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Scripture

2 Samuel 13:15 (NIV)

Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

Observation

The flesh wants what the flesh wants. It rages with lust. Lust for things, feelings, people, power, and everything that goes against the nature of the Spirit but walks hand in hand with the sinful nature.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Amnon’s feelings for his step-sister, Tamar, were not feelings of love, as he may have thought, but something born out of the desire of the flesh. We see that Amnon didn’t exhibit any of the qualities of the Spirit. He had no peace, for each day he woke up haggard (v 4) and he was obsessed with his desire for his step-sister (v 2). When confronted with the option to be show patience by taking the situation to his father, David, he chose to not follow this course of action. There is no single quality of the Spirit that can be associated with Amnon and his behavior.

True to the desires of the flesh, Amnon abandoned Tamar once he had received what he wanted. He was, of course, not satisfied with what he had so lustfully pursued. This is the way of the flesh. This is the way of sinful nature. In Amnon’s heart of hearts, his step-sister Tamar was nothing more than a new thing that he wanted to possess.

In the Western world, we live in pursuit of things. It has been said that “the one with the most toys wins.” We live in a society that constantly feeds the desire for more. If we are technologically connected then we are connected to the great beast of more! When I turn on my computer, I am greeting by an operating system that wants to make my shopping experience better. I can’t turn on a radio, television or use applications on my mobile device without being assaulted by ads trying to sell me something I don’t need. We are hit with advertising wherever we go. However, we go.

Why is advertising successful? Advertising is successful because we are never happy with the things that we have. There is always something better than what we have. A new iteration of a smartphone, car model, house color, style of shoe, etc. If you can think of it then someone else has too and likely has it for sale.

God put into us a desire for Him. A desire to love and be loved. A longing to be fulfilled. This is what drives us each day. A desire to be fulfilled. Yet, we walk in darkness, not knowing what it is that will fulfill us. Make us complete. We try and fill the holes in our hearts with the things that we see.

My friends, it doesn’t have to be this way. You and I will never be satisfied by the things of this world. This isn’t our home! This is one step on a journey of eternity. Everything that you gather, on this walk of life, will perish and turn to dust one day. When you are at the end of this life, in this world, not one thing that you have gathered will be carried with you to your next destination. All that will go with you is what has been deposited into your heart. Where your heart is, so is your treasure (Matthew 6:21). When your heart is filled with love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control then you have a true treasure that will go with you in this life and the next.

There is only one way to be truly fulfilled. That way is Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). It is in Him that we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). If you haven’t given your life to Jesus and would like to do so right now, then please pray this prayer.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Application

The best way that I can apply what I’ve read and learned today is to seek the Lord, always. When I am tempted by the things of this life and the desire to get more, then I need to examine myself, ask God to help me see where I am deficient, and then listen and trust Him.

Prayer

Father, I rejoice and I am glad that you are in my life. I thank you for who you are and what you are doing in and through me. I ask, Father, in the name of Jesus that you will lead me and guide me as I continue to walk with you. Please strengthen me today. Help me, to be honest with myself and with you. Help me to love you and to love people more. That’s the only “more” I need in this life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 22:11-14 (NIV)

11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Observation

In Matthew 22:1-10 Jesus is telling another parable.

1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

In this parable, one can break down the characters and events as such:

King – God.

King’s son – Jesus.

Servants – the prophets, people of the Old Testament, Believers.

Those who had been invited the first time – The Jewish people.

Wedding banquet – Salvation in Heaven.

The burned city – Jerusalem and the nation of Israel when it was taken into captivity and again in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed it.

Those who are invited the second time – Gentiles.

The wedding bride – The Church.

The guests – Gentiles who accepted the invitation.

Salvation was first offered to the Jewish people who, time and again, killed the prophets sent by God. After killing the prophets and turning to follow other gods, and eventually crucifying Christ. Salvation was then offered to the gentiles. The guests we see here are all of those gentiles who were invited and accepted the message of the Gospel. However, as we can see, there’s a guest who isn’t wearing the proper attire for the wedding banquet.

Who is this guest? How did he get in? Why isn’t he wearing wedding clothes?

Since we’ve determined that the guests in this parable are all of those who have been offered the salvation offered through the shed blood of Jesus, we know that this guest is one of those people.

This guest was “invited” to partake in the salvation of the Lord through His death and resurrection. A gift offered to everyone who accepts it.

It wasn’t uncommon for someone very rich, and well off, such as a king, to have clothing that was provided to wear at an event such as a wedding banquet. Sort of like a black-tie event, costume party, etc. However, in this case, the clothing is already available for the guests to wear.

We don’t know why this guest isn’t wearing wedding clothes that were provided for him, and the guest doesn’t seem to know either. We do know that it is an insult to the host of the party since the clothes were provided for him, so he’s thrown out.

I think the wedding clothes here represent being clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. What does that mean?

