Have you ever been a member of the wedding party? Now your time and financial investment is much greater than when you are just invited to the wedding. You now need to go to fittings to make sure the dress (or tuxedo) fits properly, plan a bridal shower or bachelor party, mail the invitations to the shower, plan the food menu and prepare the food if it is not held at a restaurant, purchase a gift, make an appointment to have your hair styled, possibly have a manicure, etc.
But if you are the bride (this includes the groom) there is a much longer list of things that must be done to plan and carry off the wedding! And, there is a cost! A great cost, not only in time but financially. That is for the wedding only. The bride and groom also need to plan for their honeymoon! And don’t forget about planning on where they will live together, do they purchase a house, do they rent, what location should they choose? All of this takes a great investment in learning to know each others likes and dislikes, in other words, learning who the other person really is and considering their desires as much as your desires.
I think you are probably already sensing where this is going. A marriage is a very important event. It requires much investment, mental, physical and financial. If we, believers, are so intent on making everything “ready” and perfect for that event, why do we have such a problem understanding that we are to “make ourselves ready” for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? I would venture to guess that the missing link is that we are not “invested” in our relationship. Many people neglect the scriptures so they are actually depriving themselves of receiving the Savior’s love! There is no way to get to know someone apart from spending time with them.
Of course, the main difference here is that there are no “observers”. You are either the bride of Christ or you are not. Jesus gives us a very clear parable illustrating an “investment” into our relationship with Him.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. “Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. “Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. “The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ “But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ “And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. “Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ (Matthew 25:1-12)
Apparently the five virgins who did not have enough oil for their lamps were those in the body who looked and acted like believers, but they neglected the important things of Christ. They were not surrendered to His lordship. They were on the fringes and participated in the body, but they neglected to “get ready for the marriage supper”. They lived loose lives thinking that they were covered with grace that allows them to be worldly and still go to church. They never got part 2 of grace – (Titus 2:11,12) “For the GRACE OF GOD has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, INSTRUCTING US to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,”
What you have just read in those two verses is GOD’S REAL GRACE to help you get ready for the Marriage Wedding. They depended on others to feed them, but when it came time to spend time with the Lord in intimate fellowship and be transformed, they didn’t invest themselves. To be a “disciple” one has to become as his teacher. Jesus modeled this for us in His relationship with the 12 disciples. They spent 3 ½ years together! The disciples didn’t fish during the day or night and then spend some hours with Jesus. They spent 24/7 with Jesus! And they still didn’t understand much of what they were experiencing, until the filling of the Holy Spirit! It was then they understood the spiritual things of God as they never had understanding before and they became God’s cloud of witnesses! “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)
I love the promise Jesus made when they were not understanding why He was leaving them. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
Beloved, how can He bring His promises to your remembrance if you never spend time with Him? How will you know His voice?
I know, I can already hear the voices crying out that they need to make a living for their families. And, I agree. However, the Word teaches us how to live to bring Him honor. So in our time with Him, He will direct our steps to live out our faith, where to live out our faith and to be in fellowship with Him throughout our day. However, that doesn’t take away our responsibility to set aside time to spend alone with our Bridegroom in the Word, in praise and worship and prayer. Oh, what a privilege! That is where burdens are taken away and His love washes over us as we take our eyes off of ourselves and look unto Him, the author and finisher of our faith! (Hebrews 12:2)
As I was in my devotions this morning I was reading again the account of the Last Supper in Matthew 26:20-35. Judas was at that dinner. He even asked the Lord if he was the one who would betray Him! “And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself.” (Matthew 26:25) Notice that Judas didn’t dispute Jesus’ answer, nor did it change his mind. Just because he was “in the group” didn’t make him “one of the group”. He was not a disciple even though he looked like one to others. Let’s prove it. In verse 22 the disciples asked, “Surely not I, Lord?” Then in verse 25 Judas exposes his heart by calling Him “Rabbi” instead of “Lord” as the others did! Is Jesus the Lord of your life or is He just a “teacher”? There is a big difference.
As Jesus continued to speak to the disciples he reveals a coming event that surely caught the disciples off guard. “Then Jesus *said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’ “ (Matthew 26:31) (emphasis mine)
But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter *said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.” (Matthew 26:33-35) (emphasis mine)
I’ve read those words so many times I can’t even count them. But I felt the Holy Spirit stop me and ask me this question: “Do you believe they were sincere?” Of course! They loved Jesus! They were given the revelation that He was the Messiah! They had given up everything and spent the last 3 ½ years with Him! Wherever He went, they went.
But they weren’t ready to go where Jesus was going. Why? They were still walking in their flesh and under their own power. Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples were not.
Loved ones, good intentions do not get us into eternal glory. Love is not enough. It is a start, but it is not enough to finish the course. Please don’t reject this statement, read on and allow the Holy Spirit to give you revelation.
I’m sure, like me, you have heard many teachings regarding Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him, John 21:15-17. Peter desperately needed to be healed of how he denied His Lord, the One he loved with all of his heart. Here he is with his risen Lord with a heart filled with guilt and shame. His love for Jesus was still there in all of its fullness but he needed a spiritual healing. Jesus who is the glorious Agape love asked twice, “Do you agape Me?” (Agape is God’s covenant love which cannot be broken and is faithful to the end.) And Peter answered “Yes!” each time. Then Jesus said, “tend my lambs”. Peter now was assured he still could be used by the Lord he so loved! Next Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My sheep!” You will be ministering to young lambs as well as mature sheep. Then Lord asked, “Do you love Me?” using the word “phileo” which is an intense emotional heart filled word for love. Peter could not believe the Lord doubted he had that kind of love. Peter, so in love with the Lord could not stand that Jesus could ask that question so Peter in an intense tone proclaimed, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Peter used the word “phileo” because he was so greatly grieved and his love shouted it out.
Can you imagine the weight of guilt being lifted off of Peter’s heart as he realized the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Luke 22:31-32, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.", (emphasis mine)
As the Holy Spirit gave understanding, the healing balm of God’s love flowed over Peter. The Lord did not rebuke Peter for denying him. This time with Peter, is also for each one of us. God the Holy Spirit, who is Agape, filled us with that infinite agape love when He came in to live in our heart at salvation. (Romans 5:5)
The Holy Spirit is the only One who can cause that agape love to flow down to our soul. As we taste that all encompassing agape the Lord desires for us to surrender our all to Him in intimate love. He wants us to now pour our phileo love (that soul intense, emotional love) on Him where our whole being is filled with His all encompassing agape to live out a life of holiness to Him. In John 20 the disciples were given the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. In verse 22, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Just as Jesus was walking Peter through his feelings to realize that just “loving” Jesus with phileo love wasn’t enough to keep him from failing, He is speaking to you and me. Peter was filled with that kind of love as we read in John 13 where Peter said he would die for the Lord, but he needed the Holy Spirit’s power to walk it out! It is all from the Lord! Peter needed to be fully surrendered no matter what the cost. He needed to be filled with God the Holy Spirit’s agape love which causes totally surrender and commits our walk to the Lord all the way to the end of our life. Jesus’ words were healing balm to Peter as he heard Jesus give him instruction in taking care of His followers.
The Lord was now ready, again, to say to Peter and to all the disciples, “Follow Me!” and Peter quickly responded knowing that he would give glory to the Lord when he was old and truly die for Jesus and be faithful unto the end. Jesus told him “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” He would now to able to stand until it was God’s time for him to die – the Holy Spirit would give him the strength. Now knowing (understanding) all that Jesus had said he would do, Peter was now ready without any hesitation to obey when Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” (John 21:18-19) He followed with now with an absolute assurance he would be used!!! The shame and guilt now disappeared for a glorious healing had taken place.
Jesus appeared to the disciples, and others, many times in 40 days and one of the most important things Jesus told the disciples is related to us by Luke in Acts 1:1-8. “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,”He said,“you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:1-8) (emphasis mine)
This verse is not saying wait for the infilling of tongues. The tongues of fire imparted to them were known languages so that everyone in the area could understand the message. What Jesus told them is to wait for the empowering of the Holy Spirit! “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6) (emphasis mine)
Once Jesus ascended after the 40 days of appearing to the masses, the disciples returned to Jerusalem and entered the upper room and they were all of one mind devoting themselves to prayer. (Acts 1:12-14)
Several years ago I heard a tape (yes, that long ago!) and the pastor gave this definition of grace, which is the most accurate definition of the filling of the Holy Spirit I have ever heard. Grace is the very presence of God (Holy Spirit) in us which empowers us to be who God created us to be! Thank you James Ryle for sharing this revelation! You nailed it! All of a sudden I had complete understanding that I could not do anything for God that was of eternal good on my own, it was Him in me that not only had the plan, but the ability to walk me through the necessary steps to carry it out! A huge weight was lifted off me!
I encourage you to read that several times and let it begin to unfold its truth.
What caused the change that brought them to prayer? The disciples had acknowledged their failure of trying to walk in the flesh, so they did what Jesus told them to do. They surrendered their ideas (desires/plans) and strengths (their physical abilities) and waited as they had been instructed. They prayed for the words of Jesus to become true in their lives.
