Invited!

imagesHTKLEW5NImagine receiving an invitation to dine with a king! How would you feel?  Honored? Excited? Would you be checking to make sure the invitation was really addressed to you? What would you be thinking? Would you be wondering what you  would say to a king? Would you be wondering what to wear for such an important occasion?

Open a Bible. You have a greater invitation. It is real. You have been invited by the King of kings, the Creator and Sustainer of all, to become a citizen of His kingdom. You have been invited to sit at the table of the King of kings–not as a guest but as His child!  Talk about an honor!

The Bible teaches that this invitation is given freely to all men. It is not offered to a select few. It is not offered to the rich and important only.  It is for all. “…Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). One must have a desire to come. One must be thirsty.  We are all thirsty. However, not all have come to realize the source of satisfaction for their thirst. Just as one may dine on only junk food and lose the taste for nutritional food, one may imbibe the world’s water and have no desire for the water that provides the greater and ultimate satisfaction, the water that truly quenches the thirst. If you become satisfied with the lesser things of life, you will have no thirst for God and you will ignore the invitation. Don’t settle for the glitter when you can have God.  Are you thirsty for God? Accept the gracious invitation.

How does one accept the invitation the King has offered? If you listen to the religious world, you will hear all kinds of confusing responses to that question. “Just believe” or “God must choose you–you can’t come of your own free will”, and “you can do nothing” — these are just some of the responses you will hear. The truly important question is: “What does God say I must do to accept His invitation?”

There is a set standard of measurements–no one can arbitrarily decide the size or length of an item. There is also a standard to measure religious statements and practices with–and that is the truth of God’s Word.

The author of Hebrews declares, “without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that would come (or draw near) to Him must believe that He is (that He exists) and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Is faith simply giving mental assent? No. Seeking implies more than mental assent. If you continue to read this chapter, you will understand the Biblical definition of faith, of trusting God and seeking Him in faith. Every person that is mentioned in this chapter acted upon their belief. They trusted God which led them to act. Noah believed and built an ark to the saving of his family. When Abraham was called to leave his homeland, he obeyed and went. By faith Abraham offered up Isaac. Throughout the Bible when someone had faith in God, they acted upon His commands. Faith is taking God at His Word, and acting upon that faith.

What does the King say one must do to be saved? “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16) But someone replies, ” my preacher said that if we believe, we are saved right then”.  That statement is equivalent to saying that “whoever believes and is not baptized will be saved”.  Who will you believe?  The King who  is over the kingdom or man? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Another man quotes Ephesians 2:8 in protest against “whoever believes and is immersed (baptized) will be saved”.  This man declares that we are saved by grace and not by works. He asserts that baptism is a work of man and an attempt to earn salvation. Let’s look at what the Bible says about this matter.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

These words were written to the church at Ephesus. Notice the past tense…they had been saved at some point in the past. Read Acts 19:1-5. The disciples at Ephesus had been baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. They had been saved by the grace of God. Everything is by God’s grace. The air you breathe, the food on your table, the clothes you are wearing, family, friends, –and most importantly spiritual blessings–all come from God. Take a piece of paper and write down all the good things you have that have not come from God’s gracious hand. Your paper is blank. Yes, (glory to God) salvation is by His grace. It is His grace that grants us the opportunity to repent, to turn to Him in faith and love. It is His grace that allows us to be clothed with Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27). It is His grace that provided a way for us to be created new in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Praise Him for His mercy and His goodness toward us! Give Him all glory! But do not use that glorious truth to negate the rest of this passage. It is by grace through faith–faith takes God at His Word and submits in love.

How is faith in God and surrendering to Him in baptism an attempt to earn salvation? Does your child earn your love when he obeys you? No. He demonstrates his love and trust in you when he obeys you. If you truly have faith in God, you will not hesitate to accept His invitation by believing in Him and being immersed into Him (Romans 6:3-5).

The passage continues that salvation is not a result of works. It is not of ourselves. Amen. God, out of His great mercy and kindness, provided for our salvation. We were helpless. There was no way we could do anything to undo the curse of sin and death. Christ did it for us. So, why would we refuse to submit to such a wondrous Savior and King? When one submits to immersion into Christ and His death (Romans 6:3-5), one has nothing to boast about. His boasting is in Christ.

The Bible says that we demonstrate faith in God when we are buried with Christ in baptism. The Bible declares baptism (immersion) is a work of God, not of a work of man. Listen to God’s Word:

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)

Do you have faith in God? Do you trust the Word of the King: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”? Do you want to be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Light–the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13)?  Do you possess the kind of faith that takes God at His Word? Do you believe in the working of God? Accept His invitation to be buried with Christ in baptism to obtain salvation in Him.  Die to sin and live for Him.

