevere through love and respect.
What we cannot do is just give up …

Does our whole self belong to God?

  • Then give him all in worship?
  • Then give him all in service?
  • Then give him all in fellowship?
  • Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly as you love the Lord your God with all of your heart soul strength and mind.

I want you to think about your baptism. Was there any part of you that wasn’t buried with Christ? (I don’t mean was a toe or elbow sticking out of the water). I mean did you give your whole self to Christ?

Perhaps you’ve learned that the word “baptize” means immerse. Well that’s true enough, but baptism means so much more than that. When we are baptized, we are buried with Christ because we die to self. We offer our entire body, our entire self to Him. There’s no part of self, not heart soul strength or mind, that we can hold onto for ourselves – and if we do hold on to any of it we will lose it.

The Power of Tenacity

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In Jesus’ description of a righteous person in Matthew 5:3-9, he included the drive to be righteous as a quality of righteousness. Motivation/drive was essential! Righteous behavior is no accident! It is NOT the attitude that says, “If it happens, it happens; if it does not, it does not.” Righteous behavior matters to the person who is godly!

Jesus described the motivation/drive as “hunger and thirst.” A hungry person thinks of food constantly! A thirsty person thinks of cool water constantly! It takes something powerful even to distract from hunger and thirst-then it is only a distraction! Before long, the person thinks of how hungry or thirsty he/she is.

This drive reminds us of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28. The physical Jesus was born an Israelite (1) to declare God kept His ancient promise made to Abraham and (2) to return Israel to God’s purposes. In death and resurrection he became Savior to all.

The Canaanite woman, not an Israelite, begged Jesus for a miracle to benefit her daughter. Though she knew who Jesus actually was, he did not pay her attention (answer her.) The disciples asked Jesus to send her away (grant her request?) because she would not stop begging them to intercede for her. His answer, “I was sent to the lost of Israel.”

Still she pled! She even bowed before Jesus asking for help. He finally said to her that it was not proper to give her what was intended for Israelites. He classified Israelites as children and Canaanites as dogs. Still she persisted! She said that even dogs ate the crumbs that fell off the table.

Jesus was so impressed with her faith that he said, “Be it done to you as you wish.” Her daughter was healed immediately.

If Jesus granted your desire based on the amount of faith you had, what would happen? How fast would it happen? How much do you want to be a righteous person? Sometimes faith is expressed in tenacity! Christian faith always serves, and never quits!

Vineyard Workers

Posted by on May 23, 2010 under Sermons

Parables – part 8

Matthew 20:1-16


  • Matthew 19, the encounter with the Rich Young Man
  • Jesus instructs the young man to sell his possession and follow Him. The key to this phrase is “Follow Me.”
  • The young man refuses which prompts the disciples to question what reward they will receive for leaving everything to follow Christ.
  • The hanging question that requires the parable concerns the fairness/justice of God and the rewards of the kingdom of heaven

The Parable in Movements:

  1. Movement 1 – The master of the vineyard hires workers
    1. The vineyard is a symbol of Israel and the kingdom of God
    2. The man agrees to pay the first set of workers a denarius – the average day’s wage for a worker in Palestine
    3. The hiring continues through the successive watches of the day – third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour. There are 12 hours to the day.
    4. The movement builds up to the eleventh hour. This is the last opportunity to hire anyone for that day’s work.
  2. Movement 2 – Paying the workers
    1. Now the master of the vineyard pays his workers.
    2. He begins with those who were hired last.
    3. Everyone is paid the same: a denarius
    4. The unfairness is noticed by the first set of workers. They have a legitimate case. They have done the bulk of the work. They have worked through the worst part of the day. They are certainly deserving of a bonus.
    5. However, if they had been paid first and sent out, they would not necessarily have any insight into the pay given to the final set of workers
  3. Movement 3 – The Master responds to the charges
    1. His response has two parts:
      1. He is fair with the original set of owners because he paid them what he said he would pay. If he had cheated them by paying less than a denarius, then they would have a case. However, he paid exactly what they agreed to. This is fair.
      2. The workers’ expectations are changed when they assume something based on the generosity shown to the eleventh hour workers. The Master notes that his arrangement with the eleventh hour workers is really none of their business. They cannot be concerned about what he chooses to do with his own money.
      3. This allows the Master to close with a question to the grumbling workers: “Are you envious because I am generous?”
      4. The parable ends with the saying: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”


The Phrase “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” appears in Matthew 19 and Matthew 20. It is also found in Mark 10 (again associated with the story of the Rich Young Man) and in Luke 13 in which is references a reversal in the end-time.

