An invitation to the table

My daughter says her friends call her the “Snack Queen.”

She always has snacks, she tells me.  Everyday, she’s handing out granola bars, breakfast bars, pretzels and mini-muffins.

I tell her that’s what my friend calls me:  “The Snack Queen.”  How can we have the same nickname?

So, she accepts  a downgrade.  “I’m the Snack Princess then.”

We laugh about it and I think the title fits.  After all, the Snack Princess has snacks with her to share because The Snack Queen gives them to her.

I like to pack little snacks wherever I go.  Little ones can sit through a lot if they have a cup of goldfish, and life seems a little less tragic to a tired three-year-old when they have fruit snacks to ease the pain of sharing or missing naptime.

Long days of errands and waiting rooms are so much easier with Cheerios.

Maybe I come by this honestly because Jesus seemed to serve up a lot of snacks, too.

In fact, Jesus perpetually invited those around Him to fellowship over food.  He invited them to feast.

Jesus began his ministry with the wedding party at Cana and went on his way, eating with sinners and tax collectors, having dinner at Matthew’s house and Peter’s house, Zaccheus’s house and in Bethany with Mary and Martha.

He multiplied lunches into picnic spreads that fed thousands and then served the disciples the bread and the wine on the night He was betrayed.

After His resurrection, He  cooked up breakfast over a fire by the side of the sea to feed the hungry disciples who had been out fishing.

I love this about Jesus, how He meets us right there in the nitty gritty of life, the eating and drinking and sleeping.  He doesn’t preach at us to be more spiritual or act like none of these physical realities around us are necessary or even good.

Other philosophies told people to deny the material world.  It didn’t exist.

Jesus told His followers to come, sit, and eat, not because the physical reality is better  or more important, but because it is part of living with Him.

He entered right in to humanity and broke down the dividing line–the spiritual, the physical.  It can be both and it can be good.

Our Jesus, who laid out feasts for  His followers and who told stories over meals, shows us this:


He provides for our physical needs, handing out fish and loaves to  a crowd that had nothing.  But He does more.  He handed the disciples the Passover bread and the wine in the cup and He told them to remember.  This was His body.  This was His blood.

Jesus provides not just for physical needs, but for our deepest, desperate spiritual need for  a Savior, satisfying the greatest hunger we will ever have with the Bread of Life Himself.

  • WE’re welcomed in

There is a place at the table for us and He welcomes us in.  Pharisees and tax collectors, sinners and religious scribes all dined with Jesus. He is a God who invites.

That means the invitation is there for us to accept or decline, not just for a feast here and now, but for the marriage feast we can share with Him in heaven if we’ve followed Him as our Savior.

The angel declares:

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9 ESV).


Because we are so blessed, because we as Jesus-followers anticipate this great heavenly feast, we celebrate!  We raise the roof with our joy!

We should become people of invitation,  because we’ve also been invited.  We welcome, because we have been welcomed.

Jesus gave His very own self for us so that we could be saved and that is cause for rejoicing indeed!

Isaiah describes the wonderful sight:

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.  Isaiah 25:6-8

This will be the ultimate joy, not just individual salvation, but redemption for this whole fallen physical world.

All that has been broken and destroyed by sin will be restored and made new. It will be made right as He lays out the table with the marriage feast, and we who believe Him and follow Him and love Him join Him at the table.

This is why we don’t have to be afraid

My son listened this year as I told the Christmas story to  a gathering of prechoolers and he reviewed it for me over the next few days.

He told me about Mary and about Joseph and about the angels.  He told me how Jesus was God but a baby and how Christmas was Jesus’ birthday.

Then, he told me how Jesus ate a lot of food, got bigger and didn’t stay a baby anymore.

Got it.

But he also says this:  “The angels kept saying, “Don’t be afraid!”

They kept saying that.  Over and over.  Those angels had this resounding message of  joy and they prefaced it with the command to “fear not.”

As we finish one year, as we prepare for the next, as we look to the unknown and the new and the yet-to-come, how do we let this message change us and change our perspective?

How do we renew hope?   How do  we quiet fears ?



It’s for those hopeless enough to feel like one more day alive is too much to bear.

It’s for those of us watching the clock at night, too worried about bills and our kids, our marriages, conflicts with family, or problems at work to sleep in peace.

