Rejected 5

Psalm 1:1-3

Last summer we had quite a dry spell with no rain. We had just planted some trees in the front yard, so we had to deliberately water those trees almost daily to help them survive the hot and arid weather. The grass on the lawn was brown and dry, but the trees kept their green leaves.

Such an image is presented in Psalm 1. What should a person NOT do to be blessed? What should a person do to be blessed? To what is a person who delights in the law of God compared?

God’s blessings are waiting for us. He wants to fill our lives with goodness, mercy and love. But we can easily fall into our sinful, human nature and miss out on the blessings that are offered.

Getting caught up in wrong actions and wrong attitudes, falling to the temptations of the world, or joining in with those who criticize and judge and mock others can leave us in a spiritual desert. In contrast, we can be aware that God wants to bless us and we can dedicate ourselves to studying God’s word and trying to live as true Christians. Such a life will bring us blessings from God.

We will become like a well-watered tree, growing and blossoming in strength and goodness. We will be able to yield good fruit – the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of being a true Christian. Our souls and our hearts will not wither, and all that we do will prosper if we act in faith and serve God.

The blessings from God can be too easily rejected or overlooked if we do not spend our time delighting in God and being attentive to His commands. Living in communion with the Holy Spirit will bring us to God’s great table of abundance?

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you delight in the law of the Lord? How can you meditate on God’s law?

Rejected 4

1 Samuel 25:18-20

While on our mission trip I lost my pocket-knife, a gift from a friend. I was very disappointed until, at the end of the day, I looked in the vehicle we had ridden in and found it laying on the floor. What a relief.

Nabal’s rejection of David has incurred the warrior’s wrath. David has called his soldiers to arms and is heading toward Nabal’s home to deal harshly with the man. What did Nabal’s wife, Abigail, do?

The story of Nabal, Abigail and David spans all of 1 Samuel 25. Nabal has missed an opportunity to be blessed, and instead stands in jeopardy of being executed. But Abigail recognizes that gratitude must be shown to David. She is also probably aware that showing David kindness will result in more blessings.

Abigail acts quickly and prepares the gifts of food that David wants, then goes out with them to meet this powerful man. Her actions save her husband’s life, although he is not aware of this until later.

When Nabal finally realizes what he has done, fear (and God) strike him dead. For her kindness, David sends word that he would like to take Abigail as his wife, and she agrees.

Crisis averted (mostly). The blessings once rejected are now received and all is well.

We may, through our own wrong decisions or through inattentiveness, bypass the chance to receive God’s blessings. There are times when we get caught up in our worries or doubts and fail to see what God is offering us.

But the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew and the story of Abigail show us that God’s blessings do not wither or grow stale. They may pass on to others, or they may be waiting for us to finally claim them. God is abounding in love and mercy, and His abundant blessings are waiting for us to turn to Him and receive them.

As Christians we should never abandon hope. We must work to forget our past mistakes and be attentive and dedicated to serving God, and being receptive to His table of blessings.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Where might you find God’s blessings?

Rejected 3

1 Samuel 25:9-13

My sister shared the story of when she and her friends went to Washington, D.C. and visited the Smithsonian Institute. They wanted to see the big American flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.” They searched for a long time through the halls of the building unable to find this famous icon. They came at last to one of the workers there and asked where they might find the flag.

“You mean that one?” he asked, pointing to the wall behind them. What they were looking for was practically under their noses, yet they had not seen it. The same can be true of the blessings God offers.

In this passage David has sent a message to Nabal asking that David’s men, those who have helped protect Nabal, will be given food. What is Nabal’s response? How does David react?

Nabal is a wealthy man with property, goats and sheep. Unbeknownst to Nabal, while his servants were out tending their flocks David’s soldiers were kind to them, offering protection through their presence and treating them with respect. Now David would like to share in some of the blessings that Nabal is enjoying.

But Nabal is a surly and mean-spirited man and refuses to offer hospitality to David’s men. This is a mistake.

For one thing, Nabal owes David some gratitude for the way his servants have been treated. Second, being hospitable to a man as powerful as David would result in good things for Nabal.

But Nabal does not see this. He is not aware of the blessings he has already received, nor is he aware of what he could receive, so he rejects David’s request. In so doing he is rejecting potential blessings and stirring the wrath of David.

How often in our own lives do we overlook the blessings that we have already received? How often do we reject the opportunity for more blessings?

Those people I have encountered who can not find it in themselves to believe in God claim that their lives are filled with hardships. How can there be a God? They do not see the goodness that God gives freely every day. They do not see the blessings they have already received, and then pass over the opportunity to receive more.

God has given us many good and wonderful blessings, and He will give us more if we will simply accept them. But first we must recognize what we have received and be attentive to opportunities to accept God’s invitation to more.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Can you list the blessings God has already given you?

Rejected 2

Matthew 22:8-10

At our previous church we held a catered dinner at Christmas for the congregation. The meal was delicious and a bit fancy. When it was over we had sufficient food left over that we were able to take several complete meals to a nearby shelter, feeding all the residents.

What a delight it was to me to be able to provide direct and tangible help to people in need, and what a wonderful treat that must have been to those people – a lovely, catered meal.

Continuing with the parable of the wedding banquet, there is a great abundance of food that has been prepared, but the invited guests have rejected it. What does the king command? What is the result?

Specifically, this parable addresses the fact that Jesus was sent by God to offer salvation to the Jews, God’s chosen people. But most of the Jews rejected Christ, choosing not to accept him as the Messiah. Now, the message and offer of salvation – the banquet of God’s abundance – is being given to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who will believe.

But this parable can apply to any of us today. The blessings of God, if rejected, are not wasted. If any person chooses not to accept the blessings of God, not to accept God’s mercy and love, these gifts do not wither or diminish.

Instead these blessings pass on to those who will indeed believe and receive. If you will not come to the table of God and take part in His abundant mercy and goodness, there are others who will come.

And that is part of our work as believers. We are to be like the servants, going out in the world and finding all those who are willing to receive from God. Just as in the parable of the wedding banquet, God desires that His hall be filled with guests.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you help to fill God’s hall with guests?

Rejected 1

Matthew 22:1-7

The image of God’s goodness as a banquet, a great table of abundance, continues in Matthew with the parable of the wedding banquet. Just as with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, a wedding celebration, so familiar to so many people, represents the goodness of God’s grace.

Who prepares the wedding banquet? What did the invited guests do? What enticement does the king offer in verse 4? What was the result of the second invitation? How did the king react?

A similar parable to this one is presented in Luke 14:16-24, but this story in Matthew has a distinct edge to it. How does the king react? He kills those who rejected his invitation and destroyed their city. His wrath was great.

If the king represents God, then Jesus is warning us of a vengeful side to God. Rejecting His invitation not only makes us bypass blessings, it might spark God’s anger.

Another element missing from Luke’s version are the details we see in Matthew 22:4. In this version we see the abundance that is offered – fattened cattle and oxen have been butchered. The meal is ready. The king is reminding everyone of what they might expect. He is hoping to entice them to come.

Yet, this invitation is neglected. Those invited turn their backs.

And like so many passages in the Bible we can cluck our tongues at these foolish people. But, how different from them are we?

Don’t we bypass the blessings of God by refusing His invitation to us? Don’t we miss out on the great and wonderful grace and goodness God will pour out on us because we turn away from God?

There are so many who will not come to God’s table. Through fear or doubt, they avoid that deeper relationship with the Lord, a togetherness that will fill their lives with richness. A fabulous gift is offered, but many do not accept it.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you avoid missing God’s banquet?