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15 And when one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God.” 16 Then he said to him, “A certain man made a great supper, invited many, 17 And sent his servant at supper-time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground and I must go and see it. I pray you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen and I go to prove them. I pray you to have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore, I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Lord, it is done as you have commanded, and yet there is room.’ 23 And the lord said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in so that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you, that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” Luke 14:15-24

You have been invited to the greatest banquet of all! Even though you are a sinner and deserving of God’s eternal wrath and punishment, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s Law in your stead and then to suffer and die on the cross and bear the full punishment for your transgressions and sins. God calls you through the preaching of the Gospel and invites you to receive His pardon and forgiveness and to be a part of His everlasting kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus and His cross.

The Bible tells us that “this is how God loved the world: he gave his only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him, should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16; cf. 1 John 4:9-10). It tells us that “Jesus Christ … loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5); that “in [Him] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7); and that “Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18).

And, the risen Lord Jesus even now is preparing a place for all who believe in Him, in His Father’s house. Jesus tells us in John 14:1-3: “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many places to reside. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to myself, so that where I am, you may be there also.”

Through the preaching of this good news, God calls you to come to Him and receive the everlasting blessings of His kingdom. Even now, as you read these words, God’s Spirit calls you to “come, for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17); and to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your house shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).

When one of those who sat at the table with Jesus said, “Blessed is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God,” Jesus told this Parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:16-24) to admonish His hearers for neglecting and rejecting the salvation God was providing for them in His Son.

The Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures, which promised eternal salvation through the coming Messiah and Savior; but when Jesus, God’s Son, came into this world to accomplish the salvation God had promised of old – when the Gospel invitation went out: “Come, for all things are now ready” – the Jews excused themselves for various reasons.

They were too busy with the things of this world to come to Christ Jesus and receive from Him forgiveness for their sins and eternal life. One bought a piece of land and wanted to go and see it; another had bought five yoke of oxen and wanted to try them out; and another had just gotten married and could not come (cf. Luke 14:18-20).

What about you? This same Gospel invitation has gone out to you: “Come, for all things are now ready.” Do you have time to come to Jesus and learn of Him and the eternal blessings He has won for you? Do you come to hear His life-giving Word and learn of God’s offer and promise of forgiveness for all your sins and of the everlasting joys of heaven? Or, are you too busy with the cares and concerns of this life?

What is your excuse? Are you too busy checking on land or property? Do you have to try out that car or truck or tractor? Do you have to try out that new tool or toy? Are you too busy with work or school or business to come to Jesus? Have you married a wife and become too busy with family concerns to take time for church services and the hearing of God’s Word? What is your excuse?

The excuses in Jesus’ parable angered the man who made the great supper (v. 21). He said, “None of those men who were invited shall taste my supper” (v. 24).

Will God accept your excuse? Is not this a warning to us not to become so busy with other things in life – the things of this world – that we neglect that “one thing … needful” (Luke 10:42)?

Jesus admonishes us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). And Jesus warns: “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).

What did the master of the house in Jesus’ parable then do that his house might be filled with guests? He sent his servants out into the streets and lanes of the city to bring in the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. And, when there was yet room, he sent them out into the highways and hedges (where the poor often camped) to compel those there to come in (Cf. Luke 14:21-24.)

It is by the grace of God that we have heard the Gospel of Christ and come to trust in Him for forgiveness and life (Eph. 2:4-9); “and yet there is room” (v. 22)! Our Heavenly Father sends His servants out into the streets and lanes, and to the highways and hedges, to compel them to come in — to call upon all, whether rich or poor, healthy or handicapped or sick, to come to Christ Jesus in faith and partake of the blessings of His kingdom.

Jesus commands His disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). They are to preach “repentance and remission of sins … in his name among all nations” (Luke 24:47). They are to say: “Come, for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17). And, Jesus tells us: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Dear LORD God, our Savior, grant that we do not neglect and excuse ourselves from partaking of the salvation so graciously provided for us through the innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Jesus Christ. Fill us also with Your love for lost sinners that we may obey Your command and send men into all the world with Your saving Gospel and compel them to come in! In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible.]

