“The Lord’s Invitation”
Well, another day of picking up my mail and taking a look at it. It seems like it’s the same thing most every day. Here's another invitation to give to a charity, an invitation to go to a party, an invitation to get another credit card. And as I receive all of this mail and these invitations, I get a little bit frustrated at times. It's the same old thing over and over again, and it is unwanted invitations. And yet when I go to the Bible, I find a number of invitations there. Many of them are from Jesus, himself. I think about the invitation to receive His free gift of salvation, the invitation to live a holy life, the invitation to become a part of God's family. But I suppose the greatest invitation that we find in the Bible are in the words of Jesus himself, in Matthew chapter 11 beginning with verse 28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Oh, that is a good invitation, isn't it, and we like to receive that one. Oftentimes the stress and the strain and the problems of this world wear us down and they wear us out, and we need some kind of relief. We need some kind of help. We need someone to bear our burdens for us. Well, Jesus offers that invitation. He wants us to come to Him and to receive what He so freely offers. I encourage you to receive that free invitation of Jesus Christ today, and let Him bear your burden.
For many years, the work of “Key to the Kingdom” has focused on sharing the Good News of the Bible through mass media. Our intention is to not criticize, nor to condemn, other religions. We do not stand in judgment of one's personal beliefs, but only seek to open the Bible and to study from it. We believe the Bible is God's Word, which has been revealed to mankind. We also believe God is our Father in heaven and that Jesus Christ is His one and only son. It is our intent to share messages relating to God's love and His Son’s salvation. Each one presented on this program comes from the Bible and offers practical application of it. On our website, keytothekingdom.com, one can find some of our other beliefs, in addition to our overall purpose for sharing God's Word. I invite you to visit that website and to see the variety of things offered, which are designed to assist with one's walk with the Lord. On today's episode, we will focus on God's invitation for us to be part of His spiritual family. We will look at several passages in the Bible which encourage us to receive that free gift and how it can change our life, not only today but for all eternity. I invite you now to open your Bible, as we study together a lesson entitled, “The Lord's Invitation.”
In many places throughout the Bible, the Lord invites people to come to Him and to receive what He has to offer. Some of those past invitations include an escape from Egyptian captivity and a home in the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. Other invitations include an opportunity to worship Him and to praise Him and to serve Him and also to share with Him in an eternal banquet feast in heaven. Oh, in all of these ways, plus many more, the Lord invites people to receive His love; and, that's what His invitations are all about. For a few minutes, I want us to think about the great love of God that is demonstrated through the invitations He offers to us. The first invitation I want us to consider is found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Listen to His words, in chapter 55 verses 1 and 2: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” The Israelites were experiencing a time of desperation. They had moved far away from God and they were in need of a spiritual renewal. They needed to come back to the Lord and to experience, once again, the love and the blessings that He was willing to give to them. And so the prophet Isaiah invites these people of Israel to come back to God and to receive those promises. And yet, those promises do not come without first seeking and finding the Lord. Four times we find the word ‘come’ is used in these two verses. With open arms and a warm welcome, God invites the people to receive, once again, what He offers. And that same invitation is for everyone, even still today, who is thirsty for God and who is in need of a spiritual renewal; that, if we need to be spiritually fulfilled and renewed, then the invitation is for us to come and to receive His offering. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this invitation is that it is absolutely free. In fact, we could not earn enough, nor borrow enough, nor beg enough, nor steal enough, nor save enough money to purchase what God is willing and able to give to us. And that's why it is absolutely free, He gives it as a gift. Yes, the Lord invites us to experience spiritual fulfillment. God's offer is free and readily available to all who are willing to receive it. And with that being be the case, we might ask our self a very important question. Am I spiritually empty? Do I need something to fill me up and to recharge me spiritually so I can be right with God and enjoy that relationship with Him? Here's a second invitation. It too comes from Isaiah, in chapter 1 verse 18: “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” In verses 1 through 17 Isaiah has been speaking to these people about their sin. Now, the people’s sins were repulsive to God, even to the point God would become sick and have to turn away from His people; and that sin put them in God's judgment. They would be punished because of the sin and the rebellion that they were demonstrating toward the Lord. But now in verse 18, God has come up with a verdict or a solution. And he says, “Listen to what God offers.” Isaiah reminds them of His great love, that God is willing to reason with these people regarding their sin problem. No, the Lord does not want the people to be lost in their sin, and so He offers this solution. And when they come to Him, God will get rid of the sin in their life. He will remove that ugly stain that scars them and makes them visible to other people; and, that will be eliminated in God. And so the option is there, the invitation is there to come to the Lord for that cleansing. Yes, the Lord invites us to experience the forgiveness