A Table Before My Enemies // Greatness of God (Part 5) | Teaching Pastor Reed DeVries
The Lord is preparing to serve a feast for us as honored guests. Everything we need in life is at the table. And the best part of this feast is that it’s completely paid …
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Today, we're going to be continuing our series called "The Greatness of God"
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Reed: A four-year-old boy had been naughty all day long.
So because of that, he had been sent to his room
If you're a parent, maybe you can relate to that kind of scenario.
Five minutes into the punishment, he came down with his teddy bear, piggy bank and some clothes.
"I'm running away!" he announced. His Dad asked, "What will you do when you get hungry?"
"I'll come home and Mom will make me something."
Dad said, "Well, what will you do when you're tired?"
He said, "I'll come home and sleep."
He said, "What will you do when your clothes get dirty?"
"I'll come home and Mom will wash them for me."
The father turned to the mom and said, "I don't think he's running away…
it sounds like he's getting ready for college!"
Listen, if this is your first time joining us…we want to say Welcome!
We've been in a tremendous series on the goodness of God.
Looking at Psalm 23…I don't know about the rest of you, I've read Psalm 23 many, many times.
I've never taken it slowly like this.
Just chewed on it and it's been so good for me! I hope it's been good for you as well.
It's been so wonderful!
To sum up where we've been, the first four verses which we've gone through the past weeks
really help us look at God, the Good Shepherd, as an able protector.
He protects us in all ways, shapes and forms.
Now we're going to make a little twist and look at the Good Shepherd in a different way.
He is our able and abundant provider.
When I say abundant, I mean ABUNDANT in every sense of the word.
In fact, let me ask you this – we use the word "royalty" sometimes.
Have you ever been in a situation or a place that you were treated like royalty?
I mean BOOM and you go "Oh My!"
What was it for you Caleb?
Caleb: The last couple years we've gone to Disney World down in Florida.
Every time we're there it's just amazing how well they treat you.
You ask for something and they're like right away, absolutely!
Obviously within reason. It's just astounding the amount of work they put into
making your time there the greatest you could ever have.
Brigette: On cruise ships I've been lucky enough to go on two.
It's like a step up from a normal vacation because you've got your own personal chauffeur
on the seas! Your beds are made for you every morning.
You go and get food whenever you want.
We were on one with his parents and they got upgraded because they had gone on so many.
They were on the suites and they even had an extra level.
They could call their person anytime they wanted something.
I was like, "Woah! This is like no vacation I've ever been on before!"
They got special seating for the shows. It was pretty sweet!
Tim: I got to sit in the Chiefs owners box a few years back with some folks.
That was just an incredible time. The level of luxury.
I got to experience some cool things before and that was just a whole other level.
The food and everything there was just insanely cool!
Reed: When you have those kind of experiences, you never forget them, do you?
To be treated like royalty like that. I always love it when Pastor Keith and Kay talk about
their experience they had when they had the chance to go to Malibu, California.
Obviously, Malibu is a gorgeous spot, but not just in any home…
in a home that was one of the most beautiful homes in that whole area.
Overlooking the ocean…you can imagine that with all the color of the sunsets and everything.
But not just any home, the home of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.
For those of you who might not know that, she starred in the series "Touched By An Angel"
Mark Burnett maybe you don't know the name, but you would certainly know what he's done.
He's been the executive producer of many, many very successful TV shows.
"The Apprentice" "Survivor" "Shark Tank"
"The Voice"…he's executive producer of "The Voice"
"Duck Dynasty"…the Bible series.
Think about this…he's been nominated for 143 Emmy Awards! Think about that!
Isn't that crazy? In fact, Pastor Keith was invited to the house…very small group,
very intimate group that they got invited to. Pastor Keith was saying that the Emmy awards
were just sitting there…like we would have a little bird. Just sitting around!
Pastor Keith said what was so crazy about it is that they had been invited in a small gathering
but the people that greeted them was Mark and Roma themselves.
They took their jackets. They served the food to them. That is crazy!
The whole night was that way. Then Pastor Keith said you knew it was a good party
when they had just a little bit of music, they brought music in…it was Switchfoot!
