"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
January 16, 2019
When Jon and I got married, I remember how I felt dressed as a bride that day. I felt like a beautiful princess! Early that morning I went to the beauty shop where I had had my hair cut for several years and had my hairdresser curl and style my hair. I had short hair and she fixed it in loose curls all over my head. She had the other lady who works in her shop to give me a manicure. I went to the church and my sisters helped me dress in my long white bridal gown, that had white embroidery work on it and came out into a small train in the back. They helped me with my veil, that was held onto my head with a silver tiara. I had on a fake diamond necklace and earrings, that the lady from the bridal shop where I had rented my dress had let me borrow. I wore makeup, which I don't always do. I wore white shoes with a small heel. Then I carried a bouquet with periwinkle and white flowers.
I will never forget how I felt that day walking down the aisle on the arm of my daddy, so utterly excited to be joined in marriage to my beloved. I felt like a princess going to meet her prince. I felt so beautiful and regal. It was a special feeling that I had never felt before, and really, one that I haven't experienced since. I remember later thinking, "Every girl should feel like this at least once in her lifetime!" My thought was that every lady should have at least one special moment when she felt like a beautiful princess.
Unless you've experienced it, it is hard to really put into words to describe how truly special that moment was. Yes, I was ecstatic about marrying my sweetheart, but that one moment in time when I felt like royalty all dressed up in the beautiful wedding gown and walking down the aisle on the arm of my daddy was an unforgettable feeling.
As special as that moment was, I didn't get up the following morning and put my wedding dress back on. I didn't go get another manicure and my hair fixed. I didn't put on the veil and white shoes and fake sparkly jewelry. In fact, I doubt that I even wore makeup.
That was a once in a lifetime special day that had never happened before and will never happen again.
Jon and I became engaged on February 5th, 2005 and didn't marry until June 18th. In those four months, I didn't get up every morning and put on my wedding dress and veil, in preparation for my wedding day. I didn't wear it around each day as I worked and went about my daily life. It was saved for that one special occasion.
We are the bride of Christ and are preparing for that day when we will be joined together with Jesus, our groom, for all eternity. Scriptures tell us to be prepared for His coming and to be dressed and ready for our wedding day when He comes to take us back to His home that He is preparing for us.
Back in Bible times, a couple would become engaged or betrothed, which was to come into a formal agreement to marry. The man would then leave and go back to his fathers house. He and his father would build a room onto the family home, which is where the new couple would live after the wedding. While he was doing that, the bride would begin preparations of her own. She didn't know when her bridegroom would come back to get her, but she was to be prepared whenever that happened. She wasn't to keep him waiting. He would arrive with his wedding party, who would sound shofars announcing his arrival, and she didn't know what day or time that would be. When she and her bridesmaids heard the shofar announcing that her bridegroom was on his way, she was to have her wedding garments prepared so that she could be ready when he arrived.
She didn't sew her wedding garments, then wear them 24/7 in preparation for the appearance of her fiance. If so, they would have become soiled and wrinkled and wouldn't have been spotless and new upon his arrival. But she was prepared and had all of her wedding garments ready and in order, so that the moment she heard the shofar blowing in the distance announcing that he was coming, everything was in order. In the meantime, she went about her daily life, but was always ready, waiting, and listening for the arrival of her bridegroom.
Ephesians 5:25-27 says, "For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word. He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without spot or wrinkled or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault."
In 2 Corinthians Paul is writing a letter "to God's church in Corinth and to all of His holy people throughout Greece" -- that is his greeting in chapter 1, verse 2. In chapter 11:2-4, he writes, "For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God Himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband -- Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed."
When scriptures speak of a "church", it is not referring to a building, congregation, or denomination; but is referring to those who believe in Jesus Christ and have received salvation. In the Word of God, the church and the bride of Christ are the exact same group of people.
So when Paul is writing in Ephesians and says that Jesus loved the church and gave His life to make her holy and clean, "her" is not just the women who are believers, but refers to everyone who have been washed by the cleansing of God's word.
The verse continues that Jesus Christ did this... why?... so that when the church was presented to Him, as His bride, it would be a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish; a church that is holy and without fault.
Then the verses in 2 Corinthians speaks that we, the church, are to be a pure bride that is faithful to one husband -- Christ. That means that we don't honor other gods, or received a different kind of Spirit than the Holy Spirit, or believe a different gospel than the gospel of Christ. We aren't drawn away by false teachings and untruths that draws our hearts away from the one, true God. In other words, we don't have spiritual "affairs"; saying that we love Jesus and that we are committed to Him as our Bridegroom, yet playing with sin and allowing ungodliness in our heart and life.