I imagine that was one mighty prayer meeting as the participants repented of their sins and asked to have their hearts changed so they would become the men Jesus needed them to be! Isn’t this exactly what the Lord’s Prayer is? We have become so used to “repeating” it in church services that we have not received the revelation of the power of the Holy Spirit in that prayer! The Lord’s Prayer became real to those in the upper room and changed their lives.
This week I have felt the Holy Spirit speaking to my spirit about reminding the body of God’s love for us. We will hear God speaking over us to reveal how He cherishes each one but we will also hear the Spirit revealing who God is in ways that many have, possibly, never even experienced. If we are “the called” to the marriage supper, we are to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. Can you hear and receive the following?
It is often a challenge for us to hear God speak His love over us. Many will reject it because they do not feel worthy, others will reject it because they expect certain words of affirmation. Loved ones, those affirmations are ways of this world that has taught us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
Others may reject it because they are too busy to hear God speak. Unfortunately to those, they will also reject His call to the marriage supper.
Hopefully as we journey down this path, we will begin to say with confidence, “...If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)
As I read the following verse this morning in the Song of Solomon I realized that this verse is exactly what we’ve been talking about with Peter and the disciples, as well as you and I today. “A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.” (Song of Solomon 4:12)
The garden of our souls are locked up and lacking power until we are filled with the Holy Spirit! We are filled with the Holy Spirit upon true salvation, but we really see the “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit when we surrender! “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)
“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; you have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace.” (Song of Solomon 4:9)
“How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices!” (Song of Solomon 4:10)
“Your lips, my bride, drip honey; honey and milk are under your tongue, and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.” (Song of Solomon 4:11)
Can you imagine the Lord, our Beloved, speaking these words over you? What intimacy! What sweet relationship! This is what the bride looks like! I am so encouraged when I read Scripture and am told that the Lord does not see me as I am, but as I will be!
“you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;” (Hebrews 3:1) (emphasis mine)
“giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (Colossians 1:12) (emphasis mine)
“As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:3)
In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus is giving us a parable of the last days and the invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. He begins by speaking of the Jews, “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.” (Matthew 22:3)
‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he *said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:9-14)
I hope I didn’t lose many of you on this last verse. Is it love? ABSOLUTELY! Over and over again in scripture the Lord admonishes us as to what He requires of us. That’s repeated over and over again in 66 books! I couldn’t even possibly try to print them all out here, but what I can tell you is that you need to pick up the Holy Bible and read it, meditate on it, receive it (in its entirety) and be transformed by it.
One of the most loving things the Lord could say to us is repeated in verse 14 above. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Let’s walk through the above scriptures to understand this verse. I believe the key is in verse 12. Notice that the king addresses the man as “Friend”. God is not hateful. He loves us and His wish is that none should perish. (II Peter 3:9, John 3:16)
But disobedience and sin cannot stand in the presence of God. This person chose not to repent of his sins. He probably thought himself to be a “moral” person, he didn’t lie or steal or commit adultery. He most likely gave to the poor and helped others in need, but he lived apart from God. Unfortunately there are many in this world who believe there is no hell, and more sadly, that there is no God. There are even those who say that because God is love everybody will go to Heaven. Therefore they don’t believe in a judgment. But there will be a Judgment Day.
But you may be asking about the chosen portion of this scripture. Jesus addressed the seven churches in the book of Revelations. The one that really stands out in my mind in alignment with the lack of surrender and obedience is the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. They were lukewarm. They were wealthy and didn’t think they were in need of anything (or anyone). “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:18-19)
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:20-21)
In other words, as the five virgins we looked at earlier, they will come to the Lord and will hear those fateful words, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’
“Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)
“It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.” (Revelation 19:8-9)
Almighty God, I bow down with overwhelming emotions today as I ponder these words You have imparted to us! Your love is amazing but there are not many who are willing to count the cost! I cry out for those today who are lost and in need of Your love. Without You I can do nothing of importance, and cannot do anything to ensure my eternal life in Your presence. Help me to understand Your words of life in my everyday decisions that I may be pleasing in Your sight. May I be a blessing to You that others would see You in me. Thank You Holy Spirit for Your life-giving breath living in me to guide me daily. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your intercession as I continue to struggle or stumble in my ways daily. Thank You that the sins become less as I become more like You. Thank You that You bought me with Your very life. That truth is too wonderful for me to even fully understand! I love You more than life itself! All these things I pray in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior! Amen and amen!
This post was written by Rayah and Esher. Our desire is that you will be blessed and allow the Holy Spirit to give revelation that will bring about rivers of living water in which to bless our Lord and Savior!