Saturday, February 1, 2014

Maggie's Turn: Maggie Needs A Bath

I am Maggie the Wonder Dog and I do not like time out! I do not like it at all! I do not know what my mama is saying, but here's what happened. My mama said, "Let's go for a walk!" Wonder Dogs LOVE going for walks, so we headed out. My mama didn't make me go on a leash, and that is good, because Wonder Dogs LOVE no-leash walks! I ran and ran and ran. It felt so good for the wind to blow through my fur! 

When we came back, Mama and Bill the Magnificent started working on the waterer for the cows. Those cows were getting in the way, so I told them to move, but they didn't want to move at all. They just wanted a drink of water. It was a lot of work, but I ran round and round and finally got them out of the way. I can't help it if I got a little dirty. Those ole cows were standing in the mud!  

My mama looked at me and she did not even tell me thank you for helping with the cows! She did not! She said, "Maggie, you are not going inside without getting a bath!" She knows that I do not like getting a bath, but she would not give up. 

My mama told me that when you get dirty, you are supposed to let your mama clean you up. She said that is what humans in her breed, the Christians, do. I asked her, "Do you have a Christian-bather?"  She laughed. She laughs a lot. She said, "No, dear one, Christians get their souls dirty when they do wrong things and we have to ask God to clean our hearts!" Wonder Dogs do not know much about souls. They don't teach that in Beginners Obedience School, but I hope I don't ever have to get my soul scrubbed. It's bad enough getting my fur scrubbed! My mama said, "Oh, soul-scrubs are just wonderful! You wouldn't mind it a bit because you would feel so much better!" I didn't say it because I would get in trouble, but I thought, "Hah! I don't want any scrubbing at all!"

My mama had scrubbing on her mind, though, and she would not give up! She wouldn't let me in the door with mud on, even though I had worked so hard. I barked and barked. "Let me in without a bath!" I barked, but my mama would not! I barked it so long that my mama got mad at me. She said,"It is too late for a bath, young lady! You are going to time out tonight and getting a scrubbing in the morning!" She was not laughing any more! She was not kidding, either! She would not even let me snuggle on the end of her bed. I was so sad. It didn't even help when I whimpered. My mama said,"I prefer obedience to whiny whimpering!" And she meant it!

I had to stay in timeout by myself all night! It was awful! This morning I had to get a bath anyway! My mama said you could tell how dirty I was because I turned the tub brown. I don't think I did, but that's what she said! Anyway, I finally got to snuggle after my bath and I was so glad! She was right after all! It really is better to be clean. 

Here's the Wonder Dog lesson of the day:
Just obey!
Get clean quick!

You will get lots more snuggles that way!

The end. By Maggie the Wonder Dog. 

Time for Fasting (Luke 5:35)

But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days." (Luke 5:35 NASB)

In response to the question about why His disciples didn't fast, Jesus gave a wonderful answer. He presented the metaphor of a bridegroom coming for his bride. During this time of coming for His bride, the church, His disciples could not be expected to fast. There would come a time, however, when they would fast. "When the bridegroom is taken away," he said. This "taken away" word is actually prophetic. The Greek word here is "apairō" and does mean to take away, but it also can mean "to lift off and take away". The ascension back to heaven was certainly a type of "divine lift off" that took the bridegroom away! There would be no fasting until then. 

The time in which we live is "post-ascension", and we are, by Christ's own words, destined to fast. A voluntary abstaining, fasting has been practiced throughout Scripture, and giving up almost anything can constitute a fast. My own experience has ranged from food to activities. Isaiah 58 tells us of the fast God desires us to make. This fast is one of abstaining from a judgmental, critical spirit and replacing it with a spirit of generosity and giving. (this chapter is worth reading again) 

My son once said that fasting is what we do to let God know we are serious about that for which we pray. Perhaps. I think it also lets US know we are serious. Are we serious enough about the spiritual welfare of our children to fast for them? Today, make a plan for a limited fast to accompany your prayers, and pray that our Lord would use that time of prayer and fasting to draw us, as well as our loved ones, closer to Him. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

