Invited 5

2 Chronicles 36:23

“Come on down!” It’s a familiar saying to many. The game show “The Price Is Right” made it famous. Contestants gather in the studio audience with the hope that they will be called to take part in the game and win prizes. When their name is called, accompanied by the phrase “come on down!”, they jump up and run wildly to the stage.

Their excitement is obvious. Their patience has paid off and now they have a chance to get something good.

The Book of 2 Chronicles is a conclusion of sorts. The history of the Israelites and all of their turmoil, their capture and bondage, their forced exile, has been chronicled and now has ended. What does King Cyrus declare?

This is the happy ending for the Israelites. They have been exiled to a foreign land and have hoped and longed for a chance to return to their land in Israel. Now, Cyrus has followed the command of God and plans to build a temple in Jerusalem. Things have turned around. Things are looking better.

Cyrus makes a declaration of his intent and he ends with an invitation. Anyone wishing to return to the land of Judah is invited to do so. May God be with them. May they be blessed and happy. Let them go up.

I imagine that at the word of this decree there were many who waved their hands and ran much like the contestants on the game show. They were ecstatic. Their patience had paid off. Something good was waiting for them.

Are we any different? We may plod along in life trying to do the best that we can. We may go from day to day hoping for the best, longing for something better, wondering if good will come.

Then God gives an invitation. We are invited to come and be in communion with our Lord. We are invited to have our souls meet with the Holy Spirit to be refreshed and renewed. We are invited to receive incredible goodness from God.

So to any of you who hope for salvation, who hope for goodness, who hope for peace and love – may God be with you, and may you go up to the table of God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you respond to God’s invitation?

Invitation 4

Psalm 23:4-5

While in Haiti working at the orphanage we were told not to walk the streets by ourselves since Port-au-Prince is a dangerous place. But one day we had no choice. We had to get from one house to the other and there was no ride and no escort. So we began walking the half mile back to the main house, and we were admittedly a little afraid.

Yet, as we stepped outside the gate to begin our walk, someone called to us and ran to catch up with us. It was a local artist, a friend to the family operating the orphanage. He accompanied us all the way from one building to the other and we were quite safe.

What comfort is offered in Psalm 23:4? Where does that comfort come from? What does God offer us?

It may be a challenge to trust in the goodness of God at times. It may seem that we are confronted with hopeless situations, a sure and definite hardship. Yet, if we can trust in God, we will find protection and comfort. We need not fear evil.

With God’s presence surrounding us there is no harm that can befall us. We must trust and accept the invitation from God to be protected and kept safe.

And more than just safety and assurance, God invites us to partake of His table. In spite of our enemies and foes, in spite of hardships and challenges, God sets a table for us. We are invited to be a part of His plenty, to enjoy His good gifts.

And these gifts come in abundance. Our heads are anointed with oil. Anointing is an act to mark a person as special, as set apart, covered, in a sense, in holiness.

And our cup of goodness is not just full, it is full to overflowing. The love and mercy of God pours out in such abundance that there is not room enough to hold it all.

God prepares and invites. We must simply accept and come to the table.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What valley are you walking in? Can you trust God to walk with you?

Invitation 3

2 Kings 7:14-17

Our previous church held a picnic at the end of every summer and there were many people who attended. I was not one of them. For many years the thought of being around all these stuffy church people in a park was the furthest thing from what I imagined fun to be. Then one year, I don’t know why, I went to the picnic and had one of the best times of my life.

With the experience of enjoyment came the realization that I had passed over many opportunities to have fun at these picnics. I had missed out on several blessings because of my doubts.

News of the Aramean army’s departure was hard to accept. What did the king decide to do? What did they discover? How did the people react? What happened to the officer who had doubted?

We so want blessings from God. We so want to be happy in our lives, to experience joys, to feel loved, to feel that we have been given plenty. Yet, it is so hard for many to believe that God actually wants us to have these things too. It is hard for many people to accept the fact that God is waiting for the opportunity to pour His blessings onto our lives.

We assume that we deserve nothing and we will get nothing. Or worse, we confess with our mouths that God is the Almighty but we really don’t believe it. Miracles can’t happen.