When Jon and I got married, how foolish it would have been had I waited until the day of our wedding to invite people, plan out all of the details, look for a dress, decide who I wanted as a minister and attendants, order a cake, etc. When it came time for the ceremony Jon and I wouldn't have been prepared and it would have been chaotic and stressful and would have ended up a huge mess. For one thing, had we not gotten a wedding license ahead of time, then our marriage wouldn't have been legal.
Even had we eloped, there would have still been some preparation that would have needed to have taken place. We would have needed to get the license ahead of time. We would have needed to ask a minister to marry us and make sure that he was available on the day and time of our wedding. There would have needed to be someone there as witnesses.
I suppose the only way we could have gotten around some of that would have been had we hopped a plane and flown to Vegas and found a wedding chapel there. But even that would have taken some planning ahead of time, for we would have needed to make plane reservations.
Many people think that they can live life however they want, having as much or little of Jesus in it as they want, when they want or need Him, then right before the "wedding ceremony" say a prayer of repentance and be ready. The truth is, not one of us alive today know whether we will face eternity through death or through the rapture when Jesus returns to get His bride to take them back with Him to His Father's house. Not one of us know if our heart will suddenly stop beating in the next second, or if that shofar will blow announcing the arrival of our Bridegroom.
That is why preparation is necessary now. We all need to get our wedding garments in order so that when that moment arrives when Jesus comes to claim us as His bride, we are prepared and ready to go. We can't say, "Oh sorry! I've been too busy and haven't had time to prepare!" or "I thought I'd have longer to get everything in order; I didn't know you'd come this soon!" or "I had good intentions and meant to prepare to meet You, Jesus, but I just never got around to it."
I decided to rent a wedding dress instead of buying one. I knew that I would only need it that one time, and then would need to find a way to store it or sell it. I found a bridal shop that rented wedding gowns and chose the one that I wanted. I was measured and the dress was ordered. It was exactly what I had in mind that I wanted. About a week before the wedding, the lady from that bridal shop called and said, "Sorry, I'm not going to be able to get that dress for you. But you can come into the shop and rent any that I have in stock that is available." I was so upset. So my sister and I drove to Arkansas to the bridal shop to see what she had in stock. She had no...zero... none.... nada... wedding dresses in my size! There was one dress that was a couple sizes larger than I wear in the shop. I tried it on and the lady said that she could alter it to fit and assured me that it would be fine. It was much too long for me, but she said that she could hem it up.
Another sister went and picked the dress up for me a couple days before the wedding. The alterations were so poorly done!! You could see the stitches on the outside of the dress where it had been hemmed up. So my sister and stepmother took the time to re-hem it for me so that it would look better. I tried it on at the church after rehearsal the night before my wedding. My sister worked on it some more that evening and then before I got dressed for my wedding. It wasn't the dress that I had chosen, it was the wrong size, and the alterations by the owner of the bridal shop had been done very poorly.
But remember what I said in the beginning of this devotional? On my wedding day, when I put on my wedding dress and veil and walked down the aisle, with Daddy by my side, to meet my groom I felt like a beautiful princess! Everything leading up to that one moment of me becoming a bride was no longer important. I had waited and hoped and prayed for that day for many, many years. There were times when I wondered if it would ever happen. But it came to pass!
It was a once in a lifetime moment for me that I'll never forget. All of the waiting for my bridegroom was well worth it. In fact, even though we've only been married for 13-1/2 years, it's hard to remember a time when I didn't know Jon because he is such an important part of my life now.
There may be moments when you wonder when your Bridegroom is coming. Life gets difficult at times and you wait and hope and pray. Then there are those times when great joy and excitement fills your heart, knowing that there will come that moment when all of the preparation will be well worth the wait. You may need to alter and fix your wedding garments from time to time; but you always have them waiting and ready for that moment when you will need them.
The thing is, once the Bridegroom arrives, if we aren't prepared there are no do-overs. We can't go back and relive our lives or change choices or make the decision to give our heart fully to Jesus and accept salvation. There is no reincarnation where we come back and are able to do better the second time around. You can't divorce the Bridegroom, and still be accepted as His bride either upon death or the rapture. But now is the time to prepare for the wedding of all weddings; to repent of sin and prepare for that day when you will become the bride of Christ. There is absolutely nothing worth missing heaven for. For those who believe, it's going to be the most glorious day imaginable!!