Those who are first in this world seem to be those who are privileged by status or wealth. It could also refer to the primacy of Israel in God’s plans. Those who are last are the least – they are the humble and the wanting.

In the kingdom of God, there is a reversal (due to God’s mercy) that undoes the privileges that we concern ourselves with in this age. This is similar to the idea in Luke’s parable (Luke 16) of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Their situation was reversed in the age to come.

The Vision of Deuteronomy 6

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Deuteronomy 6

All of us want our own children to be prepared to live as disciples for Christ. The church takes young people there by paying attention to words in Deuteronomy that Jesus regarded as the greatest commandment:

I have thought about my own children …

When it comes to loving God with all their mind, I want them to be able to ask the right questions even more than I want them to be able to give the right answers, because I know that they will still be growing in Christian maturity all of their lives. I want them to challenge the world around them in Christ’s name and not just be challenged by the world around them. I want them to already have a faith in Christ that isn’t simply a repetition of what they have been told to believe.

When it comes to loving God with all their heart, I want them to have passion for worshipping God, in all the ways that such worship takes shape for them. I want them to have compassion for those whom God loves. I want them to love their neighbors as themselves. I want them to know the stories of people who have made good choices, bad choices, and have a testimony about those choices.

When it comes to loving God with all their soul, I want them to have an awareness of how much God loves them and what that love means. I want them to regard the world around them as more than a material world. I want them to have a sense of how they can spend their life for Christ in any profession, in any culture, in any circumstance. I hope that along the way, they will have the benefit of spending time with mature Christian who will show them that redemption, forgiveness, salvation, worship, hope, and prayer are not just something to understand, but something that we live.

When it comes to loving God with all their strength, I want them to know that God loved us enough to come in the flesh and not just shout at us from heaven. I want them to know that God would have us use the strength and health we have to serve him and serve others. I want them to learn about God and learn from Christ by going places, doing great things in his name, and being in the presence of others who can model morality, service, and spirituality.

All the literature and credible studies continue to affirm that parents make the greatest spiritual impact on their children. However, parents are not the only ones that make an impact. Like most parents, I would welcome the assistance and support of a community of faith that encourages my children to be well-formed disciples of Jesus. I would welcome the benefit and the blessing of a church family that does not in any way hinder or quench the spirit of my children. I would welcome the support of a church family that helps me to raise my children. I would welcome the love of a church family that receives my children as members in Christ.

If I want this for my children, then I imagine that others also want something like this.

I want what God thinks best and I see that ever since the time of Moses there has been a concern for parents and the people of God to impress faith on our children …

The Vision of Deuteronomy 6

  1. What is your vision for “our” children? When our church family takes the time to bless an infant and the parents and grandparents of that child – did you know that we are casting a vision? Did you know that we are setting a standard? When we salute 7th graders who’ve reached a transitional moment in life – when we celebrate with all of our children who promote to the next grade – did you know that we are casting a vision? When we bless our very grown up, yet so very young seniors – did you know that we’re casting a vision?

    We should be very aware of the vision we are casting, not just with our children, but with all children. This godly vision of loving God with all of one’s heart, soul, strength and mind does not come automatically. Without all generations nurturing that vision, we will default to the vision that our culture supplies …

    Culture’s vision seems fine – sort of benign – yet …

    • It is focused on happiness and well-being … but that sense of happiness and well-being are often described in self-centered and individual terms. Can anyone truly be happy in a culture focused only on self-expression?
    • It is focused on success … but there is very little grace. Very little thought of redemption. No vision for how God redeems mistakes and heals wounds. And certainly no suggestion that we may have to suffer for doing what’s right.
    • It is limited to parent and child – there’s very little thought for the community, other than to choose the type of community that we want. And there’s no place for the generations before and after – except for them to always be serving us.

