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You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

Imagine for a moment that life is one large banquet and you are an honored guest. As you seat yourself with the others at the table you notice something rather odd. The placards at each setting have words on them. You naturally assume that the words are the names of the person seated there, but on closer inspection you realize that isn’t true at all.

The person across from you has a placard that reads ‘caught in adultery’. The person down the table from you three places has one that says ‘addicted to alcohol’. Another says ‘victim of financial ruin due to poor choices.’ And on the list goes. It suddenly dawns on you that you have no idea what your placard says. You read it. Your first impulse is to hide the words, but then the room is filled with a wonderful aroma.

You look for the source of this wonderful scent and your eyes are immediately drawn to a white robed figure making his way around the table. He stops at each place and anoints the person’s head with oil. Soothing, wonderful smelling oil that changes each person it touches. With each anointing the recipient’s face glows. Partially from the soothing effects of the oil. Partially from the joy that seems to flood that person’s soul.

Then you notice another oddity. As each person is anointed, the words on their placard mysteriously change. The descriptions of the person’s failings are replaced by a single word: GRACE!

In essence that is the word picture the Psalmist has for each of us. To be anointed with oil was a custom of honor and distinction in Bible times. Honored guests were anointed with oil and as a result the room was filled with a wonderful fragrance for all to enjoy, and the person anointed felt within himself the soothing, healing effects of the oil on his hot, dusty head and face.

Each of us comes to the ‘table’ of life with robes that are tarnished by the daily struggles we face. Before us is a placard with words that describe the struggles of our lives: worry, anger, disbelief, immorality, judgmental spirit, murder, abuse, gluttony…and more. Yet if you are a Christ-follower, those words are replaced when the master comes to anoint you with the oil of his forgiveness, his love and his mercy.

That’s grace. Grace is living with the anointing of Jesus in our lives. None of us deserves it. We don’t deserve to be in the same house as the banquet much less sitting at the table.  Yet because of his sacrifice for us, we are treated as honored guests. Feel the soothing effect of the oil on your head and face as it removes the guilt of past mistakes. Smell the fragrance of forgiveness. Enjoy the euphoria of his grace as it permeates those darkest corners of your soul.

Not only does his anointing remove the stains of your past. His promises to you are so numerous that your cup will overflow with his blessings.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’m reminded once more of the rich blessings I have because of you. I am so unworthy of your love. So undeserving of your forgiveness. I’ve failed you. I’ve hurt others. Worst of all, there are so many ways I’ve failed myself. Please forgive me for the times I’ve not listened to you. Anoint me with the oil of your grace so that I will be a pleasing aroma to you and those around me. In your name I pray, Amen.

You prepare a feast for me, in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Psalm 23:5 (NLT)

Sometimes we feel completely overwhelmed with life. It seems like all of our enemies are crouching at our door, waiting for an opportune time to attack and conquer us. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are emotional enemies like worry, fear, our past sins, hidden sins and the fear of being found out or feeling like we are a failure and we will never be successful.

Sometimes those enemies are physical enemies such as illness, debt, abusive relationships or critics. Enemies can be consequences of poor decisions in the past. We know we are forgiven. We know God loves us, but we can’t shake the guilt. We can’t get past the realization of hindered and destroyed dreams. We are so imprisoned by ‘what could have been’ that we are fail to see ‘what could be’.

The Psalmist paints a beautiful picture for those of us hounded by emotional and physical enemies in our lives. In the midst of the battlefield, our Heavenly Father places a great feast and you are the guest of honor! The only way you can eat a feast in the midst of your enemies is if the person putting on the feast is stronger than all the enemies that surround you. It’s as if you are able to eat and celebrate in complete safety while your enemies sit just outside the door rendered completely helpless and unable to attack.

This is no small meal that God has prepared for you. This is a feast! Everything at a feast is for your pleasure and comfort. You have servants to wait on you and bring you what your heart desires. The atmosphere is festive and safe. Although there are problems just outside the door, they have no affect on you.

As guest of honor, the master himself anoints you with oil. Anointing of oil was done in the Psalmists day to honored guests. It was aromatic oil that smelled good and refreshed your soul after a hot dusty day.

During those times when the enemies lurking at your door seem ready to break the walls down; in those quiet moments when fear and worry are relentless in their pursuit of you, remember that even in the mist of trial and turmoil your Heavenly Father has the power and desire to provide for you.

Draw close to God during the fearful times. He is passionate in His desire for you as a passionate lover desires the one he loves. When you rely on Him for protection and wisdom the enemies lurking at the door will have no power over you.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I thank you for the picture I have in my mind right now. A picture of a table, a great feast where I sit in the midst of a huge celebration. Although there are enemies at my door I sit in peace and comfort knowing that you will protect me. The fragrant oil of your love relaxes me in your presence. Help me today to live as the guest of honor. No enemy can attack when you are near. I praise you for your love and protection. Amen.

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