A New Legacy

What does it mean to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?  I have read over those words many times with far too much familiarity when, in fact, they carry much weight.
There is little written about the generations before Abraham.  We never read that God was the God of Terah (Abraham’s father), do we?  But something changed with Abraham.  History did not repeat itself.
Abraham was God’s friend (James 2:23).  The legacy of Abraham’s family completely changed because of his love and obedience to God, in spite of his mistakes.  Never would this family be the same.  Future generations would point back to the devotion of those who had gone before as an encouragement to their own faith.  Abraham’s faith caused a change in destiny.  In the process, Abraham got a new name - a new identity, and he discovered the identity of God – multi-faceted and redeeming.  
Yes, Abraham’s destiny changed in much this way…
He received a crown of beauty where there once had been ashes, the oil of gladness where there had been mourning, a garment of praise replaced a spirit of despair.  And future generations would be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.  God would rebuild the ruined places of their lives and restore them.  He would trade shame and disgrace for an everlasting joy.  And all who saw them would recognize that they were blessed by God.  (Isaiah 61:3-9)
God took a pagan family from a pagan land and drew from it a man whom He blessed and called His friend.  And God is doing the same even now.  How much I want my children and grandchildren to say that the I AM was the God of Rebecca. May they say that nothing else took His rightful place in my heart and that I did not live under the shadow of the past.  By God’s grace and His empowering, He makes a new legacy possible for each of us, as He did for Abraham.

The Bridegroom is Ready (Luke 5:34,35)

And Jesus said to them, "You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days." (Luke 5:34, 35 NASB)

According to, ancient Jewish weddings consisted of three stages. The first was "ketubbah"and was basically the time of arranging the marriage and making the contract. It was binding, but the couple did not live together as man and wife until later. The husband-to-be could not have his bride until he had made provision for her. 
The second stage was the "chuppah". At this point, the groom had fulfilled all the conditions set out in the contract, and all the arrangements for the care of his new bride were made. He and his companions would go to claim his bride at her home, where her companions also waited. There was much joy, and the couple could then consummate their marriage. When the "proof of consummation" (blood was shed) was done, the next phase was the celebration and feast. 

Jesus was describing his time with the disciples as "chuppah" time, during which He and His disciples were like the groom and his attendants coming to claim his bride. That's exactly what Jesus had done. He had come to claim His bride the church with much joy. Why would they consider fasting at such an exciting time?

Even more exciting is that WE are the bride of Christ! The bride he was coming to receive was His church - you and me. It's an amazing thought, isn't it? Right there, with the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was claiming us and defending us. When the time for shedding of blood came to prove the relationship, Jesus would shed it Himself. THIS is the "match made in heaven".  

As we pray for our loved ones today, remember that the Bridegroom came to seek and to save those who are lost, including those we love. Pray that the seeking will not end until the chuppah finding is accomplished and the celebration can begin.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Somebody's Praying

Today was a super busy day with more unusual challenges than I really wanted to meet. It was surprisingly smooth until mid-afternoon, when I began to think my day had the potential to completely unravel. I really wanted to act like Jesus in every situation, so I emailed someone I knew would pray and asked them to help.

After work, I had to pick up Maggie the Wonder Dog from play day, run by the grocery, stop by the Sao Thai restaurant, then head home to meet someone at 6:30. Wonder Dog pick up was smooth, but the grocery store was just a fiasco. If I try to tell you about it, I might cry. It was that frustrating. Hint to stock boys: do not put the baking powder on a shelf so high that the average mommy has to have a ladder to reach it. I could not find what I wanted and what I could find was on such a high shelf that I couldn't reach it. 

As I headed to the restaurant, I was blinking back tears and I prayed out loud. "Lord, I need someone to pray for me."  Just as I said it, I remembered, "Oh yeah someone is praying", and I was reassured. Even more comforting was the fact that Jesus was praying for me as well. (Hebrews. 7:25).  My heart was strangely warmed and I settled in to the comforting knowledge of two intercessors praying for my needs and that I would be faithful to the call of Christ. 