Switchfoot did an acoustical set just for this small group of people…that's treated like royalty!
You never forget it! Cindy & I have had the joy of being able to experience some of those things
We won a trip, all expenses paid, to Disney World.
What's fun about that is not just on Disney property for a number of days,
but the last night they closed one of the parks and
there was about 2,000 of us got in a park that normally holds 50-60,000.
There were 2,000 of us, no one else and all food was free!
Do you know how many churro sticks you can eat when it's free?
The rides…there were no lines! In fact, if you didn't want to get off, you didn't get off!
You stayed on the ride! It was absolutely hilarious!
Another time we had the chance to go to, one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been in…
Perth, Australia. It's on the western coast of Australia in the Indian Sea.
We had been invited to go speak there for a conference, but then we got to stay
a number of days afterward in a villa right on the ocean and whatever we wanted we could have!
You want to go in the ocean? What do you want to do? That kind of thing.
Probably the most fun is we had a chance to go to an island in the British Virgin Islands
which is an exclusive island…only 50 people are allowed on the island
but the staff is way more than that. You have about 1.5 staff for every person on the island.
Their restaurant is on the beach…so when you eat you're on the beach in this private thing.
It's crazy again! It was all expenses paid so it didn't cost us anything
but absolutely unbelievable kind of stuff.
When you think about that kind of thing, you just go "Holy Cow!"
But we're going to look at some verses today that the Bible says it's for us!
Here we go…Psalm 23, if you have your Bibles open up there
and we're going to look at the first five verses. The first four are for review
but then we're going to focus on verse 5 for today. This is out of the New Living Translation.
It says this, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest…" – other versions say "He makes me rest in meadows green;
He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me." Here we come to verse 5…
"You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings."
Think about that, verse 5, "You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies."
Let's talk about three things about this feast because he's talking about God
preparing a feast for us. You can blow by it pretty quick and go on.
But we want to try to digest this because there's a lot in here.
There's really three things that we want to pull out about this feast.
Here's the first one: We are the HONORED guest.
That's a crazy thought! In this feast that God's going to prepare, we're the honored guest.
It says, "You prepare a feast for…" who? Me!
That's better than even a McDonald's moment that says we got it all for you…it's beyond that!
I don't know if you've ever been in a spot where you were the honored guest.
To be honest, that can be really humbling.
Just a few years back, my kids threw a surprise birthday party for me.
It was kind of a major birthday…I think it was 30 or something like that.
They really got me. I had no idea.
There were a number of people there that are just dear to my heart
so when they opened the doors and yelled surprise, I was can you imagine, just speechless.
It's hard to believe I was! I was so humbled though that I'm the honored guest?
Are you kidding me? That's what we are at this table.
What's hard for me to sometimes comprehend on this, the depth of this,
is we're the honored guest but the reality is I was an enemy of God.
Before I asked Jesus to come into my life and gave my life to Christ,
I was an enemy of Him. To be honest, if I can just be vulnerable,
even though I love God with all my heart, even to this day I can maybe still be an enemy
because I still do my own thing. I still want to have my own way. I don't always want to follow.
That's crazy! I was an enemy of God, literally.
But not just that I was an enemy of God, but now He takes that
and I not only don't get what I should deserve because I know what I should deserve…
that's hell – separation from God forever – I know I deserve that.
Instead of not getting that, He actually prepares a feast for me?!
In my honor? I was your enemy! Are you kidding me?
You're preparing this feast for me in my honor?
Then the third part of it is God Himself waits on me.
God Himself…like when Pastor Keith went to the home with the Downey's,
they served them – God serves us.
That's a crazy thought that when Jesus was here and before He died
that He did something with His disciples…remember what He did?
He washed their feet.
Can you imagine how humbling that was for the disciples?
But that's what God does for us.
We're enemies but in spite of that He creates this feast to honor us and then He serves us.
That's who He is. It says this in Mark 10, "The Son of Man came NOT to be served,
but to serve others, and give His life away."
Let me ask you, when you try to process, that's a big thing to try to process…
to be an enemy but now we're the honored guest of the feast He's preparing and He's serving us.
What goes through your mind when you think about that?
