Ultimate Invitation

 

InvitationI enjoy a good invite. A few weeks ago, I received a formal invitation to my oldest grandson’s birthday party. The theme was Mickey Mouse! Of course, I made plans to be there. The party was yesterday and we most definitely had fun with him, family and friends. Invitations are most always optional. If it was mandatory the language would be different. There are some invitations that I’ve received that I “felt” were mandatory or I “needed” to be there. The Lord has given the ULTIMATE INVITATION – He invites me to eternal life. He also invites me to enjoy the abundant life while I’m here on earth.

John is wrapping up his revelation and he hears from Jesus, himself. The Lord gives a profound declaration and invitation. Check this out…

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (Revelation 22:16-17 NLT)

I am responding to the invitation of the Lord each day. I have surrendered my life to Him. I have been baptized and I’m walking out my faith in Him daily. I stumble often, but through confession and repentance, He restores my soul. His forgiveness is complete. When He introduced me to His grace, I was blown away. I look for Him to invite me into closer fellowship with Him as I daily seek His face. I seek His heart through His Word and my heart is molded and changed.

The invitation from the Lord has changed everything about my life. I’ve RSVP’d to Him and I’m committed to His call upon my life. He offers life-giving water. He offers the life-sustaining Presence of God. He Lights my path because He’s the Light of The World! I’m blown away that He welcomes me into His family. This is one invitation that doesn’t just stay on the refrigerator but I carry it with me everywhere.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Judgement

JusticeI used to be pretty freaked out by court rooms. I enjoyed television shows that involved the court system. I watched Perry Mason when I was young and again when I was older. I moved to Matlock and then finally to Law & Order. Our justice system has its problems for sure, but for the most part, it takes care of the offender and brings justice to the victims. The checks and balances in our justice system are designed to make sure the right person pays for the crime they committed.

As I was reading in Revelation this morning, the whole chapter I was in was the personification of Babylon as a woman who was destructive. John was excellent in his writing because after a few verses I was visualizing a vile woman versus the city of Babylon. Her judgement is complete and she will be completely destroyed. Check this out…

21 Then a mighty angel picked up a stone like a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

In this way, Babylon the great city
will be thrown down violently
and never be found again.
22 The sound of harpists, musicians,
flutists, and trumpeters
will never be heard in you again;
no craftsman of any trade
will ever be found in you again;
the sound of a mill
will never be heard in you again;
23 the light of a lamp
will never shine in you again;
and the voice of a groom and bride
will never be heard in you again.
All this will happen
because your merchants
were the nobility of the earth,
because all the nations were deceived
by your sorcery.
24 In her was found the blood of prophets and saints,
and of all those slaughtered on the earth. (Revelation 18:21-24 CSB)

It appears that Babylon was given many chances to change and “she” refused. The city was destructive and decadent. There was no respect for the Lord or the rule of law.

I believe that the Lord is a God of Grace, but also a God of Justice. We can’t continue to live sinful and destructive lives and expect eternal life. When the Lord won my heart, I became committed to obedience and honoring His call upon my life. I want my life to bring honor and glory to Him. If I’m serving myself, I’m not serving Him. I must repent often of seeking my own way and ignoring His gentle instruction, counsel and directives. I have no worries about judgement if I seek that course of action daily.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Repent & Be Alert

 

Prepared Not UnpreparedThis book of Revelation is a challenge to understand. It is choked full of symbolism, tied together with truth. John didn’t have the luxury of having seen things like he’s seeing in these visons and in the revelation. I suspect that he had trouble sleeping at night after seeing these beasts and wild creatures.  I read to day about the 7 bowls of wrath – I’m wondering if these are huge mixing bowls. I’m wondering what they looked like. The Lord’s judgment is a part of Who He is. I’m thankful that His Grace comes before judgement. It’s hard to believe, but there are people who are stubborn and will not repent before the Lord. He is a God of Grace, but He is also a God of Justice. Check this out…

15 “Look, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame.” (Revelation 16:15 CSB)

I talk to the Lord throughout the day every day. I want to make a routine out of repentance. In repentance, I’m humble and grateful for Who He is and the fact that He doesn’t punish me as my sins deserve. I have been forgiven much and He wants me to be alert to what He’s doing in my world as well as the fact that He is coming again. I won’t get off this earth alive unless He returns. My soul lives on either way. I want to lay down my pride and live in repentance and humility before Him. I want to notice what He’s doing and be ready when He returns.

I’m going to clothe my spiritual body with the Presence of God – His Spirit.

I’m going to prepare my physical body and be ready – Serving Him by serving others.

I’m going to live like I’ll die tomorrow;

Die knowing I’ll live forever. (Rich Mullins)

I want to be alert and filled with repentance before Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Convinced

Discussing the truthThere are times when I simply don’t believe what I just saw. When I see a magic trick and I don’t know how the person pulled it off – I’m still convinced that he/she simply tricked me. I think this word convinced is a “1st cousin” to the word conviction. When I’m convinced about a truth it is usually related to a conviction.

