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Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven; V. Where Are We Going?

Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven:Concordia Lutheran Church

Where are We Going?
Matthew 22:1-14

 IHS

 

As we journey through this life, may we keep in sight the destination, the place where we realize completely the love and mercy of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Other Destination Options:

Have you ever been tempted to play hookey from a family gathering?  You’re on your way to your grandparent’s house, and you see how beautiful a day it is, and you think, we could just spend a little while at the park, or maybe the beach?

Or maybe you are working on a project, sewing that new whatever it is people sew and just another twenty minutes and you will finish it!  Or the ball game is on, and you will leave a little later…and make up for it by driving a little faster?

Back when we were kids, and we were about to be stuffed in the back seat together, I bet many of us had a way to stall.  Maybe we didn’t want to get dressed up, Or we blamed our sister for taking too much time in the bathroom.  For me, it usually was – just let me finish the book I am reading!

It’s not that we didn’t know about the feast that awaited us, Grampy’s sausage, or Uncle Wally’s fireworks, or the French Onion Dip and carved turkey?   There were just other things….that seemed important for that moment.

If you did this, and arrived two hours late, were you upset when they didn’t keep everyone waiting for dinner?

Do we play the same game with God?

Do we miss His invitations to spend time with Him, to share the feasts He has prepared, because we have other things to do before we continue on our journey to heaven?

Why Didn’t God wait for Us?

Patient, we hear God is patient.

Abraham and Moses count on it for their people.  Joseph comforts his brothers with the thought of God’s patience.  David praises God for God’s patience with him.  Job depends on it, even when he doesn’t have the answers.  Peter tells us why God is so patient, because God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but all to be transformed and made holy.  Set apart to a relationship with God.

An interesting thought, this patience of God.

Curious, has anyone here ever had someone take advantage of their patience?

How did it feel?

Ever plan and cook a dinner, like the king in the parable, only to have the people choose to do something else?

What if their excuse, like the excuses in the parable, is somewhat weak?  I heard one yesterday, for example, that was that we miss church sometimes because we know church and Bible studies will be here next week, but that other thing, that game, is today.  I need to make this abundantly clear: this parable isn’t just about our church life.

How often do we fail to talk to God, to put our trust in Him for the things we are struggling with? How often do we think we have to find another solution for our problems, a different road to take?  How often will we pass by the opportunity to think and meditate on His love.   Do we find something else, rather than being still, and knowing He is God?

Does being patient cost you something?  Does it ever tear at you, frustrate you, even sadden you?

Have we ever wondered what God’s patience costs Him?

We know being patient costs us, we know the levels of frustration, even pain, as we see people we love do the wrong things.

Things that would so concern God, that He sent Jesus, to live life, to suffer and die on the cross, to make it right…

To bring all who would come, to His feast, to be His family.

The good and bad alike…..all are welcome, all are offered the opportunity to be made ready. Matter of fact, we are sent out to bring them here; to celebrate, to enjoy, to know His peace.

But what are we missing?

If I can go back to the original illustration, we know that there are some things that we miss, when we divert from the original journey, we realize we are going to miss some things.
if we were diverted on our way to Grampy DeLuca’s house, it would mean we would miss Grampy’s incredible Italian sausages.  Even some 34 years later, I can remember walking down the stairs into his basement, where they would be in the oven.  We’d miss Grampy and Uncle Bill, Uncle Butchie and my dad singing. (I’ll actually get to play the piano that I played for them this week. )  we’d miss everyone at peace, the one day when all family fights were given a reprieve, a truce.

I would have us ask what we miss, when we forgo our times with God, whether here at church, or whether it is the time we could set aside for prayer, for spending time meditating on His word, and on the gifts He gives us?  What do we give up?

You see my friends, this is about doing things because we have to do them or we won’t be good.  It’s about doing them for the same reason we go to our family gatherings, a friend’s birthday party, or make time to go to a wedding.  No, Don, it’s not because of the food, its’ because of the love of family, and there is no family closer to us than God.

What we are missing is our time with Him, our time realizing the depth of His love.  Our time where He assures us that it will all be okay, that He has forgiven us and made everything right.  We’d miss the people He surrounds us with to bless us, to help us grow, to give us a hug because they are glad to see us, or to bring us comfort.

When we forgo our time with Him, we miss Him, and all He brings to our life.

These things Paul called the fruit of the Spirit,

22  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

These things aren’t the reason to feast with God, but they are what happens when we do.  The reason is simple… to be in the presence of the One who loves us, who gives us life, who gives us Himself, who makes our lives right…..who feeds and nourishes our Spirit, who lifts us up like no other.

Enough so our souls shout His praises, our hearts trust and depend on His healing and restoration, our minds are transformed, and we begin to see reality differently, His way.  And we hear his voice calling to us, encouraging more people to come to the feast, for it is ready!

Amen!

Change: A Lenten Journey

Devtional THought of the Day:A  Picture of our Journey... with Christ

 2  Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfectRomans 12:2 (TEV)

2    May your behavior and your conversation be such that everyone who sees or hears you can say: This man reads the life of Jesus Christ.

This morning, I found out a good friend of mine is going to be experiencing a massive change this summer, as he returns to the U.S.A from the mission field.  His children were born on the field, all they know is living in Asia.  It will be a massive challenge to readjust to life here..  Another friend, a Catholic priest, will be also changing parishes, leaving behind people he loves, and taking on some challening responsibilities.  Many I know are going through changes of life, as they get older, as they are married, as they leave school and enter the workforce.  The change that happens as health crisis threaten.

Change – it is challenging, it is frieghtening, it is ocverwhelming, and based on a lot of experience, it often simply, sucks.

Maybe that is why Lent is such a challenge for us. Because of the changes that we will undergo as we consider our lives.  I am not talking about giving up chocolate, or not eating meat on Friday, or of committing to do a good thing every day.  These actions, taken with great sincerity, are simply symbolic of what we hope and fear to see coming out of a Lenten season, our of a life that is, to use a fancy church word penitnent.  (More than just being sorry, but grieving over sin and the brokenness it causes.

Lent is a season of change. A season of transformation, a season of realizing our desperate, yes desperate need for the presence of God in our lives.  For Him to come into our life, into our brokenness, into the deepest parts of our lives.  The parts we would rather not face, the pasts we are scared to revisit, He comes there, and takes on the sin, the pain, the brokennes.  He consumes it, there on the cross where it is with Him.  This is a change as fierce, as daunting, as radical as anything we can undergo in life.   For it is death for that part of us, the part we cannot cope with, the burdens we need to be freed from, for they crush the life out of us.

It could be said that this process of facing our brokennes is hard, is extreme, is a process of change that goes beyond our ability to bear.  For we have to die to self, and trust that we will coem alive in Christ.  It is a re-living of our baptism, for it happened there as well.  Unting with the death of Christ………the strkness, the cruelty of the cross.

Yet, on the otherside, there is light and peace… and joy.

For there is God, there is Christ, there is the gift fo the Holy Spirit who walks us through this valley of the shadow of death, to celebrate Christ’s feast.

That is our journey of lent, our journey that changes us, as we walk with Jesus to the cross, and to the resurrection.

May you embrace the change this year, knowing God’s mercy, and allowing Him to clean out the places in your life where you fear to go.

Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 174-175). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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