Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hospitality Is More than Just Chocolate Chip Cookies Served With As Smile.

So what is hospitality?
Hospitality is the ability to welcome and graciously serve guests and strangers.  The Greek word for “hospitable” (philoxenia ) literally means “ lover of strangers” or “fond of guests”.  Our English word “hospitality  shares the same meaning as the words hospital or hospice.  This reminds us that hospitality has  to do with care giving and healing.  In extending food, shelter, rest and good conversation one is providing a place where people can be healed from the pains and sorrows of this life.

That is the basic definition.  Most of us would wholeheartedly agree that hospitality is a wonderful thing – especially when we’re on the receiving end of it.  After all, who doesn’t enjoy being invited over for a home-cooked dinner?  But being the one bestowing the hospitality – well, often times  that’s easier said than done.  Preparing a meal and getting your home “company ready” can take a lot of time – something that is a scarce commodity today.  Maybe you think your house is too small or not nice enough to have guests over.  You may be looking at your household budget and think you can barely afford to feed your immediate family, let alone host a dinner party.  Or maybe the thought of hosting a get-together completely stresses you out, or maybe you think you’re not good at it.  But to practice biblical hospitality goes beyond serving a hot meal or a cold drink. 

So why we should show hospitality?   It is a command of God, it shows the love of God through us, and God will reward us.
Our first reason is that God commands us to be hospitable:   It is repeated many times in scripture that we must be hospitable:

1 Tim 3:2 - An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

1 Tim 5:10 -  having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the [a]saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

Titus 1:7-8- or the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,

1 Peter 4:8-9: Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

We can assume from the many references that hospitality is important and should not be neglected or ignored.

          1.  It is a command to be a certain type of person:  As we see in Titus 1:8  We are to be hospitable and loving what is good, to be sensible   1 Peter 4:8-9   Use hospitality one to another without grudging  KJV.   Ungrudgingly!  That means we must be the kind of people who do it and like to do it.  In other words the command to be hospitable is not just a command to do something; it is a command to be the kind of person that doesn’t resent having to be hospitable.  The kind of person who doesn’t look at the extra dishes and bedding a bother and grumble.

The hospitable person is one who loves entertaining not only family and friends but also strangers.   

 From December 25, 1941 until April 1, 1946 more than 6 million servicemen and women who traveled through Nebraska during World War II fondly remember the hospitality of the North Platte Canteen where every troop train was met by volunteers who prepared and served sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes, and other homemade ‘goodies’ during stops there. back in time.  The soldiers were amazed to see the locals waiting for them -- even in the middle of the night -- and would talk about their brief visit when they got to the battlefields of Europe. "The men would say to each other, 'Ever been to North Platte, Nebraska? They never forgot even though the trains only stopped for 10 minutes. because The people of North Platte made those 10 minutes count."
Over 60 years later these men still remembered North Platte Nebraska. '

   The hospitable person enjoys looking after the needs of their guests, giving them food, providing them a bed, supplying their physical comforts.  The hospitable person does not feel imposed upon even by unexpected visitors.  The hospitable person has a knack for making strangers feel at ease in their home and church...

        2.  To meet the needs of others:   Rom 12:13   contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality
Philippians 2:3-5 , 1 John 3:17

3 Do nothing [a]from [b]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude [c]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

We often receive much more than we give when we feed those around us.  I think in particular Of Abraham who offered hospitality to three strangers and received in return not only the promise of the blessing of a son but also the opportunity to save his nephew’s life!
It shows Gods love through us

A family was entertaining the pastor and his wife for Sunday dinner on a hot, blistering day.  When all were seated, the man of the house turned to his six-year old and asked him to say grace.  “But I don’t know what to say” he protested.  “Oh just say what you’ve heard me say” the mother chimed in.  Obediently he bowed his little head and said “O Lord, why did I invite these people here on a hot day like this?”
This boy’s mother may have had the pastor as a guest, but she was not showing hospitality.   She was lacking a very important thing…. LOVE

Back to 1 Peter 4:8-9: Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

So how do we do this?

