Intro: The Republican Party mistakenly invited an Ohio prisoner to a $2,500-a-plate fundraising dinner in Washington. The invitation letter came from from Vice President Cheney to Robert Kirkpatrick at the Belmont Correctional Institution in eastern Ohio. Kirkpatrick, 35, was sentenced to nearly three years for drug possession and escape. "I'm going to tell him that I'd be happy to attend," said Kirkpatrick, "but he's going to have to pull some strings to get me there."
Target: I want to look at an invitation just as outrageous as that except it is no mistake. It is in
invitation that the God of the universe gives to people like you and me to be involved in
knowing Him and making Him known. I want to give you a specific invitation toward
that end. It is an invitation to participate in our 24/7 week of prayer.
Luke 14:15 (p.739)
What do you need to know?
Jesus teaches that the kingdom of God is a party.
1. Jesus pften speaks of the kingdom of God as a meal or a party. In fact 180 times the
gospels speaks of feasts or its derivatives.
(Illus.) What was your favorite meal? It is usually surrounded a special occasion. A birthday,
graduation, anniversary, wedding. Mine was a cruise…got the worse sunburn of my life.
But the food was wonderful because it complimented the experience.
(Illus.) Times at the table…When at those times my family is not home, or I am snacking at
night, it is just about caloric intake.
1. We have a king who represents the Father and in other passages we know this is a
wdding banquet for hus son to celebrate his marriage to the church.
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
2. Here is the picture…the smell of well-marbled steaks cooking on the grill as the smoke wafts into the festively decorated hall where they are having the dinner. A nervous cook grabs her one last taste of a subtly spiced salad. A first-century equivalent of a string quartet is warming up a kind of Mozart chamber piece.
This is a celebration for a son’s wedding.
3. The guest list is the Who’s Who of Jerusalem. As the party is ready to begin a servant of the king is all decked out and he strides through the center of the city, rapping with his knuckles on selected doors, calling out, to those who have reserved their
spot. "My master, the king, requests the honor of your presence. Come now, for all is ready." And their is expectancy—until we read…
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
4. How many of you buy real estate sight that you’ve not seen? In that day, real estate was negotiated over for a long period of time. It had belonged to the families and was passed on from generation to generation. You didn’t transact real estate without a long, complicated, arduous negotiation. And you knew exactly what you were buying ‘cause you had to fix a price to it.
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.
5. In that day it an ox was like buying heavy machinery if you’re a farmer. It’s like getting a truck or a combine, or a backhoe. You don’t just buy those things, pay for them, and then go see what they look like. You go check it out and negotiate a price. And the third one is maybe the lamest of all. 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 6. Oh, yeah, we know that wives hate to get dressed up and they hate to go to free parties where they don’t have to cook. Wives hate that! They’d rather cook up the hamburger helper and sit home and watch TV and eat foods that end in -itos, l i ke Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos.
(Appl.) When God gives us an invitation to participate in His purposes then all of our excuses are
(Illus.) It is like Rick Snyder inviting you to the mansion for a lavish party and meal and you say I can’t make it because I’ve got to catch up on episodes of Desperate Houswives and the Batchelor I’ve got recorded on my Tivo or DVR.
Jesus teaches about a wide open invitation.
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ”
9. In the next scene we see the homeless, the illegal immigrants, the welfare recipients, the crippled making their way up the steps of the governors mansion. Then when
there is not enough of them, then they get the rednecks and hicks out on the sticks.
“Tony Campolo tells the story of a trip which he took to Hawaii. Jet lag kept him awake late into night and he went for a walk on the streets of Honolulu. At 2 in the morning, he found himself in a doughnut shop. Sitting at the counter, he overheard several prostitutes who were sharing a booth. One of the girls whose name was Agnes mentioned that it was her birthday.
