The Dinner Hour

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOME

CONTACT

GOSPEL

COVENANT

FESTIVALS

TESTIMONIES

Q and A

Exposing Lies

 

The Dinner Hour

By Larry R. Lasiter

1999

In the Holy Scriptures, God has given us an abundance of prophecies which help to identify when we would be living in the last days. These prophecies reveal to us what will be taking place in the world around us. Wars and rumors of wars, an increase in natural disasters, Christian persecution and advanced perversions in human character. 

The Bible makes known by divine means that there will arise a king who will rule the world through conquest and deception. He will even claim to be God and will exalt himself above every form of religion, -he is called the "Beast" and "Antichrist." We see that the entire world will worship this man as God and will receive his mark. All that is, but the "very elect" which are true Christians whom he will persecute. The Bible divulges that a great religious leader called the "False Prophet" will arise and cause the world to worship the Antichrist. 

Through His Word, God also declares the End from the Beginning, letting us see past this time of trouble called the tribulation and into the future when Satan's reign will end and Christ's glorious reign will begin. 

SOME PROPHECIES WARN THE CHURCH

In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul wrote that before the Antichrist is revealed a falling away from the faith would take place among the people of God. Many will lose their first love of the truth and as Jesus prophesied, the "love of many will wax cold." Today there are various ideas and ways that we have come to believe as a proper measure in judging who is a true believer and who isn't. But let us never forget that Jesus said His true believers would be identified by their love for one another, -"A new commandment I give to you, that youlove one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. BY THIS all men WILL KNOW that YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)

Paul told the Corinthians in his first letter (Chpt.13) that without love, "tongues", "gifts of prophecy", "knowledge", "feeding the poor" and even "martydom" is all worthless in the eyes of God. And says that true "love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and isnot arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away." (1 Cor. 13:4-10)

GOD GIVES GIFTS & FRUITS AND HE EXPECTS A HARVEST

As Paul says, many things are temporary but the true love of God will endure forever, and will never fail us. Love is the very essence of God's character and the first of the fruits of the holy spirit named in Galatians 5. Notice that through the holy spirit, God gives gifts to us. Gifts of Prophecy, Healing, Miracles, Tongues, Discernment of Spirits, Knowledge, etc., but without love the use of them is useless. Notice also that, unquenched, the holy spirit will produce in us the valuable fruits of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control

PROPER EMPHASIS

Those of us who have accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ should carefully examine ourselves occasionally to insure that we are walking in the footsteps of our Savior. It is easy to place our emphasis where Christ did not and swallow a camel while straining gnats. We may find ourselves placing a heavy emphasis on a single commandment and forget that all the commandments are summed up in the love of God and neighbor. In so-doing we may find ourselves neglecting theweightier matters. We may come to believe that we are "making a stand for the standard of God" and fail to see that the highest standard God has given us is to have a love that loves when wronged, and turns the other cheek. In our zealousness we may separate from others whom God has also called and adores, or even put a stumbling block in the path of one of the Lord's little ones. 

BE TOLERANT AS GOD IS TOLERANT OF US

Christians don't always agree, and that is where tolerance comes into the picture. Not tolerance for willful sin, but for differences in understanding. In the Church at Rome there were some who refused to eat meat because of the likely-hood that it had been a part of an idol-sacrifice before it went to market. These brethren believed that to eat this meat would be wrong. Others had the opinion of Paul who said -"Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions"(1 Cor.10:25) and had no problem partaking of the meat. But Paul told them - "take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block" to those who felt it was wrong.(1 Cor.8:9) Love and concern for the brethren is more valuable fruit than perfect knowledge, notice,-"For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And thus, bysinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble (fall away), I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble." (1 Cor. 8:11-13)

Falling Away from the Father and Son means falling away from what and who they are, and from thepurpose they have laid before us to fulfill. Part of that divine purpose is becoming one with one another, serving each other, not only developing a one on one relationship with the Father and Son. (John 17:21) Without keeping God's commandments we cannot know God, (1 John 2:3-4) but neither can we without true love for one another, Notice, -"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one whodoes not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8)

