The wedding banquet is a story Jesus used to illustrate what the Kingdom of God is like. It’s like a wedding banquet that a king throws for his son, except in this story the invited guests decide not to come. So the king orders the servants to find others to attend, good and bad. When the banquet hall is filled the king comes in, looks over the crowd, finds one guest not properly dressed and orders the guest thrown out. If this is what the kingdom of God is like does that mean that God really does care about our outward appearance? That doesn’t seem right, because the Bible also teaches that God looks at our heart, not our outward appearance.
While thinking over this passage and its implications about God, another verse came to mind; Colossians 3:12-14 “So chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline; and regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (The Message) Perhaps what the king saw was a guest without the most basic garment of love.
So when I got dressed this morning, did I put on a basic garment of love, did I add a layer of compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength and discipline? Did I even consider dressing in this wardrobe God has picked out for me?
Thank you for providing me with the wardrobe of your kingdom. May I never be without that most basic garment of love. And Lord, teach me how to wear compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. In fact, you dress me today so that others may see a glimpse of your kingdom and join you at the banquet. Amen.
By Carol Ingram, Eads
The Mustard Seed Ministries Blog
If you are interested in writing a devotional (or submitting any other type of entry) for Mustard Seed Ministries, please click here to learn about the writing process and how we accept submissions. Thanks for reading!
God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14 (KJV)
Several years ago while lying in bed waiting for sleep to grab a hold of me, I had a vision of the cross. I have never experienced anything like this vision before.
Instead of sleep coming to me, I saw a small screen like a television coming toward me, and as it came closer to me, it grew larger. When the window stopped enlarging, I beheld the most wondrous sight I have ever seen. The cross stood before me in all its incredible and spectacular wonder. Beauty and horror!
I felt as if I actually stood there at the foot of the cross. It was so close that I could have reached out and felt the texture of the wood. I looked up into my Savior’s face, but because of the darkness, only the outline of His body could be seen. The sky was almost black; it had turned so dark only seconds after our Lord’s death. The cross was a thick, dark wood, and just above the cross on the left side was a little bit of sky left, infused with an explosion of colors of deep red, orange and blue. The colors reminded me of the sun when it sets at dusk.
As I gazed at the vision before me, I could almost hear the words, "It is true, I died for you, and I have paid the price for your redemption." The true meaning of the cross stood out that night in a special way unlike any words could ever do.
Thank you Lord Jesus for dying for me that I may have eternal life. Thank you for showing me that you died for me and that you paid the price for my sins. May we all find peace and salvation in the cross that Christ died on.
Then they (Job's friends) sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. Job 2:13 (NIV)
I had met my Swiss husband on the mission field, and knew in theory that Switzerland would be a tremendous adjustment – after all, it wasn't the first time I'd packed up and moved abroad. But when I left the mission field, I was burnt out and wounded; I was "dumped in the deep end" of learning both High German and Swiss German simultaneously, of adjusting to a new culture, of having no friendship circle, of entering a new (State) church culture, and of the pressure of expectations on me from that church to "double my husband's strength" in his ministry there. Plus I was planning a wedding and the things that come with marriage. Needless to say, depression soon followed, lasting three years.
Throughout the depression I knew that God was faithful, though every time I prayed I felt like I was hitting a brick wall. I discovered firsthand that the best reply in such situations is not advice, no matter how true it may be: "Read your Bible more", "Pray more", "Praise more", "Repent", "Forgive", and all the other things you and I have probably said to others at some point. They are true and intrinsically right, but there are times when the only appropriate answer is silence. Before Job's friends went and opened their big mouths, graduating from good advice to judgement and self-righteousness over time, their best reply was their initial response: they sat on the ground with Job for seven days and nights in silence; feeling with their friend, coming alongside him. Proverbs 17v25 and 18v2 should caution us against speaking before we understand our friend's situation, and 25v11 shows us what words aptly spoken can become!
Lord, help me to understand others and come alongside them in compassion before I speak advice; teach me your responses and tender care in such times. Let your love guide my tongue. Amen.
By Stephanie (Zurich, Switzerland)
We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; Romans 6:4-5 (ASV)
I went to the park to indulge in my hobby of photography. Although a chilly fall day, the sun beamed in a cloudless sky and the trees had donned their autumn colors.
