March 20

Deuteronomy 4:29-31a (NIV) 29But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. 31aFor the LORD your God is a merciful God...

Moses warned the people that if they worshipped other gods and did not keep the covenant, they would become captives of other nations. God states that the reason is because He is a jealous God. The word for 'jealous' in Hebrew includes the meaning of a white-hot fire. God is passionate about those He has chosen. He will bring into their lives whatever it will take to turn them back to Him. He promises, in this passage, that if, from that place of slavery, you will seek the LORD you will find Him. But that is accompanied by a big "if". The condition is looking for Him with all our heart and soul. That is why Israel went into captivity, their hearts were mixed, thinking satisfaction and fulfillment lay in God plus something else.

God allows distress to come into our lives to return us to Him. Then we get a sense of the reality of life without Him and become desperate to be in Him. That is when He will help us turn back to Him. Why? Why would God want His unfaithful bride back after she so willingly sought other lovers?

The LORD our God is a merciful God. Mercy forgives and forgets and loves once again. We have been recipients of this mercy as Israel was. It is now our duty to be merciful to others. Forgive and forget and love again so that you will be a reflection of the wonderful God who loves you.

Consider: Whom do I need to forgive, and what steps will I take to see that I do?

March 20

Matthew 22:8-10 (NIV) 8"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

One of Jesus' parables during the final week was of a king who invited guests to his son's wedding. In that culture it would have been insulting and arrogant to refuse to attend such an important event. Those first invited ignored the invitation and even abused the messengers, killing some of them. The king sent his army to execute justice, but the wedding preparations sat waiting. Then the king sent more servants out to invite anyone they found. The banquet hall was filled with both good and bad guests.

This is about the call to the Jews to be the bride of the Son. They refused to accept Christ. They mistreated and killed the prophets. Then the gospel went out to all. I'm one of the bad ones that were found. Thank God that He did not just ask the servants to look for only good people. We are already partaking of all the generosity of the King. One day we will actually sit at the wedding feast of the Lamb of God. What an honor!

There was a man there without a wedding gown. It was the custom of the time for the host to provide a white gown for all the guests upon their arrival at the feast. Someone had refused to wear the gown. He was promptly thrown out. The gown is the righteousness of Christ. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ." That is the only reason that the good and the bad can both be there. We are clothed with Christ. Without that covering, it would not matter how good we were, we would still be refusing to accept the covering our King has provided. Jesus closes the parable by saying that many are called but few are chosen. If you have heard the call, be sure you put on Christ. That is the only thing that makes you acceptable in that place and a witness here below.

Consider: What does it mean to be clothed in Christ?