James says that those who transgress this Law are committing the sin of partiality and have become guilty of all, because all the commandments come from the same God. (James 2:7-13) In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul asks, -"Is Christ divided?" Sadly, the brethren had split into various affiliations with each holding the belief that their particular leader was superior. (Chpt.4) 

But God desires unity in His Church, as David wrote, -"How good and how pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity and sweet harmony."(Psalm 133) Notice also Colossians 3:12-15, -"And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect BOND of UNITY. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in ONE BODY; and be thankful." Notice that UNITY has a BOND, and the perfect BOND is LOVE. Who would build a house of brick or stone without mortar? How could it withstand the test of time? Likewise, the House of God built with "living stones" upon the "Chief Corner-stone" (1 Peter 2)must have a substance to hold the stones together. The BOND is LOVE and PEACE. Without this perfect bond Christians can find themselves separating from others whom are still in God's grace and of whom God has not separated from. God judges the intentions of our heart. 

My friends, let us never forget that there are many places that we can say "NO!" to God and His willand purpose and fall away. We may deceive ourselves into believing that we can withhold forgiveness, water-down a commandment, harbor resentment, forsake assembling, withhold the Lord's tithes or not LOVE one another with a love that "is not selfish", "seeks its own" nor "bears one another's burdens."

Brethren are "gifts" to one another and are to serve one another with the "gifts" God gives them. We should all ask ourselves the burning questions, - "Are we doing the Lord's service toward others?" "Are we using our spiritual gifts to build up the Household of God?" "Is our service making a difference in people's lives?" (1 Cor.12 / Ephesians 4:1-16) If not, then all the study, prayer, knowledge and outward appearance of commandment keeping will profit us or God nothing. Love requires action, it produces deeds of good fruit. Now notice,- "The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him." (1 John 2:9-10)

FIRST-FRUITS MUST BEAR FRUITS OF SPIRIT

The fruits named in Galatians 5 are, in order, (1) LOVE: A love that is patient, kind and cares for others equally as oneself. (1 Cor 13 / Philippians 2:3-4) (2) JOY: Jesus said if we will abide in His love we will receive His unspeakable joy. (John 15:9-11) (3) PEACE: It is a gift from Christ and allows us to be a "peacemaker". It stands in sharp contrast to the deeds of the flesh (Gal.5) such as "strife", "outbursts of anger", "disputes", "dissensions" and "factions."( John 14:27 / Philippians 4:4-7)(4) PATIENCE: Rendered "Long-Suffering" in the KJV. Gives one the ability to forgive, intercede and turn the other cheek. A patient Christian will not quickly desert his brethren and is not eager to retaliate when wronged. (1 Cor. 13) 

(5) KINDNESS: Rendered "Gentleness" in the KJV, in its root means "usefulness." A kind person is benevolent in his ways and in his approach to others. (1 Tim. 5:1-2) 

(6) GOODNESS: Is the purity of motives, in contrast to "strife" or "selfishness." (Philippians 2:1-4)(7) FAITHFULNESS: In this passage it means being found trustworthy. We must be trustworthy to carry-out God's purpose for us, saying "Your will, Father, not my own."

(Luke 16:1-13) (8) GENTLENESS: Rendered "Meekness" in the KJV, means having an unoffensive manner, -being mild-mannered. (2 Tim.2:23-26) (9) SELF-CONTROL: Rendered "Temperance" in the KJV. The holy spirit gives one the ability to control the desires and emotional surges of the flesh. The end result is the performing of the true circumcision, the separation of spirit and flesh, allowing one to begin to live in the spirit man in contrast to the natural man. (1 Cor 2) 

THESE WONDERFUL FRUITS PRODUCE SERVICE TO OTHERS. Others benefit from our "Love", "Joy", "Peace", "Patience", "Kindness", "Goodness", "Faithfulness", "Gentleness" and "Self-Control" and God is pleased and glorified. God does not give these fruits to be buried as the unfaithful steward buried his master's talents, but are to be used for service. 

