Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for August 2016 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Go quickly into the streets

Today, we will look once again at Luke 14:15-24.

Last week, we focused on the basic premise of the parable and the excuses of the guests. For today's devotional, I'd like to look at the actions of the host of the great dinner and our response.

As I mentioned last week, a quick reading of the parable shows us that God is the one throwing the banquet. There are a couple things worth noting here:

First, we see that the host desires for his guests to attend his lavish party. Yet when they refuse, the host sends out his servant to the streets to bring in all who would come. We are met with the host's graciousness and his severity. We see that God is calling all who will come, to come. We also see that there is a time when He is finished with the excuses.

Second, we must take a moment to pause and think through those who came to the banquet. Look at the verses that precede this parable, "[Jesus] said also to the man who had invited him, 'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just'" (Luke 14:12-14 ESV).

Brothers and sisters, this parable calls us to celebrate God's kingdom in a way that all people hear the good news of our Lord. When I place myself into this parable, I pray that I am one who was invited in off the street. Coming in the poverty of my spirit to join the feast of the ages. I believe, those of us who find ourselves at the table are quickly turned into servants are asked, "Go quickly into the streets and lanes of the town and bring them in..."

May we celebrate God's kingdom that all people hear the good news!

Pastor John

Come, for everything is now ready

Today's parable is one that will take us a few weeks to explore. It is found in Luke 14:15-24.

When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

This week, I would like to focus on the basic premise of the parable and the excuses of the guests. A basic reading of the story will show us that God is the one throwing the great banquet. The imagery of a meal as an end time celebration of God's people is a standard Jewish and Christian thought. It is time for the celebration and the servant of tell everyone the banquet is ready.

What happens next is designed to be both absurd and pathetic. Look at the excuses:
  • I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it.
  • I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them.
  • I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

What do these three excuses have in common? They are lame. There I said it– lameness is the common denominator.

Now, why would I say this? Let's put the first two in our context:
  • I have bought a house, and I haven't seen it yet.
  • I have bought a car, and I need to go check it out.

Both of these excuses involved someone buying an item 'sight-unseen'. They are literally saying, "I made a serious purchase and didn't have time to examine what I was buying. Now after the purchase, seeing this item a priority."

None of these excuses are priorities (I'm not saying that marriage is not a priority. In this story, it is not a priority that would keep you from attending the banquet. Why would he not bring his wife with him?).

The question for us at this point in the parable is, "What priorities do you put over the reign and rule of God in your life?"

Take time and think about this question. It is a serious question that deserves serious time.

Now, take a moment to hear from the parable– as important as those items seem to you right now, in the light of the kingdom of God and in the light of eternity, are they really important? Or is there a ring of lameness?

As your pastor, I hope you hear the invitation of the His servant, "Come, for everything is now ready."

Are you going to join in the celebration?

In Christ,

Pastor John

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