It is not enough to believe that Jesus is God. Even the demons believe this and shudder (James 2:19). There is only one way to God. That is through Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) We are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus when we give our lives to Him, by faith. Once we’ve given our lives to Jesus then God wants us to live a holy life which we cannot do without Jesus. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This doesn’t mean that we give up when we sin. When we sin, we need to repent, know that God has forgiven us, and move on, in faith. Once we have given our life to Christ, through faith, God wants us to do two things:

1. Love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).

2. Love other people (Mark 12:31).

How can I not get kicked out of the party?

If you’ve given your life to Christ and have been baptized, you are saved by faith. If you haven’t yet given your life to Christ then you can pray this prayer.

Father, it is written in Your Word that if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that You have raised Him from the dead, I shall be saved.

Therefore, Father, I confess that Jesus is my Lord. I make Him Lord of my life right now. I believe in my heart that You raised Jesus from the dead. I renounce my past life with Satan and close the door to any of his devices.

I thank You for forgiving me of all my sin. Jesus is my Lord, and I am a new creation. Old things have passed away; now all things become new in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Congratulations!

There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Application

The best way that I can see to apply what I’ve read and learned today is:

1. Read my Bible.

2. Pray.

3. Fellowship with other people.

4. Listen and trust God.

Prayer

Father, I praise and magnify you! I thank you for who are. Thank you for speaking to me today and giving me illumination in your word. I pray, Father, in the name of Jesus, that I would be attentive to what you say to me. I pray that I would be discerning and know your voice in the chaos of life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV)

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Observation

I don’t know if I’ve heard it before, but I’ve recently heard the expression that “delayed obedience is disobedience.” It really stuck in my head. In my life I can say that there have been many times when I have had a problem with authority which stems from pride. Too often have I seen some instructions, usually by some sort of authority, like my company or the government, and I “notice” something amiss in the instructions. Sometimes it might be something that doesn’t make sense to me. “Why do it like that?” As I think about it, I often have a hard time following instructions that don’t make sense to me. I’d say it’s a huge fault of mine. This pride that something has to make sense to me in order to do it. Even as I write this, I can feel a tug at me that what I’m writing just can’t be true. I feel such a need to defend myself. To point out that instructions should be clear and easy to follow. Perhaps I am digressing in that.

In these verses, I see two sons. One, with whom I can relate, who say’s he’s not going to do what his Dad asked him to do, but then changes his mind, and does it. I have done that. If I don’t see the merit in doing something, usually a specific way, that I have deemed, doesn’t make sense to me, I will decide not to do it. Then, I have been known, to “see reason” and then do it.
The other son tells his father that he’s going to do as he asks and then doesn’t do it. While I can’t think of any specific examples right now, I do have a sense, knowing myself, that I have, in my delayed obedience, pointed out that other people didn’t do “it” but I did.

I asked the Lord to have this notion that delayed obedience was still disobedience explained to me. Now, when I recently heard this in a message, I accepted it. Of course, I said. In agreement to the notion, “delayed obedience is disobedience.” Then, in today’s reading, I ran into this parable. I have read this before but not in this “new” context. The more I think on it, the more I can remember identifying with the first son. However, today, as I said, I was like, “how can that be disobedience?! He did what his father asked him to do! Go after the second son.”
In examining these verses, I even looked at these in different translations. A helpful way, I’ve found, to understand what is being said. All the verses I previously looked at seemed to be saying the same thing, which didn’t really help me to see more clearly (he changed his mind (NIV, NLT, ESV, BSB)). I want to take just a moment and point out that, in thanksgiving, that I believed I was wrong. Somehow. Delayed obedience is disobedience. It had to be. So, I thank God that He kept me pushing on until I understood why I was confused. When I looked at these verses the “light” came on:

King James
He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

New King James Version
He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.

American Standard Version
And he answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented himself, and went.

All of these versions show that the first son didn’t just change his mind, but regretted what he had said to his father, “I will not go.” I can understand this a lot better. Both of the sons sinned. The first son was disrespectful to his father in his disobedience to him but realized that what he had said was wrong and so did as his father asked. The second son sinned against his father when he told him that he would do as he asked but then didn’t. Of the two sons, the first son, who repented of his sin, was the one who did the will of his father.

Application

I’m so thankful that the Lord brought this to my attention today. I always want to do what He asks me to do when He asks me to do it. As I walk with the Lord more, I realize that, even as I read the Bible, and think that I understand what is being said to me, that I don’t grasp everything and, more importantly, I don’t realize that I’m missing something. However, I know, as I seek Him more, daily, that the good work He’s doing in me, will one day be complete.

Prayer

Thank you, Father! Thank you for who you are. I praise and exalt you! Thank you for clarifying this to me today. Please help me to be humble and obedient to your word. Please renew in my a clean heart that always say’s yes to you and does what you want me to do when you tell me to do it. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Act

River
rushing rapidly.
Engulfed – held,
by living water.
Refreshing, renewing,
restoring – mind,
soul.

Fiery tongues
lick, throughout
Body. Ablaze –
Truth’s Light.

Speaking Life,
brittle, brown
grass, flourishes,
mountains stir,
dead rise.
All, in the Name –
His glory.
Listen – receive
Life, freely given.

Love, be kind –
hold, with holy
hands, needful
neighbors,
perishing.

Reclaim,
the dead.