    The culture’s vision for our children seems fine, but it is thin. It is artificial. Many Christian parents buy into this cheap imitation and then frustrate themselves trying to baptize it in God’s spirit.

    Beware: The cultural lie that we’ve accepted is that we can live through our children. (Vicarious Living) Wrong! God must live through our children. That shouldn’t be a problem if our hope and trust for eternity is in Christ and not our kids.The children are not our future.

    Let’s “hear” Israel. Let’s hear church – so that we can see God’s vision.

  2. Does this apply to you? No generation, no matter how old, can ever say, “We’ve raised our children – our duties are over.”
    The excuses of the elderly – (Deuteronomy has a vision of 3 generations)
    • We don’t understand these kids. They don’t like us. They are not like us. Of course they aren’t. How many of you are like your grandparents?
      • Styles and culture change. I don’t see many of us here in sandals and robes.
    • I doubt that this is as true as you think.
    • Even if your fears are true, the youth need you. They need your memories and experience. Their parents need you too, especially the overly-anxious one.
    • What we should really be afraid of is our children losing their faith …

    Listen up Israel – Listen up church: “you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live.”

  3. Will we live out this charge? Deuteronomy 6 doesn’t give the church another program. The solution isn’t curriculum or education ministry. What it proposes is a way of life.

    “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly … when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands — wear them on your forehead — Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

The ceremonies – Baby Blessing, 7th Graders, Seniors: Behind all of these are day to day commitments. Things that cannot be seen: The investment of hours and years – the lessons taught by example, the example of parents, grandparents, friends, uncles and aunts and Mr. and Mrs. “someone.”
It represents in ceremonial fashion a way of life …

Is this worth it? You bet. This isn’t extra time – this is the real work. This isn’t special worship – it is THE worship.

I’ve noticed that we’ve been dismissing or disregarding the baptism in our children, citing that it isn’t true bona-fide evangelism. I disagree, especially when more than half of our own children are in danger of losing their faith. When some parents feel the pain of an adult child who has never made a commitment to Christ, how dare we say it doesn’t count when a teen puts on Christ in baptism.

Let’s not dismiss it when we baptize our own children.

  • It may be harder in fact for our own children to develop faith.
  • We should be extremely thankful – and when we are tempted to believe that this is “a free throw” we should remember that there are some who have fallen away.
  • The vision of God in Deuteronomy is that faith is passed on from one generation to the next – and even the grandparents are involved!

The Bargain Route May Not Be a Bargain!

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In Matthew 9:1-8, Matthew recorded Jesus saying to a paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven. The entire discussion that followed did not focus on the paralyzed man. It focused on Jesus’ statement of forgiveness of sins. “How dare a mere mortal say this! Only God can forgive! This declaration is nothing short of blasphemy!”

Jesus, knowing the scribes’ thoughts, asked a question. “Which is the most difficult–to grant forgiveness or walking?” To show that he had the authority to forgive sins, Jesus enabled this paralyzed man to walk.

The point was emphatic and immediately visible: If Jesus could make the paralyzed walk, he had the power to forgive. The multitudes, awe-filled, glorified God for enabling Jesus to do what he did. They “got the point.” They recognized God as the source of Jesus’ power. God, not Jesus, was actually at work. This was no mortal act!

Consider two “think about” questions.

Question one: Why are humans so impressed with the visible? Forgiveness did not “Wow!” the witnesses, but a paralyzed man walking “Wowed!” the witnesses. Lesson: No matter what we say God does for us through Jesus Christ (forgiveness, redemption, sanctification, etc.), nothing “Wows!” the witnesses as will the way Jesus Christ changes us as people. How you treat your family, how you treat others, your ethics in your work, expressing your servant mentality, etc., will “Wow!” the witnesses.

Question two: Why do humans often fail to see the greater gifts? Forgiveness of sins trumps walking any day, under any circumstance, any time. If we had a choice between walking and forgiveness, which would we choose? May I speak for most of us? For many the answer would be, “We choose both!” We tend to be greedy, do we not? Wonder which we would choose in judgment?

