Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Guest List

“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’”
Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

My husband and I were on the “B List” for a particular wedding banquet.  Honestly, we were excited to be on the guest list at all, so being “B List” guests did not insult us. Someone we watched grow up was getting married. Their parents were prominent in the local community and several hundred people could have easily been on the guest list for their child’s wedding. We were honored by the invitation, even as "B List" guests.

Creating guest lists can be difficult. The above verse from Luke 14 teaches godly guest list etiquette. Jesus tells us that when we have a banquet to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” As a woman who enjoys hosting birthday parties for our children and gatherings for our family and friends, guest lists have become something sacred to me. They are an offering to the Lord. Jesus says to look beyond the obvious guests on your list, such as family and close friends, and reach out to the outcasts and downtrodden.

While there may not be those who are physically crippled, lame or blind in our lives, there are those who are hurting, who feel unwanted and unworthy of an invitation.

When my children and I make their party guest lists together, we prayerfully ask the Lord to put those on our hearts who would be blessed by receiving an invitation. Perhaps a friend who is not able to host birthday parties themselves. Or someone who is dealing with paralyzing emotional pain. Maybe someone whose parents are going through a divorce. Perhaps a friend who is shy and tends to be socially isolated. Or the one who has rough edges, is not easy to be around and doesn’t see God’s loving acceptance of them. The poor, the lame, the crippled and the blind.

Truth is, without Jesus and His redemptive love, we are all “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

Even in Christian circles, we can feel like the outcast or the unwanted guest. We’ve all experienced that “I wasn’t invited” feeling. An invitation speaks of acceptance, inclusion, care, love, worth and friendship. God’s Word tells us to extend invitations to unassuming guests.

The Lord of Hosts lovingly beckons us to come to His wedding banquet. As we unfold and accept His invitation, we are seated at the table of the King. Just as we are chosen by God to be guests of honor at His eternal celebration, let’s invite unlikely guests and place them at the top of our own guest lists. You are honoring God by inviting the poor, lame, crippled and blind. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31, NIV). And to add to the joy of honoring God, He has promised us that “you will be blessed…you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14, NIV).

 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’”
Luke 14:23

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:2

“So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table.”
Jeremiah 52:33
Your Devotional Journal
Saying grace ~ Bringing my heart to God in prayer.

My Portion ~ Where Has God met me in His Word today?

Nourishment ~ How does God want to mold and change my heart?

Second Helpings ~ Where does God want me to be a doer of the Word and take action?

Time for Dessert ~ What can I share with others from what God showed me today?

"You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you..."
Joel 2:26

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Place Card With Your Name On It

"...[you] will always eat at my table"

Trying to find our place can bring out insecurities. Have you ever had that awkward feeling while attending a wedding reception or another social affair where there is reserved seating?  Entering the reception room and looking with other guests for your name on a place card is exciting and yet nerve wracking.  

Where is my name?  Where is my place card? What if they forgot me?

What a relief when you find your place card with a table number on it.  You are reassured there is a place set for you.

In 2 Samuel 9, we find King David purposely looking for members of Saul’s family that David could bless.  Saul had set himself up as David’s fierce enemy, even trying to literally pin David to the wall and kill him.  Though David had opportunity to retaliate and take Saul’s life, David did not.  David’s responses to Saul’s vicious attacks against him were mature, founded in grace and security.

David had a close friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan, who had passed away.  For the sake of David’s friendship with Jonathan, David wanted to show kindness to someone in Saul’s family.  David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” (2 Samuel 9:1)  A servant named Ziba told David about Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan’s sons, who  happened to be crippled in both feet.  So David had Saul’s grandson Mephibosheth brought to him.

Mephibosheth must have been shocked when someone from the King’s staff showed up on his doorstep to take him to see King David.  Being crippled in both feet, his world was probably very small and I imagine social outings were not on his daily agenda.  Certainly he never imagined receiving an invitation from the king.  
Verse 8 gives us a painful glimpse into  how Mephibosheth felt about himself. Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’” 

Mephibosheth felt hopeless, downtrodden, like an outcast, like a dead dog.

And yet here was King David seemingly not even noticing Mephibosheth’s disheveled appearance, his crippled legs or his dead-dog stench.

 “Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, ‘I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.’ (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)” (vv 9-10)

Because of the kindness of the king, this crippled dead dog suddenly one day was given everything that belonged to his father’s father.  And the servants were commanded to “farm the land for him and bring in the crops” for Mephibosheth’s provision. 

And did you catch that part in the parenthesis?  There were thirty-six people commanded to plant and harvest food for this hopeless, unsuspecting, dejected dead dog!!!  

Mephibosheth would never be hungry again.  He would now be served all of his meals at the king’s table.  He would never wonder where his next meal would come from or how he would try to prepare it with crippled legs.  Now he had all of those people taking care of all that for him!  Amazing!

“So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.” (verse 11)  What a memorable, life-changing day that was for Mephibosheth!!  A gracious, loving invitation from a king to crippled dead dog.  Mephibosheth’s life was changed forever.

Do you ever feel like a crippled dead dog?  Mistreated? Unnoticed? Unworthy? Unuseful? Forgotten? 

There is a King who invites us to dine at His table forever.  He invites us to sit and enjoy the bounty He has prepared for us.  He longs for us to accept that invitation, to open His Word daily and to fellowship with Him.  And He promises us “You shall be filled at My table…” Ezekiel 39:20

You have a place at the King's table.

Invited.  Remembered. Placed. Filled.

Photo Credit: Toni Valentini