The King of kings has sent you an invitation. You don’t have to wonder what to say to this King. He has told us to come confessing our faith in Him by being buried with Him in baptism. He has provided for our clothing. Put on Christ in baptism through your faith in Him and His Word (Galatians 3:26-27).

Oh, the joy of belonging to Him. Oh, the joy of casting all your care upon Him, knowing the King of all cares for you. With what joy we anticipate the King’s return when all things will be put right and death will be no more. God will fill all in all and He will be our delight– world without end.

Don’t settle for fool’s gold. Seek the ultimate treasure– Deity.

Are you thirsty? Come! Drink!*

*This post was inspired by a sermon by Gantt Carter that was preached to the Northside church of Christ in Cordell, Oklahoma on February 7, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King in His Beauty

pic   The prophet Isaiah wrote “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold a land that reaches afar” (Isaiah 33:17). The immediate application in context would appear to be the king of Judah, King Hezekiah, who had worn sackcloth because the Assyrians had besieged the beloved city of Jerusalem. But Jehovah had come to their rescue. He had delivered His people from the cruel hands of the Assyrians. The people would once again see their king clothed in his beautiful royal garments.

However, there is a greater application than the immediate one, and that is the Messiah, the true King of Judah–the true King of the world. The promised Messiah would come from the Jews and they would see the King in His beauty.

And indeed King Jesus did come! John records His coming in these words, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

And, oh, the beautiful things He did when He came and dwelt among His creation.

We see the King in His beauty in the way He reached out and touched the leper who came and worshipped Him, seeking to be healed. (Mark 1:40-41) Mark records that Jesus was moved with compassion for this man with leprosy. His compassion moved Him to place a loving hand upon him. How long had it been since this man had known the touch of a human hand? It was not necessary for King Jesus to touch the leper in order to heal him– it was necessary due to the nature of God.  Can you imagine the joy the man felt when Jesus touched him? And then to realize he had been healed! The presence of King Jesus brings joy to those who seek Him.

His beauty is seen in His conversation with a Samaritan woman (John 4:5-29). The woman is truly surprised when Jesus speaks to her. Not only was there animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans, but it was also against society rules for a Jewish man to speak to a woman in public (see John 4:27 for the reaction of his disciples).  Many Jewish men started their day with a prayer of thanksgiving that they had not been born a Gentile or a woman. No wonder she was so surprised that this Jewish man would speak to Her. To her wonder and amazement He continued the conversation with her, and she soon discovered that this was no ordinary Jewish man but the longed for Messiah! (vs. 25-29) Do you see it? Do you see how King Jesus breaks down racial barriers? Do you see how King Jesus lifted woman to the honor He had created her with in the beginning? He had created woman with great honor but the Hebrew nation had been influenced by the pagans around them.  The King came and lifted woman. He returned her to a place of honor. The King in His beauty shines forth in a conversation with this woman of Samaria! It is certain that she never forgot this day–the day when the Messiah lifted her–the day she saw the King in His beauty.

We see the beauty of the King in His compassion on the blind (Matt. 20:34), on the sick (Matt. 14:14), and on the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34). We see His beauty in His reassurance to His disciples when they were in a ship that was being tossed by the waves because the winds were contrary (John 6:16-20). The disciples were already anxious due to the waves  tossing their ship. Now they see someone coming toward them walking on the water. Their fear increases to the point that they cry out. The beauty of the King is seen in the wondrous words He spoke to them:.. “It is I; do not be afraid.”  

The wonder of His remark is that He literally said “I AM; do not be afraid.”  I AM –the Name by which God revealed Himself to Moses. I AM– the Self-Existent One.  The beauty of the King–He offers peace to His disciples in the midst of a troubled sea.  The beauty of the King– God is in their midst and He says to not be afraid– I am here.

His whole life as He walked upon this earth revealed the beauty of Deity. He offered forgiveness, peace, and rest to those who would follow Him. His life shone in the darkness. With every step the Light cast out the shadows of darkness.

The beauty of the King shines the brightest in the most unlikely place–a Roman cross. The Creator–the King of the Universe– gave His life for His creation. The cross was cruel and ugly. The King upon it was filled with goodness, love, and beauty. An ugly crown of thorns was placed upon His gracious brow. Darkness was over all the earth for three hours. But the true Light of the world was shining from the cross! Not one word of ugliness passed His gracious lips. In pain, He spoke words of forgiveness to the penitent thief who exhibited great faith in Him. As always, the thoughts of the King were for others and for the glory of God!

