Category Archives: Bible Study

Feast of Trumpets

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Feast of Trumpets

fall-feasts

Four Feasts we’ve studied (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost), three Feasts remain.  The remaining three are fall Feasts, and all three take place at the last harvest of the year, the grape harvest, and within the span of about a month.

The Feast of Trumpets

This year (2017) the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, arrives on the evening of Wednesday, September 20 and will end in the evening of Friday, September 22, of this Hebrew Year 5778.

This is how it got started:

Then God spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying:

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.”   Leviticus 23:24-25

 

What was the offering to be made by fire to the Lord?

“… one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year.  Be sure they are without blemish. (a blood offering).  Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil.  (an unleavened bread offering).  Also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, (scapegoat) besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.”  Numbers 29:7-11

Rosh Hashanah is always observed on the first two days of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.  Why is a “New Year” celebrated in the middle of a year?  Because it celebrates the end of one agricultural year/season and the beginning of another.  It’s what we might call a fiscal new year, like the one when we have to choose our healthcare plans.  In God’s kingdom it is all about the harvests, the harvest of crops and the harvest of souls.  How many stories did Jesus tell where He used sowing seeds, watering plants, tending crops, and bringing in the harvests to describe His kingdom and our ministry on this earth?

The trumpet is often used to gather people.  Trumpets, and shouts, were also used as a weapon of war, for example, to bring down the walls of Jericho.  And in the same vein, “… I [Jesus] will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”   Matthew 16:18 (KJV).  I believe that we who are His will hear the trump of the Lord one day very soon, and that it will gather us from the heavens and the earth, to protect us from some severely ugly times.  I believe God will allow the ugly times to come to hopefully show the deceived who they are truly worshipping, and hopefully it will turn their hearts.  

It was seventy years after the death and resurrection of our blessed Savior, that the Jewish people became a scattered people over the face of the earth, their temple destroyed, and their land taken over, but it was prophesied that in the last days God would gather them again to their promised land (Deuteronomy 28:58-67). After just under 1900 years it has happened as prophesied.  In 1967 the Shofar blew in celebration in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount after the victory of the Six-Day War between returning Jews and the occupants of the promised land.  Since that time Jews have been allowed to return to their homeland!  Even so, it is still fearcely squabbled over, and hard to believe that such a tiny speck of a place on the globe could be the object of so much violent hostility.  It seems there will never be peace in Israel.

The holiday though is also very relevant to Christians, as we also are a scattered people all over the globe – as God wanted us to be so that we could share the gospel with every tribe and tongue and race and nation; and we are also scattered between heaven and earth.  (Please check out: Should Christians Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?).

“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year… prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” John 12:49-52

Clearly in the New Testament it is a trumpet that will summon and gather God’s people from all the places where we have been scattered:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

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This picture of “gathering people” reminds me so much of something from the little town where I grew up.  Atop of the hill, in the center of town stood a charming little log church with a steeple.  The pews were each hewn of split logs, and even the pulpit and altar were hand-made of logs and hand cut boards.  When the time for Sunday Service came one of the elders or deacons of the church would undo the bolt on the doors, turn the knob, and pull the front double doors open, and then He’d begin clanging that big brass church bell, taking grasp of the thick rope that hung down into the front foyer with his two strong hands and pulling with his body weight, then letting the rope rise back up, pulling it down again, and letting the rope rise back up.  The sound would echo across the rooftops and down that lofty steeple, causing all the nesting birds to take flight.

Magically, at the clang-clang-clang of that bell, folks began bustling from their houses and vehicles, all dressed in their Sunday-best go-to-meeting clothes.  Ladies in dresses, spritzed with perfume, curled hair in hats, wearing makeup and white gloves.  Men, freshly shaven, in suits with stiff collars and ties, and hair neatly parted and combed into place.  Children, bathed, with shining faces, coiffed and suited and well-mannered, as miniatures of their parents.  They all strolled and shuffled up that hill, smiling and greeting one another, and gathering through the open doors, taking their places in the rustic hardwood pews for a sit-down spiritual feast.  Oh how lovely it was on Sunday morning to hear those church bells ringing!  The piano playing.  And the choir singing.

In the same way as the church folks gathered in to satisfy their hungry souls, so similar was the practice on ranches all over my rugged cowboy state.  When supper was ready it was common to hear the cook or the wife step outside and run the wand around on the triangle and holler, “COME AND GET IT!” and here they’d come.  The hard-working, broke-back, famished ranch hands would wobble to their feet, swing a leg off their horses, toss their tools in a box, remove their hats to wipe the sweat from their brow, and knock the dust off their pants as they started the journey to the chow hall.  They all came a hobblin’ from the far corners of the fields, some smiling, and some grunting, and all eager to fill their aching bellies, have a laugh (or a cry), share a story, and then call it a night.

Can you hear the church bells ringing?  Can you hear the choir singing?  Can you hear this little lady screaming, “COME AND GET IT!  O weary sojourner, come and hear the word of the Lord!”

Our Savior is coming!  The Landowner is coming to settle accounts, and gather His grapes into the winepress.  I don’t want you to be taken by surprise.

Scripture says, two men will be in the field and one will be taken and one will be left.  Two women will be in the kitchen.  One will be taken and one will be left (Matt.24 & Luke 17).  The wise virgins will go with the bridegroom and the foolish virgins will be left  behind (Matthew 25).

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking…until the flood came and took them all away…”  Matthew 24:36-39

“You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.”  John 14:28-29 (NKJV)

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.  Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24: 23-27)  …for those who are HIS!

Some of us will fall asleep, and some will just fly away.  Some will be blessed to experience the Rapture, the magnificent fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.

(Thank you Carleen Sabin for making and posting this beautiful You-Tube video) 

If you haven’t “found Jesus yet,” get with a believer or a pastor today.  Don’t let the trumpet of God surprise you.  Come, while the door is open.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever will believe on Him shall have eternal life.  John 3:16

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.  John 14:6

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  Romans 18:9-10

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.  And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the son of God.  1 John 5:10-13

Behold I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:20

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Barabbas

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Barabbas

Have you ever thought about the man Pilate brought out before the people?  The criminal case that was … dismissed!

A man who was guilty in the courtroom of heaven, but dismissed by man, and a man who was innocent in the courtroom of heaven, condemed by man.

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Matthew 27:16-26 NKJV

16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.

17Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

18For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!”

22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”

23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”

24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

Pilate didn’t give the people their choice of prisoners, he gave them only one choice, Barabbas.  Matthew says that Barabbas was a “notorious prisoner” (which if this was the only account of the story could lead us to imagine he was possibly a repeat offender, or maybe an insurrectionist who caused a lot of trouble with the other prisoners).  Then Mark comes along with his testimony…

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Mark 15:7-15

7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion.

8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them.

9But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.

11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them.

12 Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”

13 So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!”

14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!”

15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.

Notice in verses 9 and 12 the title Pilate uses for Jesus.  John uses this same title in his testimony a little further down as well.  Mark also says Barabbas was a “rebel” who had “committed murder,” along with his gang of rebels, in a rebellion.  Peter testifies to the same in Acts 3:14.  Luke then comes along with a 3rd testimony…

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Luke 23:13, 14, 18-25

13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people,

14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him

Did Pilate choose Barabbas because he more aptly fit the accusation of “one who misleads the people” when placed side by side of their choice of Jesus?

18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”–

19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder

20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them.

