Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Party

   A king gave a great party for his son who had just gotten married.  The king invited many people, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for everything's ready.'

   But they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I bought a piece of property, and must go and see it. You'll have to excuse me.' And another said, 'I just bought some cattle, and I am going to check them out. Sorry, can't make it.' Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and can't come.'

   So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the king, 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 beat up and the handicapped and the blind.' And the servant said, 'Sir, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' 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. For I say to you that none of those people who were invited shall taste my supper.'

   Jesus told this story to a number of the religious leaders of his day.  The king in the story is God.  The son is Jesus.  And I found a number of things interesting about what he said.

   That must be some supper to attend.  Some party.  I mean, the king wants to fill his house.  It must be a big house to have it filled with so many people.  Plus, I've attended a number of parties where the wine never ran out and the food was scrumptious.  Smoked salmon.  Fillet Mignon.  Lobster bisque. Green salads, pasta salads, Chinese chicken salads.  Coconut shrimp.  Bread that melted in my mouth. Every delicacy or dessert you could imagine.  And if the party's thrown by God, it must be some celebration.  Family. Friends. Joy. Laughter. And love covering everyone.

   The other thing that came to mind was that it didn't matter how rich or poor, how smart or how healthy people were, the king ended up pulling in everyone who could be found.  Every person on this planet was created by God.  You and me.  The guy holding the 'Out of work...anything helps' sign off the freeway.  Your elementary school teacher.  The scientist who discovered how to splice DNA strands.  My mom, your dad, every child on the playground.  And God wants all of us to come to his party.

   In college, I had a friend named Matt who was invited to a party where Bono was going to be  present.  Bono!  One of the most famous singers and humanitarians of our time.  So Matt shows up at the door and they check the list.  "Yep, your in."  Matt walks in and has a blast.  He joins the dance floor and starts dancing up to some people, then discretely shuffled over to Bono and dances around him.  That would be something!  But he was able to get in because he knew someone.  His name was on the list.

   God has a list, too.  Can you imaging going up to heaven's gates, and an angel looks down on the list.  "Yep, you're in."  When it comes to God, it's not the great number of good works you do.  It's not the amount of money you give to the poor.  It's who you know.  It would be like going up to the bouncer, handing him the invitation and saying, "Yeah, I'm on the list." without any fear.

   If someone were to ask you, "Are you going to heaven?", what would you're answer be?  If you said "yes", what would that be based on?  Many of us have it in our minds that if the number of good things we do outweigh the number of bad things, we get in.  Or everyone, from Hitler to Mother Theresa, gets in.  But we don't base it on what God says.  And what the bible states is that "everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  That's you, me, that elementary school teacher, and that guy on the corner with a sign.  All of us have sinned.  We've turned to drunkenness, or adultery, or sex, or hatred, or envy, murder, magic, partying, arguing all the time, and just living for ourselves. If we got what we deserved for those sins, none of us would be getting through those pearly gates. And a lot of people could care less.

   But God cares.

   The bible says that God loved you so much, He gave Jesus to die for you.  If we were to die with our sins, we'd be separated from God forever.  But Jesus took the punishment for us.  He died with every sin you've ever committed, and every sin you will commit.  Then he rose up from the dead three days later.  He did that so that believing in him, you would come to know God.  If you ask for forgiveness of your sins, and turn to Jesus, he will wash all your sins away.  He wants you to draw close to him and experience that awesome life he has in store for you...right now.

   Think of this as God's invitation to you.

   The bible talks about God being patient with us.  He's that way with us because He wants us to turn away from our sins to accept that gift of life from Him.  The joy I have in life is not because of all of my accomplishments, or any of my good deeds, but in that God reached out to me and made the invitation for me to know Him.  And to join Him in the greatest and most wonderful party ever held.  His promise to you is the same: for you to accept His gift of love and forgiveness, and no longer live for yourself but to spend your life loving God and everyone around you.  To know a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Only God can give us the love and strength to do that, and He is faithful.

   If you want to accept His invitation of love, pray this prayer:

   "Lord Jesus, I need You.  Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and Lord.  Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life.  Take control of the throne of my life.  Make me the kind of person You want me to be."

   If you prayed this prayer, be sure to join a Christian church to get to know God more.  There's so many people who want to draw close to Him, and would like for you to be part of that. God's desire is for you to be as close to Him as possible.  That's an awesome life that He has for you.

   And a pretty awesome party, as well!

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