It’s even for a worrier like me, anxious over the little things like birthday parties and church programs and a fresh calendar awaiting the activities of a new year.

It’s for the daily troubles that we turn into crises and for the life-and-death struggles we sometimes face.


That’s the hope we have.  Not us alone in a crazy, mixed-up, broken world.  Not us alone facing bills and divorce, depression or stress.

Not us alone against any road-bumps ahead in the days to come.

Emmanuel.  God with us.

As it says in Isaiah:

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Fear not.

That’s the loudest message from the Christmas story.  The one grand announcement over and over: “Do not be afraid.”  That’s what my son reminds me.

That wasn’t just God’s plan for our past.  It’s been His passion from the beginning of Creation—to be with us.  It was His driving desire all those years of patiently planning for our salvation through Christ’s coming, His death, His resurrection.

It’s the great passion of God’s heart even now.  In the book of Revelation, we’re told that when the battle is over and Christ establishes His forever kingdom, God will say:

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

We close another Christmas season.  We stop playing the carols.  We pack up the decorations.

We make resolutions and plans for the new year.

But this is what we carry with us; this is the hope we have every single day:


So we do not need to be afraid of facing anything in this life alone.

God is with us.

Originally published December 28, 2015

The Year of the Nintendo


That year, my brothers wanted a Nintendo for Christmas, that original Nintendo system with Mario and maybe Tetris.

They felt like they were the last kids in the neighborhood to finally get a video game system.

But, my parents delayed.  Should we have video games in the home?  Would it rot our brains and catapult us into a life of crime?

Finally my parents decided that owning a Nintendo could open up a whole new world of discipline opportunities.  When they misbehaved, my brothers could lose video game privileges.  That’d get their attention.

So, my parents bought that Nintendo for Christmas and hid it under their bed until the big day.

Only, my brothers peeked.

And they got busted.

For their punishment, on Christmas morning, they had to open up that coveted Nintendo and then put it aside.  They couldn’t play it yet.  Oh no, they had to wait several months before they could actually maneuver Mario and Luigi around drain pipes and clouds to save the princess.

My sisters and I could play the Nintendo.

My parents could play the Nintendo (if they so chose).

But my brothers had to wait, and the wait was excruciating: to be so close and yet oh so far away.

Of course, we think we know how painful waiting is.

We groan about waiting on God.

We commiserate with other Christians who complain that they are just ‘waiting.’

Oh, waiting.

I hate waiting.

Who doesn’t hate waiting?

If only God would step things up a little and get a move on.  If only He would come through for us on our own timetable.  If only He would cram Himself into our agenda.

We are anxious and hurried, demanding and impatient when God delays.

Waiting physically hurts.  It steals sleep and turns stomachs.  We pace.  We fret.  We take control.  We lose control.  We take control again.  We demand and whine, cry and manipulate.

Yet, still He lingers.

God is never rushed or harried, stressed or overcome by deadlines or the impetuousness of His own people.

He didn’t skip the 40 years of desert training for Moses and just give him a one-month crash course in leading a nation.

He didn’t speedwalk those Israelites through the wilderness.

He didn’t clear out the Promised Land in a day or build Solomon’s temple overnight.

And He did not send His Son to earth to save us one century too early.

Do we even know what that wait was like?  

How could we endure centuries of silence from heaven?

The Israelites came face to face with their desperate need for the Messiah constantly:

The sacrifices.  The bleating of the lambs.  The stench of the blood.

They couldn’t overlook or forget the deadly consequence of their sin-state.

They’d watch the slaughter today and know that they were only pure before God for one brief moment.

And then they’d sin again.

And the sacrifice would have to be made anew.

It was perpetual and constant.  Day after day, year after year of the law and rules and punishment and sin and sacrifice.

They were oppressed and persecuted.

Still, God asked them to wait.


At Advent, we remember the intensity of the longing for our Savior.  We recall how the world ached with its need for redemption.

And then Jesus came.

He came!

No more searching and longing, no more unfulfilled expectation, no more prophecies hanging unfulfilled.

No more need for sacrificial lambs because the Perfect Lamb had come.

No more imprisonment by sin and by the law.

No more waiting.

Simeon in the temple saw it.  He had been “waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25 NIV).

And when he saw Jesus, he lifted that infant Lord into his own arms and praised God:

For my eyes have seen your salvation (Luke 2:30 NIV).

He saw the promise fulfilled.

