We Are Invited 5

Revelation 22:17

On an episode of “All in the Family,” Archie explained the social convention of giving the brush-off to people you don’t want to socialize with. He said that at the end of the conversation you tell them, “We must get together sometime,” but then you never do.

How often do we give false invitations to other people? We can often tell others that they are welcome to drop by any time, when in fact we don’t expect them to visit. We may in fact prefer that they don’t.

We believe that the Bible is God’s word, His message to all of us. I see the Bible as God trying to reach out to us. From the beginning to the end, the Bible is a message of love and invitation from God, and this is not an insincere invitation from God.

It is made extremely clear at the conclusion of the Bible. Here, in the final book of the Bible, near the end of this message from God, we have an invitation. Who calls us to come? What should the hearer do? What is offered?

The Holy Spirit summons us with an invitation to come to the refreshing spiritual spring God offers. All are welcome to take the free gift that is offered – the gift of life, a new life, a better life, a happier life.

But the Holy Spirit is not alone. Revelation speaks of the “bride” inviting others to come. The term “the bride” is a reference to the church of believers under Christ. So, according to this verse, the church joins with God in offering an invitation to those who seek a new, revived life in Jesus. It is part of the duty of all believers to invite the seeker to find a relationship with God.

And who are these who need an invitation? All who are thirsty, all who desire to know who God is and who Jesus is, are welcome and invited to take the free gift of the water of life.

Jesus invites us into a relationship with him. He invites us to allow him to share our burdens. He invites us into a revived spirit. Now we must join in with the Holy Spirit, with Jesus Christ and all the church in inviting all people into this loving relationship.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be part of the invitation?

We Are Invited 4

Matthew 11:28-29

Whenever my wife or I come back from the store we usually call our children to come help us carry in the groceries. We do it so often, in fact, that most of the time when we hear the van pull into the driveway it is an automatic response to go out and see if help is needed. It is a time to share the burden, a time to help out a person who is overloaded.

Sometimes we may find our lives being overloaded. We may be burdened with more than simply bags of groceries, but burdened with worries, loneliness, despair, and emotional pain. What does Jesus offer? What does he urge us to do? What will we receive if we take on the yoke of Christ?

The invitation Jesus gives here is more than an offer to tote heavy bags. Rather, it is an invitation to hand our cares and fears over to him. In so doing our emotional and spiritual burdens can be relieved. Jesus will help us bear the load of struggles and pain. He invites us into a time of rest.

But then Jesus invites us to take on his yoke. At first this may seem contrary to the overall message. Usually a yoke is associated with work, labor, and effort. If Jesus is offering his yoke to us is he offering to make us toil?

I don’t believe that the offer is for us to do more work. The meaning is in what is being offered. A yoke is a device used with horses and oxen for pulling heavy loads. The yoke joins the abilities of two or more animals so that they work together for success. If a yoke is used on a single animal the device spreads the weight and strain of the work so that it is less difficult. A yoke also can keep the animal going in the proper direction.

Taking on the yoke of Christ means that we make Jesus part of who we are, how we act, how we live, and how we deal with troubles. If we are yoked with Christ then we are allowing ourselves to be guided by Jesus and his teaching. If we are yoked with Christ then we are sharing our troubles and burdens with him. Jesus is taking on part of the burden to make things easier for us.

Going to Jesus and sharing his yoke is not taking on more work. Rather it is accepting the constant help that Christ offers.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you take on the yoke of Christ?

We Are Invited 3

John 7:37-38

I’m a very thirsty person. I carry a bottle of water with me just about everywhere I go because I frequently need to take a drink of refreshing water to quench my thirst. I keep it nearby when I preach. I keep it with me in the car. I have it close at hand even when I am doing things around the house.

Water is one of those basic needs we have to be alive. It requires water to sustain life on earth, and human beings cannot go very long at all without water. While Jesus was attending a Jewish festival celebration he took the opportunity to use water as a teaching tool and to offer an invitation to those who would believe in him. What does he offer? What will happen to those who believe?

I must constantly refill my water bottle throughout the day. We have a Culligan tank that I use to top off the small bottle I carry. And no matter how much I drink I get thirsty again after a short while.

