Most of us have read or heard the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, it is in all four of the gospels, and some of us know that there is also a part where Jesus fed four thousand. As I was reading the story about the feeding of the four thousand in Matthew 15:28-39 (You can also find it in Mark 8:1-13) I was struck by a phrase. In the ESV (English Standard Version) verse 32 reads:
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
The phrase, “I am unwilling to” struck me. The NIV (New International Version) as well as others will say “I do not want to.” When you think of a God who is unwilling, what do you think? It is probably a negative thing. God is unwilling to answer my prayers. God is unwilling to help me. Maybe those things have more to do with us. Remember in Mark 6 where the scripture talks about Jesus being rejected in his hometown, Nazareth. Mark 6:1-6 says:
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
He could not do any miracles there, or let me write it another way, he was unable to do any miracles there. Why? Their lack of faith. Matthew 13:58, same story about Jesus being rejected, says “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” What if my unbelief has something to do with God not working in my life?
Or let me remind you of the time when Lazarus died and people were saying: “‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37) Christ didn’t in the moment do what the people thought he could, so faith was there, but God had larger plans. What the people wanted was less than what God wanted to show and give. There was a plan, a purpose that accomplished more and greater than what they thought could/should be done. What if God’s plan, his desire to not let us have isn’t about him being unable, or us not believing, but God knowing something better, a better way, a better time, a better ending, is what is needed.
Back to the feeding of the four thousand. We don’t’ come to a God who is unable in His own self, but to a God who is unwilling. I know that sounds wrong so let me explain. Unwilling in the sense that God doesn’t want to let us leave without giving us what we need for the journey. This should be an attribute of God that we cling to. This unwillingness to not provide when we stay. This unwillingness to send us out on our own, knowing that without what He provides we will fail, fall, and using the word from scripture, “faint.” It is Jesus’ compassion, Jesus’ heart that breaks that brings about this unwillingness. O how He loves you and me.
It is interesting to think about the crowd. I wonder if some of the crowd left before Jesus broke the bread and fish. I wonder if some of them started to get hungry and left to go and find food. Maybe they thought like the disciples that this is a remote place and if I’m going to eat soon I better get a move on. They may have found a meal somewhere else, but they missed out on a heavenly banquet. They might have enjoyed some choice food, but never gotten to engage with a God of abundance that brought so much that there were leftovers. (Why were there leftovers? – That is for another day). Do we know this unwilling God?
Because of Him,
The other morning Madison was going to be picked up by a friend and her mom from the parsonage and dropped off at school. Michelle and I both had to be gone that morning and we figured this would be a good way to get Madison to school. Madison knew that she was to be looking out the window at 8:45 a.m. and go out the back door when the mother and her friend got there and enjoy her day at school. Well, 8:45 rolls around and Madison is looking out the window. Then, 8:48 rolls around and Madison is still looking out the window. Madison decides at this point that she can’t wait any longer. She gets her stuff together and starts walking/running to school (She didn’t want to be late.) The Mother and daughter show up maybe a minute later, but no Madison. When I got home that evening and Michelle told me what happened, I just laughed. It is such a Madison thing. She can get nervous and anxious.
As I have thought about what Madison did, I started to think about the times that I get nervous and times I get anxious and what I do. I think we can all come up with times in our past where we had to do something new or what lay ahead of us was something unknown and perhaps some nervousness or anxiety crept in. Maybe you didn’t know the outcome of something and you had to wait and you let your mind wonder into all the what ifs, what mights, and what coulds.
I know that the scripture talks about the peace of God, and if we are anxious about anything we should pray and submit our requests to God and that peace will pass our understanding and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7). I know it, I try and do it, but sometimes I still find that I don’t let that peace past my understanding. I get anxious and start working my plan. I get nervous and fall back into what I think is safe, hoping to overcome and find peace, but that is not where it is. I let my head play out scenarios, come up with conclusions, that take me deeper into places of anxiousness.