Jerrid: I think for me when I'm being…when I'm in God's presence
and I read Scripture about His love for me and what He believes in me,
it's really hard for me to digest that because I tend to beat myself up for the things I've done
in my life and to think that He's Holy and blessing me and loves me for me
so much so that He'll feed me. So much so that He'll bring me to the table.
I feel like I don't deserve it. I'm sitting here being served by God and the thing I can think of
is I don't deserve this God. Especially, like you said, I was your enemy.
You were my enemy and now You're treating me with kindness and joy.
He's doing this because He loves me. He loves His children and I can't help but think of
me feeling unworthy…like it's not something I deserve.
Jonathon: I think so many times it's easier for us to say this is someone else,
than to believe it is for us. When you say that I just think God allows us to come
unto His throne boldly, no matter where we've been or what we've done.
Just the thought of God himself serving me, knowing what I deserve and where I've been.
Man, the only thing I can think of is "God I'm so humbled."
Having the posture of my heart being broken and humble.
It's something that is hard to grasp and fathom, knowing what we deserve.
It just shows His unending love and grace for us.
Shelby: He does it so willingly. He wants to do that for us. He wants to love us.
He wants to carry our weight. He wants to do all those things for us.
To think of all the things that we've done to Him, to ourselves, to others
and He still wants to be like, "Come on. Sit down. Let's eat."
It's so special in a very strange and humbling way.
Tim: It's so cool to see that in context with the other verses too
because when you have the verses talking about the valleys, when you have the verses
talking about the moments when He has to break us and say "You will lay down right now
and you will be led here."
In the same way with Jesus, there's those moments when He rebuked disciples
and he said, "Get thee behind me Satan" or He said, "Listen, you guys still don't get it."
Then there's that moment of this brokenness and serving.
It marries the two concepts together. So often when God has a moment where He has to correct us,
we like to look at it, I like to look at it and say "God's doing this. God's making me do this."
But then you have this amazing moment of servanthood, showing with Jesus
and showing here that reminds you that everything there was in love.
The whole entire thing was love leading up to this moment.
Reed: I appreciate you saying it that way because even for me sometimes the thought of
God invites me to the table but while we're eating, He's going to remind me
"Here's what I did. Here's all the things you did and here's what I did."
He doesn't at all. It's just this lavish love that the prodigal story talks about.
Jonathon: It's unconditional
Reed: Exactly. It's absolutely that way.
Well, we are the honored guest at this feast that's being prepared.
Here's the second thing that we want to understand about this feast.
It is a ROYAL affair.
It's a royal feast…not the royal fork. There's a difference.
It's key because it's not like there's a little backyard BBQ and we get a paper plate
with a couple of hot dogs and some chips. Not at all.
This is the finest feast that you could possibly imagine that's put before us.
There's two kinds of truths about this kind of a feast that obviously unless you've
experienced something like being treated like royalty it's hard to put into words.
First of all, this feast is EXQUISITELY PREPARED.
It's exquisitely prepared. In fact, I'd say this…how many of you like a buffet?
A lot of you do. But can we be honest, a buffet is a…buffet.
Okay…you got this…broccoli…it's got certain things on there that ehhh.
Let's be honest that you don't go "Oh! That was phenomenal!"
It's about quantity, right? It's about quantity versus quality.
That's a buffet. This is different. This is a banquet!
A buffet and a banquet are two totally different things.
This feast is not a buffet, it's a banquet.
Here's what I picture in my head: take your most favorite of everything.
Your most favorite food…maybe the one your Grandma made that no one can make like Grandma
or your mom, and imagine everything on the table is your favorite of everything!
Not just your favorite, but it's the best you've ever tasted of it!
You ever done this? You ever taken a bite of something and you didn't even want to swallow it?
You just sort of…. you didn't want to swallow it because it was that good!
You just want to savor it! That's what this is!
I think of the song, which you understand when you know the preparation that goes into it,
You ever heard this, "Be our guest! Be our guest! Put our service to the test!"
It says, "Tie your napkin around the neck, sir, and we'll provide the rest."
Then it goes on and says, "Soup du jour, hot hors d'oeuvres, why we only live to serve.
Try the gray stuff, it's so delicious if you don't believe me ask the dishes."