Christmas reminds us that God is at work even in the waiting and the seeming silence.

Advent tells us that God fulfills and completes His work at the perfect time, but He is ever-present, even in the interludes of expectation.

We learn here from shepherds and wise men, from prophets and priests, not to give up on God.

We take this to heart.

Yes, as we wait for marriages, for jobs, for restoration, for healing, for deliverance, for provision, for peace.

We choose expectant hope over disappointment and despair.

More than that, we live ever-ready and ever-longing for Christ’s return.

As the apostle John wrote:

The one who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!  (Revelation 22:20 NET).

Come, Lord Jesus!


Devotions From My Garden: Peppermint in the Spring

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!  (Psalm 141:2)

I bought it on a whim and I’m so glad I did.

Years ago, I was filling my garden with herbs.  I bought the tiniest pots of rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley and chives for $2 each and just hoped they’d grow larger over time.

Then, as I left the garden center one day I walked by another table of herbs.  I thought there’d be nothing among those leaves to entice me—now the proud owner of herbs I knew how to cook with and some I didn’t.

I almost passed by without even looking, but as I did a breeze blew through and I caught the hint of the most heavenly scent ever.

It was a tiny pot of peppermint.

I fell in love.

Over the years, some of those miniature $2 herb plants have overtaken my garden.  The rosemary has invaded the entire back left corner.  I keep cutting it back and still it grows undeterred.  The basil last year towered over my six-year-old daughter and made me crave Italian food every time I climbed the steps to my back door.

Then there’s the peppermint.  It quickly spread and overtook every available space in the right corner of my garden plot.  Now, as I sit here typing away next to an open window, I can smell the scent of fresh peppermint even with the gentlest breeze.

I’m pretty sure heaven smells like peppermint.  And if the aroma of heaven is sweeter than that, it’s aromatherapy at its greatest.

There’s no “if” about it, though.  We know for sure that God has His own brand of Scentsy and His own favorite aroma.

And believe it or not, it’s sweeter than fresh peppermint dancing in a spring breeze.

The Bible tells us that in heaven there are “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8) and that:

“Another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel” (Revelation 8:3-4).

Our prayers are being mixed with incense and wafted before God’s throne all the time.  It’s the cries of our heart and the pleas for grace, the humble praising of His name, and the intercession on behalf of others that fills the throne room.

They are a continual offering to God, a sweet-smelling sacrifice that brings God joy.

This, then, is truly my heart’s desire.  I want to smell nice for God.

Sound foolish?  Perhaps it seems silly at first.  And yet, what I really mean to say is that I want to be pleasing to Him.  I don’t want to be the foul odor among the incense of the saints’ prayers. I don’t want to be the one lone stench among the sacrifices offered up to my God.

I want Him to receive my prayers with pleasure and to take joy in the life I offer to Him, in the planned prayer times spoken at my table, in the heartfelt cries I send up to heaven without premeditation, and in the thousands of conversations and the running dialogue I carry on with Him every day, all day.

This isn’t a mystery, either.  We aren’t left to guess what life-scents God enjoys and which of those He finds distasteful and nauseating.

In Exodus and Leviticus we read that the sacrifices burnt on the altar before God could be a “pleasing aroma” to Him (Exodus 29:18, Exodus 29:25, Exodus 29:41, Leviticus 1:9, Leviticus 1:13 . . . ).

When offered with obedience, these burnt offerings brought God pleasure.

Yet, God told the Israelites “if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me . . . I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas” (Leviticus 26:27, 31).

Lives of disobedience and idolatry became the stench of garbage and death before God.  He held His nose at their offerings and didn’t receive their sacrifices.

So when you choose to obey Him, even when it doesn’t make sense and doesn’t fit into your five-year-plan, you are spraying on the perfume of the God-life.

When you pray with humility, when you commune with Him continually, and when you offer up praise, your prayers drift through heaven like peppermint on a breeze and like the candles making my living room smell like honeysuckle on a summer’s eve and my bedroom like gardenias in bloom (my favorites!).

This has become my prayer for today and the days ahead, that the life I lay on the altar before God, the offering up of my actions, my words, my thoughts, and the hidden motives of my heart, will be acceptable to Him.  And that the prayers I place at the feet of His throne are a pleasing aroma of incense to my God.

With David, we pray:

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!  (Psalm 141:2)


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14)


More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King