Paul writes a second letter to the church at Corinth and he realized that he probably ticked some of them off or hurt their feelings with his first letter. His second letter, he doesn’t really “sugar coat” things but he does own the fact that he might have hurt them with his previous letter. Check this out…

For even if I grieved you with my letter, I don’t regret it. And if I regretted it—since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a while— I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 CSB)

I’m not really “preachy” with my conversations. I have found that discussion and dialogue produce more long-term results than one-sided rants from the Word. That is just not my style. I am convinced that the Lord will do what He needs to do to get my attention. He will allow some crazy stuff to come my way. He will allow suffering in my life because it drives me to my knees before Him.  I don’t believe that the Lord causes the suffering but I do believe He could protect me from it (and often does), but He never wastes a moment of my suffering. He uses that to build and develop my God-honoring character that produces a repentant and moldable heart for Him.

I’m convinced that the Lord loves me more than I know how to love my kids. He showers me with grace and mercy that I don’t deserve. He is so patient with me as I keep working on my walk with Him. He is relentless in His pursuit of my heart. I have suffered and grieved in this life, and I always ended up crying out before Him seeking His help and His direction through the suffering and struggle.

I’m convinced that suffering, grief and struggle are tools meant to destroy me but end of building me and making me stronger.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Reforms Needed

 

Reforms - White Word on Red Puzzles.The word “Reform” certainly implies change. According to Dictionary.com, it can be a noun or a verb. As a noun: the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. As a verb: to change to a better state, form, etc.; improve by alteration, substitution, abolition, etc. I think it’s healthy to review my need for reform pretty often. If I’m not careful, I can slip into unhealthy habits and attitudes that can be harmful to me as well as people I know.

Nehemiah had returned to the service of King Artaxerxes. When he returned to Jerusalem he saw that a lot of the work he had previously done was being neglected. He was the type of leader that would call anyone out who needed it. Check this out…

10 I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and musicians responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields. 11 So I rebuked the officials and asked them, ‘Why is the house of God neglected?’ Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts.

12 All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil into the storerooms. 13 I put Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the storerooms and made Hanan son of Zakkur, the son of Mattaniah, their assistant, because they were considered trustworthy. They were made responsible for distributing the supplies to their fellow Levites.

14 Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services. (Nehemiah 13:10-14 NIV)

It’s pretty easy for me to tell others where they need reform in daily habits and attitudes. It’s a bit harder for me to look inside my own life and find where reform is needed. There are certain benchmarks in my life that allow me to look back and measure the progress I’ve made, or not made. I think everyone could use some measure of reform now and then.

I need spiritual reform to keep the pursuit of God’s heart my main priority.

I need to reform some areas of my responsibility as a husband.

I need to reform some areas of my responsibility as a Dad.

I need to reform some areas of my life to my close friends.

I need to reform some areas of my work as a REALTOR.

I think reform is a necessary part of growing and maturing just like change is a natural part of life. I’m not staying the same as I was yesterday, last month or last year; I’m aging for one thing. I want to seek the Lord in such a way that He gently reforms my life however He sees fit. He knows me like no one else. He knows when my motives are bad. He knows my heart and the desires of my heart. I think reform is closely connected with repentance; today and everyday – I need both.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Repentance Can Be Messy

 

I can remember some of the times when I’ve sinned and failed miserably before the Lord. Some of the times it was private and others were against others publicly. I’ve witness “fake repentance” and I’ve experienced the real thing. I believe that repentance should carry with it “profound regret”.

Ezra was a prophet with the people of Judah and Benjamin who had been exiled to Babylon. King Darius of Persia later took over and allowed them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of God as well as their city. They had been in captivity over 70 years. Not long after they returned and started the clean up and building of the Temple, they sinned against God. They began to intermingle with people who worshipped other gods and defied the One True God. This really angered God and Ezra was stunned when he heard about it. He began the process of repentance immediately on behalf of the small nation of returned exiles. Check this out…

1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites – men, women and children – gathered round him. They too wept bitterly. (Ezra 10:1 NIV)

Messy repentance is genuine and involves making it right. Messy repentance requires heart-change. I can change my behavior on a moment’s notice, but heart change requires more investment and “buy in”.

I was thinking of the repentance of Zacchaeus, the tax collector who was changed because of his encounter with Jesus. He repented profoundly too. Check this out…

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ (Luke 19:8 NIV)

Repentance can also be expensive as well as messy. It often involves restitution of some sort. As Ezra lead the people in repentance, their hearts began to hurt with the things that hurt the heart of God. I believe involves me reconnecting my heart to his heart and leaving behind my past sinful behavior.

Pressing On!

Dwayne