The invitation in the church service has been a standard for many years in evangelistically minded churches. The evangelist Charles Finney, in the 1800’s, popularized its current from but a definite case can be made that in some fashion the apostles utilized it while preaching. How else could several hundreds of people get saved after the great sermon Peter preached in Acts 2? Speaking of invitations, I recall as a young boy getting my first one for a friend’s birthday party, I felt so honored and so enthused to go ! I wonder if we have lust the luster of that when God sends forth His RSVP’s?
Sunday morning at our church I started to give the opportunity in our church to respond to the message and a young man immediately raised his hand as if shot out of a cannon ! He was listening and he was doing something that we all should do from time to time when God’s Word really challenges us, RESPOND IMMEDIATELY ! I am convinced that the invitation time is one of Satan’s busiest phases in churches that have them. Oh the mind games that go on then: distraction (we’re thinking about dinner or the week), dullness (we don’t even consider GOD may want us to respond and we’ve been in hundreds of invitations so we’ve gotten used to them), deferral (I’ll take care of it later, Lord), denial (I’m ok, Lord, really – when I’m truly not – God has spoken to you and you are resistant), defiant (NO !! I don’t wanna hear it), discreet (I don’t want others to know, so I shut down what God has been trying to do in me for fear of men).
How long has it been since you have responded to God’s Word ? Not necessarily in an invitation time but maybe after reading something in the Bible and you made the commitment to change something for the Lord. One of the things I have found is that when we have a regular practice of such responses it helps us to stay spiritually tender and moldable by God. The alternative is not so pretty: spiritual callousness. It was the psalmist who warned of this and the writer of Hebrews saw fit to repeat it when they both wrote: “Harden not your hearts as in the provocation. . .” (Ps.95; Heb.3).
When you listen well to God and then respond in kind to what He’s trying to do in YOU, marvelous things can occur ! So today, take a little time to allow Him to do just that and marvel !! Respond as if shot out of a cannon, obeying what He’s said and your heart will truly rejoice and if you are in the spiritual doldrums now, rest assured you won’t be when you respond to God’s invitation !!