Luke 14:12-14, Jesus was speaking. “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 recompense be made thee. When thou makest a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” I don’t know that Jesus ever had the privilege of having a dinner like this, in the sense that He had no home of His own to invite people, but in a very real sense He opened up the home of His heavenly Father to us who were maimed, lame, blind and poor. He invited us in to partake of the things that are divine. Here we sit today and we are enjoying things that this world doesn’t understand and cannot appreciate – things that come from God Himself. Those of us who felt so poor feel rich and some who were blind have had our eyes opened to see things that we didn’t see before. Some were lame and are strengthened now and some who were wounded felt healed. It is not because we are worthy or that we could ever repay but it is because our Lord is good and our Lord is compassionate and our Lord is kind.
Maybe I could tell you a little story of a family I met in Montana a few years ago. This family had a VERY expensive cat. These folks have paid thousands of dollars for this cat. This cat started out as just an ordinary farm cat and there was nothing special about it, just like any other cat on the farm. One day the dogs were chasing the cats and a dog got hold of this one and crushed its leg in his jaws. The children rescued this cat and the poor little thing had his leg crushed. The father wasn’t home and the children were crying and the mother hardly knew what to do but they put the cat in the car and rushed it off to the vet.
The vet cleaned it all up and they went to work on that cat. They put the bones back together; it was a very expensive operation. When dad got home he wasn’t very happy because he said that cat wasn’t worth a bullet that would have taken care of it. This little cat now had a cast on his leg and was hobbling around on the farm. Well the time came when the cast had to come off and they took the cat back to the vet and he removed the cast. They found that the bone hadn’t set right and infection had set in and they were going to have to amputate the leg – another very costly operation. So now this three legged cat comes home and one time the cat was outside and the wild dogs came and were after some animals on the farm and this cat hurried to get away on its three little legs but this dog got hold of the cat and tore it open. The children came out and found this poor little cat all ripped apart.
It was still living but in a terrible condition. So they took it back to the vet and he worked on it and they saved that cat’s life but it was another very costly operation. So now the cat came home and the poor little thing is in the house there. Interestingly enough, because of the price that was paid for that cat, that cat became very special in that house. All the little children and even the man of the home, that cat became dear to them. It wasn’t because of its pedigree but it was because of the cost that had been paid to save it.
So now that cat had a special place in the hearts of everyone in that home. I saw that cat running around on its three little legs and everyone just loved it. Isn’t that just a wonderful picture of our place in this house of God? We’re not in this house because of anything in ourselves; we’re not so different from the others in this world, but because of the price that was paid to save us, because of our response to that operation of the gospel, we have a very, very special place in this family of God, we’re precious to Him, we’re the apple of His eye.
If you were in that house and that cat got in your way and you gave it a kick, it would be just like kicking the man of the home. It is precious in that house and so it is with God’s children, each and every one of them that has responded to the gospel. Such a great price has been paid for each and every one of them; each one belongs to the Lord and we must be careful how we respond and how we treat one another. That cat, when outside the house, has absolutely no value, but inside the house there is blessing because of the price that was paid for it. Outside the household of God we have absolutely no value. I know that I have a nature just like all the other cats; I’d be chasing mice and running over here and over there, but I know that I am vulnerable, I know that I am weak and therefore I choose to stay within the house where all the provision is, where all the care is and where all the food for my soul is. It is a wonderful place to be, in the household of God, not because we’re worthy and not because of anything in ourselves, but only because of the goodness of the One that saved us.
Back to these verses that we read – about these that were invited. I believe that the Lord ever realised that there was a time that we were not well and we are not like we are today. I believe that the Lord amongst us would like us to go from this convention like He was teaching His disciples here – that we could go from here and treat others like the Lord has treated us – because there are still people out there that are feeling poor and maimed, lame and blind and we would like to help them too. We are just like that with our human nature – even in a wonderful fellowship like we have – that there are sometimes those that are left out – maybe the unfortunate ones who are alone, often the elderly, maybe single through no cause of their own. Maybe we don’t have so much in common and the more fortunate ones are the ones we visit and the others are often left out, but the Lord still loves them. Oh, everyone that has taken up their cross, denied themselves and are following Him, it is easy to have cliques, easy to include those who have things in common with us, but here He says, “Now if you’ll reach out to those unfortunate ones and include them, invite them in, the Lord takes note of that and there is a reward for that, there is a recompense for that.” May we have that little extra to reach out to those, and the Lord will make it right; there is a recompense for that.
I remember, when we were in the army and away from home, those open homes that took us young immature soldiers in; they just made so much of us! It was wonderful and was such an encouragement to us; we never forgot that kindness. People appreciate the kindness that is shown to them; it just strengthens this Kingdom and strengthens this unity between brethren. Jesus said that would be the mark that folks will see, the love we have one for another.
I love what it says in Matthew 25:31, where it says, “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:” — you know how it goes – “Before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on His left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me.’ Then shall the righteous answer Him, and say, ‘Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? When saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee?’ And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’” He said unto the LEAST of these my brethren; it was as if they were doing it unto the Lord Himself. The kindness and the love that was shown was just as if it was done to Jesus Himself. That was how it was weighed up; they were so precious to Him, even the least. Treat EVERY ONE of God’s children, every one of your brothers and sisters, treat everyone as if they were Jesus!
What I have found in my experience is that when I treat others with respect, they respond to me with respect. In that way we will be promoting Jesus. On the other hand, if I treat you like you are the devil then you’ll respond to me like I’m the devil. That way we will just be promoting the devil. If only we could treat each one as if he or she were Jesus! We might say that they don’t behave like one, but NO! EACH and EVERY child of God who has been born again has a little bit of the life of Jesus in them, a little measure of Christ in them, and if we respect that, we are respecting Christ. It’s that that we honour. Maybe there is a lot that is not like Jesus but if we respect that little bit of the Christ life that each and every child of God has, we’ll be promoting Christ in this world and that is pleasing to Him.
There’s a verse in Deuteronomy, back in the Old Testament, that says. For the Lord’s portion is His people. That’s right, even today the Lord’s portion in this world is His people. That is all that God is going to take out of this world. All the gold and all the diamonds, all that this world values and esteems as great and whatever, it will all be destroyed one day. All that He is going to take away from this earth is His people. That’s His portion and that’s what is precious to Him.
There is another verse in Psalm 16 where David was speaking. In verses 5 and 6 he said very nicely there, “The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea I have a goodly heritage.” It talks about the Lord’s portion being His people but here David was saying that my portion is the Lord; that’s all I want out of this life, that’s my inheritance, that’s what interests me. He had lots of money, he was a rich man, he was a king but his portion was not in what he had; he said, “The Lord is my portion.” That was his inheritance.
Then in the 17th Psalm it tells about people that have their portion in this world. There are many who have their portion in this world but David wasn’t amongst them. “My portion is the Lord.” Whatever the Lord decided was good, as Job said, The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Whatever the Lord decides, whatever the Lord’s will is, that will be my portion. Isn’t that wonderful? Imagine what that means to the Lord when there are those that are willing to put Him first. In this life that is what they’re living for. Oh, that is so precious to Him!
There is a man in the Old Testament that I admire very much – a very unfortunate man. When he was five years old his nurse dropped him and he was crippled in both his legs – no fault of his own, and that is how he grew up. Anyway, he was the grandson of King Saul; his father was Jonathan. When David was now king, he was looking for someone to show kindness to for Jonathan’s sake, and he asked, “Is there anyone of the household of Jonathan that I can show kindness to?” He loved Jonathan so much, and they said, “Well there is Mephibosheth, but he is crippled.” So David invites him to come and David gave him a place at his table.
There he thought, as days passed, that he had fellowship with the king and he had fellowship with the princes and it was wonderful. Oh, he loved that! There he was, year after year, and mealtime after mealtime. Oh, that meant so much to Mephibosheth. That was a wonderful privilege – just like us; in spite of our weakness, here we are enjoying fellowship week after week with the princes and the princesses of this world, and we have a part at His table and are welcome.
Then, for Mephibosheth, things changed. Absalom rose up against the king and the king had to leave the house. He fled from the palace, and the faithful ones fled with him, and Absalom took over the power. However, this one that was crippled couldn’t follow David. He asked his servant to bring an animal that he could ride and get away but the servant took the animal and loaded it up and he left his master and went to David. When David asked him where Mephibosheth was, he said that he had stayed behind, so David gave all Saul’s land to the servant. What could Mephibosheth do?
He was back in that palace and the new king and everybody was rejoicing, partying and carrying on. Something that touched me very much is what it says in 2nd Samuel 24th verse of chapter 19 it says, “Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king,” this was when David came back. There had been a battle and David was now returning and coming back to the palace and “Mephibosheth, the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace. And it came to pass, when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said unto him, ‘Wherefore wentest thou not with me, Mephibosheth?’ And he answered, ‘My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for I told my servant to saddle me an ass and I will ride thereon and go to the king; because thy servant is lame. And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.'”
What he did was he went into mourning; no one told him to do this and, when this change-over came, he just decided, “I’m not going to change, and I’m not going to wash, until my king comes again.” He was vile to all the others. I just thought of what Sheila told us the other day about being a young woman in London and being different from all the others, because she wasn’t serving the king of this world, she was waiting for another king; she was looking for another king and she was waiting for that king to come.
I thought of this man; he wasn’t going to change even if the others would have thought he must trim his beard and change his appearance. He wouldn’t, because he knew his king was coming again and he was prepared to be different from all the others. When the king heard this and he could see what Mephibosheth was saying was true, he said that he and his servant must divide the land, and Mephibosheth said, “Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my Lord the King is come again in peace.”
What Mephibosheth wanted was just to be there with the king, in fellowship with the king just like old times – to sit at his table and be in fellowship with his wonderful family. He wasn’t interested in anything of his inheritance; he let his servant have everything, it was not as important to him as to be with his king. Oh, what a wonderful spirit, when the Lord looks down and sees His children that have the same attitude: that they would let go of anything that would rob them of their peace, anything that would rob them of their fellowship with the Lord, let them have it, but we want this that is so precious to us. Nothing matters to us but this salvation; nothing matters but this that we have experienced in the Lord’s presence.
There is something about Americans – I’m an American, and despite all our lack and our ways, we are loyal to our country. I’m sure, and I hope you are too, that we feel this loyalty to our country. There was to be a veterans’ parade; I had served in the army and I wanted to go to this veterans’ parade, so I went and there were thousands of people on the side of the road. They had really put on a parade for the veterans and I joined the thousands of others standing by the road there.
The parade started and here comes the first great men that served their country there – great men in this parade, and it was something to see them. Then along comes the bands playing those patriotic songs that do something for you; the bands came marching along playing these songs, and it was just wonderful. Then came the tanks and the artillery; oh, the display of power that made you realise the power of this nation! Then a vast number of men marched past, and a number of things came by and it was just such a thrill.
Then at last it dropped off and there was no more, yet everyone stayed and waited for the next one to come. They looked and looked; was there anymore? Then in the distance we saw him coming. There was a man that had lost both his legs in the Vietnam war, and he was walking on artificial legs. He had started from the beginning of that parade and he went all that distance; every step was a painful step and he had a flag, and he was holding that up and his wife was walking behind him. On he came, throwing the one leg forward and then the other and you could see on his face that it was just all he could do to continue and to finish. Step by painful step and there was a hush in the crowd.
Here was a man that had given his life and his legs for his country. There wasn’t one of us that could help him; there was not one of us that had given a sacrifice like that. Oh, that touched me and oh, I wept to see that man. To think that all we enjoyed in that country, all the freedom and things that mean so much to us, that we value so highly, was because of those that were willing, like that man was willing, to pay the price – giving his limbs, his life, so that we could have freedom.
I just thought of this convention. Oh! It is wonderful to be here, such a thrill, and it makes one so proud to be a Christian. We see these brothers and sisters, these Godly men and women and it is just wonderful to see them, and then we see the younger ones coming on, all in step and all singing the same song; it is wonderful. Then we hear about the power of this Kingdom and we hear about the great things of this Kingdom, all that we have and all that we can appreciate in this Kingdom, but behind it all….behind it all there was One, like that man, that gave His all and lived on the front line, taking step after step to the last painful step after step, holding the standard high, to finish this course, with the blood running down His back and the nails in His hands and feet and no one could help Him, but they stood by.
This was all done so that we could have this wonderful access to God, this wonderful liberty. We enjoy it all because of this One who gave His all. That is why on Sunday morning we partake of the emblems because He asked us to do that. He said “Do this in remembrance of me.” Remember My body; remember My blood that was shed for you. If we ever take that out of the picture – all that other was inspiring but it was when I saw that man marching, that is what moved me to tears; that is what touched me and that was what made me walk away from there a different man.
It was all because of those that had given their life for their country. That is why we can enjoy what we do today. He wants us to remember that He gave His life, and that is what is going to change us. Because He loved us and because of all He’s given us, that is what makes us go out and die to ourselves, because we want to be like Him. We love Him and we appreciate what He has done. When we take the bread we say, “I mean that, I will do that, I want to do that with my life, I want to be faithful in my little way.” Then we take the cup; that is for the forgiveness, for the times that we have failed and come short and that encourages us just to keep on going. It is that that is going to help us in spite of ourselves, to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and follow Jesus.