Friday, September 9, 2011

The Great Banquet

A Devotinal by Margot Cioccio


Luke 14:16-24 (NIV1984)
 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet 
and invited many guests. 
At the time of the banquet he sent his servant 
to tell those who had been invited,
‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 
“But they all alike began to make excuses. 
The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, 
and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, 
and I’m on my way to try them out. 
Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. 
Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor,
the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘
what you ordered has been done, 
but there is still room.’  “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.  
I tell you, not one of those men who were invited 
will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Jesus is calling to come to feast at his table. In Psalm 23: He has prepared a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies.

I almost missed this, just before the story of the Great Banquet in verses 12-14 you find these instrucitons. Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, 
do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; 
if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  
13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  
14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, 
you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

I have been sitting here tonight trying to figure out what to write. This is my third try and I'm tired at this point. I probably should have gotten this done earlier in the day. I was thinking I had at least three written that only needed to be typed. When I read them this evening they did not connect for me.
I started with the sheep and the goats and then tried something from Psalms about being satisfied with the portion and cup that God has given you. I tried to write about the thieves on the cross. I will get back to those eventually. For what ever the reason they just are not working for me tonight.

So what is God wanting me say in this devotional?  He invites us all to come and spend time with him. He has prepared a wonderful feast, a great banquet. He tells his servant that everything is ready, invite them to come. The servant goes out and invites them to come. He calls us to come to be with him, to spend time with him. But they all alike began to make excuses.

I wonder what excuses you might be using to not find time to spend at the feet of Jesus. 
Life is so busy and it is easy for us to make similar excuses for not spending  time with Jesus. Your relationship with the Lord should be growing. You should be knowing him more and more with each passing day. We should have long ago moved beyond the basics of the faith. I picture gigantic adult sized babies in diapers needing to be bottle fed who refuse to grow up and learn to feed them selves. 
I look at the number of believers who depend on going to church each Sunday to be feed. What would happen to you if you only feed your body one meal a week?  I was reading about starvation on Wikipedia and found the following. "The energy deficiency inherent in starvation causes fatigue and renders the victim more apathetic over time. As the starving person becomes too weak to move or even eat, their interaction with the surrounding world diminishes." You would never think of only feeding your family just one meal a week.  Somehow we think that going to church once a week or sending you kids to youth group or kids church once in a while is going to be enough for us to be strong and healthy.  You need to learn to feed yourself, you should soon grow beyond needing to be fed by others and be going directly to Jesus. He's prepared the banquet and invited us to come and we have a thousand excuses.  I don't like this line in today's verse, I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet. Opportunites and invitations pass away. We had a homeless guy die in an ally near our church recently. Did we as a church do all we could to show him the love of Jesus. Was he like the thief on the cross who accepted Jesus just prior to dying. I don't know. I do know you can't go back and regain the time that has been lost. I like to think as long as someone is still breathing it is not too late for them to meet Jesus. The thief on the cross makes it into paradices and the only thing that changed is he believed. That gives me hope for many of the folks in our neighborhood. Some are walking very near the gates of hell. I know Jesus wants us his people to not be so apethetic, he wants us to care. The thief on the cross was never baptized, never took communion, never said a sinners prayer - he makes it in - in is better left out.  I do think Jesus keeps calling sinners all the way to the very gates of hell.  Yet he has saved us and he has a destiny for us, there are things he has set aside for us to do during our life. If we don't spend time with him we will never hear him calling like Isaiah did. You will never expereice his heart for the least of these - in your starved state you will likely be apethetic to the needs around you. If you don't abide in Him and allow him to abide in you there will not be fruit in your life.  Your relationship needs to be more than a fire insurance plan tucked away for a disaster.

 I like verse 13-14 "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,  14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Most of the year we serve a meal to our homeless and poor neighbors. We see between 100 and 200 people depending on the time of the month. We have taken off the month of August to give our leaders and volunteers a break. This week will be our first week back.
The folks who come to the meal we serve can't pay for it. The finances to for the meals come mostly from people in other states that have heard our story and want to help. We are a very poor church in the heart of Spokane. It has been quite a journey from Suburbia for some of us and it is kind of like a mission field down here. After years of doing church in other contexts this one is really strange and we are having to trust God to figure it out. I can tell you that it is a blessing to serve these folks. 

Here's are a couple of videos of the work we do with the homeless and poor. 

Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town 
and bring in the poor,
the crippled, the blind and the lame.

Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, 
so that my house will be full

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