Are You Coming to the Wedding Banquet? You're Invited!
by Barbara Collins
Where are the guests? Did they not receive their invitations that the king himself sent and personally delivered by His servants who said, "Come to the feast?" However, they wouldn't come. Then, he sent other servants who said, "Everything is prepared, and the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the wedding feast!"
Those invited guests were s-o-o-o busy going here and doing that they paid no attention and made light of the invitation. After all, they had important business beckoning them. Those who were idle beat up the messengers and killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to put those murderers to death and burned their city.
Then, he told his servants, "We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited were not up to it. Go out into the streets and busiest intersections and invite everyone you find- the poor, disabled, lame, and blind-- and invite them to the banquet so the wedding banquet will have every place filled.
When the king entered and looked over the guests, he looked intently at a man who was not properly dressed, one who did not have a wedding garment. “Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!” The man was speechless. Then, the king told his servants, “Get him out of here- fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he does not get back in. That’s what I mean when I say, “Many get invited; only a few make it.” (Matthew 22:1-14, The Message and Amplified versions.)
Are you dressed properly? Do your clothes reflect your personality? Have you received beauty like a bouquet of roses for ashes of your mourning? Do you use the anointing you have to comfort all who mourn? Do you extend the comfort the Lord has comforted you with to comfort others? Have you traded your negativity, critical and complaining spirit and received the fullness of the oil of joy for mourning? Have you received a garment of praise instead of a heavy, burdened spirit? Are you dependent on what the world says with its doom and gloom or are you dependent not only upon Him but also what pleases Him? Do others look at you as a tree or oak of righteousness distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God? Have you allowed the Lord to plant you that you may display His glory? Are you wearing your salvation suit? Have you been outfitted in the robe of righteousness? If your bridegroom has put on his tuxedo, have you as His promised Bride adorned yourself with your precious jewels? If so, you are dressed properly; and you are enthusiastic about the upcoming wedding banquet! (Adapted from Isaiah 61:1-10, The Message and Amplified versions). John, the Revelator, said, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9) whereas in v. 7, he says, “. . . the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Will you be the wife (Bride) or one of the guests? You decide. (Revelation 19:7, NKJV)
Betrothed to Another - Even Christ
by Gay Anderson
I wish to share some thoughts the Spirit has been quickening to me concerning our relationship to Him
Years ago, my heart skipped a beat when I first read the Apostle Paul’s words, “Oh, that you might be married to another- even Christ!” To think! The invitation extended to me! What an awesome revelation.
Barbara’s question at the end of last month’s article, God’s Definition, or Man’s? provokes us to consider where we are in our relationship to our Lord as His Bride, for she asked.... “Will we allow ourselves as a people to be drawn back to God and His Book? Or, will we be drawn further toward the flamboyant aberrations of the lusts of the flesh? You decide.”
Isaiah 54:5 tells us our Maker is our Husband. In Jeremiah 3:20 we find the prophet rebuking Israel for dealing as a treacherous wife who had departed from her husband. Jeremiah 31:31-32 the Lord says He took them (Israel) by the hand, led them out of Egypt, and they broke His covenant, though He was a Husband to them.
Only recently, while taking a closer look at the Ten Commandments, have I been led to consider how God was clearly stating Who He was, Who He is, as well as the conduct and behavior He expects from His people, His Bride.
First on God’s heart, was His desire for relationship, a people for His own possession, and He is jealous for us to be kept only to Himself, never giving ourselves to the world or the things of it.
When a marriage takes place, the bride takes her husband’s name. When we become betrothed to Christ, we take His name and are told not to take His name in vain. In other words, “Don’t take this relationship lightly.” To take, or bear His name, is to be married to the Holy One of Israel. It is relationship with our Creator, God. It is us, representing Who He is. Remember, this word was given long after the cutting of covenant with Abram and his name was changed to Abraham; so the Israelites knew full well what God was conveying to them!
God continually reveals Himself through covenant, and can only be known through the bounds of His covenant. The Shulamite maiden spoke that she was her Beloved’s and He was hers. God is a covenant - making, covenant - keeping God and would have His Bride no different.
Revelation 14:4 speaks of a company which has not defiled itself with women. God ordained the marriage relationship and is not condemning it here. In the Hebrew the word here for women is singular (spec. a wife), coming from the root meaning: to cause to be, to generate, to become, come into being. I believe this represents a false bride, and consequently a false church - the harlot, who has wantonly given herself to the world. God&’s people are called to come out of her!
So, what will our response be? Will we return to our Maker, our Husband, Provider, Lover, Friend and prepare ourselves for a wedding banquet? He calls; the table is spread, the banquet is ready. Come!
Rev. Kathryn J. Riss, Th.M.
It is time that we stopped listening to the voices of negativity and instead consider God’s great love for and affirmation of His daughters - you and me!
Were you told that if married, even to an unbeliever or an abuser, your sole responsibility is to submit to your husband and obey his every word? That is slavery, not true marriage!
Hear the Word of the Lord from Isaiah 54: “For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name, and thy Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall He be called. For the Lord has called you as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off, says your God. . . For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
Who is the Husband we are to submit to and obey in all things? God, our Heavenly husband. Whose heart is moved with compassion over the rejection and dejection of rejected women? The Lord’s! Who will comfort, heal, strengthen and restore us as we come to Him? Jesus, Who said, “Come unto Me, ALL ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”
The yoke of legalism is harsh and heavy, but the yoke of Christ is joyful and light! He wants to heal us, not leave us in continual wounding. Yes, we are to respect and accept the authority of human beings, but it is unto the Lord - an act of worship to Him, always limited and informed by His leading and grace. “It was for freedom that Christ has set you free,” God says through the apostle Paul, “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ has set you free, and do not be entangled again in a yoke of bondage.”
No human being deserves absolute obedience from another adult. Only Christ is worthy of such respect and trust, and only Christ is capable of never abusing His power and authority, because only Christ is perfectly sinless and perfectly unselfish. We are safe when we follow Jesus, but to entrust ourselves unreservedly to any mere human being is asking for trouble.
Were you told that you were not allowed to pursue ministry gifts and callings because you are a woman? By whom? Not by God or His Word! For the Lord is no respecter of persons, and He bestows gifts sovereignly on whomever He chooses. And when He does so, He expects us to use them! If it were not so, women like Huldah, Deborah, Priscilla, Junia and thousands more throughout history would not have labored with the abundant fruitfulness with which God honored their preaching and teaching.
We women are called to follow Christ, to discern the leading of His Holy Spirit, and “speaking the truth in love, to grow up in all things into Him Who is the Head, even Christ, from Whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth by building itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Are we not a part of Christ’s body? Of course! So, like others, we are to join in the work of building up and encouraging other Christians with whatever gifts and abilities God has seen fit to grant to us.
We women are encouraged to grow up in all things, not cling to childish dependency on others, nor hide our talents under a bushel instead of using them faithfully in God’s service and for Christ’s glory until He returns.
God loves His daughters and is watching for us to grow more and more like Christ every day - in love, faith, good works, generosity, boldness, intelligence - every beautiful and godly characteristic of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is working in us both to will and to do His good pleasure.
Let’s follow Him, and not worry about what the legalists say. Because when our lives on earth are over and we stand before Christ in eternity to give an accounting of how we have lived, there will be no excuses and no one else to take our place. We won’t be able to hide behind “my husband told me to . . .” any more than Sapphira did.
As we believe God’s great love for us, accept His acceptance of us as His dearly beloved daughters, and step out in obedience to His leading and direction, the chains of legalism, with all its fears and tears, will break off us, and we will be free indeed.