The Invitation

" ... a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”  Jesus replied with this story:

“A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations.  When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’  But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’  “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’  After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’  So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, SO THAT THE HOUSE WILL BE FULL.’” (Luke 14:15-23)

"... (Honor) Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone desires to know about your Christian hope, always be ready..."  (I Peter 3:15)

Last night, I spoke with you about an powerful illustration our King gave us about to show us what our relationship to the lost should look like.  His illustration is called, "The parable of the wedding banquet."

The context of the story is the first 14 verses of Luke 14.  I encourage you to take a couple minutes and read them for yourself.  If you want to, just click on this link to do that...

http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Luk&c=14&v=1&t=NIV#top

As you see there, the context is Jesus at a kind of a banquet at the home of a man who was a Pharisee.  And Jesus used the occasion to talk with those present about the way they were accustomed to handling feasts and banquets they would throw... wanting the seats of honor, only inviting people they thought important, who could return the favor or pay them back with an invite, or who they thought of as their peers.  And Jesus said, in essence, 'If you want to do these things right, invite those who you would normally not think of inviting... and who don't even have the means to pay you back for your hospitality.  And God will pay you back at the resurrection.' At this, one of the people present said, who perhaps was really touched by what he heard Jesus say, said, "What a blessing it will be to attend a  banquet in the Kingdom of God!" (v. 15a, NLT).  Then, Jesus shared the words at the top of the page.

The message is a simple one.  

JESUS WANTS A STANDING ROOM ONLY CROWD AT THE GREAT FEAST OF CELEBRATION IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD! (vs. 23b)

That is really clear from the story isn't it?!  Look at His words, "So that the house will be full!"

MANY WHO'S NAMES WHERE ON THE INITIAL GUEST SHOW NO INTEREST, BECAUSE OTHER THINGS HAVE THEIR ATTENTION, AND SOKEEP DECLINING THIS INCREDIBLE INVITATION!  :(   (vv. 18-20)

OH!  How sad is that???  Without question, Jesus had in mind the Jewish nation.  They had the covenant, the promises, the messengers... everything!, and yet so many (due to self-righteousness, self-sufficiency), were looking at the offer of the Gospel and saying, "Hey, uh, well, I'm good... thanks anyway."  Today, there are many who have this same attitude.Many of them have been and still are church-goers.  Unconverted, self-righteous, self-sufficient church-goers, who act much as the Jews did about whom Paul was speaking when he said, "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew (in our day, a Christian); if you rely on the law and boast in God;  if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth..."  (Romans 2:17-20).

This is the kind of wrong thinking that "religious Christianity" has given so many... and, I am ashamed to say, including myself at times in my Christian life.  I have often not had the right attitude about those who do not know Jesus.  And I have had a bag of invitations (i.e., the knowledge of the gospel) in my pocket (so to speak) and instead of getting these invites out... have kept looking at them with people who have already been invited, and, in most cases, already have a seat!!!. In that sense, I admit, to my shame, that I have at seasons in my Christian life been at least somewhat like the Pharisees who only invited one another to their banquets!  GOD FORGIVE ME!!!  HOW SORRY I AM FOR NOT BEING MORE PRO-ACTIVE IN GETTING HIS INVITATIONS OUT WHEN MY SEAT HAS BEEN SAVED AND SECURED FOR SO MANY YEARS!!!   :(

 

JESUS WANTS HIS SERVANTS (that's us!) TO INVITE LIKE CRAZY, AND ESPECIALLY PEOPLE WHO PRESENTLY ARE BEING OVERLOOKED ALTOGETHER ON OUR INVITATION LISTS! (vv. 17, 21, 23)

If ever there was a parable that speaks loud and clear to me about what I should be doing with myself while I look forward eagerly to the wedding feast with my Savior, this one does it!  And I want you to know, my dear, dear friends and fellow guests of that GREAT BANQUET TO COME, for the rest of my life... in every way I can... I am going to try and get invites out... and to help every fellow guest I can learn how to do the same, including all that preparatory and post response work that goes with it.  I am going to do that in the town I live in... Zephyrhills, FLA... and I am going to seek to do it in the town our church is in... Lutz, FLA. And I'm going to help fund and support people who are doing it where I can't, and encourage this in fellow guests.  

JESUS WANTS US TO ACT ON THIS "QUICKLY" (v. 21).

 

Now last Wednesday night, I showed you one way the Lord has shown me for doing this where I meet and run into people (not in my personal "sphere" of close acquaintances / relationships) where circumstances do not permit a sit down kind of talk.  I call this, BANQUET INVITATION EVANGELISM, and the special focus / emphasis I feel led to do this way is the poor (based on vv. 21 & 23).  Let me explain...

I Peter 3:15 (above) says, "Always be ready..."  Now I feel I stand on ready to talk with anyone who wants to talk to me about Jesus.  But, I really have not been ready (and have felt that again and again), for doing something to share the truth of Jesus with someone like I described above... someone I just bump into and feel a quick connection with and would love to see saved and sitting with us at that beautiful table in the Kingdom of God!  SO... I feel like God has given me a "plan" (an approach) for GET "ready," and STAY "ready" to share in those kinds of almost daily settings.  I shared that plan / approach with you last WED. PM (in our "show and tell" time... ha!).  And I asked, "If anyone would like to get the info. on this, just email me or call and let me know.  Quite a few of you have done that (bringing much JOY to my heart!).  So I have decided to send this out to everyone, knowing some weren't there on Wed. who would have asked if they had heard about this. Here is what I include in my BANQUET INVITATIONS... 

  1. A DVD called, "Genius: the movie" (the one we watched at one Wed. PM) http://www.livingwaters.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=761&category_id=50&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=199&lang=en

  1. View it for free here, http://geniusthemovie.com/index.php

  2. Another good one for this purpose would be "180: the movie" http://www.livingwaters.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=667&category_id=11&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=199&lang=en

  3. Watch it for free here, http://www.180movie.com/

  1. A copy of the Gospel of John(with the attached letter, The 21-day challenge" folded up inside of it.)

  1. Got mine from here, http://www.biblicadirect.com/p-1688-niv-gospel-of-john-booklets.aspx

  2. I chose the blue one with the Bridge going out over the water because it illustrates Romans 3:23b, the first verse I bring people to in personal evangelism.

  1. A $5. McDonald's Gift Card  (I want them to have a living illustration of receiving a free gift... in this case, a small free meal).

  1. An invitation (that I got from DOLLAR TREE - see attached .pdf –  the price of [8] for $1.

~  See the attached file called..."Outside of envelope - Inside of Invitation"

~  Inside of this invitation, I have folded up a letter (attached) called,"Outreach letter"

ALL OF THESE THINGS (including the invitation card) ARE WRAPPED UP AS A FREE GIFT TO HAND TO SOMEONE (see attached picture).

~ Got the wrapping paper from DOLLAR TREE for $1.

~ The card you see on the front of the wrapped gift is one that, on the back, has info. / directions to our church.  We can give you some of these as we have a lot of them at church.

My idea is to keep these wrapped free gifts in my truck at all times soI can "ALWAYS BE READY" to extend the invitation Jesus is calling us to extend.

Remember, this is just 1 idea!  You may have a much better way!  But may this idea spark ideas in you and may we all do our part to fulfill Jesus' desire to GET THE INVITATION OUT so that His desire that  HIS HOUSE WOULD BE FULL will be realized!

'Til we finish the race,

Pastor Mike

 

"Christ gave some to be... pastors... to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up." (Eph 4:12)