Cherish all blessings! Never sell forgiveness! Selling forgiveness is never a bargain!

Persistent Prayer

Posted by on May 16, 2010 under Sermons

Parables – part 7

Luke 11:1-13

  • The context of the parable about the friend at midnight and the saying about parents are Jesus teaching his disciples about prayer.
  • Jesus could have let his simple instruction on prayer stand as it is.
  • However, the attitude about prayer is as important as what is actually done.
  • This is the purpose of the parable.

The Friend at Midnight

  • This is a story about community and the burden of hospitality. It is comical.
  • Man #1 has just settled his house down for the night. Everyone is in bed.
  • Man #2 (his neighbor) has had a guest arrive at night. Hospitality demands that Man #2 show Man #1 proper hospitality.
  • But Man #2 has no bread to serve, so he bothers his neighbor (Man #1). Why disturb him? Because hospitality is that important.
  • Man #1 tells Man #2 to go away. To go elsewhere. But Man #2 doesn’t give up. He is persistent. He is bold.
  • Jesus’ says that Man #1 will give Man #2 what he asks for just to get rid of him.

The Point: If a person like us would give someone something just to shut him/her up, how much more will God give us what we truly need?

Attempts to allegorize this parable miss the big point. The man and the friend and the guest do not represent particular things. It is the comical, weary attitude of Man #1 and the persistent attitude of Man #2 that is the focus.

Jesus uses the technique of “from the lesser to the greater” to make a point about God answering prayer.

Which of You Parents?

  • Likewise, flawed parents can be asked for basics by their kids.
  • We don’t give them something horrible (stones when they ask for bread)
  • If parents like us can get this right, how much more can God get it right when we asks for our needs?

Luke 18:1-8

  • The context is a question about the kingdom of heaven.
  • God’s people should not give up praying for justice and the rule of God.

The Widow and the Judge

  • Upon introducing the judge, we are told that he is wicked. He will not rule for justice.
  • The widow is the weakest person in society. She has no one to go to. Her only help is the wicked judge.
  • She will not give up asking for justice.
  • The judge will not honor her case. He will not award her justice based on the merit of her case or his love for justice.
  • But just to silence her, he will
  • Once again, if a wicked judge can do the right thing, then God will really do the right thing.

One Another

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This phrase comes up often in scripture. In the context of the church it describes the relationships we ought to have as members of the body of Christ.
The church is a “one another” community – it is not an institution. It is not an organization in the way we typically think of such. The church is the collection of members.

  1. Love One Another – (John 13:35) Here is a clear teaching from Jesus. This is the basis of community.
    1. We love as he loved us. That is a high standard.
    2. Ephesians 5 teaches that husbands ought to love wives as Christ loved the church. See also Romans 12:10, 13:8; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:2; 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8; and 1 John 3:11-22, 4:7-12; 2 John 1:5.

  2. Do Not Judge One Another (Romans 14:13) – It is not loving to pass judgment. It is destructive of the body of Christ (Galatians 5:15 and 6:4).
    1. We tend to be bad judges. Jesus taught us to take the plank out of our own eye before bothering with the speck in another’s eye.
    2. Confess you sins to one another (James 5:16) would be a better, healthier alternative. We cannot confess and pass judgment at the same time. See also James 4:11.

  3. Encourage One Another (Hebrews 10:25) – Encouragement is aimed at shaping us into the people that God wants us to be. The sort of people we will be in eternity.
    1. Why would we discourage when it is much better to encourage?
    2. See also 1 Thess 5:11, Hebrews 3:13.

  4. Serve One Another – (1 Peter 4:9) Hospitality is an important value and virtue in the ancient world. It is an important ministry. It encompasses many things (from foot-washing to finances).
    1. What does it mean to offer hospitality with grumbling? It means that it is routine and mechanical. Done from obligation.
    2. When hospitality is mechanical, institutional, non-relational it is as bad as grumbling. Hospitality is not the work of a few select members (ministers and elders).
    3. We also have a hard time being ministered to. When we do this, we deny God the opportunity to work His Spirit in us. See Galatians 5:13.

What Are You Looking For?

