"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 12, 2015
I recently read a quote by Luke Lang that said, "When you continually feel like you have to earn your place at the table, you never take time to enjoy the meal."
I love the story in the Bible of Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth. I know that I've referred to him in past devotionals, but I think in some ways I can relate to him. He felt unworthy of being invited to sit at King David's table for the rest of his life; and I sometimes feel unworthy of being invited to sit at the Heavenly King's table and feasting on the goodness and blessings of the Lord.
All of Saul's family was dead, or so everyone thought. King David had had a special friendship with Saul's son, Jonathan, and had been saddened upon his death.
(Story found in 2 Samuel chapter 9) One day David asked, "Is anyone in Saul's family still alive -- anyone in whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul's servants and inquired of him if anyone was left from Saul's family. Ziba told him that one of Jonathan's sons was still alive; but he was crippled in both feet. David found out where he lived and sent for him.
When Mephibosheth arrived, he bowed to the ground in deep respect for David. David greeted him and Mephibosheth replied, "I am your servant." I'm sure that he didn't feel worthy of being summoned by the king, and may have been a little afraid that David had heard that he was the only living relative left of the former King Saul, and was going to have him killed. He had no idea what to expect.
"Don't be afraid!" David said. "I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king's table!"
Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, "Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?"
David followed through on his word and told Ziba that he had given Mephibosheth everything that had belonged to Saul and his family. Ziba and his sons and servants were to farm the land for Mephibosheth and take care of it all, while Mephibosheth stayed with David and ate at his table.
2 Samuel 9:13 says, "And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at the king's table."
Mephibosheth didn't have to work for King David or do anything to earn his place at the king's table. He was given that dedicated place at the table for the rest of his life, because of a promise David had made to Jonathan, Mephibosheth's father. David chose to show kindness, and welcomed this crippled man to his own personal table; which meant that Mephibosheth was fed the choice food that was served to the king. He didn't have to sit at the table and watch David and his family and advisors all eat the delicious food, while he was served leftovers or crumbs. He didn't have to crawl around the floor looking for morsels that had fallen from the table, but he had a place of honor at the king's table.
God doesn't make us sit at His table and watch everyone else enjoy the choice blessings, while serving us crumbs or leftovers. We often are satisfied with that and scrape around on the floor for a morsel that may have fallen, because we feel as if that is all we deserve; yet there is a chair pulled up to God's table with our name written on it.
There's an old hymn that was sung in church when I was growing up that says, "'Come and dine,' the Master calleth, 'Come and dine.' You may feast at Jesus' table all the time. He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, to the hungry calleth now, 'Come and dine.'"
We can pull up and feast at the Lord's table at any time. In fact, He issues us a personal invitation.
In the Lord's prayer, one of the lines says, "Give us this day our daily bread." God does provide for the physical needs that we have; but He also provides for the spiritual. He is the Bread of Life and is nourishment for our souls.
Psalm 23:5 (NLT) says, "You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies."
When we are faced with dire situations and life feels overwhelming, God will feed our souls so that we will have the strength to go forward and keep fighting the good fight of faith.
There are times when we feel like Mephibosheth did when he first met David. "God, who am I that you would show such kindness to a dead dog like me?" We feel unworthy to accept the blessings and help and nourishment that God daily offers to us. He is saying, "Come on! Pull up to my table and eat! I have a place specifically prepared just for you!" But we're saying, "No, that's okay. I'm nothing but a dead, stinky dog. I'll just sit over here on the floor and scrape around for any leftovers that may fall my way."
God is saying, "You're my child! I want you to pull up to my table and eat!" We may respond, "I'll only do it if you let me pay my way and work for it. I don't deserve Your blessings. I'm not good enough. Let me do something to earn Your kindness, and then maybe I'll set down and eat from Your table."
If that is truly our thinking, then we will never feel like we've done enough or are good enough to deserve a place at the table of the holy King of all creation. To repeat the quote from the beginning of this devotional, "When you continually feel like you have to earn your place at the table, you never take time to enjoy the meal." God has a spiritual feast prepared for each of us. He has a chair at His table specifically reserved for you and me. But it's up to each individual whether or not we will accept His invitation and dine with Him. Pull up a seat and take the time to enjoy the meal!
Suppose the first time Mephibosheth started eating at David's table, he belched just as there was a lull in the conversation. Do you suppose David would tell him he's disgusting, and no longer welcome at his table? Or, if he spilled his drink, or tripped and dropped his plate? Even if Mephibosheth made mistakes every time he came to dinner, David would still welcome him, because David wanted him there.
We make mistakes. Hopefully not every meal, but often enough. Even after we've accepted God's invitation to feast at His table, we'll all make mistakes. Some of them may be as rude and offensive as letting loose a grand belch. But God won't revoke our invitation.
I'm sure Mephibosheth wanted to honor David by being on his best behavior, and doing everything as properly as he could. He may not have been trained in all the customs of a formal dinner, but he surely learned in time. And David would have been patient and would have helped Mephibosheth (or more likely had a servant to).
We don't always know exactly what will be expected of us when we make a commitment to God. But He is happy to teach us and guide us as a loving host (or more likely His Holy Spirit).
1/2 tomato, chopped
Jalapeno -- either fresh or canned
Chop tomato and jalapenos (you can use as much or little jalapeno as desired, depending on how spicy you want; you can either use fresh or store-bought in a can). Sprinkle with salt and add chopped cilantro and set aside. Cut the avocados in half and scoop out pit. Pour lime juice into the pit holes and sprinkle with salt. Scoop the avocado out of the skins and put in a mixing bowl. Mash them together until it's nice and smooth. Stir in the tomato and jalapenos. Best if eaten fresh. If storing in refrigerator, put one of the avocado pits into the bowl to keep it from turning brown; remove the pit before serving.
When my Grandma and Grandpa Horton were still living, they lived maybe a quarter of a mile (if that far) from us when I was a kid. That was both good and bad! Grandpa was a soft-spoken man with light blue eyes who rolled his own cigarettes, using Prince Albert tobacco. Sometimes he would give me a nickle to sing to him. He bought soft peppermint sticks and Neapolitan ice cream for the grandkids to have when they came to visit. Grandma was not quite so soft-spoken and was more apt to speak her opinions. She never wanted to babysit the grandkids or wanted us to spend the night. I cannot ever remember staying at their house. I would go visit with my parents, and when I got bigger might walk down by myself occasionally. She kept Little Debbie cakes (usually the oatmeal pies) for the grandkids.
They bought groceries at Smith's General Store in Blue Eye, MO. They each drew social security checks, so had their own money. Grandpa bought his own groceries with his money, and Grandma bought her own groceries with her money. None of us ever knew why, or knew how they separated out who was to buy what. We guessed that one reason they didn't pay for everything all together was because Grandma was NOT going to be seen buying Grandpa's red can of Prince Albert tobacco!
"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." - Will Rogers
We love you!
Loretta & Jon