God has many good thoughts for us (Jeremiah 29:11). This means God thinks about doing good things to us and giving us good things. His good thoughts for us are evident in the things He has prepared for us. In the Word of God, we discover the good things God wants to give us; we get enlightened as to the good things God has prepared for us. For example, Psalm 23:5 tells us that He has prepared a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that there are good works God has prepared in advance for us to do. And in John 14:2, Jesus said He has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven. But it’s one thing for God to prepare something good for us, it is another thing for us to actually receive the good things God has taken time to prepare and package for us. If we don’t prepare, we can miss out on some of the blessings God has prepared for us.
I am sure that on a monthly basis we all receive several invitations. We get invitations to weddings, birthdays, funeral services, baby showers, book launches, Church services and programs. Now let me ask a question. Is it every invitation you receive that you attend the event? The answer is No! We don’t attend every event we are invited to just because someone sent us an invitation. We attend only those events we make plans for, we attend only those events we prepare to attend. The preparation would include things like noting the date of the event in your diary, picking out what to wear for the event, putting in place transport arrangements to get to the event.
In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus told a parable of people God prepared a banquet for but they missed out on it simply because they were not prepared, they made no preparations whatsoever to attend this event. From the parable of banquet, we can highlight certain traits of people who are not prepared for the Lord:
1. Their priorities are not in order:
We see from Luke 14:18-20 that God wasn’t first in the lives of those that did not attend the banquet. Their business, work, marriage and family life where more important to them than being with God; those things took precedence over God. God wasn’t ranked as number one on their “To Do” list. Anything you don’t have time for is not a priority to you. Those that were invited to wedding banquet didn’t have time for the banquet; they didn’t have time for God because God wasn’t a priority to them. In Psalm 73:25, David said that there was no one he desired like God, but for many people today, they desire other things more than they desire God. Until we get to that point where God is more important to us than anyone and anything, until we get to that point where we put God first before anyone and anything, we can’t really be a people prepared for the Lord. If we are really going to be sincere with ourselves and say things as they really are, many of us haven’t really gotten to this point. Other things and people take priority over God’s presence, God’s needs, God’s Word, God’s will and God’s work. If we have to make a choice between God and a business meeting, we would without blinking an eye pick the business meeting over God. If we have to make a choice between waking up at night to intercede for our land and having a cosy night rest, we would gladly go for the cosy night rest over God’s work and need. If we have to make a choice between standing for righteousness and fitting into the crowd, we would choose being accepted by the crowd over standing alone for righteousness.
Paul got to that point in his walk with God where he realised that nothing is as important as knowing Christ, being with Him and living for Him (Philippians 3:8-10). Like Paul we can all get to this level if we truly realise that we are empty without Christ, if we understand that our time here on earth is limited and that the secret to not wasting our time and life, the way to live and not have regrets at the end of the day, is to put Jesus first in our daily routine, in our weekly agenda, and in all that we do.
Can you say this prayer if you desire a change in how you have been living; if you want God to become a priority in your life:
Father, forgive me for putting other things and people before you; forgive me for making other things and people more important than you. Please help me from today to stop relegating you to the background in my daily life, come and take the first place, come and occupy the center stage in my life. Help me to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness.
2. They do things that make God angry
God is very loving, God is kind, but at the same time He is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29); He is a God that gets angry and it is a terrible thing to fall into God’s hands when He is angry (Hebrews 10:31).
In Luke 14:21, when the servant went back and told His Master, God, that none of the people He invited to the banquet were interested and willing to attend, the Master became angry. When we treat the presence of God and blessings of God, as these people treated as nothing an invitation from not just anyone but the King of kings, we get God angry. I don’t know how many of us would turn down an invitation from our Governor or President to attend an event in Government House or the Presidential Villa. We would feel so happy and honoured to receive such an invitation. We would consider ourselves as very important people; as part of the crème de la crème of society and woe be tide anything and anyone that tries to stop us from attending this prestigious event. But when the King of Glory, the One that is greater and higher than any earthly king invites us to His presence, we turn down His invitation.
In the Master’s anger, the banquet; the blessings that He originally prepared for those who turned down His invitation, were handed over to other people (Luke 14:21-23). Those who ignored the King of kings’ invitation, had a divine opportunity to taste and partake of the blessings the King had prepared, but they boggled that opportunity. The result was their blessings were diverted. I pray for you and I today that whatever we will use our own hands to do that will make blessings planned and prepared for us to be given to another, the Lord will keep our hands far away from such things. Perhaps the reason why many people are struggling today is because of their carelessness, indifference and mismanagement of divine opportunities, it is because of their lack of preparation for the things of God.
God is very intentional about words and phrases He uses in His Word. It’s not for nothing that he uses a wedding banquet or wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14, to depict what those who are not prepared for the Lord actually miss out on. Let’s look at a typical wedding scenario to better understand what lack of preparation; what not attending to the King’s invitation can cost us.
At weddings food is prepared and served. God’s invitation is one of “Come and Eat”. In fact, Jesus started the parable by saying “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15) We must understand that what God is inviting us to eat is sweeter, richer, healthier, more satisfying and of greater value than rice, chicken, mouth watering cakes or any exotic dessert that can be served at any wedding ceremony here on earth (John 6:27). He invites us to eat from the bread of life (John 6:35, John 6:51, John 6:53). He prepares food for us that can heal our bodies and nourish our souls (Matthew 4:4, 1 Peter 2:2, Psalm 107:20). He gives us food that can strengthen us for the journey ahead and for any challenge that comes our way, food that fill us with peace and joy in the midst of trials (1 Kings 19:7, Jeremiah 15:16, Proverbs 3:1-2). The Owner and Master of the banquet who represents God, was angry because they turned down food that was priceless! May you not overlook or turn down the food that can build you up, uphold you and make you grow in the ways and things of God (Acts 20:32).