Tears dried in an instant, and I proceeded with the day. It was hard, but made much better because of those faithful prayers. Tonight, as you consider the difficult circumstances of your life, remember that you do not face them alone. There is One who is praying for you, and His prayers never fail. 

Drinking Deep (Luke 5:33)

And they said to Him, "The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink." (Luke 5:33 NASB)

The scribes and Pharisees were questioning Jesus. For a teacher, His ways were dramatically different than their norm. It is interesting that they give the example of students of John and students of the Pharisees. Those two groups were, in many ways, at opposite extremes of the spectrum. John the Baptizer is to thought to have been a part of the Essenes, (a religious group who lived communally. Qumran, the site of the Dead Sea Scroll discovery, was an Essene community). John's ministry was marked by fasting, baptism, and self denial with the objective being personal spiritual purification  John dressed in a camel hide robe and was a kind of wilderness preacher. 

The Pharisees were more inclined to enjoy an urban lifestyle. They were religious scholars who were leaders of the day. Their disciples also fasted, but it tended to be more a matter of ritual than of purification. 

Their question was why His disciples did not fast when the two extremes of the spectrum practiced fasting on a regular basis. "Your disciples eat and drink," they complained. We will see what Jesus said tomorrow, but this word for "drink" is worth exploring. The Greek word used here is "pinō" and it does literally mean to drink a liquid. clarifies it a little further. 

"figuratively, to receive into the soul what serves to refresh strengthen, nourish it unto life eternal"

Those Pharisees had their answer already. The disciples following Jesus spent those three short years soaking up refreshment and nourishment for their souls. They were gaining eternal life. 

When we spend time in prayer and Bible study, we, too, should be "drinking in eternal life".  Does our quiet time provide nourishment and refreshment for our souls or have we allowed it to become a Pharisaical ritual?  

Today, spend time being quiet before our Lord and be still long enough to allow Him to refresh and nourish you. Spend time worshipping Him and thanking Him for all the blessings He has bestowed already. Thank Him, too, for all the answered prayers we will eventually see. 

"Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end"
Hymn by Katharina von Schlegel 1752

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Arctic Blast: Round Two

After the last arctic blast, with all the water problems I encountered and all the water I hauled in my very fabulous garden wagon, this new artic blast was (I have to admit it) quite a disappointment. That was the very reason I made a list of reasons to be grateful in the midst of the cold. That list REALLY helped me and, since I have just finished hauling an insane amount of water to the cows, who seem to be extremely thirsty today, it's time for another list of reasons for thanks.

1) I cannot believe I am thinking this, let alone writing it, but I am grateful I broke my hand last Christmas. Because I was in a great big mess trying to take care of all the critters one-handed, I went in search of a wagon. At TSC, I found a marvelous garden wagon that lifts up and is like a little garden dump truck. It is just wonderful, but without my fracture, I would have never seen a need for it and never purchased it. This is extremely pertinent because that wagon has been invaluable in hauling all this water. The best part is that, when I go over the cattle gap and half the water splashes out of my buckets, the dump-truck function allows me to drain it right back in! How great is that?  
2) One of my patients wanted to come early today, we had a spot, and I ended up leaving the office early. That is doubly wonderful because I was able to haul almost all the water in the daylight! Even better, my patient came with a box of his wife's homemade chocolate covered cherries and coconut bonbons! Those are both unbelievably delicious and outrageously decadent and I am ashamed to say how many pieces of candy I ate. The good news is I have hauled water for more than an hour and burned a few of those candy calories off already!
3) Sam Wiley worked for me from the time I moved to the farm until his hip fracture a couple of years ago. We've done everything together, driven each other crazy, and have become family after all this time. He misses working but is too frail to do much of anything. It just turned out, though, that I had a few little tasks tonight that he could do, he was not quite as wobbly as usual, and we were able to work together to get the job done. He was tickled pink and I was thrilled to have pleased him so much!
4) Because I got everything done so early, I'm finished with all my evening chores early and have time to sit down for a few minutes and relax! What a treat!
Even better, my artic thanks list has cheered me so much that I feel like celebrating!

