Saturday, February 11, 2017

Abounding in Faithfulness


But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.  Psalm 86:15

stacked papers: Brrr! by Kristmess Designs

Heavenly Father, Once again we are keenly aware of the contrast between your goodness and greatness and our weakness and how utterly undeserving we are of all that you do, have done and are going to do for us and for your glory.  Thank you for grafting those of us who believe in this age, the church, the body of Christ, into your treasured possession, Israel.  We are so incredibly blessed and privileged to be part of your awesome, amazing, eternal plan.  We praise you for your marvelous, perfect ways and anxiously await that day when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in and you will remove the scales from the eyes of the Jews and their hardened hearts will be softened.  It grieves our hearts the pain that your creation has caused you, and we earnestly long for the day when all will be reconciled and made right again.  Please help us to be like you:  steadfast, faithful, wise, patient, and full of mercy, grace and love as we look forward to the return of our beloved Bridegroom and Redeemer, your only begotten Son, who holds our very hearts and keeps us secure as we abide in Him, always.  Please make us worthy of Him and of your Kingdom, and help us to be ready when He comes for us, with our lamps burning brightly.  In His glorious, worthy, holy and blameless, powerful name, Amen.

And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. Genesis 6:6

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables:  “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.  He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come.  Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’  “But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business.  And the others seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them.  The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city.  “Then he told his slaves, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’  So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests.  But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding.  So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.  “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14  (Also see Matthew 25, Ephesians 5:23, 5:32, Colossians 1:15-29, 2Corinthians 11:2-3, John 14, John 15, Revelation 21, 1Thessalonians 4:16-18, 1Corinthians 15:51-52.)

“Set up road markers for yourself; make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went. Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.  How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encircles a man.”  Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes: ‘The LORD bless you, O habitation of righteousness, O holy hill!’  And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks.  For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”  At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.  And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD.  In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’  But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.  Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name:  “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”  Thus says the LORD: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.  Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.  And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah.  The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.” Jeremiah 31:21-40

Thus says the LORD: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,  saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture;  they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.  And I will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be raised up.  Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.”  Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.  But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.  Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.  Your builders make haste; your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.  Lift up your eyes around and see; they all gather, they come to you. As I live, declares the LORD, you shall put them all on as an ornament; you shall bind them on as a bride does.  “Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land— surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.  The children of your bereavement will yet say in your ears: ‘The place is too narrow for me; make room for me to dwell in.’  Then you will say in your heart: ‘Who has borne me these? I was bereaved and barren, exiled and put away, but who has brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; from where have these come?’”  Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.  Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” Isaiah 49:8-23

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.  Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!  Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry  in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.  For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?  If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,  do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.  Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”  That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.  And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.  For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.  Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;  “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”  As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,  so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.  For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.  Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”  “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:11-36

And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"  Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.  For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;  FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'  But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." Matthew 13:10-17