My wife, Bridgette, is the “hostess with the mostest” and enjoys entertaining guests for dinner in our home. She puts on a spread that fills the house with enticing aromas from the kitchen! Whether it’s for a dinner party or just for our family of four, I’ve watched her pore over lists–grocery lists, to-do lists, and don’t-forget lists–in preparation for each of the meals. I believe she truly enjoys filling the table with great-tasting food. And I, well, I enjoy that she fills the table with great-tasting food, as well!
But I have noticed one specific thing over these 19 years of marriage about when Bridgette cooks: when she calls you to dinner, she wants you there ASAP, if not sooner. Few things rile her like our family’s delay in getting to the table when the food is hot and ready to serve. Why? Because she’s worked hard to pull off a timely completion of each dish and knows that it’s best enjoyed when it’s fresh from the oven…right when it’s hot! She’s calling, “It’s ready! It’s hot! Come and eat it!”
“It’s ready! It’s hot! Come and eat it!”
In comparison, when the Gospel is served, such as through a church service or on the street or through an outreach in the community, it’s important for an invitation to be given for the “guests” to “come to the table”. ASAP, if not sooner. The truth of the matter is, we may never have another opportunity with the individuals present to extend the invitation for eternal life. He may never darken the doors of our church again. She may fall prey to a ploy of the enemy to snatch her very life! Their marriage may be headed for divorce if something doesn’t intervene today. Those children are choosing today how the rest of their days will be lived.
This past Sunday I was preaching in a mid-sized Oklahoma community. Both services at the host church were immeasurably powerful with incredible results. People were hungry for the moving of the Spirit and the preached Word. The altars were filled and God did great things. But as the evening service drew to a close, my spirit was prompted by the Holy Spirit to give one final altar call: a call for salvation. At that point in the day, rationale would say “Everyone is saved here. No need to give another call. Don’t drag the service out.” But the Holy Spirit said otherwise. I obeyed and offered one more opportunity for someone to accept Christ.
From the back of the sanctuary, a man walked forward to the altar area and repented before the Lord, leaving his old life and taking on a brand new one. Unbeknownst to me, the man had never attended that church and was looking for a chance to turn his life around. The Holy Spirit had been working on him throughout the service. And that was his moment of truth. That was his invitation to the table, while the “food was hot”.
We can’t assume that we know the condition of the heart of man, even if we recognize every face in the room.
May we never dismiss a service or time of presenting the Gospel without giving someone the opportunity to accept eternal life and step forward for prayer. We can’t assume that we know the condition of the heart of man, even if we recognize every face in the room. Pastor, evangelist, children’s pastor, youth pastor, missionary, I challenge you: he may respond every service or she may have declined every invitation. But the Holy Spirit is at work through the preaching of God’s Word. May we as preachers of the Gospel be hosts with an urgent call: “It’s ready! It’s hot! Come and eat it! It’s for you!”
Because time is short…