Many blessings dear readers! Be sure to give thanks in whatever situation you find yourself tonight. Do not fail to pray for all those who are without water, power, or heat or are stranded in difficult circumstances. Stay warm, stay safe, stay thankful!

Who Does Jesus Want to Call? (Luke 5:32)

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32 NASB)

Sometimes I feel sorry for the scribes and Pharisees. They were busy obeying laws, but, for a large number of them, the spirit of the law had long been left behind. Their interpretations of the law, once probably meant to explain and clarify, had taken on the status of law as well. It had resulted in greatly expanding the number of rules to follow, as well as the complexity of those rules and regulations. 

The sad thing about living by a mountain of rules is that, when your focus is on a list of do's and don't's it's easy to equate obedience to the rules with righteousness. It's clear that Jesus saw things a little differently. Completing a good deed checklist was not enough. He wanted heart change as well. 

Imagine the relief of the Pharisees with their completed checklists when Jesus said He had not come to call the righteous! They might have looked at the rough crowd that had attended Matthew's party and thought, "Good! He's not trying to get me to eat with them, too!"  

When you THINK you are righteous, you don't realize you need a Savior. Jesus came to call those who are sinners and know that they are sinners. Why? Because people who recognize their sinfulness often recognize that there is eventually a payday for sin. They are much more likely to recognize their need for a Savior. 

Scripture is clear on this fact. We are all sinners. It is equally clear that some of us (corporate human race) recognize that we are sinners and some of us do not. Which are we?  

Pray today that we and our loved ones would stop long enough to recognize that WE (as well as they) are sinful to our core and desperately need the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ, by whose sacrificial shedding of His own blood at Calvary we are cleansed. Pray, too, for more than recognition of sin. Pray for an embracing of our Savior and the life He came to give. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The sign of Maturity (Matthew 5:43-48)

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48 KJV)

That's a lot of verses for an evening post, but I've had these verses on my mind. When I stopped to read them in the King James Version of my childhood, I saw something new and thought it was worth sharing. 

Odd though it may be, I'm starting in the last verse in this section and working backward. The Greek word translated as "perfect" here is teleios, which means lacking in nothing or fully matured. The word for therefore can also mean "consequently".  Putting the previous verses together with this one, we find that Jesus told His listeners to love their enemies and do good to those who "despitefully use you".  I've experienced a little of that "despitefully using" business, and I am not at all interested in another dose of it. That does not, however, change what Jesus had to say. The "despitefully user" people are supposed to get a hefty dose of my good-doing. Why? Because that's what God does. 

Consequently, (since you understand this truth) be fully matured and act like God does, even to the people who are not good to you. In the vernacular of the South, put your big girl (or big boy) britches on, do what needs to be done, and do it God's way!  One of the hallmarks of the mature Christian is the way we treat those who have hurt us, especially when they are in need. 

I fully recognize that a large percentage of our population would see a "despitefully user person" in their hour of need and opt to give them a dose of their own medicine. For the believer, however, that is not one of our options. First of all, there is no reward in that. Second of all, God is not glorified. 

You may never encounter the situation in which you have the opportunity to respond to one who has hurt you in your time of need, especially when their time of need arrives, but you probably will. Decide now to make the choice that brings blessings and demonstrates the kindness of God toward those who have been the least likely recipients of grace. Be a grown up! It's the perfect way to be! 

The Sin Sick Heart (Luke 5:31)

And Jesus answered and said to them, " It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. (Luke 5:31 NASB)

Last night, I had already snuggled into my warm bed when a dear friend called. It was obvious from the description of the ongoing chest pain that a heart attack was in progress. Yesterday morning, he was running errands, doing a little paperwork, eating a ham sandwich at a country store. He was going about his life without a thought in the world to the latest advances in medical treatment. 