Peace is not about an absence of struggles or turmoil or pain. Peace is what comes during those times. Peace is what settles you in your soul. It is a gift from God that needs to be received and sometimes a gift from God that is opened upon us even without our knowledge. Peace is a result of faith, as with Abraham when asked to sacrifice Isaac, but it is also given in grace as an act of love and calling, think about Jesus calming the storm. We need to let it come, ask for it to come, wait for it to come. We need to acknowledge that peace comes as the Lord is near (see Phil 4:5). We also need to praise God when it does come, share the reality of it in our lives so that others will know it can truly pass our understanding.
So next time your ride is late, or whatever may be making your nervous or anxious. Know that the Lord is near. So, “don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” May it be so, O Lord, May it be so. (Just another way of saying Amen).
Because of Him,
I was at the conference office for a meeting last week. As the group I am a part of was starting, one of the guys got out his laptop computer and was trying to connect with the wi-fi. He couldn’t remember what the password was, he thought is was john 3:16, but after he tried it…no luck. Someone else in the group was going upstairs so they said they would see what it was. When they came back down they said, “you were close, it has a capital J and an exclamation point on the end.” To which the guy replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot to be excited about it.” I had a good laugh with that one.
As I have thought about this interaction, I have started to wonder if I ever do the same thing? Not forget a wi-fi password, but forgotten to get excited about the truth of John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
When the angel appears to Mary in Luke 2, the angel says, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” “Good news of great joy,” that seems like it deserves an exclamation point. The “good news.” It is connected with the Kingdom – the good news of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23, Mark 1:15, Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Luke 16:16, Acts 8:12). It is called the good news of God (Mark 1:14). It is what is preached to the poor (Matthew 11:5, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22). It is about Jesus, Him being Lord and the resurrection (Acts 5:42, 8:35, 10:36, 11:20, 17:18). What we also know that one of those things that also makes it good news is that it is for everybody (Mark 16:15, Luke 2:10). And these are just the places where the word “good news” is used. Is the truth of the gospel, the saving work of Christ, the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, the nature and heart of God not also good news? So, I ask, do we forget how exciting it is?
What part of the good news that when you first heard it made your heart rejoice, but now still knowing it is truth, doesn’t do the same thing in you? We can become cynical, we can become discouraged, we can become weary, and I think we have forgotten how amazingly exciting it is. Has what God did, what the Lord offered become so ordinary in our thoughts that we have forgotten how extraordinary it truly is?
I pray that you see and hear it anew again. That it makes your heart race again. That is causes you to smile and sing praises. I pray that as you hear the stories of others, share in their lives, you won’t be discouraged but encouraged and excited about what God has done and still wants to do in each life. The good news is for all.
For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t forget to be excited about it.
Because of Him,
Psalm 96:1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Nine times in scripture we hear about a new song. Six in the Psalms, one in Isaiah, and two in Revelation. As I have been thinking about this new year, I started asking myself what my new song I might sing to the Lord be this year. Not a familiar song with more zeal because it has become even more true to me – although I think that is a good thing. Not a song that comes back to your mind because God has continued to be at work – although also good. But, a new song. How are you and I putting ourselves in new places to hear, learn, realize another reason to praise, another tune to sing, another melody to add to your playlist of songs that lift our Lord high?
What part of the fruit of the Spirit are you asking God to make more complete in you this year? What sin do you need to bring to light so that our gracious God can create more fully a clean heart within us? What new step of faith, what new places are you going to go, what new act of generosity, what new outpouring of yourself into someone else, what new conversations are you and I going to have, take, do this year that is going to allow God to teach you a new song?
How are you going to be in His word? How are you going to surround yourself with the body of Christ? How are you going to use the gifts the Spirit has given you for the good of the body and the work the Lord has given it? How are you going to learn a new song?
And when you do, how are you going to share it? Who are you going to share it with? I want you to share it with us. I want you to teach us that song so that we can sing and glorify God with you in it. I want us to sing so that all the earth will know it.
