Hospitality isn’t something that just comes out of nowhere; it’s learned by watching and being trained by others. Remember: “Hospitality is to bless; not impress.”
“No matter what, make room in your heart to love every believer. And show hospitality to strangers, for they may be angels from God showing up as your guests.” Hebrews 13:1
Building a House Started in the Beginning
Going back to Genesis, the book of beginnings, where the origin roots for humanity started, the Bible literally begins with a pair of open arms.
In the Bible, the first letter of Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew letter 'Beit.' It looks like a backward C: in the Hebrew language, single letters have meanings. 'Beit' by itself implies blessing, creation, and two arms open to welcome and to bless.
Into those arms, into that place of blessing, strangers are welcome and comforted and go forth. It literally means "house." Most people recognize the letters or sounds from the word Bethlehem which means house of bread. The letter alludes to the coming temple in Jerusalem, which was a representation on earth of the heavenly home.
Every house on earth is a miniature picture of that same place – and an outpost of our heavenly home, a sanctuary where we will be warm, safe, and cared for.
Hebrew reads from right to left. Using the 'beit' as the opening letter for the Scriptures, our Father is in one letter revealing his intentions for the whole story. In Hebrew culture, the meaning of house is more than just a building; it's a family lineage.
In other words, the whole Bible is telling us his intention is to open his arms and his home to build a large family. This theme is the golden thread through all of history.
Jesus Continued Building the House
God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would become the parents of generations of descendants who would bless the world.
When David was contemplating building an earthly house for God, The Prophet came and told him he would not build the temple but that his son Solomon would. Then the prophet told David that God will build a house for him and that his descendants would be on the throne over Israel forever. So in that context House meant a blessed and favored lineage of descendants.
When the young Messiah was 12, his family journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the feasts.
Isn't it interesting that God prescribed that the plan of salvation be observed in a series of seven annual feasts?
The Messiah stayed behind in the temple to debate with scribes and scholars. When his mother found him, she asked why he stayed behind. He responded: "did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?
Or did you not know that I must be about the business of building my Father's house?
As early as the age of 12, we find Jesus in the temple asking questions and learning. Even at that time, he was acting out of the realization of who his father was. The desire to do the things he did grew from the revelation of who he was. Every area of Christian life and service, as well as the grace to make us able, will naturally spring from the revelation of who we are.
Note: Jesus's revelation of his identity was not complete by what his parents taught him. Scripture reveals he went to the word of God to continue to understand who he was. In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus made his public declaration of who he was by quoting Isaiah 61 in verse 16; we have a subtle hint, "… As was his custom…" Jesus was doing something customary for him.
First, HE was going to the synagogue. Secondly, HE was turning to a passage of scripture. (a)
It had been his custom to read the scrolls. He went to the word to affirm and establish his identity. The word became the place to get particulars about his identity. This is where he grew in his knowledge of God and his knowledge of himself. He did not read the word to try and become the son of God; He read the word to determine what it meant about him.
Even as a preteen, he understood his call directly related back to the very first letter in scripture - The work of opening the father's arms and welcoming others to come in.
Even in one of his parables, he described the kingdom like, "there once was a man who was giving a great feast which he invited people. He sent his servant to tell his guest, come, everything is ready, but they all made excuses. The servant went back and told his master. Then the master sent the servant to hurry to the town's alleys to bring back the poor, crippled, blind, and lame. Soon the servant said, "There is room for more," so the master said, "Go out to the country roads and lanes and make people Come in so that my house will be full." Luke 14: 15-24, Matthew 22:1-10
The early believers understood hospitality is central to the gospel message. Wherever they settled, they extended open arms by offering hospitality which back then included the care of the sick, as in the story of the good Samaritan.
As the gospel messengers went forward, offering this good news how people received them spoke volumes. If the people they went to did not accept them and welcome them with hospitality, it was seen as rejecting both the messenger and the message. That's how much the father values an open spirit of hospitality.