At the lake while shooting pictures of the vibrant hillside, I observed the water. In the shallows, the slight breeze rippled the water yet the deeper water remained smooth. Where the water rippled, the reflection from the hillside blurred. In the smooth water, the same reflection stayed a near perfect image of the hillside. This contrast made for interesting photos. But it also taught a spiritual lesson.
That lake represents a Christian’s walk. Initially, we resemble the shallow waters. A slight breeze causes our spirit to ripple and we fail to reflect our Savior. As our faith deepens, just like the deeper waters, our reflection of Jesus becomes ever closer to perfection. Sometimes a storm comes along and the winds blow so hard the entire lake ripples and the reflection is lost altogether. Yet, after the storm passes and the lake returns to normal, those with a deep faith once again reflect the vibrant image of Christ, perhaps just a little bit clearer.
Father, deepen my faith so I can better reflect Jesus so others can see Him.
By John (Ohio)
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Psalm 23:5 (KJV)
The cup comes from a set of dishes Mom received as a Christmas present. The brown cup with the light brown border grew to be her mug of choice. She was a tea drinker. One of my dearest childhood memories is awaking in the morning and seeing Mom standing beside my bed with her favorite cup in hand. As the years passed, the cup continued to be her favorite cup for tea. I asked her why she liked that particular cup over the other cups she had accumulated through the years of housekeeping.
“It keeps the water hot,” she would tell me in a no-nonsense way.
The debilitating disease of Alzheimer’s began to take away her abilities in the early ‘90s. I had to sit back and watch as the disease took away my Mom, a loving, caring individual – now deteriorating into a shell of what she had once been.
As the deterioration continued, the ability to sequence the tasks to make tea disappeared. Although the ability was gone, she learned how to get her tea. She would go to the cupboard, get the cup and take the cup to Dad.
It was sad to watch, but it was precious at the same time.
One Sunday as I awakened, I looked on my nightstand and saw my Bible. I reached for it, picked it up and let it open.
The pages turned to Psalm 23, verse 5: Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies, thou anointeth my head with oil: my cup runneth over. The recorded words of the 23rd Psalm have been in my heart since I was five. I can recite it; I’ve read it; I’ve heard it used numerous times for the text of sermons.
That morning I saw verse five in a brand-new way. Like Mom, we know what we want, but due to circumstances beyond our control, the ability to get it is gone.
Just as Mom would know how to get her tea, we can do the same with our heavenly Father. Reach down in the cupboard of your heart, get your cup and take it to Him and let Him fill it.
Lord, may I always look to You when I feel empty, knowing my source is in You
"For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:12-13 (The New American Standard Bible)
Have you ever experienced a paper cut? The thin edge of a piece of paper slices a tender part of the finger or the palm of the hand leaving one with a burning sensation and perhaps a small drop of blood. The pain seems disproportionate to the cut, and some people seek relief by washing it in cold water or applying a bandage to prevent the onset of an infection. Other people simply try to ignore the cut, but the pain remains as a constant reminder each time the sensitive area is touched.
The application of God’s living Word has a similar effect for many when it makes us aware of the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. His paper cut cannot be ignored. Nor will applying the cold water of indifference and the bandage of “cover-up” serve as adequate remedies for the incision that has been made. Only the Savior’s healing touch of forgiveness can reduce the pain and restore one to health and usefulness.
Jesus, help us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
By Don (Florida)
Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Matthew 24:42 KJV
During the middle of the night, when I was in a deep sleep, I heard someone whisper, “We’re here!” As I rolled over, I heard our daughter Beth say, in a hushed tone, “We decided to come early.”
What a wonderful surprise for us. We always enjoy when our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren come from Toronto for a visit. I hadn’t expected them for another day.
The clean linens were still in the drawer and not on the beds. I hadn’t dusted yet. There was grocery shopping to do. I didn’t have everything ready. I wished I had completed all the preparations early. How busy we get sometimes and wait until the last minute to prepare.
As I thought about today’s Scripture passage, I was reminded that Jesus is coming at an unexpected hour also. Some time, when we least expect it, we are going to have the greatest surprise in history. Each day, as I look forward to Jesus’ return, I think of what must be done to be completely ready. Is my heart just right? Are there changes that I need to make today to become more like Jesus? Am I living fully for the Lord?
Dear Lord, thank you for saving us and helping us to be ready for your return. Show us the things that we need to change and give us the grace to become more like you, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
By Judy (Ohio)