I pray that God will open your eyes and heart and mind to know His truth more fully, His love more completely, His faithfulness more wholly, and His grace more abundantly. And I also pray that it causes you to sing. “Sing to the Lord a new song.” - Amen
Madison and Kaitlyn found a small puzzle at church one Sunday morning, it was a picture of Jesus as a shepherd. They wanted to put it together during the 9 a.m. worship service, but Michelle told them no. She did say that they could work on it before worship started and probably get it done, which they did. As they were putting it together Madison picked up a piece of the puzzle that had Jesus’ face on it and turned to Michelle and said, “look, I found God.” Oh my, I guess she is a preacher’s kid. At least she admits to finding God, that is good.
As I have shaken my head and laughed at Madison’s statement, it has made me think about this Christmas season and finding God. The “wise men” were looking for the Christ child, and found him. There is a promise from God that says when you “seek me you will find me when you seek me with your whole heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Have I found God? Have I found God in this season? Maybe the better question is, have even been seeking or looking?
When Paul was in Athens, he spoke to the Athenians saying: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:24-27). God is not far. God can be found. God wants us to find him, because as Paul will go on and say in verse 28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Is our heart set on seeking? What does a seeking heart look like? What does your seeking heart look like? We find God in the scripture, for Christ is the word. We find God among the Church, for Christ is the head. We find God midst the hurting, for we are told when we do something for the least we do it for Christ. We find God beside those who are confessing, because Christ is the truth. Where are you seeking God this season? And are we seeking God with our whole heart, all that we can. There may be pieces and parts of our heart that we can’t seek God with, part of our heart that we would say we don’t have a hold of right now. Someone else, something else has it and is keeping us from seeking God with it. With all that you can, will you seek God and then let God free the other parts so that more and more may of your heart may join in the finding?
My prayer for you is that as the Christmas morning dawns and the new year draws close you will be able to say like Madison, “Look, I found God.” Christ came so that we might find Him. Thanks be to God, a God who wants us to find life in Him.
My family and I had gone to Krispy Kreme donuts the other morning. We didn’t eat them there, we just got them and were bringing them home to eat. Madison was holding them on her lap in the back seat as we drove on Richmond Road. As I approached the turn to go left, I waited for cars to go by and for a good gap between cars to occur before I pulled out in front of oncoming traffic. As I turned, I told Michelle if I had been by myself, I would have gone earlier (there were smaller gaps between the cars where I could have made the turn). To which Michelle said, “Yeah, but you have precious merchandise to take care of.” Madison heard Michelle and said something along the lines of “I’m holding the precious merchandise.” I’m pretty sure Michelle was talking about her and the girls as precious merchandise, but Madison was thinking about the donuts. It made Michelle and I laugh.
Michelle’s and Madison’s statements made me think about things that are precious. Things that we consider of value. Things that we think are rare. The dictionary would add things that are not to be wasted or treated carelessly. In the scriptures we find that the law is precious, life blood is precious, Jesus’ blood is precious, the deaths of the saints are precious to God, even Jesus is referred to as the precious cornerstone. I want to point out one other place that talks about what is precious. 2 Peter 1:3-4 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
The promises of God are precious. Do we know them? Those truths of God that we can count on. Those proclamations from the most High that will not fail. The declarations from our Savior that we can hold onto when the storms are raging, when life is fading, when the pain seems unbearable, or the night and darkness seem to go on and on.
Peter would call The Lord’s promises not only precious, but also great. Great as in terms of large or powerful. Do we know them? Promises speak to us about God’s faithfulness. They speak to us about the Lord’s nature and desire. They speak to us about our savior’s heart and what is to come.
Do you know them? Do you believe them? Do you trust them? And are they precious to you? Do you treasure them as something of value, something that we hold onto because we know it will make all the difference?
Donuts are a precious thing, as Madison had in mind. My family is a precious thing, as Michelle had in mind. But even more precious are the promises of God. These promises that allow us to walk where we wouldn’t normally walk. Wait when we wouldn’t normally wait. Give when it doesn’t always make logical sense. Hope when it seems like there is no reason to hope. Praise God for His great and precious promises.