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is firstpure, thenpeaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:13-18)

THE APPOINTED TIME

Every harvest has its appointed time. In Palestine it was first the Barley in the Spring, then the Wheat in the Summer, and finally the Vine and Trees of Produce in the Fall. As Christians planted in the Lord's field we also have an appointed time when the Master will require of us "fruit" from the "seed" He has planted in us. John the Baptist warned the Sadducees and Pharisees coming to him to be baptized that God has an "axe laid ready at the root of every tree not producing fruit!" And further counseled them to "bring forth fruits of their repentance." (Matt. 3) 

Notice the parable of the fig tree, - "A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and HE CAME LOOKING FOR FRUIT ON IT, and DID NOT FIND ANY. And he said to the vineyard keeper, "Behold for THREE YEARS I have COME LOOKING for fruit on this fig tree WITHOUT FINDING ANY. CUT IT DOWN! Why does it even use up the ground?" And he answered and said to him, "Let it alone, sir, for THIS YEAR too , until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year; fine; BUT IF NOT, . . . CUT IT DOWN!" (Luke 13:6-9)

What a frightening and sobering warning from Jesus through this parable! The love and mercy of God is illustrated by His willingness to get into the dirt in order to help this person bring forth fruit, but the judgment of God is also clear, - those who will not yield will be removed from the Lord's field. 

THE DINNER HOUR - CROWNS ARE LOST

MANY ARE CALLED, FEW ARE CHOSEN

When asked by his disciples if MANY would be SAVED, Jesus answered, "Strive to enter the straight and narrow gate which leads to life, FEW will find and enter there." "But wide is the road to destruction and MANY will travel it."(Matt 7/Luke 13) 

Now notice the parable of the dinner in Luke 14:16-24, - "A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many." The "certain man" represents the Lord, and the dinner is the Wedding Banquet. Notice that "many" were "invited" or called. "And at the DINNER HOUR he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready NOW." Notice that like the parable concerning the fig tree and its appointed time to bring forth fruit, the "invited' guests are expected to come at the "dinner hour" when "everything had been prepared and made ready." "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, "I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; PLEASE CONSIDER ME EXCUSED." . . .And another one said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; PLEASE CONSIDER ME EXCUSED.". . .And another one said, "I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come."

Notice that God sees these reasons as the "excuses" they are. Notice also that at least two of the three believed they would be excused. "And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the Head of the Household became ANGRY and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame." "And the slave said, "Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the Master said to the slave, "Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, THAT MY HOUSE MAY BE FILLED. For I tell you, NONE OF THOSE MEN WHO WERE INVITED SHALL TASTE OF MY DINNER." 

In Matthew's account (Chpt 22) we see that the "King looks over the dinner guests" (vs 11) and finds one there without "wedding clothes"(fruits) and says, "Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?". . .Then the King said to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For MANY are CALLED (invited), but FEW are CHOSEN." (verses 12-14)

In these last days leading up to the return of our Lord, let us be like the faithful servant that was found "so-doing" by the Lord. Let us "be about our Father's business" in fulfilling His purpose for us. And let us not neglect the truth that we were put into one Body through the holy spirit to serve and encourage one another. And let us not treat lightly our high calling, our heavenly invitation. As Paul said, "sin so easily entangles us."(Hebrews 12) 

Let's conclude first with the inspired words of the Apostle Peter followed by the Apostle Paul. "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. ABOVE ALL, keep fervent in your LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER, because LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a SPECIAL GIFT, EMPLOY IT in SERVING ONE ANOTHER, as GOOD STEWARDS of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4:7-10)

"Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)

My friends, many of us are the "invited guests" and have come to our "dinner hour" when the Master is waiting for our answer. For some, it is the "appointed time" of harvest when the Master is checking for "fruit." God is patient and suffers long with us, but He will not always, -His divine purpose will be fulfilled even if He has to give someone else our crown. At the return of Christ we will ultimately be in one of two categories won't we? We will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant," or "Depart from Me, you who practice sin."

Let us press toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, and by our deeds, insure that we will be there at the "Dinner Hour."

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries