Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Everywhere I turn, I see stories about the upcoming "Royal Wedding" of Prince William and lovely Kate Middleton. The date, the plans, the china, the location, who is invited, who is not invited... Girls are fascinated by this royal event. Why? Because we dream of what it would be like to become a part of the royal family.
Because in every one of us, there is a love story written. A damsel in distress needing to be rescued. Hollywood capitalizes on it and writes chick flick after chick flick about the girl who is swept off her feet by a "prince". Usually she isn't the most beautiful- or most popular- or most deserving... but she gets swept off her feet and falls madly in love. This longing is buried deep within us and I believe God placed it there. We are in need of a Prince/ Savior. We REALLY ARE the damsel in distress. We really have been invited to the ROYAL WEDDING. We are invited into the greatest love story ever told.
"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16
The word for "loved" in John 3:16 is "agapeo" and it means: to esteem, to love, and indicating a direction of the will and finding one's joy in. It is the UNCONDITIONAL cognitive decision to care about the needs of another. This is a love that only gives- expecting nothing in return. It is a love not based on the worthiness of the object but on the character of the one loving. The character in the agape love found in John 3:16 is GOD and YOU are the only object of His affection.
Remember this truth when you see a sunset, crashing ocean waves, or majestic mountains. The lover of your soul created these things for His glory but also to express His love for YOU. His relentless pursuit of you began at your CONCEPTION and He will never stop pursuing you.
"and you will be called sought after" Isaiah 62:12
You know that feeling when a guy sends you roses and how your heart melts? Imagine as God paints the sunsets and watches you as you see them. I wonder if the angels watch on in awe as God watches us with such intensity and love as we notice His great love for us.
Does He say, "She noticed. She is beginning to notice how I love her. She noticed the stars I hung for her. She is starting to understand how I adore her. She noticed my love for her."
This is the verb form of agape- it is the active force of unconditional, sacrificial, and proactive love that is not reactive but thoughtfully responsive to love and to serve THE UNDESERVING. God has unconditionally loved us and acted because "His Girl- YOU" were in danger.
Did you know there was never a time when God began to love you?
"I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3
Everlasting means: beyond the vanishing point. There was never a time when He began to love you and (LISTEN TO ME!!!) there will never be a time when He will cease to love you. Nothing can separate you from His unfailing and relentless love for you.
It is a lie to think you have done something to cause God to stop loving you. That is impossible because you never earned His love.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38, 39

God doesn't simply love you. He SO loves you.
This word in the Greek is an indicative adverb that basically says God's love is not like a leaky faucet, it is like a roaring river. His love is not like a flickering lightning bug, it is like the blinding sun.
He SO loves you.
"But God who is so rich in mercy, and he loved us SO VERY MUCH," (Eph 2:4)
The object of God's great love is far from beautiful. God's agape love is not based on the beauty of the object. Agape love is based on God's unchanging character. His love for us is because of His character- NOT our beauty or worth. This love is based on His nature- NOT YOUR PERFORMANCE.
God saw YOU- His girl- His delight in danger and He acted. He SENT.
The original word for "sent" means to send away on a mission. God sent His Son on a mission. Creation and the angles must have watched on in agony as their Beloved Creator and Most Holy One left His seat of glory to come to this place of death. A place where He would be mistreated, beaten, betrayed, and killed.. ALL FOR THE ONE HE SO LOVED.
He had to send His One and Only Son. He had to send Him-- for her. She was in great danger. What was she in danger of? Her own sin. There was no other way. Unless He came for her, she would die. So Jesus Christ willingly obeyed and came to this godless place and was born in a stinky manger to die on a Cross...
ALL...
TO...
SAVE....
AND...
MARRY...
THE...
ONE ...
HE..
SO...
LOVES.

You have been invited to The Royal Wedding. The King of Kings has asked for YOUR HAND in marriage. He wants to exchange your clothes of poverty for robes of royalty. He desires to give you a WHITE wedding gown. He will forgive and forget your past. He paid the punishment for it all. He took away your sins and the stain of them.

"...creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed." Romans 8:19
You know how everyone watches the door at a wedding-- waiting on the Bride to be revealed? to see her in all her glory? I believe creation has that same glorious anticipation!
I think of this when I look at the mountains and trees and birds. It is as if creation is cheering me on because they are waiting on ME (and YOU) to be ready for my wedding day. When those doors will swing wide open and I (YOU) will walk through! Who could fathom such a love? Who could imagine that the undeserving damsel will be clothed in a royal gown and gazed upon by all of creation?
Disney will never be able to touch the reality of the love of Jesus Christ for His undeserving bride. Will creation bow when the Bride walks through the door? Will the grasshoppers play their tiny violins, the birds sing their songs, and cicadas play their drums? All of creation is waiting on one thing! To see YOU walk through that door.
"the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." Romans 8:21
The royal wedding! The glorious Bride! Radiantly beautiful because ONLY because of the One Who agapes her.
"Wait a minute. This all sounds to good to be true. This can't possibly be. God could never love me like that! You have no idea what I have done."
You are right. I don't know what you have done. But God does. He FULLY knows.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am FULLY KNOWN."
1 Cor 13:12
This love story cost God a high price. It cost the life of His precious Son. He gave His Son to be nailed to a cross, flesh ripped from His body, tendons shred, and watched as His Son's heart pumped desperately. He watched on as Christ took on my sins (and yours) and received the punishment in full so I (You) wouldn't have to. All for sinners who spit in His face (like me). God's agape love initiated the crucifixion.
Every drop of Christ's blood said,
"I love you."
"I love you."
"I love you."
God put His love for you on display so that you would never doubt it. His love was on display for the world to see as Jesus hung on the cross.
It was His marriage proposal to you. No one will ever love you this way. His proposal to you to be His Bride and receive the life He has prepared for you in all its fullness. What will you say? Will you accept this great love? Will you become His bride?
You may be thinking... "how?" How could I ever be truly loved and forgiven? I want this but it seems beyond my reach.
John 3:16 says

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who BELIEVES in him will not perish but have eternal life."
This word for "believe" is "pisteuon" and it means trusts. You must believe or trust that Christ died in your place. That your sins have separated you from a holy God and there is only one way to be reconciled to God- through His Son's blood. This trust becomes the volitional decision to move toward Him and away from your sin. Repenting from all known sin in your life and entering into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship with a LIVING person.
This "trust" doesn't mean that it as if we are holding on to God and if we let go we will fall. It indicates that once we believe, HE TAKES HOLD OF US. Once you accept that ring and place your life into the hands of Jesus Christ, it is HE Who takes hold of you and He will NEVER let go of you.
"what must I do to be saved?... 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' ".
Acts 16:30,31
He has proven His love to her. He holds out the ring with His nail scarred hands and asked her to become His Bride. What will she do? Will she accept? She would be a fool not to. But, does she realize that? Does she have other loves in her life that she doesn't want to leave behind?
He wants her all. He is jealous for her. He wants her to love Him only- no other. He will give her a new name- a NEW LIFE. What will she say?
What will YOU say?
He died to save you. How could you not trust Him? No other love will ever satisfy. This is the only love we were created for. Everything else flows from this true love.
What is your response? I urge you with everything in me to throw yourself at His feet and say, "Yes!".
You will be given full authority as an heir to Almighty God. You are marrying His Son. The keys of the Kingdom are placed into your hand by THE KING OF KINGS.
This is your decision. Eternity lies in the balance. You can walk away from the gospel. You will pay the punishment for your sins and live a life here and for all eternity separated from God. Your sins must be atoned for. He took your punishment so that you wouldn't have to but if you don't receive His gift of salvation, you will perish. That is the consequence of our sin. God is loving and desires that all come to know Him but, in love, He has given you a choice.
It is as if our sins have been going into an account and racking up God's anger that will be revealed on the day of judgement because God is holy and He is righteous. God is the Judge and we are criminals because we have violated His laws. Justice demands punishment and the just punishment for us would be an everlasting prison called hell. But 2000 years ago, Jesus paid your price in full on the cross receiving the full penalty for your sins.
The is why Jesus said, "It is finished. or translated... "PAID IN FULL".
Jesus Christ is standing with His arms open wide exposing His nail scars asking you to come with Him and be His Bride. Hell is real. It is what you and I deserve. It is a great and real danger resulting from our sin and why God had to send His Son.
He is preparing a place for you and is coming back to take you there to be with Him and reign as His beautiful Bride for all of eternity. We can't begin to imagine how glorious this place will be.
It took 6 days for Him to create the world. He has been gone for 2,000 years preparing our eternal home with Him. God doesn't operate according to our time but this does make me wonder.
Jesus is coming back for us who have accepted His Proposal. We are committed to Him now but He is coming back for the wedding and the huge party that follows.
You are the object of God's affection. Always remember that. He desires to forgive you and pour out His love into your life. To give you more than you could ever dream or imagine.
Is this life easy? NO...
but knowing Jesus Christ is WORTH IT.
If you lose your life for the sake of the gospel, you will FIND IT.

"If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life."
Matthew 16:25

What will you say as Christ (through the cross) holds out a ring to you? He is gentle. He is patient with you. But TIME WILL RUN OUT. You can willingly bow your knee now or you can forcefully bow later because EVERY KNEE WILL BOW. You don't know if you will die today in a car wreck or if Christ's return for His Bride will be today. Don't waste another second of your life without Christ. Eternal life begins the instant your bow your knee to Christ... not when you die. Your new "Zoe" life found only in Christ can begin right now. Stop running. Stop letting false loves dominate your heart. The love you are looking for can only be found in Jesus Christ as you enter into the greatest love story ever told. I hope Kate Middleton receives her invitation to
The Royal Wedding.
I hope you will too.
"My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away,"
Song of Songs 2:10
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready."
Rev 19:7

*thank you Pastor Jerry Vines for helping me understand John 3:16


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love it - beautifully written. Thank you Stephanie for sharing!

-Teresa

Love Being A Nonny said...

Beautiful.

HIS Child said...

Oh Lord thank you for the blessing of your daughter
Stephanie.

Anonymous said...

the greatest love story ever ever told! I see His adoring love for me this minute as the sun comes out behind the clouds and the hills and fills my living room with His beauty. I even see his love in the clouds. It's a love story that is perfection.

Thanks for keeping the focus on Christ. His passion is more amazing than anything this world has to offer.

A.Ann

Erin said...

This is lovely, steph.

I think that where so many of us go astray is that hollywood and our own sense of fairness say that our prince shouldn't allow any hardship to come our way . . . it's easy to be deceived when you are on your hands and knees begging for mercy in the thrown room and Patrick Swayze won't even let Baby sit in the corner. ;) It IS the greatest love story ever told, but I want other girls to know that it sometimes doesn't feel like love in the way that you would want it too BUT there will come a day . . . oh there will come a day . . .