21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!

22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”

23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.

25 And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

So, the question about where the rebellion took place is answered by Luke.  It was in the city, not in the prison, and Luke backs up Mark that there was murder involved (accidental or intentional, we’ll probably  never know).

Lastly is the testimony of the fourth witness…

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John 18:39-40

39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

John adds that Barabbas was a “robber.” It is the first time robbery is attached to Barabbas. Now to give Barabbas the benefit of the doubt here, I imagine he could be a completely unsavory fella, or he could also be a hero – of the order of Robin Hood, prince of thieves.  Did he steal from the people for his own benefit, or from the government for the benefit of the poor?  Did someone end up dead as collateral damage?  I guess we’ll never know.  But here is an interesting note on some commentary I found for Mark 15:7…

[Barabbas.] Let us mention also with him a very famous rogue in the Talmudists, Ben Dinai, whose name also was Eleazar. Of whom they have this passage worthy of chronological observation; “From the time that murderers were multiplied, the beheading the red cow ceased; namely, from the time that Eleazar Ben Dinai came; who was also called Techinnah Ben Perishah: but again they called him, The son of a murderer.” Of him mention is made elsewhere, where it is written Ben Donai. See also Ben Nezer, the king of the robbers.

So, John could be identifying Barabbas with this group.  Perhaps even a disciple or trusted partner of Ben Dinai?  If so, what a crazy time for Jesus to come upon the scene, in the middle of a revolution.

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Over here, in this corner of the ring is a man who has caused an uprising, is a notorious prisoner, killed someone, and misled the people: Barabbas, of “THE ROBBERS!”

And in the other corner is a man who sought out the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame, healed their sickness and disease, and brought the dead back to life, Jesus, “KING OF THE JEWS.”

Standing all around are the people, forced to choose between a man whose name means “father’s son” (Bar = son + Abba = father – Strongs #912 in the Greek dictionary, or #1347 in Chaldean with #5 in Aramaic – the mixed dialog of Palestine), but in fact is the son of a murderer, OR THE  Son of THE heavenly Father, Creator of all things, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, THE SON of the Father of fathers.

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Who did they choose?  Better yet, who do YOU choose?

I have thought often about this particular time in human history which Jesus handpicked for His first coming; a horribly barbaric time, when criminals were crucified on crosses, and flogged with forty stripes.  Jesus could have chosen any day, and any time period when there would have been courts of law that were considerably more fair, and a death penalty that would have been mere lethal injection.  But it wasn’t until this moment that I realized how deeply curious this all is.  The Father put Jesus (The Son of Abba-Father) on a stage before the people with a man whose name means a son of a father.

Consider also that the other members of Barabbas’ gang were quite possibly the two criminals that were crucified with Jesus that day.  Barabbas + the two thieves make an unholy trio (- like the beast, the false prophet, and the dragon).  One of them remained harsh and vile, while one (unlike Satan’s cabinet) repented of his wrongs and chose Jesus – the FIRST criminal case … DISMISSED in the court of heaven – woo hoo!.

But then, let me draw further on that unholy trio comparison, because it is the picture of the choice that has been thrust upon humanity from the beginning of time.  If Barabbas was the son of a father, who was his father?  Spiritually speaking, who is the father of evil?

Barabbas  (father’s son)

  1.  A “rebel” who “along with his gang of rebels, led a rebellion
  2.  “One who misleads the people”
  3.  One who “committed murder”
  4. “A robber”

Satan  (son of perdition)

  1.  “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).  “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (Revelation 12:4).  
  2. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”…  Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:1,4)

  3. “…the devil… was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”  John 8:44
  4.  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

Satan is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – an imposter (anti-christ).  A son of iniquity.  Always on the prowl, seeking whom he may devour.  An accuser of the brethren who accuses us before the Father day and night, who first gets us to sin and then runs to rat us out to God. He most defiantly misleads the people.

And he is presently sharing the stage with Jesus.  What a contrast in characters.  One is a taker of life.  The other, a SON who laid down His life.  One tempts us to sin, and the other a SON who takes away our sins and the sins of the world.  An insurrectionist  against an intercessionist.

Jesus changed the course of history when He came, and the thing is, He knew what He was walking into and that very few would choose Him, and a very vocal majority would not choose Him.  He forgave them (us) anyway, and asked God to forgive them (us)  for they knew not what they were doing.  They didn’t know that they didn’t take Jesus’ life, and that He laid His life down freely of His own accord.  The truth was hidden from all of them, like a parable (but only partially from the disciples).  Had the crowd NOT chosen Barabbas, Jesus would not have been the “Scapegoat,” the “Passover Lamb” that He came here to be. That we all needed Him to be.

I have realized something today.  This story shows me that we often choose people instead of Jesus.  And our hopes are often dashed by the people we have chosen (friends, spouses, jobs, politicians, pastors, bosses, etc.).  God asks us to choose wisely, to not be unevenly yoked, or cast our pearls before swine.  Oh how we need the wisdom of God in order to make wise choices.

On His last night, the Son, Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane, and fell on the ground, and prayed, Abba, Father (Father of fathers), all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

~ Free Will or God’s Will? ~

This is the choice we have to make every moment of every day of our lives.  In the beginning God gave us all free will, even when He knew His creation wouldn’t choose Him.  And Satan has had a field day with the free will thing. (Click here for an informative article about God’s will with a free printable of scripture cards… because God is not willing that any should perish). God the Father sent His Son Jesus onto that tragic scene 2000 years ago to give us the tools to defeat Satan ~ the criminal that stands on the stage of life opposite Jesus.

a son or The Son?

Satan came to party hardy and trash our house (mind/body/soul).  Jesus came to sweep our houses clean and put them in order…

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”  Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26

“It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from the holy commandment passed on to them.  But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”  2 Peter 2:21, 22

Apart from God we can do nothing!  

“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Matthew 26:41)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”  John 16:7

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” John 20:22 

(He swept their houses clean and put them in order.) 

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4,5) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)  “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”  Psalm 51:10-12

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”  Ephesians 6:10-18

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, AbbaFather (Father of fathers).  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  Romans 8:14-17

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, AbbaFather (Father of fathers)!  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  Galatians 4: 4-7

“And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”  Matthew 23:9

(In other words: Do not exalt any human being on earth to the place of God in your heart. Warning! They will let you down. They are imperfect.)

“Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”  Hebrews 12:9

(We live in a crazy mixed up time when so many fathers are absent from the home and the lives of their children. God intended earthly fathers to be a picture of our heavenly father; that we as children would feel their sacrificial love and witness their protection and in return have great honor and respect for them. Who messed it all up?  Someone less than a father, I assure you!)

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1

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For the free printable coloring page click  >>>  Easter-cross

Perhaps you feel lonely, abandoned, heavy, guilty, burdened with sins, the weight of which keeps you from choosing Jesus.  God the father sent His Son to that cross for you!  To set you free.  He paid the penalty for your sin.  By His blood your criminal case with God can be hereby … DISMISSED!

Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).  He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

Jesus was lifted up on a cross, just like the symbol of healing God gave to Moses for the Hebrews in the wilderness (Numbers 21:8-9 & John 3:14-15).  By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus was lifted up from the earth, and ascended into the heavens (Acts 1:9-11), as our High Priest, to sprinkle His atoning sacrifice on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:1-10:17), and as our King, to be seated upon His throne, having conquered sin and death.