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All of the gospels acknowledge the fact that Jesus was under the critical scrutiny of some of the best-trained Israelites (see Matthew 12:10, 19:3; Mark 3:2; Luke 11:53, 54; 23:10; John 8:6; etc.). Often he was “set up.” They asked, “Why did you do that?” Or, “What is your position on this?” Or, “What is your stance on this matter?”

Commonly, those who asked were well-trained religious leaders. Rarely did they ask to learn. Their motives involved finding fault, criticizing, attacking, or destroying his credibility. So they followed Jesus and his disciples in the fields and asked, “Why do you let them do that?” (Matthew 12:1-8.) Or, they wondered if he would heal on the Sabbath Day (Mark 3:1-6).

While Jesus’ teachings and actions blessed some, others were totally unimpressed. While some saw in Jesus hope, others regarded him to be a dangerous man who led people away from God. To some he was the Savior God promised, and to some he was a cunning servant of Satan. To some he was the promised way to God, and to some he opposed everything God valued. To some he announced God’s light, and to others he was the villain of darkness. To some he was the means to eternal life, and to some he destroyed their future opportunity for power and wealth.

Even today, not everyone sees the same thing when they look at Jesus. To some, Jesus embodies the joy bigger than death. To some, Jesus is the destruction of all fun. To some, he is the avenue to the greatest power this world has ever known. To some, he is a threat to power. To some, he is the means to wealth bigger than physical life. To some, his values are against physical wealth.

The truth is that it does not matter what others think about Jesus-pro or con! What matters is what you think about Jesus. To you, is he a Savior or a demon? In him do you find light or darkness? Direction or confusion? Life or death? Is he worth the investment of your life, or is he the stumbling block to all you value? When God asks you what you think of Jesus, will you bow out of necessity or out of desire? (Philippians 2:9-11)

A Wedding Banquet

Posted by on May 9, 2010 under Sermons

Parables – part 6

Matthew 22 – A king hosted a wedding banquet for his son . . .

Let’s also look at the parallel text in Luke 14

Notice what is different about these texts.
Perhaps Jesus is telling the same basic parable on two different occasions for different emphasis.Luke and Matthew are using different version to make sense of the message in their gospels. Each version of this parable completes and enhances the themes of their gospels.

The accuracy of the details within this parable should not concern us. They are ridiculous to begin with and that is how the parable functions. For instance, no one in the ancient world would turn down an invitation to the king’s wedding banquet simply because of business. If no other reason, than to simply partake of the food that is being served! And then there’s the honor of being invited.

In addition to the texts from Luke 14 and Matthew 22, there is a version from the “Gospel of Thomas” (64).

64 Jesus said, A person was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his slave to invite the guests. The slave went to the first and said to that one, “My master invites you.” That one said, “Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight. I have to go and give them instructions. Please excuse me from dinner.” The slave went to another and said to that one, “My master has invited you.” That one said to the slave, “I have bought a house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time.” The slave went to another and said to that one, “My master invites you.” That one said to the slave, “My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.” The slave went to another and said to that one, “My master invites you.” That one said to the slave, “I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me.” The slave returned and said to his master, “Those whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused.” The master said to his slave, “Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner.” Buyers and merchants [will] not enter the places of my Father.

The Context of Luke 14

  • Takes place at an actual banquet after Jesus heals a man and he gives a wisdom lesson on taking the best seats (rank and status)
  • Fits in with the theme of reversal in Luke. Notice who is accepted into the banquet: ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ (Compare to Luke 4:18)

The Context of Matthew 22

  • Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem and is confronting the religious leaders who will crucify him.
  • Two other parables of judgment precede this: The Parable of the Man with Two Sons, and The Wicked Tenants. Both reveal the antagonism of those who considered themselves the servants of God
  • Two Scriptures set the interpretation of the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22
  • Matthew 21:31-32 – Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 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.
  • Matthew 21:43 – “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.