Then it says this, "They can sing, they can dance, after all this is France.
Dinner here is never second best. Go on, unfold your menu, take a glance
and then you'll be our guest, be our guest, be our guest."
It's that kind of experience that you go, "Oh my!"
Everywhere you look you go, "Oh, oh, oh!" That kind of experience is what it's all about.
Why? Because it's God's house and everything in God's house is perfect.
It's God's table. It's perfect.
What's crazy is that everything that you and I have ever wanted or needed is at the table.
Think about that – what is it that you and I say we might need in our life right now?
Do we need peace in our life? It's at the table.
Do you need strength? It's at the table.
Do you need healing? It's there.
Do you need comfort? Do you need wisdom? It's at the table.
Everything you would ever want in your life – it's at God's table.
I love how it says it in 2 Peter 1, "He has given us everything we need for life…"
I love that! Everything we need for what?
"everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him."
Everything we need for life is at the table! Unbelieveable!
It's exquisitely prepared. The second part of the feast is it's ENTIRELY PAID FOR!
Oh my word! I like that one! Free!
I like a great feast, but I like it free even better.
I love this phrase that says, in light of the election, we should not act surprised
that if on next year's income tax there's four questions at the bottom of the income tax.
It says this, "What was your total income last year?" "What were your expenses?"
"How much is left over?" "Send it in"
That's unfortunately what we might be moving toward, but this is a feast and it's paid in what?
Paid in full. Let's be honest, you ever gone to a restaurant and ate according to your budget?
Am I right? You read the menu from right to left.
Okay, we got this much…liver…no, no, no.
You do it that way because we're on a budget.
If you're ever in a place, like you talked about a cruise ship, where there is no price.
It's all paid for. When you know it's all paid for ahead of time, how much better is the meal?
Absolutely! Especially when it's a feast there.
There's an old youth camp song from years ago that says this,
"Come and dine the Master calleth. Come and dine. You can feast at Jesus' table anytime.
He has fed the multitude. Turned the water into wine. To the hungry calleth now. Come and dine."
This incredible feast that's exquisitely prepared. It's everything we've ever wanted in life.
It's everything we've ever needed in life and it's all paid in what? Paid in full.
We don't have to try to secretly get it.
You might like this story, I thought this was hilarious.
True story: Six 11-pound geese, thirteen pounds of goose fat and liver, three ducks,
one gallon jar of pickles, butter and a package of poppy seeds.
Those were the food items enjoyed an alleged thief accused of hiding in a restaurant
in a Czech Republic restaurant at closing time and then dining like a king overnight.
So what he did is he snuck into the restaurant, hid in the bathroom
and then when it was all closed, he came out and as they say it this way,
he feasted royally! About $800 worth of food!
Then washed it all down with several bottles of wine.
Apparently he had no room for dessert because he wrapped up some beer and strawberry cake
before he tried to get out and was arrested.
This is a feast we don't have to sneak into.
We don't have to grab and go. We don't have to drive through because it's safer.
Boom! Stay as long as you want! It's all there! This is a royal affair.
Let me ask you what goes through your mind?
What do you think of this that God has prepared a feast for me?
Some of the things we've talked about for you…paid for. What goes through your mind and heart?
Jonathon: I just think about when you said "Everything I need is there."
So many times in life we look for those things that we need in so many other places
but only God can fill that void.
As you're talking I look at this and it's a place where when I answer God is waiting for me
and I want to be there and I want to sit there. I have a two- year-old daughter named Zoe
and we're teaching her when we eat, we eat at the table.
If you're parents, you know how that goes…it's a struggle.
I just see that picture of when we sit there, I feel like it's a place
where we don't want to be anywhere else. In that moment, as soon as we sit down,
no matter where I've been or what I've done, what I've needed or where I've looked for that,
as soon as I sit down everything I need is there, in that moment.
We look for it in so many places but as soon as we answer in that place,
God doesn't force us there. He's such a gentleman that He waits and then when we sit down,
you just feel relieved.
Shelby: I think to go off of that from what you said is that it's all the searching.
Everything is in that one place, it's on the table and it's presented to you from God.