If Jesus is lifted up in our hearts and in our lives and in our words and in our ways, He will draw not only us, but all of those around us unto Himself, by His Spirit.  (Remember the thief on the cross who was exonerated by Jesus?  – he didn’t have any time left to do any good works.)

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Lord, may you come and sweep this house and put it in order and then fill me with Your Holy Spirit.  Kick the devil out and seal up every crack and crevasse where he might seek to enter again.  Set my feet upon solid rock and protect me from the storms that the adversary brings against me.  When he comes in like a flood, may You raise up a standard against him.  May the plans of my enemy be exposed and may the fate he plans for me be his own, as Haman.  Set Your hedge around me Lord.  Encompass me with safe boundaries.  Expand my territory so that the gates of hell may not prevail.  And when my accuser comes to you asking to sift me as wheat, Lord may the answer be NO!  Let me not make excuses for the trespasses I’ve committed, but be forgiven of my sins, and cleansed from all unrighteousness.  Bless me and my family that we may bless others.  Give us eyes to see and hearts to feel compassion, and hands overflowing with generosity for those in need.  Suit us up in the Spiritual Armor.  Comfort us with the peace that passes understanding.  Fill us with wisdom and knowledge to light our path and be a beacon of hope for others.  All glory and honor to You.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen 

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

.In Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand!  

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Feast of Booths

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Feast of Booths

Continuing with our study of the feasts of Israel is this, our final feast, the Feast of Tabernacles.  If you have missed the other studies, you may click the links here:

The Lord Our Passover (Passover & Unleavened Bread)

FIRSTFRUITS

Happy Firey Tongues Day (The Feast of Weeks – Pentecost)

Feast of Trumpets

 

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My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  Ezekiel 37:27 (NKJV)

THE FIRST TABERNACLE

Moses, determined to bring a stiff-necked people to the Promised Land – as commissioned by God, sought to make atonement for their Golden Calf sin (Exodus).  He burned the calf (32:20), and then he pitched his tent outside of the camp, far away from all the people, and called it the tabernacle of meeting (33:7).  In this tabernacle Moses met with God.  He begged God to not only forgive the people for their sin, but to also continue to journey with them.  The Bible says that God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend.

When Moses returned to the mountain, God gave him instructions for building a Tabernacle of worship for the people that they could take with them in their wilderness wanderings.

When David became king, he sought to build God a permanent dwelling place, where the Ark of the Covenant could be kept.  His son Solomon fulfilled his father’s vision, and the temple was built in Jerusalem.

Through the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8; 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12) and the construction of the temple (1 Kings 6:13, 14; 2 Chronicles 6:18) God demonstrated an outward expression of His persistent desire to dwell with man. These tabernacles were however only temporary provisions. God’s word tells us that He does not dwell “in temples made with hands.” (Isaiah 66:1-2; Acts 7:48-50; 17:24, 25 cp. Jeremiah 7:4; Matthew 24:1, 2) (*http://www.dianedew.com/habitatn.htm)

 

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”   1 Kings 8:27 (NKJV)

 

Enemies of God regularly conquered the Jewish temple, took the Hebrew people as captives, and evil kings over-an-over-again robbed and desecrated it.  In the New Testament, Jesus overturned tables when He found that people were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.  And then in 70 AD God’s Tabernacle (Temple) on earth was destroyed for the last time when the Holy Land was conquered and God’s people were scattered over the face of the earth.  It has never been rebuilt.  All that remains is the western wall, where orthodox Jews and people from around the world go to pray and press their paper petitions into the cracks between the stones.

Since that time there have existed Jewish synagogues and Christian churches in almost every city over the face of the earth – house to house gatherings and great, beautiful, giant cathedrals.

 

THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES

“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.”

Deuteronomy 16:13-15 (NKJV)

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If you would like to have this coloring page, click the FREE PRINTABLE link below.

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Feast of Ingathering or Feast of Booths, as it is sometimes called, is the last of the yearly feasts of Israel.  It takes place in the fall, at the end of the fruit harvest.

In modern Hebrew culture, The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is celebrated by God’s children who first put up a Sukkah (like a gazebo with an open air roof) in the days leading up to the feast date.  It can be built on a porch (as long as the porch does not have a roof of any kind), or in a back yard (as long as its location is open to the sky and not sheltered under any tree cover).  The Sukkah can be made of an existing structure, as long as the roof is replaced entirely with “sechach,” which is vegetable matter that has not previously been used for any other purpose.  It must be four sided, with one side open for entering and exiting.  The roof cannot be premade – it must be newly constructed of twigs and branches of palms collected for that particular Sukkah that year.  Inside is a table, and all the family meals are taken in the Sukkah for the entire holiday.  Guests are invited and encouraged.

The week-long feast of Tabernacles is book-ended between two Sabbath days of rest – Leviticus 16:30-31; 23:34, 41.  On the first day of the feast the people of Israel were to “take the foliage of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and use them for the roof, and also offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, and rejoice before the Lord for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40,36).  All native Israelites were to go out and dwell in these booths for the seven days of the feast to remind them of their ancestors wandering in the wilderness.

(For more info please visit this terrific website!)

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EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US

As with all the feasts, Jesus is the pivotal point on which they all are hinged.  Jesus is the IS and WAS and IS TO COME of each of them.  Each of the feasts are a copy and shadow of things to come.  (Read Hebrews 9 & 10 to understand the earthy sanctuary of God, the priests, and sacrifices as a picture of Jesus and what is in heaven).

The first four feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost) happen in the spring and each has been fulfilled by Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the Messiah.  Three feasts remain: Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

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Click here for the fall-feasts-free-printable

The ultimate fulfillment of the last three feasts, as it appears, will be when Jesus sounds His trumpet and gathers His elect “from the peoples” (Eze. 11:17), atones for His chosen, taking the sacrifice from the cross and sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat in heaven (Lev.16:3, 14; Rom. 5:9-11), permanently penning our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  And then coming for His bride, the church, to take her away to the many mansions He has built in His Father’s house.  “And there we shall all ever be with Him…” (1 Thes. 4:17).

 

“Come away with Me…” Mark 6:31 (NKJV)

 

…is an invitation that Jesus continues to extend to anyone who can hear His voice.  It is the essence of “Tabernacles” to come out from our fleshly lives and commune with God.

In Jesus the intent of God’s heart is fulfilled. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt (or, tabernacled) among us…” (John 1:14) His name was called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God With Us.” (Matthew 1:23) The tabernacle of Moses was only a type of “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man…” (Hebrews 8:2, 5; 9:25) “… Behold, the tabernacle (the abode) of God is with man, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people …” (Revelation 21:3)

God’s ultimate intention, however, has been to make His abode within the heart of every believer (John 14:23). Jesus promised that the same Spirit that “dwelleth with you … shall be in you.” (John 14:17) His place of habitation is within His people: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.” (Zechariah 2:10)

In Old Testament times the Spirit of God would “come and go” – His Presence would enter, bless, and depart (Numbers 9:15-23; 11:25; 2Chronicles 5:13-14). Yet the Lord longed for a place in which He might continually dwell, or make His abode. “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation … here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Psalms 132:13, 14)  (*http://www.dianedew.com/habitatn.htm)

 

 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”  John 15:4-6 (NKJV)

 

Isn’t it interesting that God instructed His Jewish children to make temporary huts, booths, dwellings, Sukkahs to celebrate His habitation with man, and isn’t it neat that the only thing covering these little earthly tabernacles are branches and vines, which are cut down at the end of the summer harvest?  What else shall God do with these branches that are cut down?