But Jesus makes an invitation to all who thirst. His invitation, however, has nothing to do with the water we drink throughout our day. Jesus was talking more about spiritual refreshment. If a person thirsts – desires greatly – the presence of God’s grace and mercy, then that person can come to Christ and drink. The invitation Jesus gives is the invitation to come have our souls, our spirits, refreshed and renewed by being with him.

Not only will our souls be refreshed by him, but as believers in Christ this spiritually refreshing water of God will flow inside. We will be able to be refreshed over and over again because we will be one of God’s children, people who have a refreshing faith in our Savior. And I also believe this flowing water is not just for us. The refreshing water can flow from inside of us to others who need that spiritual renewal.

We need to remember that just as I must go again and again to the water tank for more water, we can go again and again to Jesus to have our souls made new. We can also know that once we have committed ourselves to Jesus that spiritual refreshment he offers will be with us always. And that spiritual renewal can flow from us to those in need.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you go to Jesus to drink?

We Are Invited 2

Luke 5:31-32

I recall as a youth listening to the presentations that visiting missionaries would often give at our church. They showed slides of the places they had been to, Third World countries with rampant poverty and great needs. Some of them showed slide after slide of churches they visited, homes where they were treated to fancy meals, and buildings where they had meetings about what people needed.

When these missionaries showed their pictures I would often ask myself, “weren’t they supposed to work while they were there?” Truthfully, I have no idea of all the details of what they did while on their mission trips. While sometimes the pictures indicated they spent their time having fun, I trust they did what they could to help the needy.

But we don’t have to be a visiting missionary to miss out on helping the needy. When confronted about his decision to associate with sinful people, how does Jesus respond? Who needs repentance?

Jesus did not always behave as people might have expected. He healed sick people. He touched lepers. He spoke to prostitutes and tax collectors. This shocked many people around him. They were accustomed to shunning these people. If a person wasn’t perfect it was okay to treat them poorly or ignore them completely.

But Jesus pointed out that he had come not to keep company with folks who were already in he right place spiritually. He was here to help the lost. He was here to give aid to the needy.

Our first thought on this should be, “Thank you.” We are the sick who need a physician. We are the lost who need a guide. We are the sinful people who need be led to repentance.

Our second thought should be about how we are acting. If we will be Christians who imitate Jesus we must be willing to get our hands dirty helping the poor. WE must be willing to risk our finances by assisting the needy. We must be willing to spare the time to feed the hungry.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you help the sick rather than associating with the healthy?

We Are Invited 1

Luke 14:22-23

A struggle my family has had with my mother over the years has been her desire to be entertained. She loves to have a party and would enjoy the company of visitors every night of the week, it would seem. She has always loved to be occupied, to be engaged in card games and board games and light conversation. Growing up, we were busy every weekend, Friday night and Saturday night, visiting friends or relatives or having others over to our house as guests.

That same attitude of enjoying togetherness seems to be seen in our God. While eating at the house of a Pharisee Jesus told a parable about a wealthy man who planned a banquet and invited guests. The guests, however, refused to come, and so the man had his servant invite poor and crippled people in to his home.

What does the servant tell the master? What does the master command? Why?

Just as my mother liked to be in the company of others, so our God enjoys a relationship with us. The parable Jesus used to teach his lessons is a story that represents deeper meanings.

In the parable the man holding the banquet is God. The servant sent out to invite others in is Jesus. The banquet can represent heaven, or it can be the great and wonderful abundance of goodness and blessings that God gives us in our lives.

Now we must look at those who are invited to the banquet. The first group of people invited refused to come. One by one they made up excuses as to why they could not attend.

Are we like that? Do we refuse to accept the invitation from God to be part of His goodness and abundance?

Since those who were invited would not come, the man ordered that strangers, needy, poor, lame, struggling people should all be brought in to the banquet. Why? Because he wanted his house to be filled.

God desires that His house be filled. God desires that we be part of this wonderful relationship that He offers to us, that we be the people who fill His house. God invites us to come and be part of His blessings because He wants His house filled with joy and love.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be certain to accept God’s invitation?