Another thing that happens at weddings is that you get to meet people. Old friends, new friends, friends you haven’t seen for a while and family members are some of the people you get to meet at weddings. In fact, you may even bump into someone that you have been trying to see to discuss something important with. So God’s invitation to a wedding is an invitation to meet people that are important to your life and destiny (Mark 2:1-12). May we not miss divine opportunities to meet our destiny helpers and all those that have important roles to play in our lives.
Roles or assignments are also given out in order to have a successful wedding ceremony. One person is put in charge of the drinks, another in charge of the food. Someone is responsible for the decorations, another for the cake, and another for the music. In God’s kingdom, we all have divine roles and assignments. God has made some of us responsible for prayer, teaching and preaching His Word, some are to take care of anything to do with administration and logistics, some others are to handle the music in His house, while some others are to look after children or the elderly or the sick. There are diverse assignments to be carried out (1 Corinthians 12:4, Matthew 25:15, Romans 12:6, Ephesians 4:11). It is when we regularly attend to invitations from the Master to come into His presence that we start discovering what our assignment is. You could miss out on your divine assignment, on what you have been originally prepared to do if you turn down invitations to come and be with the King of Glory. The more time you spend with Him, the more you step into your God ordained purpose.
What’s a wedding reception without souvenirs or favours given out? We usually look forward to them. Typically, these souvenirs have inscriptions on them. God also prepares gifts to be given out when we come into His presence. These gifts have our names inscribed on them; they are custom made blessings for us, blessings prepared specially and specifically for the individual concerned. Some of these gifts are spiritual gifts, some are material, some physical, and some financial. You can see that there’s so much to be gained from being in the presence of the Most High. Look at the instruction the Master gave his servant when the banquet he had prepared was ready – “And sent his servant at super time to say to those who were invited, Come, for all things are now ready.” (Luke 14:17) Not just one thing, some things, a few things, but ALL THINGS. So much had been arranged, put in place and packaged for those that were invited.
Now you can see why the Master was outraged when those He invited to the banquet:
• Didn’t take seriously the invitation to come and eat the spiritual nourishing food He had prepared.
• Were praying for a change in their lives, meanwhile they were not willing to come to the place the Master had prepared for them to meet those God wanted to use to bless them; to meet their destiny helpers.
• Were unconcerned and uninterested in their divine assignment.
• Didn’t show any appreciation for the gifts distinctly packaged for them.
Brethren, it is a dangerous thing for us to fall into God’s anger. Things that rightfully belong to us can elude us when the Master of the banquet gets angry, and so we must strive to do everything possible to ensure we don’t get our God angry. We must become passionate God pleasers who have our priorities in order like our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:17), like Enoch that walked so intimately with God (Genesis 5:22, 24), like Shadrach, Meshach and Abenego who would bow to no other but the King of kings (Daniel 3:16-18), like David who was so hungry, thirsty and desperate for God’s presence (Psalm 42:1-2, Psalm 63:1, Psalm 143:6).
Can we say this prayer to become God seekers and pleasers:
Father, remove from my life anything that can make me see Your wrath and anger. Please make me a son or daughter You delight in and are pleased with.
3. They didn’t understand that excuses don’t fly with God
Excuses are as old as the hills. When Adam sinned he had a good excuse to justify his wrong doing – “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12). The woman too had a convenient excuse – “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13). Did God accept their excuse for sinning? NO! God didn’t accept king Saul’s excuse that it was because Samuel didn’t come on time to present the sacrifice that he had to step in and do the work assigned to a priest (1 Samuel 13:11-12). Similarly, God didn’t accept excuses people gave to prove that they weren’t capable or competent for the work God was requesting from them. God didn’t accept Moses excuse that he stutters and stammers when he speaks (Exodus 4:10). He didn’t accept Jeremiah’s excuse that he was too young (Jeremiah 1:6-7). So, excuses don’t fly with God. The sooner we understand and accept this, the better prepared we will be for the Lord when He returns for believers.
Like those that were invited for the banquet, often times we have the perfect excuse not to be where God wants us to be; not to come into His presence and spend time with Him. I have an important business meeting, I have to go and check the goods I ordered for which have just been delivered, I just got married, and so and so forth. We naively believe God understands since they appear to be “genuine” reasons. Yes, those invited for the banquet weren’t lying, they were laying the facts as they were, but they didn’t realise that what they were simply saying to God when they told Him their honest and most convincing excuse was: Lord, what You are asking me to do is not that important, there are more important, urgent and pressing needs that require my attention. Your own need, your own request can’t wait, these other things can’t wait.
If we truly want to go far with God, if we want to be a people prepared for the Lord who would have no fear and shame when Jesus returns (1 John 2:28), we must do away with excuses.
Can you say this prayer to start doing what God expects from you, to be where God wants you to be:
Lord, I surrender and rededicate my life to You. Forgive me for taking Your presence and blessings for granted. Forgive me for putting other things and people before You. I need Your help Lord. I can’t do it without Your help; I can’t run this Christian race without Your help. Help me to stop making excuses whenever You call, whenever You make a demand on my time, talents, skills and resources. Father, I have said so many No’s to You in time past. Help me from this moment to start saying Yes Lord, I am available for You, Yes Lord, I will seek You, I will follow You, I will spend time with You. Here am I! Send me, use me, fill me, that when You come in glory I won’t be found wanting in Jesus mighty name I pray, amen!
PHOTO CREDIT:Miguel Angel Hernandez on Unsplash