 

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  John 15:2 (NKJV)

 

“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”   Matthew 3:10-12 (NKJV)

 

“And the fire will test each one’s work (our Firstfruits), of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”   1 Corinthians 3:13-17 (NKJV)

 

“Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’  Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved to the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”  Romans 11:25-29 (NKJV)

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So while our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, gathered around tables inside their little outdoor huts, let us remember our bodies are the temple of the Lord, and let us eagerly look forward to the ingathering (harvest of souls) that shall take place, and the great supper that the Lord is preparing, where we will share that communion cup with Jesus finally, after all this time.

 

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  John 14:2-3 (NKJV)

 

‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’”

Revelation 19:9 (NKJV)

 

“Surely I am coming quickly.”  Revelation 22:20 (NKJV)

 

 

On Earth as it is in Heaven, The Parable of the Great Supper

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On Earth as it is in Heaven, The Parable of the Great Supper

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.

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“ Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

FRONT COVER AWhen I wrote the book, Come for Supper? the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, it was out of an epiphany that there was so much more to the supper table than just feeding my body.  That there is a soul thing purposefully happening at the same time, which grows out of the conversation and the fellowship that takes place around a meal.  This physical/spiritual awareness has opened my eyes to the relationship God had with Adam and Eve in the garden, with His children in the wilderness and the ancient feasts, with His priests in the practices of the tabernacle, and with the numerous personalities who participated in the many many many hospitable acts written of in the Old Testament. Continuing through the earthly ministry of Jesus, the Spirit was present in the breaking of the loaves and fishes, the cup and the bread of the Last Supper, the communion, the reconciliation of Peter over breakfast by the sea, and finally, at long last, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, which is yet to come.  From the very beginning, in the garden, to the very end of the book, in the New Jerusalem, Jehovah tseva’ot has been preparing a table for His creation and inviting us to sup.  God’s incredible hospitality is an underlying theme of His entire book.

This beautiful mystery of the wine and the bread in the word of God has unraveled to me what a precious gift it is to purposely gather around a table.  When done right (with the Lord as our guest of honor), it is an activity, like few others, that truly weaves our hearts and minds and souls together in a far-reaching way.  Our daily bread, food and conversation, are the elements that knit God’s heart with ours, and ours with each others for eternity.

Even more excellent, if that were possible, than sharing a meal with the ones we love, is the blessing that comes back to us when we tie on that hospitality apron for people we don’t know.

I think of the meals I’ve shared with strangers and how I was uncomfortable at first, but in so many cases, we all ended up being good friends afterwards.  The first instance that pops into my mind is the lady that led me to Jesus.  Shortly afterwards she had my husband and me over for supper, and I will never forget the charity I felt in my heart from her.  She was so genuine, and happy, and had lots of terribly interesting stories. I will never forget her, or her sweet, loving, humble generosity, or the meal that she made (linguini with clam sauce).

When my husband and I started attending church together we were invited to dinner by one of the families.  Their courage to invite us to their home made us feel like part of that church family.  They were fun, and relaxing, and it was inspirational to see this godly family in action.  We got to know them in a way we never would have just shaking their hands as we entered the church, or sitting next to them in the pews.  And the meal they served is a staple in my repertoire to this day (Haystacks).

I think of my days working in the school district, and my job as a lunchroom monitor.  It was the highlight of my day to both serve the students a meal, and walk around and visit with them as they ate it.  I got to know them in a way I could never have gotten to know them in the classroom, and God knit each one of them into my heart forever by that experience.  I saw their sense of humor, their fears, their likes and dislikes, their social graces, their charity, their kindness, their shyness, and in many instances their sincere and childlike faith. They were all  so precious.

And when we moved to Texas and I didn’t know but a couple of people, those two friends and I made it a weekly plan to go to lunch after Bible Study.  As each of us met people, we’d bring them along to our lunch dates, and our circles of friends grew and our relationships deepened.  I met my neighbors by being invited to coffee at one of their houses one afternoon, and lasting friendships have grown from that small, hospitable gesture.  And out of one of those friendships came a cooking club where I met more wonderful people.

To hear people’s stories over a cup of coffee, to see their faith as we nibble on muffins together or sandwiches, to witness their life struggles and see their determination to survive as we chat and sip a frosty glass of lemonade; to be able to refresh their weary, battered souls with a simple meal and something hot or cold to drink, and to get to know them, pray with them, and see the world through their eyes over a humble meal.  Surely as we bid farewell on our exchanges, we realized we have encountered an immortal soul that wasn’t so obvious at first.

As I daydream on that thought, my mind pitter-pats down a quaint little cobblestone roadway, lined with cypress and fig trees and ordinary little wildflowers, to a story settled upon its dusty foundation like an old stone cottage Medurag in the New Testament books of Luke and Matthew, about a king who made a great wedding feast.

The Parable of the Great Supper

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread[c] in the kingdom of God!”

16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with oneaccord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and thelame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”      Luke 14:15-24  (NKJV)

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

22 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and[a] cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”       Matthew 22:1-14 (NKJV)

Jesus had been invited to dinner at a ruler of the Pharisees’ (Jewish high priest’s) house on the Sabbath day.  Taking note of His surroundings and knowing all their hearts, He steered the conversation with some hospitality advice:

#1. Don’t assume a place of honor when you attend a party, because the host may ask you to move to a less honorable seat, and if you are the type that cares what other people think this will embarrass you in front of all the guests. Rather, always take a seat in the humblest place in the room, then if the host means for you to have honor he will ask you to move to a place of honor, and you will be honored in front of everyone.

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

It makes me wonder, what type of guest I am?  What kind of guest will I be in God’s house?  Will I be clamoring for a place of honor as James and John did in Mark 10, asking if they could sit on His right and left in His kingdom?  Jesus replied to their request, “The kingdom of God is different from the kingdoms of the world. In heaven whoever wishes to be great shall be a servant, and whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

To be honest, I imagine I will be extremely grateful just to be allowed in the room. I might be jealous of the fancy meal being served to the most honored guests, but I shall be content even if all I get to eat are the scraps that fall from my Master’s table (Mark 7:28).

“But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord, for it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”  

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

#2. Jesus turned His chair around to the host of the party, admonishing that a host is not to invite only his friends, or brothers, or relatives, or rich neighbors — people who can return the act of kindness (which were probably the majority in attendance that day). But rather, to call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, “…for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”

Hmmm… what type of host I am?  A fairly uncomfortable one I must confess.  My parties (I use that term loosely) are mostly small, clicky gatherings of people I am comfortable with – family, or close friends. I do, very much enjoy getting to know new people, but I often let trust issues, and self-consciousness, my ADD, and lack of skill at making conversation get in the way.  So what type of parties do I throw?  Hmmm?  Well, most of them are gifts of service: family suppers, cooking club suppers, luncheons for teachers, baby showers, football game parties, and birthday dinners. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the big, showy, hoity toity wingdings thrown by the rich or famous, the movers and shakers, the pillars of society. You know the kind, the balls and banquets and fundraising parties that are the envy of the uninvited.  I avoid those like the plague, not that I’ve ever been invited to very many of them anyway. Ha!