But in fact miracles can happen and do happen. Miracles are waiting for you to ask for them. God’s abundant mercy, compassion, love and comfort is just waiting for you to turn to Him and ask for it. Say the words and the floodgates of the heavens will open.

The officer from 2 Kings 7:2 was not part of the blessings of God. He was not part of the great celebration. He did not receive God’s gifts. Instead, he suffered and died.

This is not to say anyone who doubts the abilities of God will die, but if you are unable to believe and accept what God can do then how will you receive these blessings? This is not to say every problem and challenge will be swept away at a word, but if you can’t believe in the power of God how will you receive His help?

God has invited you to the table He has prepared. Come to the table and accept whole-heartedly that God wants you to have His blessings. Then receive them with gladness.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What blessings have you passed over in your life?

Invitation 2

2 Kings 7:8-9

Continuing with the story of the army of Aram laying siege in Israel, four men with leprosy have decided to take their chances with the enemy. They left the besieged city of Samaria to go to the Aramean camp. They had nothing to lose. Either they died of starvation or they died at the hands of the soldiers. But the enemy might be merciful.

Surprisingly, when they arrived they found the camp deserted. God had performed a miracle in the gathering gloom of dusk and made the Arameans hear the sounds of an encircling army. Fearing a trap, the Arameans fled and left everything behind.

What did the lepers do in the camp? What decision do they make?

Four hopeless men in a hopeless city enduring a hopeless situation decided to take their chances with the enemy. There was a slim chance that their lives would be spared and this attacking horde would share some food.

Instead, these four find an empty camp – empty, that is, of the enemy. But the tents were still full of food and riches, left behind because of the miracle God had worked. And now these four bold (or desperate) men could gather whatever they wanted for themselves.

But then their consciences begin to nag them. It is not right that they should enjoy so much goodness while the rest of the city languishes. The abundance and blessing of God’s miracle should be shared.

Our lives may not be filled with the same riches these four men found, but we are given abundant blessings from God. We are frequently witnesses to miracles and good works from the Lord. God fills our lives with goodness and meets our needs. And we are always invited to the abundant table of God.

But, God’s table is open to more than just ourselves. God’s table is meant for all people. Like the men in the story, it is not right that we keep our blessings to ourselves.

God’s abundant goodness in our lives should be shared with others. We can share in the material blessings we have had, and we can share in the spiritual blessings we have experienced by witnessing to God’s goodness or by sharing of ourselves with those in need.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What blessing can you share with others?

Invited 1

2 Kings 7:1-2

This story from 2 Kings is about a time when the army of Aram, to the north, has laid siege to the city of Samaria in Israel. The siege has caused a shortage of food and the people are desperate, so much so that the king of Israel is ready to kill Elisha, the prophet, in anger.

What does Elisha predict (as compared to 2 Kings 6:25)? How does the officer respond? What does Elisha predict about the officer?

Elisha’s prediction seems a bit vague, but what is intended is that the prices of food which are high because of the famine, will drop due to an abundance of food. In spite of the siege and the resulting lack of food, somehow there will be an abundance within a day. A miracle will happen to give relief to these people.

Yet, the officer who is escorting the king will not believe that such a miracle will happen. The result? The officer will not get to take part in the miracle.

This prediction from Elisha is one of many of this prophet’s miraculous predictions and deeds. But, for our purposes, we do not need to look at the mystical qualities of the miracle. Instead we can look at the king and the choices he must make.

On one hand he has the prophet of God claiming God will do something wonderful for those who have faith. On the other hand he has the officer who serves as his escort casting doubts. Will he listen to the prophet or the sensible officer?

The same question is posed for us each day. Will we believe and have faith in God that all will work out according to God’s purpose? Will we believe that God can turn the impossible into the possible and provide and protect us no matter what the circumstances?

Or will we rely on our own human logic and claim that the impossible will always be impossible?

When we fail to trust in the miracles of God we become like the officer. We miss out on being part of the miracle. We pass over the opportunities to see God’s mighty hand doing wondrous things. This isn’t mystical or magical; it’s simple common sense. If you doubt God you don’t get to be part of the miracles. It is when you trust in the mighty power of our Lord that you get to experience the incredible miracles of the Almighty.

DAILY CHALLENGE: When will you need to trust in God’s miracles?