Take Your Seat

 

Just imagine yourself a servant in the chief Pharisee’s house. Dinner on the Sabbath is always exhausting for you. But today is different! There’s excitement in the air! You can hardly wait to hear what the special guest has to say. After everyone is served, you finally get to take your seat with all the other servants, the poor, and the afflicted. Only the religious leaders, the lawyers, and the wealthy are worthy enough to sit in the upper rooms near the chief Pharisee and his special guest.

Jesus had become one of the most famous, but controversial figures especially among the religious elite. Why in the world did the chief Pharisee invite Him anyway? Was he trying to impress Jesus? Or was he setting a trap to publicly convict Him?

This Jesus no doubt had a reputation for not following the religious traditions. Maybe that wasn’t such a terrible thing. In fact, from your point of view, everything you’d heard about Jesus was all good. He preached to the poor! He healed the sick, the afflicted, and the brokenhearted! He cleansed lepers, cast out demons, and even raised the dead! Jesus was gentle and kind, ministering to the lowest of the low, yet spoke with such boldness and authority that rattled even the best lawyers. He demonstrated power with love and compassion like no other religious leader you’d ever known before.

Even you had to admit the religious leaders should feel threatened. Jesus was planting seeds of doubt in your heart and mind too. He made you question all the traditions . . . the religious system. . . this man-made machine that did nothing but burden and condemn you. Was this what God intended? You knew something was missing. You hungered for more, and so far, Jesus was the only one that whet your appetite.

In Luke chapter 14,

1And it came to pass, as [Jesus] went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

All eyes are focused on Jesus. Some listen and watch Jesus with wonder and amazement, while others are critiquing His every word, calculating how to outsmart Him.

The religious leaders weren’t about to let one man undermine their authority. They would put a stop to this nonsense once and for all! While they plotted, waiting for an opportunity to convict Him, Jesus did what He had always done . . . the only thing He knew to do . . .

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

Is it okay to have mercy and heal this poor man on the Sabbath? Would it be alright to reach out and show some compassion, and relieve somebody’s suffering on the Sabbath?

And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

And they could not answer him again to these things.

Everyone marveled at the miracle they had just witnessed.

Once again, Jesus challenged this complicated religious system with something far greater than man’s laws. Jesus touched a life with the love and mercy of His Heavenly Father.

Jesus knew their hearts. He saw right through the ones seeking truth and the ones perverting it for their own selfish gain. They waited to see what He would do next . . .

Jesus spoke in three parables.

The first parable was to those invited to the dinner:

7And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;

The Pharisees and lawyers smugly nod in agreement. That’s right. Save the upper seats for us, the honorable ones.

And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.

10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Everyone is puzzled, intently listening for further explanation. What is Jesus talking about? . . . He that humbles himself?

You can’t help but think . . . Oh Jesus! I’m poor and lowly, just a humble servant, but the only seat I’ve ever been granted is the lowest. Then you realize Jesus is speaking about something more than seating arrangements at a dinner party.

Find your place . . . Take your seat, but understand this seat may be lower than you think. Don’t think too highly of yourself.

Are you willing to be a servant for the Kingdom of God? Pharisees and lawyers, and all you who think you’re somebody, are you willing to abandon it all? All your traditions . . . your ideas and philosophies . . . your social status . . . your riches? Will you let it all go to humble yourself and become a servant so that Jesus Christ can be lifted up?

Jesus further explains in a second parable. This time He addresses the host of the dinner:

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.

13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

What? Did He say what I thought He said? Jesus was including you and all those sitting in the lowest chambers.

Don’t invite the elite crowd, the rich and influential, but invite those that have nothing . . . invite those that society deems worthless, the ones that can’t repay your favor.

You can hear the hostility in the whispers from the upper rooms . . . Who does Jesus think He is? Exclude us, and invite the poor and lowly? We are the holy ones! We keep all the religious traditions! We have studied the law and carefully guard it!

15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

Yes, let’s talk about My Father’s Kingdom.

Jesus spoke in parables to all those that were hungry for something more than a special seat, or a VIP status. He was talking to those seeking something greater than the here and now. He was talking about the Kingdom of God . . .

Jesus begins the third parable:

16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

What an honor to be chosen to come to a great supper! But they decided they had better things to do.

18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

The Lord had a great feast prepared, but they refused it. They blew off the greatest invitation ever offered anyone.

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

Extend the invitation to whoever is willing to come.

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

Fill the house with anyone who will reverence and honor the Master.

24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

And to those who put their interests and pursuits above the Lord’s calling, when all their earthly pleasures have run out, the ones sitting at the Lord’s table will still be feasting for all eternity. . . partaking of the Lord’s pleasures forevermore.