When one of those who sat at the table with Jesus heard these things, he said to Him,

“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

And that’s right where I believe Jesus had hoped to steer the conversation! This man, God bless him, got down to the meat of the matter – that God the Father has a feast awaiting us all in glory?  Papa’s put the kettle on.  By this man’s statement he testifies that the Jewish feasts all point to heavenly fulfillments. That each one reflects something of God’s kingdom. That all are a copy and shadow of things to come (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23,24; 10:1; Colossians 2: 16,17).  That everything in life and the scriptures is part of this great chiastic structure of IS and WAS and IS TO COME, a magnificent ring structure where everything and everyone will come full circle.  On earth as it is in heaven!

Jesus, warmed by what He heard, elbowed up to the young man and started into a story that inspires me and give me courage.

Confession: I’ve always been kind of nervous about “witnessing,” but it is probably because I’ve misunderstood it.  It isn’t a contest.  It isn’t what gets us into heaven.  It isn’t putting people on the spot with a high-pressure sales pitch, although for the choleric go-getter it might be his preferred modus operandi.  And it’s not a lights/camera/action performance, although for the gregarious class clown it might be the way he sees to do it.

For this slightly introverted Phlegmatic it is a comfort to know that it can be a hot meal and a clean bed.  It can be actions-which-speak-louder-than-words; it should be kindly affectioned, with brotherly love; laughing with those who laugh…weeping with those who weep; resisting an evil person, but if our enemy is hungry, feed him. And if someone compels us to walk a mile with them, walk with them two (Matthew 5:39 & 41).

Jesus lovingly encourages me, a sort-of shy girl, to simply, “Say hello!” and “Smile!” And lets me hide behind His apron strings for protection, until I am more comfortable, I think because He wants for me to love others as He has loved me.  We are all gifted differently (1 Cor.12:4) so that we may be all things to all people (1 Cor.9:22).

Getting back to Jesus and His discourse: “A certain man-made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things…”

Ever planned a get-together and several of your guests stood you up? Ever finally mustered the courage to share your faith with a friend or relative, and it somehow landed wrong and ended the friendship?  DO NOT GROW WEARY in doing good, for in due time you shall reap a harvest if you do not give up!!!

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“…Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the crippled and the lame, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out unto the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.’”

As I ramble along this passage of God’s word gathering fistfuls of yellow dandelions, coneflowers, and Indian paintbrush between these words of Luke, my mind flutters like a butterfly along the fence rails of my own country road, beyond this scorching southern sunset, and even drifting into heaven itself…

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God’s got a dinner gathering planned to knock our socks off. His guest list is huge! Growing and shrinking and growing all the time.  The Bible, the whole of the word of God is about that table at the end .  It all points there.

“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!  Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”  Revelation 19:6-9

From Genesis God has been telling us this story.  His first act of hospitality was extended to Adam and his family. God made him a beautiful garden to sleep in and take care of, and offered him his first meal (Genesis 2:15, 16). Some of his kids however rejected God; they decided they didn’t want to be their brother’s keeper and went their own way.

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Along came Noah. In Genesis 9 and God made a covenant with him that included a cleansed planet to live on and a feast of meat and herbs (vs. 3). And Noah planted a vineyard there. Some of the descendents of Noah decided they didn’t care about God anymore either.

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So God sent out another invitation to Abraham, and once Abraham and his family were safely moved in beside their new neighbors in the land that God showed him, the priest of God Most High brought over a royal feast of bread and wine and welcomed him to the neighborhood. And Abraham gave gifts in return (Genesis 14:18-20). He also practiced hospitality himself (Genesis 18:1-8) and it became a common thing to do (Genesis 24:31-33).

Communion

Then up rolled Moses to bring God’s children back from Egypt to the Promised Land, and there was a covenant made and a Passover Meal (Exodus 12:14) shared. On their journey the Lord provided bread from heaven and water from a rock. He set some ground rules and gave them a building where they could meet with Him. And He established certain feasts to be observed during the year that give little glimpses of heaven.

14 Lord our Passover

God’s hospitality to His children was offered by judges and kings and prophets, but time and time again the messengers were rejected. So God plumped up His guest list even more and sent his very own Son Jesus to personally gather in literally the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind of Israel. And still there is room in heaven.

So the Lord has permitted that all people everywhere may attend His grand banquet. He revealed his guest list to Peter (Acts 10) and then sent Paul as His invitation bearer to these people of other nations – you and I, to compel us to come. It is His hope that our getting to come will cause His first children (Israel) who have turned Him down to wake up and want to attend, and fill God’s house.

Our heavenly Father has set a table in heaven with places for all of us around it. Our whole lives, our whole existences are about coming to God’s table…having that glass of wine with Him and the broken crust of bread…communing with Him.

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“…Thou preparest a table before me…” Psalm 23:5

Thou Preparest a Table2

((( Click here for the Free Printable coloring page: Thou Preparest a Table2 )))

“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,”

I’ve always wondered about the two places in scripture where Jesus draws back from participating in a certain activity, saying My time has not fully come.  The first instance was at jesuswaterintowinethe wedding in Cana when Mary, His mother, asked Him basically to show His works and do something about the lack of wine. First of all, Jesus didn’t ever show His works as a sort of sales pitch for His identity, or to prove that He was God.  He did each one out of compassion for the hurting person before Him. Jesus obeyed His mother, but did this work in secret, and perhaps, His reluctance to manifest a miracle with wine (especially the wine for a wedding banquet) was because His time for the wedding banquet wine fully comes in heaven, …at THAT table, at THAT wedding feast, with THAT cup, and THAT bread. That will be the fulfillment of the Last Supper. It is where He will eat and drink of the communion again, WITH US!!!  He is saving Himself for that very special feast, and will not drink of the cup of our covenant until we are all able to drink it with Him there, at His table, in His kingdom.

The second time Jesus made that statement (in John 7), His brothers were getting ready to sukkot_feast-of-tabernaclesgo the Feast of Tabernacles and pushing Him to also go and show His works to the people.  Jesus said for them to go without Him, as His time had not fully come.  Jesus did end up going, later, but secretly. Perhaps it was because the true tabernacle is with God and not men (Hebrews 8:2).  Jesus was going to the place of many mansions (Sukkahs, tabernacles) to help prepare the GREAT FEAST that will be served in God’s Tabernacle. Our Lord has slipped away to prepare our places, that where He is we may be also, and He is waiting for His Father’s command to return for us, His bride.

“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

Heavenly Feast

I look forward to sharing that cup and meal with you my friend.  Until then, let us be about the Lord’s work in whatever ways the Lord has gifted us for the task.  Let us share as many meals as we can, great and small, extravagant and humble, and meet as many of God’s angels as He has placed among us, for the pure blessing of it.  In Christian LOVE!  God bless you.

LOST & FOUND, the Parables of “Lost” Things

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LOST & FOUND, the Parables of “Lost” Things

I remember when I worked at the school district, the last week of school, that our bin of lost and found items would get drug out and the items hung up on racks, or laid out on tables in the front foyer, where parents and students would be coming and going, and hopefully they’d see an item that belonged to them and take it home.  I was always amazed at how much stuff would accumulate over the year.  Coats, hats, gloves, shirts, sweatpants, lunch boxes, shoes… just a myriad of things.  My goodness, didn’t anyone miss this stuff?

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I have lost things though, so who am I to judge?

I lost my cell phone once.  I had it and then I didn’t have it.  I always kept it in my purse. Then one day I went to lunch with friends and afterwards ran a few errands, and when I got back home and went to make a phone call it wasn’t there.  I stirred the contents of my purse around with my hand, and then emptied it out completely, dumping the contents all over the floor.  Nope, no cellphone.

I looked in my car, all over the car, under the seats, between the seats, in the console, and even in the backseats.  I looked on the garage floor (maybe I accidentally kicked it out with my foot), and under the shelves along the wall.  It wasn’t there.  It wasn’t anywhere.

Like most people now-a-days I don’t have a landline, or even another cell phone as backup.  And even if I had walked to the neighbors that day it would have been useless to borrow their phone.  I did’t know anyone’s number.  No one calls a NUMBER any more, we all call a NAME or a FACE.  Oh dear.  This was bad. This was my only communication with the outside world and it was gone, gone, gone, forever!

I went back in the house and looked on every surface where I might have laid the phone: the kitchen counters, the bedroom dressers, the bathroom, the laundry room.  I retraced every step I’d made before leaving the house that day.  And then I got back in my car and drove back to every business in town where I’d been, and asked if anyone had found a cell phone.  Not a one.

I came back home and sat in a panic in the middle of my living room floor thinking intently about what to do next.  And in the middle of my racing thoughts I heard it…I heard my cell phone ringing.  “My phone!  Oh my gosh, where is it coming from?  I jumped to my feet and dashed around my house like a raving maniac, trying to get to the sound before it stopped ringing…….and where did I find it?  My… PURSE!

It had slipped through a tear in the lining and was caught between the lining and the shell of my hard leather purse.  I felt like an idiot, and at the same time was soooooooo relieved to have found it.  So happy in fact that I wanted to drive back to every place I’d been, call all my friends, and tell them all, “I FOUND IT!!!!”

So, I completely relate to the thrill of the woman finding her lost coin in the story below.

Lost Things

Click below for the FREE PRINTABLE coloring page

FREE PRINTABLE coloring page, click >>>>>> Lost & Found

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The Parable of the Lost Sheep

 Matthew 18:10-14 (NKJV)  Courtesy of Bible Gateway

10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.[a]

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Luke 15:1-7 (NKJV)  Courtesy of Bible Gateway

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10 (NKJV)   Courtesy of Bible Gateway

 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ 10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Lost Son

Luke 15:11-32 (NKJV)   Courtesy of Bible Gateway

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and putit on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

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In my book, Come for Supper? the memoirs of a reluctant hostess I tell the story of how I came to know Jesus:

I was working for a small town newspaper and calling on a customer for an ad. This customer had a wrapping and shipping business located inside a liquor store on the east side of town. As I made my acquaintance on my first visit, the woman of this husband/wife team set me on my heels with a pretty direct question. One I wasn’t prepared for, or was even expecting that day. She asked me if I knew Jesus, and if I were to die today if I knew where I would be going. Wow…I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. She made me very uncomfortable. But her words haunted me for weeks after that.

I knew what she was talking about. I had been raised in Sunday school. I had Christian grandparents. My dad had always expressed how it would mean the world to him if his daughters would get baptized at some time in our lives. I always intended to get baptized, but being fresh into my young life I wasn’t sure I was done sowing my wild oats yet. Somehow I had it in my head that making a commitment to God meant the end of “fun.”

I avoided her in every way after that, but a month down the road when I stopped in to pick up their ad for our paper, being careful to go in the afternoon when I knew she wouldn’t be there, she WAS there and smiling at me as I walked through the door. DANG-IT! But as much as I make this out to be a bad thing, truly our conversation had been all I could think about. I had wrestled with God over what she said for weeks. So when she asked if I had thought about what we talked about, I humbly confessed I’d thought of nothing else.

She asked me if I was ready to make the commitment and I said yes, afraid I may not get a second chance. She whisked me off to the bathroom grabbed my hands and told me to pray with her, “Repeat after me” she said, and I did.

I honestly couldn’t tell you the words I prayed with her that day. All of them escape my memory. But something incredible happened in that bathroom when I said, “Amen.” My blood felt effervescent. My legs were wobbly and weak. My mind was swirling. I was not the same person. I followed her out to her desk and stared in a daze out the huge picture window. All of a sudden I noticed the sky and the most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen. It was magnificent with reds and purples. I wondered in my heart and asked God, “Have sunsets always been this beautiful and I never noticed, or did You make this one especially for me?”

Just as I thought this I saw a figment of angels in the clouds…thousands of them. They were all singing and rejoicing. It was so moving to me that I dissolved to tears. It was some months later that I came across the scripture that says, there is “more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7.

The angels were rejoicing over me that day, a great cloud of witnesses, and God gave me a brief and beautiful glimpse.  And they are gathered to rejoice over you too!

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If you are reading this and have never asked Jesus into your heart, but feel His Spirit speaking to you, take heed my friend.  He is seeking you.  As Beth Moore would say, “He is persuing you.  The Creator who made you, HE is persuing you.”  And the greatest love story is…

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(By the way, you CAN buy this song.  Glen recorded several Christian albums!  God bless him, and God rest his precious soul.  Look for them at Amazon.com.)

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You are the Lord’s Pearl of Great Price!

You are His Hidden Treasure!

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The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Matthew 13:44-46  (NKJV)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Solid Rock

FREE PRINTABLE coloring page, click >>>>>> Solid Rock Printable

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On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!

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God bless you my friend!!!!

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

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The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Matthew 20:1-16 (NKJV)

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.

My Bible footnote says it would have been 6:00AM.

Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 

My Bible footnote says a denarius (a word of Latin origin) was the standard wage for a full day’s work.  The KJV uses the word “penny” or pence in place of denarius which in Roman currency of the time would have been ten asses (asses were bronze or copper coins used during the Roman Empire).  Denarius is the origin of the common noun for money in Italian denaro, in Portuguese dinheiro and in Spanish dinero.

Here are some example salaries and product costs as of the times of Diocletian in the third century AD:

Farm laborer monthly pay, with meals = 400 asses

Teacher’s monthly pay, per boy = 800 asses

Barber’s service price, per client = 32 asses

1 kg of pork = 380 asses (1 lb = 170 asses)

1 kg of grapes = 32 asses (1 lb = 15 asses)

* Source: Wikipedia

And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 

The third hour would be 9:00AM; and there were more people standing inactive, unemployed; (by implication) lazy, useless: – barren, idle, slow“(Strongs #692 argos) in the “agora” (Strongs #58), which is probably the town square, market, or thoroughfare/street.

and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 

Their wage: whatever is right (just drawing attention to that).  The Greek word used is dikaios (1342) and it means “equitable” (in character or act); (by implication) innocent; holy, just, meet, right(-eous).

Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 

The sixth hour is noon and the ninth hour is 3:00PM.

And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle,[a]and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 

The 11th hour is 5:00PM (an hour before quitting time), and is it just me or does the land owner seem kind of annoyed that there are folks just standing around idle all day?

They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’[b]

Again he promises “what is right.”

“So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 

To pay them, the landowner worked his way backwards from the new hires to those with seniority (which btw, is an exact representation of the grapes in the basket.  The first grapes gathered are at the bottom and will be last to come out. The first grapes to come out of the basket are the last ones that went in).

And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 

Quite a generous wage for an hour’s worth of work.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 

The landowner was certainly a man of his word wasn’t he, although “fair” is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?   Ever been hired for a job and completely happy about your wage until you found out what others were being paid?  My husband calls it O.P.M. (other people’s money), and it is the root of all discontentment.  Yep; been there and done that.

