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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Great Banquet

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"There's Still Room"
"Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:9)  "'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room'" (Luke 14:22).
The most remarkable eating place here in Lancaster County and actually perhaps anywhere I've ever eaten is the Shady Maple. It's an all you can eat buffet so I approach cautiously and rarely. I would have an even bigger pouch if I went there as often as I  like! The food is great but the most outstanding feature is the tremendous variety of about everything edible. It's by far the biggest restaurant I've patronized with the main dining area seating 1,200 people and the banquet facilities another 1,000. As much as I look forward to a visit to the Shady Maple, it pales in comparison to the anticipation I feel as I contemplate the great banquet Jesus is preparing for believers in heaven.
Heaven is going to be an extraordinarily remarkable place.  Among our blessings will be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, an absolutely incredible banquet that will surely be unlike any on this earth. When I try to figure out how all this will happen I quickly realize that while I live in this tent of a body I "see through a glass darkly." Or as the old hymn says, "the half has never yet been told."
Perhaps Jesus had this marriage supper in mind when He told the Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:15-24.  The overall message of the parable is about the excuses and outright rejection of many in regard to entering God's Kingdom.  That's still true today!  The Master instructs His servants to go out and extend invitations to a great banquet.  Many who were invited made excuses as to why they couldn't come. 
The banquet invitation was then extended further, "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame."  The servants returned to their master with the report found in the daily text, "what you ordered has been done, but there is still room."
Yes indeed, there's still room.  And today the Master's servants continue to extend the invitation to a great banquet.  Scores of devoted missionaries, evangelists and pastors are proclaiming "There's still room."  Dedicated lay people are taking this message to their world today, "There's still room."  Through this internet ministry Brooksyne and I want to declare, "There's still room!"
And of course many people continue to make excuses.  What a great truth is found in verse 23 where we read of God's desire "that my house will be full."
Let me ask you today.  Have you accepted the invitation or are you still making excuses?  If you have accepted the invitation, are you joining the servants in faithfully proclaiming, "There's still room!"
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, the theme of the great banquet parable calls to mind another parable where You challenge the conventional way of thinking as You forthrightly tell Your listeners, "the first shall be last and the last shall be first."  We see a lot of people who've been invited to the banquet table to eat of the Bread of Life.  Some have tasted and seen that the Lord is good while others continue to crave the pleasures of this world instead.  You are the Bread of Heaven that nurtures our spiritual hunger and the Living Water that quenches our eternal thirst!  Our lives will never be the same as they were before we drew from Your well of salvation.  Since Your well is bottomless and Your supply unending we invite all to inherit eternal life, for there is still room because You are not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  Amen.

Note from Brooksyne: One of the ways we can reach others to let them know "there's still room" is by sharing our testimony.  Since that can be very difficult to verbalize when one is nervous or limited for time it's great to have it available in print.   When people meet me as a "seasoned" believer it can be difficult for them to picture my life before I made a decision to follow Christ.  I wrote a brief testimony about my salvation experience about four years ago and often share it in my chaplaincy role,  in letters, and in other settings so that I can reveal the miraculous redemptive work God has done in my life at an early age.  If you haven't already, may I challenge you to write your testimony and distribute it to those you seek to influence for Jesus.  When Christ calls me home I can think of no other way to influence people for Jesus than to have my testimony read at my funeral.  Should you consider doing this spiritual exercise here's an easy outline I devised that may be of help to you as well:
1) My life before Christ
2) The way I came to Christ
3) The changes in my life after I received Christ
(It's important not to be too wordy or people will not spend the time reading it.  Major on the majors and minor on the minors.)

Here's an online version of my testimony.

Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24)

Jim and Wendy GambiniJim and Wendy have been our friends since we moved down from New England in early 2001 and he is the former pastor of the church we attend. This last Saturday their son Jonathan married Norma and we attended the wedding and reception. Jim is a good man with an earnest walk.  Wendy is a wonderful compliment to him and one of the kindest persons we've ever met. Both have been very loving to Ester and attentive to her. Since Wendy is often mistaken for Brooksyne's sister Ester calls her Aunt Wendy and certainly loves her as though she were blood related.

This wedding was a lot different than any I've ever been to:
  • Jonathan is a very colorful young man and he had all the men in the wedding party dress in kilts (you can't tell from the photo but Jim is wearing one.) That's interesting since Jim is Italian!
  • The flower girl pulled the ring bearer, a little guy about eight months old, in a wagon! That was sure cute.
  • But the highlight, hopefully captured on video for America's Funniest Videos: When the bride and groom were ready to walk back down the aisle after getting married the minister had mistakenly stepped on her train. Since she had some slack she walked a bit before being snapped back. He then lifted his foot and she lunged forward! Her new husband caught her.  He already proved his worth as a husband minutes after saying "I do."

The Shady Maple
The Shady Maple is a huge restaurant well known in these parts.

Today's music:
As we considered music for today's message an old gospel song came to mind, "There's Room At The Cross For You", but I was unable to find an audio online. But here are some great songs.
"Come Just As You Are" (Audio)
"Come To Jesus" (Video) A beautiful song set to some wonderful photos.
Another version  (Same song with different background images) The young people who put these together really do a great job (I assume they are young people!)

As I prepared today's message and viewed these videos I have several specific people on my heart today that I hope and pray will view them and indeed come to Jesus.

Anytime these messages are prepared some readers are going through a trial of some type. This morning we are remembering in prayer our readers in southern California.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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