For that day will come when we will "walk down the aisle" on our Father's arm, and there will be Jesus, our Bridegroom, watching and waiting for our arrival to be joined in marriage with Him as His bride. At that moment, nothing that we endured on earth will matter. Everything that led up to that moment will fade away as we look upon our Beloved! We will feel like the most beautiful bride, like princes and princesses; after all, that is what we truly are. Our Heavenly Father is King, therefore, as His children, we are royalty -- princes and princesses. Our wedding garments that day will be unlike anything we could ever imagine. We will then sit down and enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb. It will be unlike any marriage ceremony you've ever seen!
I'm ready!! I pray that you are, too!
There are so many details to prepare for a wedding: where, who to preside, kinds of flowers, colors, guest lists, dress and tux, attendants, and much more. Luckily for men, the bride makes most of those decisions. But there is one decision a bride must make for her wedding that outshines all the others. Before anything else, she has to pick the right groom.
It would be very inappropriate for a bride to come to her wedding, and say something like, "Oh, so are you the groom or his best man?" Or maybe, "I got everything ready, and all the details worked out. I've read so much about you, I feel like I know you."
Jesus wants a bride who doesn't just have a general idea who He is. He wants a bride who knows Him well, and loves Him.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1 pineapple cake mix
1 stick melted butter, plus 3 additional tablespoons
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
1 can pineapple tidbits (drain, but save juice)
1 can crushed pineapple (drain, but save juice)
Preheat oven to 350. Place melted butter in a 9x13 pan. Add brown sugar over the top of the melted butter, then the pineapple tidbits and half of the crushed pineapple.
Mix cake as directed on package, except replace water with pineapple juice. Mix well, then add in the remaining crushed pineapple. Pour cake mixture over top of ingredients that are in the pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean. Wait 5 minutes, then invert it onto a serving platter.
This can also be made in a large cast iron skillet, if desired.
**I got this recipe from a friend, but she didn't have a cooking time. From what I've seen online, check it after about 40 minutes or so in a regular pan, and after 35 minutes if using a cast iron skillet. Most say that cooking time in a regular pan is 40-48 minutes and 35-40 minutes in a cast iron skillet.
The first wedding that I was ever in was flower girl in my cousin, Carolyn's, wedding when I was 4-5 years old. Then I was flower girl in my oldest sister's wedding when I was 5. I was candle lighter in another sister's wedding; then the maid of honor and a bridesmaid in my other two sisters' wedding. Those were special weddings that I enjoyed participating in.
When I was in my early twenties, the assistant pastor of our church asked if I would be willing to play piano at an outdoor wedding where he would be performing the ceremony. I vaguely knew the groom, but not the bride or anyone else in the wedding party or attendees; well, I did know the minister and his wife who were there. The wedding was held at a small resort by the lake, and the ceremony took place by the swimming pool area that had a cabana attached. We arrived and they didn't have a piano or even a full sized keyboard, but something called a "fun machine" which was a small keyboard that could make a piano sound. I was to sit in the cabana area. There had been no rehearsal for this, but we were all flying by the seat of our pants at the ceremony. So prior to the ceremony I began playing wedding music on this fun machine as guest arrived. Then this band started setting up all around me. They were to play during the reception, which was going to be a big party and dance. My back was to the audience and wedding party, so I couldn't really even see what was going on. My view was of the lake (sound nice, huh!) and this band. Right directly in front of me, only inches away, this older man who played guitar set down and began getting all of his things together. During this time of my life, I was very shy, except around family and people that I knew well. This man apparently thought he was God's gift to women, and sat there the entire time openly flirting with me... winking, asking if I was going to stay for the dance because he would like to dance with me, and making me oh so uncomfortable. But there I was -- stuck behind that fun machine -- for the entire duration of the wedding. I couldn't move away, for there was no where to go and was crowded by the time the other band members got all set up all around me. As soon as I played the recessional as the wedding party walked to the back where they would greet guest, I jumped up and went to find the minister's wife. I had ridden to the wedding with them, and we left as soon as the marriage license was signed, before the party began. The minister and his wife felt so bad for getting me into that predicament and told me that never again would they ask me to do anything like that.... and they didn't.... but it could be because they moved away a few months later! I can laugh about it now, but it was definitely not funny at the time!
Joshua spent 40 years in the wilderness, not because he was afraid, but because the people were.
We need to hang out with people who challenge our promises, instead of validating our fears.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon