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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eating From God's Banquet Table

"You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies."
Psalm 23:5 NIV
It is a beautiful day outside of the garden. This fine day finds me strolling through a beautiful city park. Gorgeous azaleas line the walkways. As I anticipate the nice dinner that my husband and I are soon to share in one of my favorite restaurants, I begin to recall some very memorable dining experiences.
Have you ever experienced a fine dining experience? This morning I am remembering a very fine dining experience I had when I was in college. I had gone with a group of friends off campus to a friend’s home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before we headed back to school the youth pastor and his wife invited the four of us to their home for breakfast before we hit the road. To my surprise and pleasure, this fine lady had spread a beautiful lace tablecloth on her dining room table and had placed on this table her finest china and crystal. There were fresh flowers and she served us as though we were kings and queens! This was such an elegant breakfast setting that I couldn’t even begin to tell you how the food tasted. However, I do remember she served bacon and eggs from silver platters, grits and country fries from silver bowls, she poured coffee from a silver coffee pot; we drank orange juice from stemmed goblets, ate fruit salad from small crystal compote dishes, and enjoyed warm buttered biscuits.
In contrast, also remember my mother serving wonderful meals with delightful simplicity. Her best dishes were not fine china. They were purchased with S & H reward stamps that she received from the local grocery store. She then redeemed the stamps for casual dishes, one piece at a time until she had a complete set. Nevertheless, when she served super, she spread a simple table cloth and placed the blue and white Currier and Ives  dishes, paper napkins, and stainless steel flatware on the table with intentional care. The food was not elegant but it was way beyond delicious!
There have been many times when my husband has taken me to some very fine restaurants for dinner. We have not only enjoyed the beautiful setting and ambiance, we also dined on wonderful food. In addition, we have had the pleasure of paying a pretty hefty tab for all this fine dining!
Today it occurs to me that God has provided and prepared a banquet table for those who love him that far exceeds any of the above mentioned dining experiences. His banquet table is lovingly prepared each day by his almighty hands. His nutritious provision for me is well balanced with all that I need to do life well. There is plenty to eat today and more to come tomorrow and for that matter, I am invited to eat every day for the rest of my life. God’s banquet table is heaped with bowls, platters, trays and baskets full of love, joy, and peace. We eat his warm bread of life and drink his wine of the new covenant. Every morning there appears fresh new trays of sweet delicacies of compassion and mercy. Pitchers flow with milk and honey. The nutritional fruit of the spirit is available for the taking. God has provided all that I need for my spiritual health and I am daily nourished with patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control heaped up on platters from his bountiful pantry. All this and more is mine and yours free for the taking. All that is required of us is to willingly taste and see that the Lord is good!
In addition, God prepares all of this for us in the very presence of our enemies. In life there are often those on the sidelines that scoff at our beliefs. We receive negative comments regarding our testimony. A few non-believers create trouble for us simply because they don’t like what or “Who” we stand for. Most of these folks who are in our face seem to be very present, but for some reason they cannot see the banquet table that forms the backdrop of our faith. Others see it but have no desire to eat with us because the menu is not to their liking. Satan, the biggest enemy of all, certainly sees the banquet table but is angry because he is not allowed a single morsel. His goal is to lure us away from the banquet table with talk of a more delicious lifestyle. But we who have tasted and eaten from this fine banquet table know that God’s banquet table is the best place to eat in the entire world, bar none! So we who love him continue to feast with our Master daily at his table because we hear and respond to his call to “Come and dine”.
  1. Can you recall a fine dining experience in your past?
  2. How do you think it compares to the fine banquet table Jesus has set for us who love him?
  3. When surrounded by enemies, do you realize that you have an opportunity to dine daily with the Master and be nourished and fed all the good sustaining food you will need for whatever situation you are facing?
Dear Father,
What a precious thought. It is in the presence of my enemies or “the enemy” you gently call me away to an elegant place of splendor and say, “My child, let this go, come and dine. I have the table spread twenty-four hours a day. There is always a seat at my table for you.” Thank you Father that you want me to be nourished at your table with all good things so that I might live a healthy Christian life. Help me Lord, to visualize this banquet table waiting for me the next time I am caught up in trouble, slander, false accusations, and persecutions. I thank you Father that your precious Holy Spirit is standing by to escort me in an instant to my rightful place at your banquet table. Father it is my joy to know that I can eat your life sustaining food even in the presence of my enemies. Lord, in the past I have eaten amazing meals at your table, I have tasted, and you Father are indeed good!
In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.