Our Value to God = PRICELESS!

Our Value to God = PRICELESS!
"Allow God to place His own values." - A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Extraordinary Proposal and The Bridegroom

Note: This message applies to both women AND men.

It is said that an individual’s greatest desire is to love and be loved. The best news about this is that our Heavenly Father loves us at all times as a flame of fire. His ardor never cools and His longing for our love and affection is deep and constant.

I am really excited to write this devotional , along with yesterday’s devotional, because I just recently found out of a few symbolic parallels in the Bible that I’m interested in sharing with you all.

A recent book I’ve been reading, called Completely His by Shannon Ethridge, devoted an entire chapter to the Lord’s passionate love for us, so I have included a few points below:
The First Last Supper – The night before Jesus was crucified, He gathered His twelve disciples in an upper room, where they experienced the origin of a sacred tradition we call “taking communion.” Jesus’ body (the bread) is “broken for you” and His blood (the wine/grape juice) “was shed for the remission of your sins.”

A side note: In Biblical times, a bride-to-be had a say in whether she would marry her potential groom. After he had negotiated a bride price for her (I’ll explain this more later), the groom would seek her approval of the arrangement by pouring a cup of wine and handing it to her. The quality of the wine signified, in his opinion, the bride’s worth. By this act, he was saying, “I offer you my life.” At that moment, the potential bride had a decision to make. If she did not care to marry the man, she could refuse the cup. But if she was willing to marry him, she would take the cup and drink from it. By her actions, she was saying, “I receive your life, and I give you mine in return.” Then preparations would begin for a wedding celebration, which included the groom’s returning to his father’s house to build an additional room where the marriage would eventually be consummated.

With this in mind, let’s return to the Last Supper. When Jesus handed the cup of wine to each of His disciples that night, He was saying, in essence, “Will you marry Me? Will you be My spiritual bride?” At that moment, His followers had a decision to make. They could reject the cup and refuse Jesus’ spiritual marriage proposal, or they could drink from it, receiving His life and offering theirs to Him in return. Once they drank from the cup, Jesus explained that He was going away and that they couldn’t come with Him. The disciples were bewildered, but Jesus responded, “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in Me. There are many rooms in My Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am” (John 14:1-3).

Jesus was referring to the Jewish tradition of the groom’s going to prepare a place for his bride that adjoined his father’s house. He was saying, “I am going to My Father’s house to prepare the wedding chamber, where we will one day consummate our love for one another and enjoy each other’s presence throughout all eternity.” He was telling His disciples – and you and me – that He was returning to His Father’s house in order to prepare a place for each one of us, for we are all His beloved bride.
How incredible is this that God would make such an offer, particularly when He knows our tendency toward unfaithfulness?! :)

An Unfaithful Bride
None of us are faithful to our Bridegroom – not one – but He has known this about each of us all along. The Bible is filled with unfaithful brides, from Adam and Abraham in the Old Testament to Peter and Paul in the New Testament. Yet these stories of sin often turn out to be success stories of how God cleansed these individuals and called them His own. He can do the same for us. In fact, God in His loving kindness, has already taken care of the necessary wedding arrangements in order to make good on His extraordinary proposal. Two important arrangements – the payment of the bride price and the provision of the wedding garments.

Payment of the Bride Price
In ancient times, a suitor was expected to pay the bride’s family a hefty price in order to receive her hand in marriage. Jesus did the same for us (His spiritual bride). However, Jesus wasn’t simply negotiating the price for one individual, but for all individuals, for all Eternity. So what price did He pay? No amount of money could possibly have made that kind of purchase. The price had to be exorbitant. It had to cost Him everything. And it did. It cost Him His life. Yet He paid the price willingly.

Just hours before He died, Jesus fell face down on the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not Mine” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus paid a high price for each one of us. He drank the cup. He offered is very life to purchase His beloved spiritual bride, to purchase you and me. I love this analogy, because it makes me see the importance taking communion truly has! It is as if we are accepting Jesus’ marriage proposal or rejecting it, depending on whether we partake in it. It also is a great reminder to embrace our roles as His spiritual bride. Jesus has also purchased our wedding dress…

Provision of the Wedding Garments
He knew we could never purchase our own garments for the wedding supper of the Lamb, but He could, so He did (see Revelation 19:6-7). However, we need the proper garments – we need to be clothed in righteousness. The problem is, we cannot clothe ourselves with the necessary righteousness, regardless of how successful we are in refraining from sin or how many good deeds we manage to squeeze into a day. We can never be good enough. But when Jesus paid the price for us by dying on the Cross in our place, the blood He shed cancelled our sins and paved our way into the presence of God. He clothed us in His righteousness (see Isaiah 61:10).

Because Jesus has clothed us in His righteousness, we can proudly wear white at the wedding feast of the Lamb. And when we clothe ourselves with the white wedding dress that Christ has purchased for us to wear, we are the fulfillment of all he has dreamed about for us from the beginning.

A Pure and Spotless Bride
At the wedding supper of the Lamb, we will have absolutely no regrets. All our guilt and shame has been completely washed away by what Christ has already done, and we will know that we are the pure and spotless bride that God intended for His Son.

Perhaps you struggle with feeling less than worthy of God’s love because of your unfaithfulness to Him. Perhaps you can’t see yourself as a pure and spotless bride. If so, let me put some light back in your eyes. In Colossians 1:19-23, 28, Paul says we are perfect in Christ and that we are holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation. It doesn’t matter that you don’t feel worthy, because God’s lavish love and unconditional acceptance of you isn’t based on your worthiness. It’s based on HIS goodness. It’s based on the bride price that His perfect Son has already paid for you and me. We are no longer just anybody. We are His chosen. We are His beloved bride.

We may remember the sins we’ve committed in the past, but as far as God is concerned, we’ve been justified (meaning “just-as-if-I’d never done those things!”). Our sins are no longer held against us. We’ve been set free. We’ve been redeemed. Even in our unfaithfulness. Jesus has betrothed (engaged) Himself to us forever.

How Will We Respond?
It is the most moving and compelling love story of all time – Jesus extending such an extraordinary marriage proposal to us, paying the exorbitantly high price to redeem us, and permitting us to wear white as His pure and spotless bride. But the ending is up to each of us, individually. Will you dismiss this as some fairy tale? Or will you embrace those Truths and give Jesus the response He longs to receive?

May the Lord give you wisdom in this decision and bless you richly in your obedience to Him.

In Christ,

“I Can’t Wait” – Merchant Band: Lyrics (Sorry, I could not find a video this time)
“There's a place I've been more real than what I've seen
You led me by the hand into the chamber of the King
Take me away to the place that I never want to leave

I've tasted and I've known of a love that's better than wine
Come to me my Lord only You can satisfy
Take me away to the place that I never want to leave

I can't wait for our wedding day to come
Let me see Your face let me feel Your arms of love

I have been betrothed to a King above all kings
I am not my own and You've pledged Yourself to me

I can't wait for our wedding day to come
Let me see Your face let me feel Your arms of love

Take me away to the place that I never want to leave
Take me away to the place that I never want to leave

I can't wait for our wedding day to come
Let me see Your face let me feel Your arms of love”

1 comment:

Elizabeth J. said...

Hi there! I just noticed that you began following my blog and I wanted to thank you for that. I always enjoy knowing who my readers are. I'll drop back by here again.