You would show them love by the way you speak to them and treat them.  This is important because the Bible says that God is love (as seen in 1 John 4:16   We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.   ) since God resides inside of us, this love should be shared so that the people by looking at you would see God being portrayed in you. 
You show love by sticking with someone through tough times.

You show love by reaching beyond your comfort zones.  There are no rules; the key is to care for others and to let others see Christ shine through.

Max Lucado says “Love explains why He came; Love explains how he endured…. Observe how Christ loved us…. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us (Eph 5:2)

Think about this:   A water pipe was designed to carry water.  I have learned that when you hook the pipe to the water, and turn on the water, the water flows through the pipe and out the other end.  When you are connected to God’s love, it flows through you and out to others.

Hospitality often results in unexpected blessing and reward…. Saying that God will reward us

Matthew 25:34-40
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
Jesus tells us that when we have shared our food with the hungry, that is not just those hungry for the physical food, but those hungry for love, fellowship and acceptance.

Imagine that…God rewards us for hospitality.

Hebrews 13
 1 Let love of the brethren continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

One stormy night an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel and asked for a room.  The clerk said they were filled, as were all the hotels in town.  “But I can’t send a fine couple like you out in the rain” he said.  “Would you be willing to sleep in my room?”  The couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted. The next morning when the man paid his bill, he said, “You’re the kind of man who should be managing the best hotel in the United States. Someday I will build you one”.     The clerk smiled politely...  A few years later the clerk received a letter from the elderly man, recalling that stormy night and asking him to come to New York.  A round – trip ticket was enclosed.  When the clerk arrived, his host took him to the corner of 5th and 34th street:  there stood a magnificent new building.  “That, explained the man, is the hotel I have built for you to manage.    The man was William Waldorf Astor, and the hotel was the original Waldorf- Astoria.
Think about it: how many times have you been encouraged in your faith or inspired to grow in godliness by one of your guests?  How often have you experienced sweet fellowship or hearty laughter or comfort and care in trial? Have you ever seen the power of God at work in someone’s life or experienced His provision for you as the result of hospitality?  I know I have many times.

Alexander Strauch reminds us that “Hospitality often results in unexpected blessing and reward.” So let us not neglect hospitality, my friends, but eager to extend God’s love to others.  We never know what blessing God has in store for us!

So this leads us to our conclusion:
So often we focus on the work it takes to invite, prepare and serve others through hospitality and we forget to look for God at work!   Someday we will stand before the throne of God.  On that day God will not praise us for the strength of our faith, Nor will He praise us for how well we know the Bible or   but He will praise us if we have shown hospitality.
Do you, do we show hospitality?
How are we to apply it?  What is your attitude? How do you show hospitality and generosity?  When was the last time you gave of your time and industry to benefit someone else?

Visiting the hospital or nursing home and talk to patients you don’t know this is a great way to Show God’s love through us.
Or how about paying for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant
By providing food or clothing for the homeless is a great way of meeting the needs of others
Or Take food to someone one you don’t know.
Invite someone to your home that you don’t know very well – maybe someone who just moved to town, your neighborhood, or who may be new to the church.
Drop in for an unplanned visit to a friend,
Mail some flower bulbs.
So remember God commands hospitality
                      Hospitality shows God’s love through us
                      God rewards hospitality.

I want to leave you with this thought:
An old Jewish legend says that one day Abraham was standing by his tent door when he saw an old man coming along the way, weary with his journey and with bleeding feet.  With true hospitality he invited the old man to share his meal and to lodge with him for the night.  Abraham noticed that he asked no blessing on the meal and inquired why he did not pray to the God of Heaven.  The old man said “I am a fire worshiper and acknowledge no other god:” At this Abraham grew angry and sent him from his tent.  Then God called Abraham and asked   “Where is the old man?  Abraham explained what happened.  Then God said “I have cared for him over a hundred years even though he has dishonored me.  Could you not endure him one night and so prove to him God’s love:
Where is our hospitality? Are we doing all we can for those around us needing hospitality, love and friendship?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Self Worth

“Let your beauty be found in “the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4
Christian ladies, you are not defined by your outward appearance. Your worth and value aren’t measured by what you look like. Your value comes from the fact that you are made in the image of God. Your beauty comes from the fact that the Creator of the Universe knit you together in your mother’s womb and made you just the way He wanted you (Psalm 139:13-16).
You are clean not because of anything you did or could do, but because Jesus Christ, in the midst of your sin, loved you so much that He shed His blood on your behalf…so that you could live and not die.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23) not to become slaves of men because we are bought with a price—because of that we’re told to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits because both belong to God. Not only are you not your own, but you are not someone else’s property either. If you are a Christian, you belong to God. And, if you belong to God, you are to glorify Him both in body and spirit.  