Historical Background:

  • The Messianic Feast was anticipated as the beginning of the new age under the messiah
  • Isaiah 25:6-9 is the origin of the Feast

The Function of the Parable:

  1. A king gives a wedding banquet for his Son
  2. Guests are invited
  3. The invited make light of the invitation
    1. This is a ridiculous turn of events
    2. The excuses given are weak compared to the importance of a king’s wedding banquet
    3. Deuteronomy 20:5-9 may be the background of the excuses. These were exemptions to serving in a war in ancient Israel
  4. Because the initially invited make light of the invitation, they are excluded and the most offensive are attacked by the king’s army (once again, an odd and exaggerated situation that makes a point about rejection)
  5. Others, typically considered outsiders, are invited.
    1. In Matthew 22, they are the good and the bad (compare to the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds)

Grace and Judgment

  • Grace is demonstrated in that all are invited – good and bad
  • Judgment happens when the King expels the man not wearing wedding clothes
    • Wedding clothes represents taking the invitation seriously
    • The king expects honor (God expects us to bear the fruit of the kingdom)
    • This part of the parable connects to the saying that the kingdom is given to others who will bear the fruit of the kingdom.

Life – John 3:16

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We’ve been looking at Scriptures that tell us very clearly what God wants us to do.
This morning we look at a Scripture that tells us very clearly what God has done, what he is doing, and why. And then of course it sets a clear path for us.

John 3:16 – The Book Chapter and Verse is probably better known that the Scripture itself.

  • Wrestlers and Athletes have used some version of it to make a statement – or they write it on their glare strips
  • Rainbow head at the sports match
  • You can see it on road signs – (you really shouldn’t look up Bible references while driving).

Stand and read it together …

John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

  1. God’s love leads to life –
    1. Because God loves us, we have life. We have abundant eternal life.
    2. God’s love through us and being shared among us means life.
    3. Christianity thrived despite persecution and suspicion because the believers lived out God’s love. They cared for the poor, they adopted children that were abandoned, they cared for the sick.
    4. Even in our modern times, things change when God’s people live out the love of God – a courageous love that takes risks to demonstrate just how much God cares about saving life!
      1. Heart to Heart Pregnancy Support Center – It really isn’t about the materials and supplies – things that you can list on a spreadsheet – It is about people who are willing to live out God’s love … and that leads to life.
  2. Why should anyone perish?
    1. Whoever believes in Christ shall not perish, but have eternal life
    2. Believing in Christ means more than accepting that he is real.
    3. It does mean accepting who he says that he is – but if you accept that, then your life cannot stay the same.
    4. Believing means “faithing” – a better English thought might be trusting
    5. We perish when we fail to trust Christ.
    6. We can do that through rejection.
    7. Or we can do it through fear – “Can being saved really be as easy as just accepting God’s love?”
      1. The Orlando church that exploded an anonymous gift
          • Here’s how suspicious we’ve become in the post- 9/11 world.
            A cardboard box left at a church near Lake Mary caused the closure of Markham Woods Road while a bomb squad X-rayed it and then blew it up.The note on the 40-pound bundle said, simply, “For Pastor Nick.” In the old days, someone would have taken it inside and opened it.But a church member who found the package on the doorstep about 11 a.m. today thought the corrugated box secured with duct tape might be dangerous.He drove it from Master’s Touch International Church, 555 Markham Woods Road, to a nearby fire station to have it checked out.The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad couldn’t figure out what was inside even after the box was X-rayed.So, deputies blew it up.”It didn’t look normal,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Cannaday said. “That’s all we knew.”The result: More than $2,500 in paper money was turned into confetti. Four hundred ninety-eight rolled silver dollars remained intact, Cannaday said.
        • May 08, 2010, by Susan Jacobson, Orlando Sentinel

      2. They drove it to authorities, they X-Rayed it, and they still didn’t trust it.
      3. Why? FEAR. (I don’t know that we wouldn’t do the same)
  3. Our mission is to save, not to condemn.
    1. God did not send his son to give his life just so he could wag a finger at us and cluck his tongue.
    2. If God wanted to destroy us, if God was our enemy, we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t stand a chance
    3. It was not Christ’s mission to destroy – he came to save.
    4. How then does the church ever assume that it is our mission to condemn, when Christ would not?
    5. When we spoke to the director of Heart to Heart we asked if their clients had church support and could we offer it. What they all want to know is – “Will I be judged?”
      1. I said “Absolutely Not.”
      2. Let us love as courageously as our Lord did.