After she had left, Tony turned to the cook and the other prostitutes and said, “Let’s throw a party for Agnes.” The other girls agreed to bring decorations and the cook said that he would bake a cake. The next night, they all gathered at the shop and when Agnes walked in, they brought out the cake and began to sing, “Happy Birthday.” Tears streamed down Agnes’s face and, when it came time to cut the cake, she just stood there. Finally, she said, “Could I buy another cake and we eat that one? I want to take this one home and show it to my mother.” With that, she took the cake and left. In the sudden silence that filled the shop after she left, Tony bowed his head and began to pray. “Lord, we thank you for Agnes and for your love for her. You loved her enough to send Your Son to die for her on the cross. We thank you for the best present of all - the present of your own Son. Amen.” When he raised his head, he saw that all of the prostitutes had their heads bowed and had been praying with him. The cook looked at him and said, “You’re a preacher!” When Tony admitted that he was, the cook asked, “What kind of church do you have?” In a sudden flash of insight, Tony replied, “The kind that throws parties for prostitutes and gives invitations to sinners.”
(Appl.) You and I are the rebels and the low lifes who have committed cosmic treason. We don’t
deserve the invitation but it is still given.
What do you need to do?
Don’t miss the invitation with lame excuses.
1. And Jesus says that what has happened to many people is the invitation has gone out. And they’ve RSVP’d. “Yes, I believe in Jesus. Yes, I’ll follow through. Yes, I
want to grow.” But when the time comes to put it in practice they make excuses, they are a no show. The Holy Spirit raps on the door of our hearts: join the prayer
movement, get baptized, get to know your neighbor, help out in VBS. I’m too
2. The problem is not that their calendars are occupied. Their big problem is that their minds are preoccupied. And so the warning we must hear in this parable is while there's nothing inherently evil about our errands and appointments that keep us sprinting from the time of The Today Show starts through when the The Tonight Show ends—but beware of those things becoming the “golden handcuffs" keeping us away from God. Instead of you running your life it starts running you.
(Illus.) In data collected from over 20,000 Christians in 139 countries (though mostly in America) and between the ages of 15 and 88, The Obstacles to Growth Survey found that, on average, more than 4 in 10 Christians around the world say they "often" or "always" rush from task to task. About 6 in 10 Christians say that it's "often" or "always" true that "the busyness of life gets in the way of developing my relationship with God." By profession, pastors were most likely to say they rush from task to task (54 percent), which adversely affects their relationship with God (65 percent). (Illus.) Too many of us cannot even go one hour without checking our email, instant messaging, or social networking sites.
(Appl.) Describe the hour of prayer! There are all kinds of resources to help you!
1) Sunday to Sunday
2) We have people sign up for hour slots
3) You go to our west room
Septemebr of 2008
--I’m glad it’s time for another 24/7 prayer emphasis that will strengthen and refocus the Trinity family. Thank you for this hour with you.
--Dearest Lord, how I long for you…this time has only reinforced how important it is for each and every child of God to set time aside, real time to be with you and listen to you, to talk to you, praise you, to learn more about you. Help us every day to fight complaceny. Take us to a higher level of obedience and willingness to do you will.
--Dear Lord Jesus, the couple of hours I’ve spent in the room this week has been such a blessing for me. Going to a place dedicated to prayer only has had such a powerful affect on me. Having the opportunity to leave the distraction of work and home has blessed me more than I ever dreamed.
--I needed this special hour to spend with you to grasp hold of your outpouring love as I seek your face. Your presence is so near and dear in this room right now.
Don’t miss expressing the generosity of God.
When the pastor announced 172 hours of prayer at the church I thought, “Why here? That’s silly. I can sign up for a time and pray just as well from my home. Why do I need to come all the way to the church to pray?” But our pastor called us to prayer at the church, so I decided I needed to listen to my pastor. I don’t know about you, but there was just a neat presence in that room. You could not explain it to anybody, you know, and this wouldn't rationally make sense at all, but there was such a neat presence there. I didn’t see anybody come out that wasn’t full of joy. It was not like, “Oh my, I prayed for an hour.” I mean, they came out and they were energized. It was just a wonderful, wonderful time. And I’d be thinking about it during the week. I’d be thinking about [the prayer commitment] or driving by the church and I’d think, “I wonder, Who’s there? Who’s praying?” And there was just something about it all week–knowing this was going on– that just lifted me up during the week... because there were specific things people were praying for, but they were also praying for the body of Crossroads. I am grateful, Pastor, for the step of faith. I know it was an anxious step, but God certainly blessed it – and there will be blessings still to come in the days ahead. I am firmly confident of that.