Put yourself in the place of a seeker, a refugee, an abused teenager, someone unemployed, or a widow who's been invited to visit a monastic community. Now imagine you found your way there. What would you likely experience?
Imagine this Picture Painted
You would find a porter station near the community entrance whose chief role is to welcome guests and introduce them to the rest of the community. The Abbot and everyone else would welcome you with "all courtesy of love."
The Abbot gently inquires about what had prompted your visit, and so begins the ministry of conversation. He would read scripture for you, offer a prayer for you and extend the kiss of peace.
The Abbot would wash your feet, dirty from your journey by foot. Maybe today, such a place would have their car serviced and detailed, and your clothing would be washed and mended.
He would show you to the guest house, managed by a caring brother who would give you bedding. You would be included at the Abbot's tables for meals.
If the Abbot was in a period of fasting, He would break the fast because his higher priority was to the ministry of his guests. You would learn that the monastic communities highest commitment is hospitality to strangers, seekers, pilgrims, and refugees.
The Benedictine rule number 53 explains that "all guests to present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
Soon you would be given a soul friend, a small group, and a place for periods of solitude.
You would learn some scripture you would worship with the community. One or more persons would share the ministry of conversation and pray with you daily.
After some days or weeks, you find yourself believing what these Christians believe. You would be processing the beliefs of your heart. And they would invite you to commit your life to Christ and His will for your life. (The Celtic Way of Evangelism)
So there you have it how Ireland, Scotland, and England were WON away from the darkness of paganism with the power of loving hospitality.
Hospitality is powerful. It demonstrates to people the invisible kingdom of the Father, a household in the largest, most loving, and enduring family.
(a) Excerpt from Leadership That Builds People by Dr. Jim Richards
(& delineated from the COOKBOOK Part of the Family by Pearl Cozzens, Dave Duell’s older sister)
This last Saturday, we had a meaningful time of new introductions among women acquaintances and a gathering of old friends too. We try to host a monthly breakfast meeting with worship, word & wisdom, and often a guest speaker.
This day we had our morning cuisine over coffee, and then I asked the two questions, "What do you do when you are feeling left out? What happens when you didn't get invited?" The questions sparked great conversation and great insights among the gals.
First, we all identified with having felt that way before. Then Marjorie shared about hearing a speaker address that very thing. She shared about NOT judging the 'WHYS' of someone else. "Why did they leave me out? Why did they not answer my email?"
Are we easily prone to pick up an offense when we don't even have any details or facts based on how we feel? That seems to point to more of our own instabilities. And even worse when we involve other people by planting our seeds of discontent and speculation about our assumptions.
What if we each took personal responsibility for our response over the 'feelings' and dealt with them internally before we made lots of assumptions? What if we begin to live with some internal boundaries and integrity about how we respond to hurt feelings.
Could it be that our expectations for others are unfair? It's not too idealistic to believe that as Christ-followers, we can begin to live with predetermined guidelines for how to have healthy relationships.
What if our priority relationship was our friendship with Jesus.
Paul said in Romans 13:10, "Love does not harm a neighbor."
One woman proposed that we seek to understand others by being committed to just asking questions.
Then ask yourself, "What is my authentic expression?"
Do we nurse our wounds by going into "creating a story" mode? That means we may be imagining some fictitious scenarios that carry us further away from the truth of the matter.
What if a true friend challenged our story by asking, "Is it true?" What are you saying or doing by repeating your discontent, and how is that serving you?
I think it's important to recognize that there are different levels of friendship. Are we willing to allow a friendship to 'be,' or does it have to be according to our definition? The wisdom of Proverbs says, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
If we make an honest assessment of ourselves, we'd sometimes find that our expectations of others are rooted in our insecurities. Only a healthy self-worth rooted in our identity in Christ will help us be more self-aware in our relationships and expectations with others. We may need to get from Jesus what we are trying to receive from relationships.