Where you look through all the temptations and all these other outside sources
and it's right there in front of you and it's provided to you with love from Him.
Caleb: I guess the thing that comes to my mind, like you said everything is at the table,
first thing that came to my mind was the song "O Come To the Table"
Come to the table, the Father's arms are open wide…forgiveness was already bought.
It was already paid for.
The image that you had of having your family around the table…
why am I stressing about the things out there?
The things that are truly important, the things that I truly need,
I'm surrounded by it right here at this table. That is awesome!
Jerrid: What's sad about that for me is that knowing this feast is there
and how much attention there is to it and as you said, it's everything that I need,
everything I want…as far as the food, it's the best of the best.
Knowing that yet I choose sometimes to not take a seat.
I take my own seat and eat whatever else that I'm eating that's never even close to that.
Yet, there's sometimes those choices that are made that says, 'You know what God,
I've got this right now so I'm not going to take my seat at the table.'
To think that I would make that decision…you're right, He's not forcing me to that seat,
I have to make that choice. I have to accept that invitation.
Jonathon: There's so many times that I feel that us knowing that we don't deserve that,
the devil will take advantage of that and make us feel like you don't deserve that.
'Look what you've done. That's not your place.'
The longer we believe the lie it becomes our truth and our reality.
But knowing that, No! God prepared this for me in anticipation, knowing who I am
and what I'll do He still said, "Here, come." That's an incredible picture.
Reed: It comes back to the first point…we're the honored guest.
It isn't that we have just a place at the table. No, we have THE place at the table.
Caleb: We come and we're like, 'No, not today. Not me God, not me.'
God's going, 'Shh…quiet. Let me wash your feet. Let me do that.'
And we're like, 'My feet are too dirty. Let me go take care of some stuff and I'll come back.'
He's like, 'I want you NOW. This food is prepared for you NOW.'
Tim: I just think of the peace with that. Knowing how much God loves us.
I don't know if you've had a moment where you go to an event where the food is free,
but it's really not because you know you have to act a certain way.
You know maybe it's a networking event, it's something where you're like,
It's free! It's great…but the whole time you're trying to make sure you use the right fork
and all this stuff and it just gets to the point where I'd rather go
to McDonald's with people who love me.
To think, it's the God who's willing to wash our feet.
The God who is willing to take everything and we can have this comfort and peace
of knowing I don't have to act a certain way. It's just me and God and an amazing feast!
Reed: For me, when I picture the feast and the thought process you just said Tim,
what kind of things are happening at the table? For me, it's not sadness.
Do you picture laughter? Lots of fun conversation. Lots of smiles.
Exactly! That's what I think of!
The other thing I think of is have you ever been to a place that you say,
'I wish I could eat more but I can't eat another bite!'
'I would but I can't eat another bite!'
God says, "Keep eating! You want more peace, just keep eating!
You want more strength? Just keep eating.
You want more joy? Just keep eating, bro. Just keep eating."
You never are too full, there's always more there.
We're the honored guest…crazy thought that we're the honored guest
at this royal feast…but here's the third one that I think is so important for us to understand.
The third point: there is a CLAUSE to it and that is – we have to INVITE others to that same feast
Do you remember it says, "You prepare a feast for me…" in the what?
Presence of my enemies.
Think about this, it doesn't just say in the presence of others.
In the presence of enemies. Sometimes we could easily take that and say, "Yeah! That I like!
God's honoring me. See! Yeah! You're going to get yours!"
You know what I'm saying? No, no, no
What if the invitation, since we were an enemy, the invitation to the table
is so then I now go, 'You know what, I was an enemy of you. They're an enemy of me.
I need to bring them to you. I need to now invite others.'
The only reason for us to be at the table is to invite others to the table as well.
Does that make sense? Can we agree that right now in our world if people don't agree with me,
they're an enemy of me. That's how it is and how we've made politics,
we've made everything that way. God says, 'No. They're my children as well.
You invite them into the table. Does that make sense?
If you've never read this story, I love this story.
In 2 Kings 6, turn there for a minute.
This is a great story that I think helps illustrate it in a story form.
It's a story of a prophet named Elisha, there's Elijah and Elisha, this is Elisha.