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“Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your heart, as at Meribah, and as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers tested me, they proved me and saw my work. Forty long years I was grieved with this generation and said, ‘It is a people who err in their heart, and they have not known my ways,’ to whom I swore in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” Psalm 95:7b-11 (Read Psalm 95)

Will you enter God’s eternal rest, or are you hardening your heart against Him? God’s Word comes to you. You have it in your Bible, and it is still preached by faithful ministers; but will you hear it and believe it?

The Children of Israel heard God’s words through Moses and even directly from God Himself on Mt. Sinai. They saw God’s mighty works in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness. But did they believe? Did they trust in the LORD God to lead and guide them, provide for them in their journeys, and bring them safely into the Promised Land? The answer is, No!

Again and again, they grumbled and complained. Again and again, they disobeyed the commandments of the LORD. And, when it was time to go up and take possession of the land the LORD was giving them, they doubted God’s Word to them and wanted to return to Egypt (cf. Num. 13-14). Therefore, because of their unbelief, they did not enter into the promised rest (cf. Ex. 17:1-7; 32:1-6; Num. 11:4ff.; 25:1ff.; 1 Cor. 10:1-12; Heb. 3:7ff.).

Now, the Word of the LORD comes to you. It calls you to repent of your sinful ways and rebellion against the LORD God and receive forgiveness and life through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s own dear Son.

Will you hear God’s Word? Will you acknowledge your utter sinfulness and rebelliousness before the LORD? (Cf. Psalm 32:1ff.) Will you come to God and trust in Him to receive you and forgive you for all your sins because Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God in human flesh, fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s law for you and then bore your punishment on the cross and rose again?

If you refuse to repent and turn to the Lord Jesus for mercy, you go astray in your heart. You do not know the way of the LORD, and you will not enter into His eternal rest! But if you humble yourself before the LORD, hear His Word, and believe, you will receive His mercy and be blessed with the eternal joys of heaven for Jesus’ sake!

LORD God, have mercy on us and grant that we do not harden our hearts against You and the truth of Your Word. By Your Holy Spirit, grant us true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior. In His name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible.]

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19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus who was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off with Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried, and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus, in like manner, evil things. But now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who would pass from here to you cannot, neither can they pass to us who would come from there.’ 27 Then he said, ‘I pray you, therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 For I have five brothers, so that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham says to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31

Jesus’ illustration of the rich man and Lazarus may be much more than a parable, for it is told by Jesus as if it is a true and factual account. But, whether an actual historical event or a parable, we can still learn much from Jesus’ words.

The rich man is not identified by name, but the poor beggar’s name was Lazarus (from Greek, but probably Eleazer in Hebrew), which means “God is help.” Even though Lazarus was poor and full of sores, he was a true believer in God, as his name indicates, because he was taken to heaven when he died.

Even though the rich man was greatly blessed by God in material things, he did not hear and heed God’s Word (Moses and the Prophets) and repent of his selfish and sinful ways and look in faith to the Messiah. This can be seen by the fact that there were no fruits of faith in his life in regard to poor Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, and also by the fact that his soul went to hell when he died. And we see that his brothers, too, were self-deceived and didn’t heed the warnings of God’s Word and repent.

In addition to teaching that one’s soul goes either to heaven or to hell when he dies, Jesus warns against living one’s life solely for the selfish enjoyment of the things of this world. One’s first concern should be to heed the Word of God and repent, turning away from sin and the selfish use of this world’s goods to faith in Christ, who died to redeem us from sin and death and then rose again.

As a fruit of true repentance, we will then, in love for Christ and neighbor, put to death our selfish and sinful desires and use the goods of this world to help those in need. We will not close our hearts to the poor and needy but will do all we can to help them.

One more important truth should also be learned. If one does not heed the Word of God during his lifetime, there is no other hope for repentance; for the Holy Spirit works through the Law to convince us of our sin and the punishment we deserve, and through the Gospel to reveal our Savior and to give and assure to us forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

If one, during his lifetime, refuses to turn from his sins to Christ Jesus, his Savior, there will be no more opportunity for repentance. His torment in hell will be forever!