Michelle, the girls and I were out to lunch with a young couple the other day. During our lunch, somehow we got into the conversation about Madison driving and her getting the keys to the van and being able to drive. Michelle asked her what she would do once she got in the van. Madison said that she would put it in drive and drive. Michelle told her that would be a bad idea because we had pulled into a parking space and driving forward wasn’t an option. Madison said that she would put it in reverse first and back out. Michelle asked how she was going to know if it was okay to back out and she said she would look in the display on the dash. Michelle told her that she would also need to look and not just trust the display. Michelle asked her what she would do once she had backed out. Madison said she would drive home. Michelle asked her how she should do that. Madison went on to say that she would put the van into drive and push on the pedal. Michelle said, “which pedal?” Madison said, “the go pedal.” I must have missed that when I learned how to drive. The good news is, she knew which pedal it was and she didn’t call the brake pedal the stop pedal, so that is good. Also, she is only 13 so we have a few years.
As I laughed at her comment, it made me think about the times in my life I need to press the “go” pedal. There are times when we need to stop, and maybe that is where you are. A time to be still and know that He is God. A time to have a sabbath with our Lord, to enjoy His presence and peace. After Jesus’ resurrection, before the disciples were to “go” into all the world, they were called to wait for the Spirit. So, maybe that is where you are, but I am in a place where I need to go. I am one of the slowest people at doing some things. Things I know I should do, but don’t feel ready. Places I should lead, but don’t think the church is ready. Work I don’t ask others to do, because I don’t want to inconvenience them. What I am really doing though is not allowing God to use me, not trusting that God will work it out, and not allowing God’s people to serve Him in work that He has created them to do.
Some of those things that I know I am supposed to do are to have what I am calling holy conversations. Conversations not just about how you are doing, not just about letting you know you are thought of, but asking you things like: How are you letting Jesus be your Lord? Where are you seeing Him in your life? How you are about His business in all you do? How can I help you know Him more fully, surrender to Him more deeply, and love Him even more?
I am going to try and make expectations known, starting in particular with our leadership. Not just job descriptions about what needs to be done, but what type of people and behaviors we need to be and display. To help us experience God in a more profound way as Lord and we as His servants. A body being about His work to which He has called us.
Those expectations will extend to the whole church as we define who we are and how we believe God has called us to be about His business here at the corner of Clay and E. High St. Looking at the way we establish connections with those whom God is putting around us and calling us beside those who don’t know Him. Expecting us to be cultivating relationships and out of those places inviting people to join us in community, to at least see who we are and what God is doing among us. Challenging us to call people to surrender more fully to Christ, to share with them things we have done, ways we have made room for Him, opportunities that are coming up for them (and that would be us too) to allow Christ to be Lord of another piece of our heart and lives. And then not allowing this journey of transformation to be taken alone, establishing intentional relationships where we walk together trying to help each other keep Christ and His work at the center of our lives.
I don’t know where you are, but I need to press the “go pedal” in some things. Pray that the Lord directs all that we do, that His Holy Spirit encourages us and reminds us that He is on the throne and empowers us to be about His work. Know that you are dearly loved and that I desire for us to be a community of faith who surrenders to Him, looks out for each other and goes out into the world.
We got up around 5:35 a.m., the sun had already been up for about twenty minutes. We got dressed and ready to go and out the door. We were at Mesa Donuts by a little after six because, if I am going to get my girls out of bed this early there should probably be a treat, and got to Usery Mountain Regional Park, outside Mesa, AZ, by about 6:25. The temperature when we got there was about 78 degrees. It felt pretty good. We got out of the car and started heading up the Wind Cave trail. It was three miles, one and a half there and one and a half back. The sun was on the other side of the mountain, so when we started the hike, we were in the shadow of the mountain. In fact, our whole hike up we stayed in the shadow of the mountain. Now, I didn’t find the desert particularly picturesque, at least not compared to some of the other places we have seen, but it was beautiful in its own way.
I will say that I was a little disappointed when we got to the top and the “cave” was more of an indent in the rock face. The view of the valley was nice and there was a good sense of accomplishment.