Just to give you a quick background, Elisha keeps getting visions from God about what
the enemy king is doing and where he's going to bring his forces next.
So he gets the vision from God and then he tells his king,
don't go there because the enemy is going there.
Well, the enemy king is just mad! He goes, How does this always happen? What's going on?
One of the servants of the enemy king says, 'Well, it's this guy Elisha, he hears from a God.'
He says, 'Okay, we're going to get him.' So during the night, he sends his army to surround
the village that Elisha and his servant are in. If you read the whole story, it's a fun one.
The servant wakes up in the morning, gets up and goes outside and the enemy has surrounded
the entire city and he goes, 'What's going on?' Elisha says, 'Don't worry. God's Army is bigger'
He opens up his eyes and he sees God's army. Then we come to this crazy part of the story.
I want to read, starts in verse 18. It says this, "As the enemy came down toward him,
Elisha prayed to the Lord, 'Strike this army with blindness.' So, He struck them with blindness,
as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, 'This isn't the road, and this is not the city
Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for. And he led them to Samaria."
That's the capital city. So now they're in the capital city of their enemy.
"After they entered the city, Elisha said, 'Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.'
Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria."
"When the king of Israel…" who is the king that Elisha has been talking with,
"saw them, he asked Elisha, 'Shall I kill them, my Lord?'"
Why? Because they are the enemy.
"'Don't kill them,' he answered. 'Would you kill those you have captured
with your own sword or bow? Instead…" think about this now…
"set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.'
So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking,
he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram
stopped raiding Israel's territory."
Isn't that a crazy thing? They're the enemy.
They came because they wanted to try to kill and destroy them.
He says, 'No, you don't do that.' He made a great feast for them.
Because of that, they stopped invading.
It's the old phrase that if you want to make an enemy a friend, you know what you do?
Throw a feast for them. Make them the honored guest.
They won't be your enemy anymore.
That's what God did to us, right? We were an enemy and God did it to us,
we now need to do to others. That's the key.
For us to come being an enemy and now we're the honored guest at this incredible royal feast,
for us to just sit there and take it in…No, we have to go now to the enemy
and invite them into that same process. Does that make sense?
That's what it's all about!
You might have heard a story in the past that I think is still one of the greatest stories,
Tony Campolo at one point was one of the great voices in ministry.
He was a sociologist at Eastern College and he had a book called "The Kingdom of God is a Party"
and in there he told a story, a true story that happened to him one night.
He was in Honolulu, Hawaii. If you've ever been there, your body clock takes a day or so to change.
It's 2:30 AM and he's wide awake because it's a time change there.
He's hungry so he gets up and tries to find a place to eat. All he can find was this little diner
This little diner was a grease shop, just a small diner.
He looked around and saw one donut left. He said, 'Can I have a cup of coffee and a donut?'
Bigger guy behind the counter and he says I'll get this for you.
He's just sitting there and now it's about close to 3:00-3:15 AM and then he writes this,
"As I sat there munching on my donut and sipping my coffee at 3:30 AM the door to the diner
suddenly swung open and to my discomfort marched in 8 or 9 provocative
and very boisterous prostitutes. It's a small place and so they sat on both sides of me.
You can imagine the picture. Their talk was loud and crude and I felt completely out of place
when I heard the woman beside me say, "Hey! Tomorrow's my birthday, I'm going to be 39!"
Her friend responded in a nasty tone, "So, what do you want from me… a birthday party?
What do you want? Do you want me to get a cake and sing happy birthday to ya?"
"Come on!" the woman said next to me. "Why do you have to be so mean?
I was just telling you, that's all. I was just telling you it was my birthday,
I don't want anything from you. I mean I've never had a birthday party in my life,
why would I have one now?"
When I heard that, Tony said 'I made a decision. I sat and waited for the women to leave
and then I called the guy behind the counter and said do they come here every night?'
Guy said, "Yep!" Tony said, "What about the one sitting right next to me?"
He said, "Yeah that's Agnes. Yep, she comes every night."
"So they'll be here tomorrow night? Listen, I just heard her say it's her birthday tomorrow night
and she's never had a birthday party. How about we throw her a birthday party tomorrow night?"
The guy behind the counter said, "Really?"