The elite sitting in the upper rooms had no clue what these parables meant. However, Jesus was speaking volumes to you. All your life the religious did nothing but look down on you. You were sick of the system that was nothing more than a marketplace where the rich and powerful exploited the poor and the weak. Religion had become a drudgery of buying and offering sacrifices to make things right, only to have to do it all over again.

Now for once in your life, Jesus was offering you something more . . . more than just a temporary fix . . . more than an invitation to sit in the chief Pharisee’s house. Jesus was offering you a place of eternal forgiveness and fellowship . . . a place to belong and be loved.

No longer looking in from the outside wishing you could be a part of the “holy” ones, Jesus was inviting you to come and dine with Him for all eternity. You didn’t understand any of it, but His words tugged at your heart, and tears of joy began to trickle down your face. Oh, what amazing grace!

What about you? Do these parables make any sense?

You’ve been invited!

Have you answered the call God has placed on your life?

Maybe you’ve experienced God’s love and mercy. You’ve found your place at the table, but like the social elites in these parables, you would like to have a say in who is seated next to you. You would like to decide who God calls and uses for His Kingdom.

Okay God, I can get along with this person, but please don’t make me have to sit next to this one. Do you know where they came from? Do you know what happened to them? Do you know what they used to do? I can tolerate this kind, but not someone that’s been through that. Please put me next to somebody I can relate to . . . somebody with a good upbringing . . . someone influential, with some class. Let me sit beside someone that’s got some talent and charisma . . . someone that has something to offer the church.

Have you ever been guilty of the same pious attitude?

All of us are invited to come regardless of who we are, or where we’ve been, or what we’ve done. No matter how influential or dignified, no one dictates who gets in or who stays out, and no one dictates where God places them at His table . . . no one except for Jesus Christ.

Maybe you’ve been snubbed by “churched” people, so much that you feel hopelessly condemned. You feel so unworthy like you’ll never measure up . . . like you’ll never fit in with any church. The truth is none of us is worthy, except for Jesus Christ!

It doesn’t matter what your background is. Rich or poor, intellectual or uneducated, talented or not, God has invited you to sit at His table. It doesn’t matter what crimes you’ve committed. Jesus is calling whosoever will, come! You are not less than anybody else. We all are nothing without the precious blood of Christ covering our lives. Every one of us come on the same ground . . . sinners in need of a Savior.

If you don’t know this Savior, Jesus, it’s really easy. If you want to be covered by His mercy and grace, all you have to do is call on Him right now.

Jesus, I know I am a wretched sinner. Without you I am nothing so I’m asking you to come into my heart right now and take control of my life. I surrender everything to you and ask you to wash my sins away, make me a new creature, and use my life for Your honor and glory.

Use the comment section to let me know if you prayed this prayer of repentance, or if you just want to share your thoughts about the article.

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040: Hinder Me Not

It’s the number one priority of your life! Honor and glorify Jesus Christ with all that you have. It’s no longer your life, but His to do what pleases Him.

It’s always the priority, or at least it should be . . . even if you don’t feel like it . . . even if you have a different plan . . . even when it makes no sense!

You have to get out of the way! Let all your opinions go! Let all your ideas and preferences go! Clear the way for the Holy Spirit to prepare you to be acceptable, to be transformed into a bride the Father will want to present to His Son.

Maybe you’re not quite ready to surrender that much to the Lord. You’d like to have a little say in what goes on in your life, . . . maybe hang on to a few of those earthly pleasures and avoid anything that brings too much pain.

Anything we give up, or have to endure is nothing compared to what Jesus Christ went through to secure us. Jesus gave up everything for the furtherance of the Kingdom! When He left Heaven to live and die on this earth, His commitment superseded His opinions, His preferences, His feelings, and even His rights. He could’ve protested!

I’m not guilty! I don’t deserve this cruelty! It hurts too much!

But He didn’t! He didn’t because He wanted to secure you and me, and whosoever will call on Him, to be His bride for all eternity.

But the Father won’t allow a bride that’s not worthy of His Son. Tune in to this podcast episode if you’re not sure where you stand. Ask yourself: Is there anything I’m doing to hinder the Spirit of God from accomplishing His work in me? Is there something in my flesh hindering what needs to be done?

Surrender to the Lord! Don’t hinder the process! The moment you see Jesus, face to face, it will be worth it all for you, and for Him!

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039: Grafted by Grace

God, this is not what I planned for my life! I don’t even know who I am anymore! Have you ever been there, wondering how in the world your life took this turn?

I’m sure Esther felt totally out of her comfort zone too. An ordinary Jewish girl suddenly finds herself submersed in the palace of the Persian king. She has no other choice but to go through a twelve-month purification program just to be presentable to the king. I’m sure there were days Esther longed to go back to her old Jewish life, to the comforts of familiar surroundings. But God had other plans for her!

When chosen out of all the other maidens to be queen, Esther probably struggled with submission, maybe even sympathized with the previous Queen Vashti’s rebellion to the king.

I’m not the right person for this! I have no idea how to be a Persian queen! I don’t feel like submitting to the demands of a king!

You know the story . . . God chose Esther to be an instrument to save the Jewish people, but it was up to Esther to surrender and trust God’s plan, even if it didn’t feel right or make any sense. A Jewish girl living in a Persian palace, . . . she was not supposed to be there . . . she was not supposed to be the queen . . . she wasn’t even supposed to go before the king uninvited. No, none of it made sense! All natural circumstances declared Esther was the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, but divinely, she was right in the center of God’s will!

What about you? Is your life not making a lot of sense right now? You carefully planned it all out (even if it was only in your dreams), and now you just don’t understand why things have gone so wrong.

No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, whatever is going on in your life, God has brought you to this point for a purpose. Like Esther, even if it doesn’t make sense, you have a choice to surrender your life to God and trust that He will work it all out for His honor and glory and for your good.  Tune in to this podcast episode and be encouraged to press on for the Kingdom of Christ. You can’t afford to give up! As you listen, consider what could have happened in the story of Queen Esther if she had chosen to give up.

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038: As It Is Written

How’s life treating you? We’ve all been asked the question, but how are you supposed to answer it? How do you measure how your life is going?

We all go through ups and downs . . . good times and bad times. When things are going well, we feel good about ourselves, accomplished, happy. Then there’s the trying times . . . nobody is without trials! There are times you feel like a failure . . . when nothing is going right! Those times when you question, is it really worth it? Each of us have regrets, and shortcomings. So how do you gauge whether your life has been a success or a failure?

Have you made your mark in this life? Were you elected to serve in office? Did you write a great documentary, or piece of literature? Did you climb the corporate ladder? Or star in a leading role? So maybe you’re not famous . . . 

Is it how much money you’ve been able to accumulate? The car you drive? The house you live in? The circle of friends you’ve established?

Or could it be about family? Have you been able to keep your marriage together? Are your kids doing right? Does everybody still get along and act like a family should?

What makes a person a success, or a failure?

What this world deems successful is a far cry from God’s idea of a life well spent. So when we stand before a Holy God, how’s He going to judge our life?

If you want to know more about what God expects out of your life, if you want to know what you should be striving towards, tune into this podcast episode. It’s really not that complicated because it is written!

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Psalm 34:8

037: Go In Peace

The woman was determined to reach Jesus no matter what the cost. She was a sinner, probably a prostitute, and viewed by society as nothing more than a piece of merchandise. She could be stoned for what she was about to do, but her devotion far surpassed any fear of what might happen. Despite her reputation, holding on to her alabaster box, somehow she pressed through the crowd and made it inside the Pharisee’s house where Jesus was dining. Nothing would keep her from serving the Lord! She’d heard about the miracles Jesus had performed so maybe He could help her. The minute Jesus spoke to the woman, she knew she’d made the right decision.

Thy sins are forgiven . . . Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Luke 7:48-50

Have you experienced true peace that only comes from knowing your sins are forgiven and God has a plan and purpose for your life? As you listen to this podcast episode repent, if you need to. Make Jesus the center of your life, and feel the peace of God cover you like never before.

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036: You Backsliding Heifer

Are you enjoying all the blessings of the Lord? Whether you acknowledge God or not, we all benefit from His loving hand each and every day. Sadly, even those who claim to be Christian take God’s blessings for granted.

I want God in my life! I need His mercy and grace, His protection and provision . . . but . . . can’t I still make my own choices? Pursue my own plans? Do my own thing?

Can you relate?

In the Old Testament, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, enjoyed all the blessings God had to offer. They never lacked anything! God was faithful to meet their every need. They were promised victory against every foe. There wasn’t a king, nation, or army strong enough, or clever enough to defeat the children of The Living God. The Israelites were the chosen, the apple of God’s eye. God loved them and longed to fellowship with them. God wanted to be their God, and yearned for them to be His people. The children of Israel had so much going for them, yet they weren’t satisfied!

Despite all the benefits and blessings, Israel refused to fully submit to God.

For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer . . .

Hosea 4:16

In today’s vernacular, this verse may be comical, but it’s no laughing matter. Why would God call His own chosen people a backsliding heifer?

Not even sure what a backsliding heifer is? Tune in to this podcast episode to find out, and as you listen, examine your own devotion to God. Are you fully surrendered to the will of God? Are you closer to Jesus today than you were yesterday?

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Mat. 22:14

Mat. 21:13

Neh. 8:10