11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 

12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 

13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.

I believe the “wage” in the parable is probably A TICKET TO HEAVEN, and when I look at it like that I kind of get a different perspective. I can’t help but draw a parallel with the thief on the cross.  Jesus told him as they hung on their crosses together, with the sun fading on the day, that today he would be in paradise with Him.  The thief had run out of time to do very many good works.  He was at the 11th hour of his life.  All he had time for was to witness to one last man, yet he got the same reward as our righteous King, as well as all the prophets and saints and godly Hebrews of the Old Testiment who had preached, and prophesied, and judged, and led, been faithful, and died before him.

The thing I have to remember is that Salvation is not earned.  It is a gift rewarded for saying yes to an invitation.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 

My Bible footnote says that this parable blossomed out of the attitude that the disciples had shown toward service and rewards.

I find this a tricky thing about church. It is so easy when you belong to ANY group of people to look around at others and compare.  So easy to get hurt feelings about things.  So easy to get wrapped up in unholy competitions.

Am I the only one that is secretly longing for pats on the back for my good deeds? Sometimes tempted to brag about charitible things I’ve done just to make myself feel more spiritual or worthy to my peers?  Am I the only one that feels a twinge of jealousy when someone else in the congregation is liked more, fawned over more, appreciated more?  Am I the only one that is hurt when my fruit salad is passed over for Linda’s Fritata?  Or when Beth is chosen to lead next month’s Ladies Group instead of me?  Or when Emily puts a picture on Facebook and it gets 47 likes immediately and I don’t even have 47 friends?  Or when a certain, once unknown blog writer, celebrates her Food Network show and new line of kitchen wares filling up all the isles in all the Wal-mart stores across America and I count it a huge success if just one person clicks the “like” star on one of my posts.

Although rewards are part of God’s plan (Romans 2:6; Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10), Jesus rebukes the spirit of serving for the rewards rather than out of love (1 Corinthians 13).

16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”[c]  

Matt20.16

Click this link for the FREE downloadable coloring page: Grapevine  to use for your small group, or Sunday School class, or just to color as you spend time in prayer.

The last will be first and the first will be last…just like the grapes being gathered into the baskets, the last ones in will be the first ones to enter the winepress, but they will altogether be a lovely batch of vino.

Chosen vs. Called. 

The Greek word for Called is “Kletos.” Strongs #2822.  It means invited, appointed.  It is used eleven times in the New Testament (Bible Study Tools), and most of those times it is in reference to a calling to ministry or a special appointment, such as apostle or saint.

A calling is kind of a general thing, but it is usually geared to a specific group of folks.  For instance, I think of a ranch cook calling the hands for supper.  She yells or rings the bell and anyone on HER ranch who is hungry will come running.  A church bell calls ITS congregation to church.  A school bell calls ITS students to class.  The disciples, and we as Christians, received a calling from Christ to take the love of Christ to our neighbors.  Many are called.

The Greek word for Chosen is “Ekletos.”  Strongs #1588.  It means select, favorite, elect.

Choosing is much more personal.  We choose a mate.  We choose our clothes.  We choose what we want to eat from a menu.  Choosing is intimate.  This word is used 23 times in scripture (Bible Study Tools). Most of those times the word is translated “elect” as in “the elect,” the favorites of the called, the cream of the crop, the most exalted ones of the called.  Jesus called many disciples, but chose a smaller group of twelve apostles.  Of the apostles, Jesus chose an inner circle, Peter, James, and John as His elect.  Often He asked these three to come be with Him for something special, like healing miracles, the transfiguration, or the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Although the two words, Kletos and Ekletos are spelled the same, they are not pronounced the same and have different meanings.  They are homographs, but I have an uneducated hunch that there is an intended play-on-words in the Greek that is sort of lost in English, don’t you?

The same phrase is repeated in Matthew 22:14.

We all have an inner circle of friends, a small group that we trust just a little bit more, cherish just a little bit more.  I want to live my life in such a way as that the Lord would trust me just a little bit more, and cherish me just a little bit more.  Not to lord it over anyone, but just to have Him smile at me with affection.  I want to have a comfort zone thing with Him.  I want to have the trust/integrity thing with HIM!!!!  I have been forgiven much, I also want to love much (Luke 7:47)!

Personal Application

In penning this post I got to thinking about the shopping trip I made with my granddaughter this past weekend.  It wasn’t going to take us long to pick out some uniform pieces for school: a couple skirts, a couple pants, and a couple pair of shorts, but our little dash in to Old Navy hit a roadblock when we encountered the unbelievable, Disneyland-like lines for the dressing rooms, and then to pay at the end.  It was just crazy how many people were in that store.  I guess that’s what we got for not arriving there until afternoon on the half-price day of the tax-free weekend.

While we were in the monsterous line to pay we passed a bouncy-ball vending machine, and to help pass the time I dug some quarters out of my purse to let my little schnookums try for a pink ball.  One…two…three tries and one…two…three green/blue/yellow balls came out.  Well, shucks.  I asked her what she was gonna do with three balls?  She decided she would give one ball to her sister and keep the other two for herself, but I suggested she give the third ball to another kid in the store.  “Why?” she inquired.  “To be nice,” I riposted, and then I asked her to look around for a kid her age who would be a good candidate.  She looked around, but was overcome with fear and shyness.  She wanted me to do it.  I kept pointing people out to her, and encouraging her, promising that it would make her feel good to do it, but she just couldn’t get up the gumption to talk to someone she didn’t know.  I asked her to choose which ball she wanted to give away, and on our way out of the store I asked a little girl if she’d like to have it.  Although my little jelly-bean was too scared to step out and talk to another person, at least she was willing to give, and I was proud of her for that.

I feel the Holy Spirit challenging me in several ways today through the reading and studying of this parable.  Like my darling granddaughter, I too hold back sometimes, because of timidity.  My anxiousness causes me to stand around idle all day in my comfort zone waiting for a job to come looking for me.  Sometimes I find myself looking around to see if anyone else is stepping out before I do, so I don’t look foolish taking a leap-of-faith all by myself.  Consequently, I don’t make it into the vineyard until the 6th or 9th hour (if at all).  But then there are other times when I feel like I am the one who has been there all day, putting in the biggest effort, and here come others that have done barely anything and are getting lavish praise.  Sometimes I get jealous over favoritism shown to others in the small groups that I belong to.

In all honesty, I don’t accept praise well, but admit it is a nice reward to have someone notice my efforts (so that I can humbly dismiss them – ha, right?).  But to get very little praise or appreciation when others around me seem to be getting tons of praise for what seems like a fraction of the work, that is pretty hard to take.  Stumbling blocks.  Oh Lord, I hate the stumbling blocks in this Pilgrims Progress of life.  They are so hard to get past, but here’s what I’m feeling the Lord leading me to use as tools to help me climb over them, dig under them, and squeeze around them:

ladderTry to remember that Jesus made a fair deal with me when He invited me to work in His vineyard.

pick-axeRemember that He is a man of His word and will reward me with what is right. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:9

shovelStop looking around at the deal everyone else is getting, or get jealous over favoritism.  It’s Satan’s oldest trick to get us to LOOK at things we’re not supposed to have and then looooong for them.  There are far more harder working Christians out there than me who are going to be given the same gift as me in the end, and who have done a mountain more work.  Who cares if I am His favorite or not.  As long as I make it to heaven, who cares if all I have to live in is a pup-tent, and scraps from the Master’s table to eat.  Tis better to be in God’s kingdom than to be anywhere else.