Tony said, "I'll do this. I'll get balloons, party favors, that kind of thing. Can we get a cake?"
He said, "I can make a cake! I'm great at that!" Then he called his wife to the diner
and says, "Why don't you make some of the other special stuff and let's throw a birthday party
for her?" Tony said, "Let's do it!"
The next night he got there and they set everything up and the guy's wife at the diner
must have told everybody else he said because at 3:15 the place was packed with prostitutes.
He says, 'I'm the pastor and it's full of prostitutes. I coached them on what to do
since I had the idea and at 3:30 the door opened up.' Here's what it says,
"At 3:30 on the dot, the door of the diner swung open and in came Agnes and her friend.
I had everyone ready and when they came in we all screamed "Happy Birthday"
Never have I seen a person so flabbergasted, so stunned, so shaken.
Her mouth fell open, her legs seemed to buckle a bit. Her friend grabbed her arm to steady her.
As she was led to sit at one of the stools along the counter, we all sang Happy Birthday to her.
As we came to the end of singing "Happy Birthday dear Agnes, Happy Birthday to you."
Her eyes moistened. Then when the birthday cake and the candles came
she just started crying. Harry, the guy behind the counter,
gruffly said, "Blow out the candles Agnes! Come on! Blow out the candles!
If you don't blow it out, I'm going to have to do it for you. Here take a knife and cut it."
She just looked at the cake and without taking her eyes off it, she said slowly and softly,
"Harry is it okay with you if I don't cut it right now? I just want to look at it."
He said, "Sure. In fact, we don't have to eat it if you want to take it home you could."
She said, "Could I?" He said, "Yeah, sure you can."
She said, "I just live a couple blocks from here. I'll be back."
He said like holding a holy grail she held that birthday cake and slowly walked out the diner.
Tony said, 'I didn't know what to do.' He said, 'Everyone if it's okay, I want to pray.'
They all looked and said okay. He said, 'I'm a pastor and I want to pray.'
He says we prayed for Agnes. We thanked God that it was her birthday,
but I prayed for her heart and her soul. For the wounds in her life,
that she would come to know Jesus and He would protect her and He would heal her.
He said, when I finished Harry leaned over the counter with a trace of hostility in his voice
and said, 'Hey, you didn't tell me you were a preacher! What kind of church you belong to?'
He said, 'I thought for a few moments and the right words came out.
I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 AM'
That's who we're called to be.
We're the church. For "those people" out there…we all have that thought in our mind
of whatever that looks like to us, we were one of them.
We were an enemy of God and He honored us by creating this incredible feast for us
that He invites us to. He serves us this royal feast and says, 'Now go serve others
and bring them to the table.'
Jonathon: Those two stories are so powerful because both Elisha and Pastor Tony,
you see a common theme there…they made a choice.
Elisha could have made a choice and said, 'God, do this. Kill them.'
He didn't do that. Something I think about that Pastor Keith has been saying
is we don't have a say, we have to surrender. The thing that comes to my heart
and God is speaking into me right now is do I want to sit at that table?
Spiritually eat, eat, eat while other people out there are lost and dying and going to hell.
Do I want to lay down my life and invite people because we don't know how that will impact
their lives? I have eternity in mind in that moment can impact
where they spend the rest of their life. Knowing that it might be insignificant,
whatever it might be…to someone it might be so significant.
That we lay our lives down and be like God I want to share this.
This experience…I met Jesus! I want to share that with the rest of the world.
I don't want to just be me. Just imagine if we all have that mentality.
I experienced something that I never have before and I met Jesus for the first time in my life,
I need to tell everyone. How many of us have family members that might not know Jesus?
Friends of ours…do we love them enough to let them know about Jesus?
Brigette: In all this talking, it reminded of the phrase "Kill them with kindness"
But with Jesus it's taking it a step further. It's not just the kindness,
it's the love of God needs to pour out into them because we can be kind for a moment
but that requires us to, like Jonathon said, lay down our life.
Lay down our insecurities. Lay down our hardness towards the people that have hurt us.
The ideas we have about certain people or even just the people in our lives that said something
that rubbed us the wrong way and we think this way about them.