of our sin, and it's guilt. I don't know about you, but sometimes the sin in our life might be hard to bear. It weighs heavily upon us. We have messed up and we have made some mistakes along the way, and we struggle with that. We try to overcome and to right our path and to seek some kind of forgiveness or a second chance. Well, we experience that because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, when He went to the cross and died on our behalf and then was buried in the tomb and then rose again from the grave. Our sin can be and is forgiven, and we have that hope and that new beginning. And through that, our Father in heaven offers to us a new life, a way to start over and to be right with Him. And when we experience that, we can also be set free from the guilt which our past sin and mistakes bring. We don't have to live with that burden of guilt any longer. And so with those things in mind, here is another question we might consider in regards to this invitation. Is my life full of sin and ugliness? Well, if that is the case, we have a solution. God has offered a solution. He's offered the verdict for us, here in Isaiah chapter 1, that we can have that new beginning when we come to Him and receive what He has to offer. Here is a third invitation. It is found in Joshua chapter 24, verses 14 and 15. Joshua was the one whom God used to lead the people through the Promised Land. And as he led them, the people conquered and took possession of that very prized possession. And now toward the end of Joshua's life, he brings the people together and reminds them of all the things that God has done for them; and then, he presents to the them a question. He invites them to make a choice as to what they will do now, in this land, and whether or not they will give their allegiance to the Lord. And he does that here in chapter 24 of Joshua, beginning with verse 14: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!” And then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!” As Joshua gathered the people, he reminded them that they were to enter into a proper relationship with God. He reminded them of all the success they enjoyed, as they conquered the land. He reminded them of how God had been faithful to them in the midst of their travel through the Promised Land. And now he said, “This is what I and my house will do, we will serve the Lord. I would hope that you would make that same commitment. Give your total allegiance and devotion to the One who guided you and gave you the Promised Land.” These people work to get rid of all of the other gods and to serve the one faithful and true God. Oh, the nations around Israel worshiped whichever god governed a particular area of their life. And when a problem arose, the people would pray to the god who governed that particular matter, for some kind of help or deliverance. And the only choice for Israel's neighbors was which God would serve them best at that particular moment. Well, this was not the kind of choice Joshua was calling upon the Israelites to make. He was not asking them to select the most convenient or appropriate god. And we might do that, when we go into our closet to find the very best shoes or the right clothing to wear to a particular event or occasion. Yes, Joshua was asking the people to commit themselves to the one and only God who had delivered them and guided them and protected them. He had conquered all of the other nations to give them a very special home, which would be filled with all of His promises, with all of His love and all of His protection. And so with that in mind, Joshua asked the question, who are you going to serve? Who will receive your love and your faithful devotion and priority? And as you take possession of this land, I would hope that you will serve the God who has given it to you, just like I and my family are doing. Well, in a similar way, the Lord invites us to make a decision to follow Him. And that is a decision that is placed before each and every one of us, and we will have to make that decision at one time or another. Oh, if we want to have a right relationship with God, then we will make the choice to follow Jesus Christ, for He is the one who leads us to the Father. He himself stated, in John 14 verse 6, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Yes, only through Jesus Christ can we receive that relationship with God and enjoy His blessings and His promises. And so with that in mind, here's the next question. Is it easy to be distracted by the various gods around me? Well, obviously the answer is yes. There are so many gods and so many things, this world has to offer, that tempt us to take our eyes off of God and to put our eyes on something else, or on someone else. Yet, we recognize the temptation is great, but through Jesus Christ we can overcome that temptation and we can understand and know that God is the One who loves us. And to make a right decision for Him is what we are to do, as He invites us to do as Joshua invited these people. It's like another message from Matthew chapter 11. These are the words of Jesus, himself, beginning in verse 28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The passage begins with Jesus offering an invitation. He, like with other invitations, begins with the word come: come and see, come and listen, come and recognize what I have to offer for you, it is special and it is important. Eight times in these three verses, we notice that Jesus is the focus. He is the subject of the sentence. He is the one who does the inviting. He is the one who has something special to offer. I’m reminded of the invitation that Jesus gave to His disciples. They were fishermen, and He said, “I want you to leave your fishing nets and your boats and your business and come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men;” and immediately those men did just that, and they became His disciples. And that is the kind of invitation that we see here. Jesus invites us to participate in something special. He does not invite certain people. His invitation is open to everyone. He calls all those who are tired and weary and worn out. He invites those who are weighted down with the pressures and the problems