We are not to become slaves of this world, of the fashion magazines and what society dictates.  We need to remember that our beauty is an inner beauty that defines who we are.  Our outer beauty will soon fade away, leaving us with a few grey hairs, and lines in our faces.  What matters the most is the person inside of us all, and that should be one that reflects the love of God.

What is Good Friday?

Good Friday is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified. 

The Bible does not instruct Christians to remember Christ’s death by honoring a certain day. The Bible does give us freedom in these matters, however. Romans 14:5 tells us, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Rather than remembering Christ's death on a certain day, once a year, the Bible instructs us to remember Christ’s death by observing the Lord’s SupperFirst Corinthians 11:24-26 declares, “ this in remembrance of me...for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”

Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which Christ’s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centered on Christ suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lord's Supper. Whether or not Christians choose to “celebrate” Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross is the paramount event of the Christian faith.

Good Friday Calendar:
2012 = April 6
2013 = March 29
2014 = April 18
2015 = April 3

What is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday” is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday (the Thursday before Easter). Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper. Two important events are the focus of Maundy Thursday.

First, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and thereby instituted the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion (Luke 22:19-20). Some Christian churches observe a special Communion service on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. Second, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an act of humility and service, thereby setting an example that we should love and serve one another in humility (John 13:3-17). Some Christian churches observe a foot-washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday to commemorate Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples.

The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word for “command.” The “Maundy” in Maundy Thursday refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another. Should we observe Maundy Thursday? The Bible neither commands nor forbids it. It is a good thing to remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. It is a good thing to remember the Lord’s example of humility. However, at the same time, we should avoid ritualistic observances of holidays unless they are truly focused on God and our relationship with Him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What is Palm Sunday?

What is Palm Sunday

When Is Palm Sunday | What does Palm Sunday Mean?

Palm Sunday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar afterChristmas and Easter. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week of events leading up to Jesus' death.

The History of Palm Sunday
The celebration of Palm Sunday originated in the Jerusalem Church, around the late fourth century. The early Palm Sunday ceremony consisted of prayers, hymns, and sermons recited by the clergy while the people walked to various holy sites throughout the city. At the final site, the place where Christ ascended into heaven, the clergy would read from the gospels concerning the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In the early evening they would return to the city reciting: "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord." The children would carry palm and olive branches as the people returned through the city back to the church, where they would hold evening services.

By the fifth century, the Palm Sunday celebration had spread as far as Constantinople. Changes made in the sixth and seventh centuries resulted in two new Palm Sunday traditions - the ritual blessing of the palms, and a morning procession instead of an evening one. Adopted by the Western Church in the eighth century, the celebration received the name "Dominica in Palmis," or "Palm Sunday".

The Meaning of Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, while the crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" to honor him as their long-awaited Messiah and King.

The significance of Jesus riding a donkey and having his way paved with palm branches is a fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9). In biblical times, the regional custom called for kings and nobles arriving in procession to ride on the back of a donkey. The donkey was a symbol of peace; those who rode upon them proclaimed peaceful intentions. The laying of palm branches indicated that the king or dignitary was arriving in victory or triumph.

Palm Sunday in Modern Times
Today, Palm Sunday traditions are much the same as they have been since the tenth century. The ceremony begins with the blessing of the palms. The procession follows, then Mass is celebrated, wherein the Passion and the Benediction are sung. Afterwards, many people take the palms home and place them in houses, barns, and fields.

In some countries, palms are placed on the graves of the departed. In colder northern climates, where palm trees are not found, branches of yew, willow, and sallow trees are used. The palms blessed in the ceremony are burned at the end of the day. The ashes are then preserved for next year's Ash Wednesday celebration.