I'm challenging you to release your judgments of others and enjoy the relationships God gives you and the great variety of gifts and talents, and qualities each friend brings to one another.
Pastor, teacher, author.
Fashion is constantly changing. So is music. But the intentions and purpose of God in music don't change. Our music becomes more filled with revelation and impacts our God whom we are singing to.
A psalm is a hymn of praise to God. The Book of Psalms was initially the hymn book for Israel. The Psalms are a classic example of Hebrew poetry. Unlike English poetry made of rhyme and rhythm, it consists of similar or contrasting ideas. I believe our praise and worship should reflect the finished work of Jesus in the Good News Gospel.
Paul speaks of preachers being sent out with the gospel of peace in the book of Romans. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." This sound, this new wave - the gospel of Jesus Christ - will ignite faith and reveal grace!
A cross-reference to the above verse regarding sound is found in Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.
This passage speaks of an expression that grows and travels--sound waves. Creation itself clearly paints the picture of the fullness of God.
Can you visualize warm, moist air under the shining sun with water rolling in on the beach? Waves! They continue on and on.
In the two passages in Romans and Psalms, the words "sound" and "line" are used interchangeably. Another translation reads, "Yet their message (or measuring line) has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the entire world."
I believe that measuring line, message, or sound is an ever-reaching revelation growing in the earth! It is the Good News Gospel. The Good News is being preached and needs to be sung as well. It's a sound wave, whether by preaching or singing of praise and worship.
Mark Hankins, in his book, Spirit of Faith, writes:
"Some time ago, I saw an article in TIME magazine that caught my attention. The article, What's Hiding in the Quarks, tells us how the discovery of Quarks was made at the giant Tevatron accelerator at the Fermi Natl Accelerator Lab near Chicago. The evidence came from collisions between subatomic protons and antiprotons at very high speeds. Not only were quarks discovered, but the Tevatron is so powerful it can investigate the structure of the quarks themselves. What are quarks made of? What is hiding in the quarks? The article states: Physicists were understandably overjoyed in 1994 when they discovered the top quark. At last, after 17 years of searching, they found the sixth, and according to the theorists, the last of matters tiniest, most fundamental building blocks.
The most troublesome loose end in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics had been tied up. Or so they thought. According to a report in the current SCIENCE, the same people who discovered the TOP QUARK may have inadvertently made a much more revolutionary discovery. Contrary to what physicists have believed for 30 years. Quarks may not be the most basic unit of matter after all.
Did you know that there is something smaller than the atom and the proton? All matter is made of this secret substance. The answer helps us see the origin of all things. The answer could be what many scientists believe today. Quarks are made of sound waves. The tiniest building block of all things is sound waves. Over and over, it says in Genesis, "..and God said."
You can clearly see that God created everything with His voice. As we pioneer declaring the gospel of grace & faith in places we've never been before, our words and faith-filled expressions sung in praise and worship and spoken through preaching and teaching leave an eternal impact."
In 2 Chronicles 20:20, King Jehoshaphat said, "Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper." And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the LORD, For His mercy endures forever." These singers were ahead of the battle! This was a huge step of faith! They were risking their lives by sending singers with instruments instead of soldiers with swords, and they believed to the degree they were willing to put their lives on the line. What a great demonstration of corporate faith!
Verse 17 of 2 Chronicles 7 says: "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you."
God conveys the victory His people can watch unfold by following His simple directive to "position themselves" and not to fight in the battle. Their supernatural rescue happened that day as they thanked and praised. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
These sound waves of thanks and praise obtained the victory that day and are a revelation that God wants us to capture. I believe the wave we need to see is the difference and fulfillment of this Old Testament picture through the Good News Gospel. This is our New Testament place of rest in Christ. We do not need to fight in the battle that His Son has already won! It is finished!
Teacher, Author, Pastor, Mother, Grandmother, Wife