How do our actions towards them bring them closer to God and not farther away?
Every action we take leads them or someone who is watching us to Christ.
If our actions aren't in love then why would anyone else follow Jesus?
Caleb: I think it sounds really nice and almost a place of honor for God
to want to wash our feet…but would we wash the feet of our enemies?
Thinking about that, would I be willing to go to somebody who I'm having a quarrel with
and before I say anything I get down and I wash their feet?
Would I be willing to do that?
Thinking about it, it really kind of strikes my soul…I've never thought of approaching
a conflict or approaching a disagreement that way. Saying hold on, let me serve you first.
That's huge! There's so much, 'You don't agree with me. You must be against me'
There's no stopping and saying "Hold on. Let me serve you. Let me wash your feet.
Let me invite you and let me take care of you."
It just popped into my head, when I invite people to my house, to my table where I'm preparing food
why don't I wash their feet? Why don't I, before they come in, say
'I'm going to grab your coat.' Husband and wife – 'Morgan can you take her purse to this place
or can you hang the purse next to coat rack'…whatever that looks like.
Why don't we serve each other the way God wants to serve us?
Going through the book I'm reading, "Something Needs to Change"
There's so much…why aren't we serving the way God wants us to?
Shelby: I think something we can easily forget too in our day to day is who is the host?
God is the host. He's the host of all of this and we are the guest, as we've been talking about.
We're not the only guest. Our enemies are the guest. Our friends are the guest.
Our spouses, our loved ones, our family are the guest. We are all the guests.
Why can't we all sit at this table on that level playing field?
How am I to not know that I'm not the enemy of someone sitting at the table?
I may have enemies there but how do I not know that I'm one of their enemies?
Reed: I think one of the things that I'm coming to understand more and more,
at least trying to grasp more and more is the fact that the church is not a building.
We're the church. We.
So every day in every shape and form…whether it's in a line, waiting to purchase something
or at a restaurant and someone is serving you, whatever the case may be,
I have the ability to invite them to a table that I had no right being invited to.
Like you said, I was the enemy and yet God creates this feast for us?
We're the honored guest. He serves us this royal thing that He does.
Then just simply says, "Now, invite others" That's what it's all about.
The story is told that when Queen Victoria reigned in England,
she occasionally would visit some of the humble cottages of her people.
One time she entered the home of a widow and stayed to enjoy a brief period of
Christian fellowship. Later, when the poor woman was taunted by her worldly neighbors,
they would say, "Hey granny! Who is the most influential and honored guest you've ever entertained
in your home?" Because of her faith in Jesus, they thought she was going to say "Jesus"
and to their surprise she said, "Queen Victoria"
They said, "We thought you'd say Jesus. Isn't Jesus the most honored guest in your place?"
She said, "No, no, no. He's not a guest, He lives here all the time."
Thou preparest a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
I wonder if maybe part of our problem is the fact that we haven't let Jesus be in our home,
He's simply a guest to us. Revelation 3 says it this way, "Here I am, I stand at the door and knock
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them and he with me."
Jesus has prepared a feast for you. Everything that you've ever wanted is at the table.
Doesn't matter if you think you are an enemy of him or you think He's an enemy of yours.
He's not. It's not true. He says come to the table.
Everything I have ready for you. I want to honor you…but then invite others as well.
I encourage you, let that happen. Let me pray for you.
Father God, this is an awesome and incredible thought.
I was an enemy of yours. I was the one who caused your death. You died for me.
Yet, then you prepare a feast for me. This royal feast of everything I would ever want in life
and then you invite me to it as an honored guest and you serve me!
God, that's crazy! God, but in humbleness we just bow and say Thank You!
Then God you say look around you at all the others…invite them in.
Father God, would you break my heart over what breaks your heart?
That we're the church…not a building. It's us. This week as we go out and we see people
all around us, that God we would step forward and invite them to this same incredible feast
that you prepared for us and we would invite them in as well.
God, thank you for this thought and God I pray that it would not just be in our hearts
and our minds only…that it would be in our hands and our feet as well.
We thank you in advance for what you're going to do. We ask this in your name. Amen!
We're so glad you joined us today!
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We pray that you have an amazing zweek!