At 9:20 pm, his interests completely changed. When that pain whammed into his chest, he wanted a doctor and he desperately wanted that doctor as fast as possible. I don't recommend this, but he drove himself as fast as he could go to the ER. Getting to a cardiologist was his highest priority, and rightly so. A cardiologist was the only one who could help him. In the ER, intravenous nitroglycerin and morphine finally eased his pain, but it wasn't until the cardiologist took him to the cath lab, removed the clot blocking his artery, and inserted a stent that the problem was adequately addressed. He didn't really want a doctor when he thought he was well, but he surely did when he realized he was sick. 

Priorities and desires can turn in an instant, can't they?  The thing we care about the least can suddenly be the thing we care about the most. That's the difference between a person who thinks they are well and one who knows they are sick. The one who recognizes their illness becomes very concerned about regaining their health. 

It's the same way with our spiritual hearts. Until we recognize our need, we don't worry much about healing it. That was the problem with the scribes and Pharisees. They were sinners in desperate need of a savior, but didn't know it. What made Matthew different was that he knew he was a sinner and he knew he needed a Savior. When Jesus showed up, Matthew grabbed on for dear life and was not about to let go. Those people at Matthew's party were the same way. Jesus had something they needed, and they were making friends with the only One who could provide it. It's how we all come to Jesus. We see our need and reach out to the only One who can meet that need. 

Pray today that we and our loved ones will be acutely aware of our sin-sick state and will be satisfied with nothing less than the direct intervention of the Great Physician. Pray for healing of sin sickened hearts

Monday, January 27, 2014

Advance gratitude

With more cold weather a few hours away, I thought it would be a good idea for me to start thanking God for the circumstances beforehand. I'd hate to grumble my way through the next three days of ice and cold. 

Here's my list:
-14° is not nearly as cold as 7° was a few days ago.  14° used to be extreme, but not anymore. Now 7° is extreme. 
- It's not raining! 
- It's not snowing!
- Although I'm feeding in the mornings, Bill the Magnificent is feeding in the evenings. I only have to deal with the not-extreme cold once in the morning and I'm done. 
- Since the hose split on our automatic watering system for the cattle, the temporary method I devised actually means that I have a better system of running water for the cows. I might not have to haul water to them!
- This summer I'm going to wish for cooler weather. I'll miss this cold. 
- There will be fewer insects to harass me in my garden this summer. I'm going to be so grateful for this cold!
- For women of a certain age, there are fewer hot flashes when it's this cold, and that is why I'm likely to celebrate the cold!
- I probably burn more calories walking to the barn in the cold than I do in more temperate weather. Maybe I want more cold!
- This cold won't last forever!
-Jesus spent three days in the tomb and emerged victorious over sin and death. It may be that there is something wonderful waiting for me at the end of these three cold and icy days!

Well, bring it on! I feel much better already, and I hope you do, too!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Water Wars - Again

As I headed to the barn this morning, I stopped by to check the water for the cows. A few yards away, I could hear rushing water. "Oh, no! What now?" I thought. The hose carrying water from the well to the water tank had finally thawed, revealing multiple splits. Water was shooting out of every hole and had already made a muddy mess. The cows were standing around looking disgruntled and confused. They wanted a drink, but not quite bad enough to get a shower in the process. I managed to divert enough water into the tank to fill it, then turned the water off at the source. Well, I tried to turn the water off at the source. I could slow it, but I couldn't quite stop it.  

"Maybe a new hose would help," I thought as I hurried through the morning chores. I still had to dress, get to church, and attend a lunch meeting after the service. I didn't want to think about the size of the flood I'd have by the time I returned with the new hose. 

I was already pretty discouraged, and then I checked the weather. All I wanted to know was how warmly to dress. I learned waaay more than I wanted to know. It turns out that the low on Monday night is 15 degrees, the low on Tuesday is 13 degrees, and the low on Wednesday is 20 degrees. The water is flooding down the hill today, but by Tuesday night it's going to be freezing in the water buckets again. 

In a quarter of a century on this farm, I've never had quite this much trouble with the water. I've never had to haul this many gallons to the barn. I've never had split faucets and broken lines. Just the thought of three more days of water wars had me on the verge of tears. 