I kept looking back on our hike up the mountain, to see how much of the hike back would be in the sun. With each step we took, it kept creeping up the mountain. The good news was we started down and it was still creeping up. We met the sun on the last half mile or so of the trek back to the van, and it was still early, so the heat wasn’t too bad. When we got back to the van it was just before 8 a.m. and the temperature was at 89 degrees - this is why you get out early. I’m writing this at 9:30 and it is 98 degrees outside. Early is definitely better for hiking. On the hike back down the hill, I started thinking about the scripture from Genesis 3:8, after Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit, it says: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” It was the part about the cool of the day that got me thinking. Do I walk with God in the cool of the day?
We find Jesus up early meeting with the Father early in the morning, in the cool of the day. And that was after Jesus had been up late. Mark 1:32-35 says: “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” The people waited till the sun went down and the sabbath ended and then flocked to Jesus to be healed. So, Jesus probably didn’t get much sleep, but saw the need “in the cool of the day” to be with His Father. To be in prayer before the heat started, to be in the “cool of the day” before people showed up looking for him, which they are going to do in the next verse. “In the cool of the day” before His time was no longer His own. “In the cool of the day” before he was going to have to walk places, talk with people, teach people and whatever else the day was going to hold.
You see there is truth that Jesus knew and that we need to know. If we can’t quiet ourselves before the throne of God in the “cool of the day,” before the meetings have to be attended, before conversation have to happen, before interaction ensue, how do we expect to be with Him in those times? He is with us always, yes. He has to be, He is everywhere. But we want to be with Him. If it doesn’t happen in the “cool of the day,” do you really think it is going to happen later. If we don’t set our mind and our hearts on Him before we are pulled here and there, how are we going to do it when we are being torn. Paul say it this way in Colossians: 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Jesus would say it like this in Luke 12:29-31 “do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
So, in the cool of the day, set your hearts and minds to seek first the throne of God. Remember, we don’t go there because it is our right or because we are able to. It was God who came and walked among Adam and Eve. It was Christ who came and walked among us. And, it is the Spirit who has been sent to be with us. The only reason we can approach His throne is because we are invited. God has come. Meet with Him in the cool of the day and know that He will be with you always.
I wanted to write to you all and let you know how grateful I am for the opportunity that you, the district, and the conference have given me to take a renewal leave this June and July. I have wanted to take a renewal leave for a few years now and time wise it just didn’t seem like it was right. As I looked toward this year, I think I decided that there is never going to be a “right time” or at least a time that feels right. There will always be reasons not to go and things that lie ahead that are going to need attention, so I just decided this would be the year I apply.
As I look at where I am though, I see some interesting things. I don’t think before this time I really would have been ready for this time. There are some practical things. We now have a newer van that I trust to make the journey. Michelle has been working and we have some extra income to cover more of the costs. Those are really just practical, the truly interesting things are what has been happening in my Spirit and in my heart. I’m looking for something, longing for something that I’m not for sure I was ready to look for before this year. I am enjoying my time with my heavenly Father over the last few months in a way that I haven’t really done before. There is still a depth of love that I haven’t tasted, but I want to go deeper. There is truth that is life altering, spirit reviving, soul quenching that I know I will only find as I quiet myself in Him. I have eyes I need Him to open, a mind I need Him to renew, a tongue I need Him to clean and a heart of flesh I need Him to give me. Pray this for me and my family these next two months.
I don’t want to come back with a little more energy. This isn’t simply a longer vacation or a well-deserved break. These next two months are a season where my work is taking time to allow Him to transform me, break me, awaken me, wrap His arms around me and so much more. More energy isn’t want I want. What I want is a deeper understanding of His presence, a fuller joy in His strength, a greater hope and faith that leads to love and peace, boldness and surrender. Pray this for me and for my family these next two months.
Church, I want to come to a place where my heart breaks for you more and my life is poured out for you more fully. I want to hear and learn to be wise in shepherding and caring for the flock God has allowed me to be with. I want to be able to share the Fathers heart with you, speak His truth in love to you, call you into a place of death, knowing there we find life. Pray this for me and for my family these next two months. Know that we will be praying for you, that my spirit will be sitting before the Lord with you in my heart.
I don’t know if this is the right time, but it is a good time for this and I am so thankful for the opportunity that you all are giving me and my family. I know that it is a big ask. Pray that we don’t waste this opportunity, that it doesn’t simply become a break, but that I will understand that my work over these next two months is to allow Christ to work in my heart, my life, and my family.