The King was buried but the chains of death could not hold Him. Praise God! He burst those chains and reigns forever! The King in His beauty is on the throne. Exalt Him! He is worthy of all praise and all honor and all glory.

He no longer physically walks among us but He is still among His people.  We behold His beauty in the revealed Word of God. One day our eyes will see the King in His beauty. To gaze and gaze upon him…to serve and to worship Him. Wonderful Savior! Glorious King!

One thing I ask … to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord… (Psalm 27:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King of Glory!

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Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors: And the King of glory will come in. (Psalm 24:7)

The Psalmist exclaims that the gates to the city should lift their heads, and the everlasting doors should open so the King of Glory may enter. Can you hear that shout?

Then the question is asked from within the city  “Who is this King of Glory?”.  The thrilling answer comes ringing back that this King is: “Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle.” (vs 8)

A second time the Psalmist exclaims that the gates should lift their heads, and the everlasting doors should open for the King of Glory to enter. (vs. 9) And a second time the question is asked, “Who is this King of glory?” The reply comes back that this King is “Jehovah of hosts; He is the King of glory.” (vs.10) The second reply is worded slightly different but both answers are military in nature.

The illusion is to a general or king returning to His city in glorious triumph. The Psalmist addresses the gates instead of the people who tend the gates. This King is so mighty and so strong, and so remarkable in battle that the gates cannot wait for the keepers to open them. The anticipation for the King to enter is high– hearts beating wildly with desire to see this glorious King returning in triumph from battle.

It is most likely that these gates did not open and shut as we might picture from our modern idea of gates, but were actually lifted by weights and pulleys. The Psalmists employed the use of Hebrew parallelism in many places, and we see it used here…lift up your heads, ye gates, and be lifted up ye everlasting doors. The Psalmist wants to emphasize this great and tremendous moment.  The King of glory is here! There is to be no obstacle blocking the entrance of this victorious and magnificent King of Glory.

The gates are told to lift their heads as if they are too low for this glorious and mighty King of kings!

Some commentators think that this is a reference to King David returning in battle with the procession of the ark going before which represented the presence and the dwelling of the LORD with them, thus, giving the credit to Jehovah for the victory, and a secondary, if not primary, meaning of a triumphant Messiah entering Heaven, returning after He conquered sin and death, thereby defeating the enemy.

I want you to consider with me a third possible meaning from this stirring illusion by the Psalmist. Think with me of the day when this victorious King will return for His loyal subjects. What a day that will truly be!  Will our hearts not thrill at the sound of His coming? Are we not even now watching for Him with eager eyes and longing hearts?  Instead of heads of doors being lifted up in anticipation–let us lift our own heads and hearts in anticipation of that great moment. One day. He is coming.

Burdens in life may cause us grief today, but there is joy today because He reigns and He is coming. Today will give way to that great tomorrow! We all struggle from time to time. Our hearts break. Death claims someone we deeply love. Sin entices someone we love. Sickness. Heartbreaks and sorrows. But lift up your heads, you loyal ones to this King of glory. He won the victory already. Yes, we still fight battles for our King but we never fight alone and the victory is sure because the King came and won The Battle. We can rest in that knowledge, continue on in the battle, finding joy in Him today, while joyously waiting with eyes fixed on Him for His return. Keep focused on the King and His kingdom. There you will find your lasting joy.

Do not fear. All will come out right in the end. Joy will conquer sorrow. Pleasure will conquer pain. Health will conquer sickness. Life will conquer death. No more sickness. No more sorrow or pain or death when He returns because He won the victory for us! A new day is here and will be here in its fullness at His glorious return!

Are you loyal to this King of glory? Is He truly your everything in life? Do you find your greatest treasure and your greatest pleasure in this King of glory?

Are you looking for Him? Lift up your heads! Be ready to greet your victorious King!

O’ lift your heads,  His loyal subjects,

And downtrodden do not be.

Cast all your cares upon this King

Who truly cares for thee!

So unlike all earthly kings–

He came to serve–

He wore no royal robe or ring.

He Who made it all,

Gave His life that we might live.

He freely died to redeem us all.

So, raise your heads, you subjects of the King

Heed His call–Go and tell all

Our triumphant King now reigns,

And is coming back one day.

Then peace in His kingdom will reign–and God will be all in all!

Praise the King of glory!

Let every heart give way.

How can our lips remain silent while we have this day!

Praise the King of glory!

Praise His wonderful Name!