RopeBe motivated by love, and not distracted by greed, or jealousy or even obligation, nor tempted into expecting a reward for every little thing.  To keep my eyes on the vineyard and not on the prize box.  To take the hard shell off my heart and let it swell for that person in front of me who needs a friend, or a sandwich, or a hug, or a kleenex, or a good laugh.

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Dear Lord Jesus, help me not to fall into the trap of comparison.  Help me to keep my eyes on You and consider only the prize that You have promised me.  Help me to be content with such things as I have.  Help me not to be idle, or crippled by fear or timidity, or green with envy and miss a great blessing.  In Your precious name I pray.  Amen.

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“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

 

 

The Parable of the Minas

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The Parable of the Minas

& The Parable of the Talents

Let me set the scene for this parable…

Jesus was with His disciples and coming from Jericho, where a large crowd had been following.  At Jericho Jesus healed a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, and had also gone to the house of Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector who climbed up in a tree to see Him as He passed by.

Luke says that Jesus told the parable of the minas when he was “near Jerusalem.” Matthew has this parable as part of the “Olivet Discourse” given to His disciples on the Mount of Olives.  Looking at the map below we can see exactly where Jesus was. We can also add that Mark 11 says Jesus and his disciples were near Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, when two disciples were sent to retrieve a colt for Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, so we know the timing was Jesus last week of life on this earth.  We celebrate the Triumphal Entry as Palm Sunday, and the next Sunday of course is Easter.  So, the events for this moment on the timeline were the Triumphal Entry, the cleansing of the temple, the Last Supper, the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal, the trial, scourging, and crucifixion.  All of it would happen in the coming few days.

As Jesus went through Bethany Matthew and Mark tell us He shared a meal with Simon the leper, and John tells us that Lazarus was there, and that Martha served.  This is the supper where a woman (John 12:3 says she was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus) came and poured an alabaster flask of costly perfume on His head, worth almost a year’s wages.  John also tells us that Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son protested the waste.  John says this was 6 days before the Passover, but Luke and Matthew say it was 2 days before.  I’m not a Bible scholar, but perhaps it was 2 days before the Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples (The Last Supper), but 6 days before the actual Passover, when Jesus was crucified.

Jerusalem to Jericho map

Click on the link below for the Free Printable coloring page

Jericho to Jerusalem Map

According to the notes in my Bible, a mina was about three months’ worth of wages, and a talent was worth about $1,000 in that day.

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The Parable of the Minas

Luke 19:11-27 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas,[a] and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’

*Jesus was of course was trying to help His audience comprehend a vision of heaven, and His kingdom, by relating it to something tangible they could personally relate to, something that would be gererally familiar to them on earth.  In this instance Jesus may have been drawing upon Herod the Great’s son Archelaus’ journey to Rome to bring His spiritual lesson to life.  (Several sources, including a footnote in my Bible confirm this).

15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’

20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’

24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”

 

The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30 New King James Version (NKJV)

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Scripture taken from the New King James Version (NKJV)®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. permission. All rights reserved.

We know that Jesus told this parable as He was on His way to receive His kingdom, but by very different means than any earthly king of any time in history, and very differently than His disciples were expecting.  Jesus would pay a very high price, by our standards, for His kingdom – with His life.  His disciples expected Him to establish His kingdom in the flesh, soon.  Jesus wanted them (and us) to know that His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, and it is coming. He wanted them to know that he was going away, but would come back, and was leaving them (and us) with a job to do.  I see the mina or talent to be like the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts.  These are what Jesus left for us to use to do the work (or use in “trade”) until He returns.

In this parable, the wicked servant said he “feared” the king, but God’s word says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  It wasn’t a reverent and trembling fear this servant had, but the same disease the Jewish leaders had at the time of Christ – greed and jealousy.  Satan dreads for Christ to rule over him; he wants to be the boss.

And I don’t know if Jesus meant to draw this parallel, but it’s interesting to me that there are three who give account in this parable and that one of the three is wicked, because when Satan (who’s name means “accuser”) fell from grace he took 1/3 of the angels with him. Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-19; Luke 10:18-20; and Revelation 12:3-9.  He also was judged by his own accusations.  And in the end shall be cast into the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:3) and then into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10), where there is eternal torment and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I can relate as both a rebellious teenager and a protective parent.  When I became a parent I’d had enough life experiences to see the troubles my kids were headed for, and tried my level best to steer them away (because I loved them dearly) from making a big mistake or a bad decision.  Many times they accused me of being mean or harsh, as a means to manipulate me into letting them do what they wanted.  Many times that’s exactly who I became to them, mean and harsh.  Those teenage years were the hardest, but I am thankful for them, because they helped me see and appreciate the patience of God so much.  To show me both the wretch that I was and the loving parent that He is.  And for giving me that small glimpse of His life every day.  To call God hard or austere is a confession of who we are, our own selfishness, and shows that we don’t really know Him, or want to know Him.  We just want our own way.

And I can’t say or claim to know God the way we know people.  Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out (Romans 11:33).  But I do get to know Him every time I read and study and search out His word.  And I am humbled that He wanted me to be part of His kingdom by sending a courageous lady to preach the gospel to me when I was a young and foolish mother.  That lady led me in a prayer of salvation that changed my life.  Certainly changed the course of my life.  I shall never know what the Lord saved me from that day, but I know what He saved me to, and it blesses my heart so much that He was not willing that I should perish, but that I should come to repentance.  The Jesus that I know is merciful, caring, sacrificing, and loving…no greater love has any man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  He purchased a kingdom for me that I didn’t deserve.  And He sent me to invite YOU!

So I ask you…what’s in YOUR WALLET?

Minas

Click on the link below for the FREE PRINTABLE coloring page

Minas Free Printable

Do you know Jesus as Savior?  Do you have His minas and talents in you?  How will you invest them in His kingdom, or trade them on the stock exchange of heaven?  Don’t worry, I am not asking you to really tell me, or even keep a record for yourself.  I just think we need to ask our selves this question every day in order to put our schedules in right order.  Truly there is so much work to do.  We can do the work ourselves, or donate to causes that will do the work in our place.  I believe this parable tells us that it all counts. But, whatever we do, let’s do it out of love, not out of obligation, for anything not done out of love is, well, not done.  (1 Cor. 13)

The commandments are summed up in this, that we Love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits, and that we love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:37; Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30-31).  Let us love like the Good Samaritan – which just so happened also on that same Jericho road.

Let us love when we see love is needed.  Love is what causes our giving to earn interest. Let us help when we see help is needed.  Give when we see giving is needed.  And then let us forget what we’ve done.

And let us keep our eyes on the skies, for our King is coming! Amen?

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PRAYER: Oh Lord, help me to have eyes to see the needs around me, and the unselfishness to meet them.  Lord forgive my selfishness.  Lord forgive my fearfulness.  Help me to have the courage to share this gospel of yours in the best way to honor You and tell Your story.  Let those who have ears to hear, hear Your message and believe, and be saved.  May those who love You be encouraged and strengthened.  May those who don’t know You, find You.  May Your kingdom come and Your will be done.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord God of hosts.”

Jeremiah 15:16 NKJV