Know how precious you are to me. Know how much joy you bring me. Know that I give thanks to God that He has allowed me the privilege of being in community with you, being His community with you. Pray for me and for my family.
With Much Love,
I was rearranging and cleaning my office the other week, by the layer of dust on some of the book shelves it had been a while since I last cleaned, I came across a connection card. You know the cards for visitors to fill out on Sunday mornings that are in the pews. Madison, my oldest daughter, had filled it out a few years ago. It, of course, has our names and address on it and when it asked how you heard about Park, she put “Lynn”. When she had the opportunity to check what she wanted more information about, she checked “Children’s Ministry.” She checked the age groups of our family – 0-11 for her and Kaitlyn and 25-35 for Michelle and myself (It made me smile that she thought that was the category we belonged in). It also made me smile that she checked the box, I would like to meet with the pastor (I wonder if I followed up on that one). The other part that made me laugh was on the back. It was for a Wednesday night series, you had the opportunity to say if you were coming to eat and what study you were thinking about joining us for. The line she checked was, “I may come for dinner and bring a few others. I’m estimating a headcount of __________.” In the blank she put 105. Yes, way to think positive Madison.
As I thought about Madison’s 105, I was reminded that it isn’t about the numbers. We may say that because the numbers are not what we want or because we truly believe it. We know that each number is a person and that is what truly maters. And although we may not want to get caught up in numbers, sometimes pastors can be bad at it. Pastors can be like fisherman, who exaggerate how big the fish was they caught, because a group of 70 can turn into close to a hundred petty quickly when they talk about how things are going.
What I do want to remind you of today though is a parable from Jesus. It is a unique parable. Jesus tells it as he is having dinner at a prominent Pharisee’s house (by the way I suspect Jesus ate at their houses just as much as they would have complained that he ate at the tax collector and sins houses). They talk about healing on the Sabbath, which of course Jesus has done. Jesus talked about not taking the place of honor when invited to a banquet. Then Jesus talks about who to invite when you give a lunch or dinner. The answer is those who can’t repay you. Jesus goes on to say “when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:13-14).
It is after this that someone around the table said “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (14:15). In response to this Jesus tells a parable. This is my paraphrase of it. A guy was giving a banquet and he sent out save the date cards so that people would know it was coming. When the time came, the guy sent out his banquet planner to tell everyone to come, but none of those who had been invited were able to come. They all thought that they had something better to do. When the host hears about this he gets really angry and tells his planner “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” The planner says, “yeah, I already did that and there is still room.” So the host tells his planner “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” (For the real parable, read Matthew 14:16-24)
Two things, one about God and the other about the servant, both are about the heart of God. One, God wants a full house. We aren’t talking about churches and worship services (although I am sure that pleases him as well), but about His kingdom. Remember when Jesus was talking with His disciples and said “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). The father desires His house to be full and Jesus made it possible, prepared it for us. The father doesn’t need a full house because he wants to feel important, but because the father knows that in that place (don’t just think physical location) is where we find full life.
Two, the servant (banquet planner in my story), knew that the father wanted a full house and did what he could to make it full. Did you notice that the people Jesus told the crowd to invite to lunch or dinner when you throw a party was the same list the servant said he went out and got? (the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.) The servant knew the father’s heart (Master in the real parable). The servant knew it and did all he could to fulfill it. Do we do the things we do because they are the heart’s desire of the master?
The last thing I will tell you is that although the servant knew the masters heart and brought the people he knew that the master would have wanted invited, there was still more because there was still room. This is why the master sends the servant farther out of the way, farther out of town, because there was still room. Have you ever wondered how many rooms are in the father’s house? I will tell you the answer, at least one more. There is always room. So invite 105 people to a Wednesday night meal, or how about just one person to worship or to a study or even out to lunch or coffee. Let the heart of the Father be what leads your actions and determines how you see people. Go, there is still room.
Rev. Lynn Beach is married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, and they have two adorable daughters. He has been at Park Church since July 2013.