At the end of the worship service, our pastor always delivers a benediction. It's a blessing from Scripture and my favorite part of the service. Today, he quoted from Isaiah. If I'd known he was going to be blessing my water war, I'd have caught the reference, but you can be sure I will get it tomorrow. What I heard was, "Don't be afraid about the water problem. It's not too much for Me. I will help you. I will strengthen you. I will bring you through." 

Well, I know that's not exactly what he said.  Today, those verses were exactly what I needed. Somehow, my water and I are going to be fine. No matter how cold it gets.  

I think this is at least part of the reference. You see what you hear when you read it.

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. "(Isaiah 40:28, 29 NASB)

Left Out and Not Happy (Luke 5:30)

The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" (Luke 5:30 NASB)

Those scribes and Pharisees had the worst time of it. Their Messiah had come and they didn't like Him. In fact, they refused to admit that He WAS the Messiah!  They took note of His miracles but one of the sticking points for them is described in this verse. 

It was, in a way, a two-fold problem. First, Matthew had walked away from his job as a tax collector. Admittedly, even the scribes and Pharisees could see that as a good thing. Matthew celebrated by throwing a huge, lavish banquet to honor Jesus and introduce Him to all his friends. The scribes and Pharisees had not been nice to Matthew, so he didn't invite them. He invited fellow sinners to the party. From their comments, it seems the scribes and Pharisees thought that, if a lavish party was planned, there should have been a better class of guests invited, namely THEM. 

How about that? They didn't want to associate with Matthew, but they didn't want to be left out of his party either. The crazy thing about their dilemma is that, had they taken off their haughty hat and come to the table as one of the crowd, Jesus would have made sure they were welcome. 

2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God wants all people to repent and come to Him. He delays that more might be saved. He wanted to scribes and Pharisees the come to Jesus, but they (mostly) refused to come. How sad is that? 

The thing we need to remember is that we were once (and still are) the lowliest of sinners. Maybe it doesn't look like it on the outside anymore, but on the inside, where God looks, we are. Matthew might have wanted to invite us to his party. The problem is that becoming a religious snob, like the Pharisees, is all too easy, and the saddest part of being a Pharisee is that our attitude causes us to be left out of all the God-fun!  

Today, take a close look at your attitude toward people who are making lifestyle choices that are different from yours. Do you see them as someone who needs Jesus or someone you want to exclude? If an attitude change is needed, let's make it! Who wants to be a Pharisee? Not me!

Pray for the heart of Jesus toward those who are trapped in sin, especially toward our loved ones and their friends. Pray that they will find a warm welcome from the body of Christ when they respond to His call. 

Grumbling from the Outside

The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" (Luke 5:30 NASB)

The scribes and Pharisees were unhappy about being excluded, but the second part of the sticking point for them was the people who were included. They couldn't believe the sorry lot of sinners who were welcomed to the table! That party was full of the biggest sinners in town! Even worse, they were having fun, and Jesus was right in the middle of the fun!

Scripture gave specific instructions about certain nations with whom they should not associate. About other Israelites, this is what it says:
"'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:15, 17, 18 NASB)

Oops! The scribes and Pharisees hated their fellow countrymen and they did not love the "sinners" at Matthew's party, even though those sinners were there specifically to meet Jesus. It turns out that the scribes and Pharisees were just another bunch of sinners. Pride. What a problem pride makes when we indulge in it. Because they thought they were better than Matthew's guests, they had sinned in their pride and their judgmental spirit, but they had also missed the party with Jesus. 

That's an awful consequence of a bad attitude, isn't it? It's easy, in our concern for friends and loved ones, to think their particular brand of sin is much worse than ours, but is it? It's one thing to reprove the sin, but it's another thing entirely to disdain the sinner, especially one who has "come to the party to meet Jesus". The Law says, "Love your neighbor as yourself" and that's where we should start. 

Pray that we will love our neighbors as ourselves and that our love for Christ and others will be obvious, attractive, and welcoming to our loved ones.