But when one, by the grace of God, heeds the Word and repents, trusting in Christ for forgiveness and life, he is forgiven by God and will love his brother; and his soul, at the time of death, will be transported by angels to the bosom of Abraham.

O Jesus, who my debt didst pay and for my sin wast smitten, within the Book of Life, oh, may my name be also written! I will not doubt; I trust in Thee, from Satan Thou hast made me free and from all condemnation. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn 611, Verse 5)

[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible.]

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“O come, let us sing to the LORD. Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise to him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth. The strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it. And his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.” Psalm 95:1-7a

In Hosea 8:14, we read that “Israel has forgotten his Maker and builds temples.” They were still a religious people, but they had forgotten who the LORD God was and how to worship and serve Him.

These words are not only true of Old Testament Israel at the time of Hosea the prophet; they are true of us today. As a nation and people, we still build churches but we have forgotten our Maker and we neglect to give Him the glory and praise due unto His name.

We need to remember that “the LORD himself is God. It is he who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

In spite of man’s attempts to escape this fact, the truth still remains that the LORD (Yahweh) God of the Bible (the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has created us and all things by His almighty word (Gen. 1-2; Neh. 9:6). It is He who formed us in our mothers’ wombs and gave us life (Ps. 139:13-16), and it is He who sustains our lives (cf. Ps. 145:15-16).

And, not only is the LORD God the Creator and Sustainer of all things, He gave His only begotten Son and redeemed us through the innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus that we might have forgiveness for all our sins and again be alive to Him and worship His name (cf. Ps. 130:7-8; Jn. 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10; Rom. 5:8-11).

Isn’t it about time we remember our Creator; look to Him to forgive our sins for the sake of the holy life and bitter sufferings and death of God the Son, Christ Jesus, and then worship and serve Him with our lives?

If we do not humbly kneel before Him now, we shall be humbled and kneel before Him on the Last Day when He executes His judgment upon all people (cf. Phil. 2:5-11; Ps. 2).

O Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, for the sake of Christ Jesus, our Savior, forgive us for our many sins against You, and grant that we might kneel before You and worship You both now and forevermore in heaven! Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version of the Bible.]

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Again, the Bible says: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light …” (Genesis 1:1-3; Read Genesis 1:1 – 2:3).

The Hebrew word for “created” in verse one is “bara” and indicates that God created all out of nothing. He called it into existence by saying, “Let there be …” and “There was.”

The Scriptures echo this truth throughout.

Psalm 33:6 says: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”

Hebrews 11:3 says: “Through faith we understand that the universe was framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which appeared.”

These words teach us the truth that God created all things and sustains them by the power of His word.

The Bible says of the Son of God, in Hebrews 1:1-3: “God, who at many times and in diverse manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom he also made the universe. He is the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself made purification of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

So, what has God done? He created all things out of nothing. He created and called all into being by His all-powerful word. And, it is by that same creating word that all things continue to exist.

It is as Nehemiah wrote: “You are Yahweh, even you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all things that are in it, the seas and all that is in them, and you preserve them all. And the host of heaven worships you” (Nehemiah 9:6).

Genesis 1:1 – 2:3

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light “day,” and he called the darkness “night,” and the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. 8 And God called the firmament “heaven.” And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 And God called the dry land “earth,” and he called the collection of waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth.” And it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after its kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, for seasons, for days, and years. 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 To rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters abundantly bring forth the moving creature that has life and the bird that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” 21 And God created the great sea-creatures and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and every winged bird after his kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply in the earth.” 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind: cattle, the creeping animal, and the beast of the earth after his kind.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, cattle after their kind, and every animal that creeps upon the earth after his kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping animal that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it. And have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the bird of the air, and over every living animal that moves upon the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. To you it shall be for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to every animal that creeps upon the earth, in which is life, I have given every green herb for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made. And he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

[Scripture is quoted from the Revised Common Version. To read more from this translation, click on the link at the bottom of this page.]

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