of life. And He says, “Come to me and receive what I have to offer.” Yes, the Lord invites us to find rest and to discover His peace. Jesus desires those today, who are hurting and lonely, who have financial and emotional and physical problems, to come to Him. Jesus reaches out to those who are depressed and persecuted and overwhelmed with sin and guilt, and He says, “Come to me and to receive what I have to offer.” Oh, isn't it great that this invitation includes everyone and it excludes no one! So again, here is another question. Am I overwhelmed by the stress and the strain of life? And if we answer yes to that question, then maybe it’s time we turn to Jesus and receive this invitation to come to Him, as we are weary, as we are burdened down by the problems of life, and to receive His rest and His peace. Let's take a look at another invitation found in the last book of the Bible, called Revelation. Again, an invitation from Jesus, found in chapter 22 verse 17: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” Oh, near the very end of the Bible, here, these words of Jesus seem to help summarize the Bible's message. It is a continual offer made by the Lord to receive His invitation. And again, we find that word ‘come’ mentioned over and over again. It is found everywhere in the invitations of the Lord. “Come to me,” He will say to us, “Come and receive what I have to offer, which is absolutely free.” And that invitation extends to every person, to every tribe and to every nation. God does not hold back any spiritual blessing or promise. He invites everyone to come to Him and to receive that gift of love and salvation. And yet still today the Lord invites us to receive the living water, which leads to eternal life. And that is part of the spiritual fulfillment that we receive in Jesus Christ. It quenches our thirst and satisfies our longing. He is more lasting than any kind of vitamin infused water we might be able to purchase at the store. He is the living water that flows from the throne of God. And Jesus, himself, even stated in the Gospel of John, “I am the bread of life.” And no doubt, that bread and that water sustains our life. It gives us spiritual nourishment we need to live our life in this world today. And so here's the question, have I received the living water which Jesus so freely offers? Well, if we have not, then again Jesus invites us to do so. Let's look now at one final question or one final invitation from Jesus, again, in Revelation chapter 3 verse 20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him and dine with Him, and He with me.” Isn't that a beautiful image of Jesus? He is knocking upon the door of our heart and He is hoping and waiting for us to open the door so that He can come in. He invites us to accept His invitation. He does not force His way in. He does not demand His presence in our life. But we have the image of the door there with only one door handle, on one side, and that is on our side; Jesus cannot just open the door and come in, but rather it is up to us to turn the door handle and to open the door and to invite Jesus in. And so in a very non-threatening but rather in a very sweet and loving spirit, Jesus offers to be our Lord and our Savior. He invites people to receive what He offers, and to sit with Him at that great banquet table, that great banquet feast, in heaven. Oh, the Lord invites us to dine with Him, forever. And that banquet feast is far greater and more important and will last so much longer than any kind of banquet feast or party we might be able to experience anywhere today. It is something that never ends, as we spend an eternity worshiping and serving and dining with Jesus Christ, the Son of God and with God, himself. And so again, we come to another question. Do I hear Him knocking on the door of my heart? Well obviously, if we hear that knock, He is inviting us to open the door and to allow Him to come in. And maybe that is exactly what we need to do, to open the door to Jesus Christ, to let Him come in and to experience that fellowship as we are with Him and with the Father. Oh, the Bible is filled with many invitations from the Lord, and each and every one of them is far greater than any kind of invitation we might be able to receive from a person or from some kind of event here upon this earth. And more than anything else, God wants us to receive that invitation. More than anything else, He wants us to receive His love, so that He can bless us for all eternity. And so we end with the ultimate question: Am I willing to receive God’s invitation to experience His love and salvation? I hope, and I pray that you have already done that! But if not, think about the words, “Come to me and receive what I freely offer.”
Thank you for watching “Key to the Kingdom.” The invitation of the Lord is ever present. He always invites us to receive His free gift of salvation and He turns away no one who obediently responds to it. Yes, His invitation is free and open to all. If you are interested in hearing or viewing this message again please go to our website, keytothekingdom.com. There, you can download it in audio, video or written format. It will not cost anything and there is no commitment required; we simply make it available as our gift for tuning in to today's broadcast. On the website you will also find daily devotional thoughts, Bible studies and other previous lessons. Feel free to look at the variety of things which are offered, and access any that might be of interest. Another way to find this program is on Roku® television. We have a dedicated channel, and you can watch a number of previous episodes and short inspirational videos. And if you have not already done so, please find and like us on Facebook®. Many are following our ministry there and we would welcome you to do so as well. And finally, if you would like to contact us by phone, please call the number on the screen. Leave your name and phone number and we will return the call as soon as possible. It truly is a privilege to share these messages with you on a regular basis. Thank you again for joining us today, and I hope you will watch our next episode, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”