The Heart of Hospitality

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What is a true heart of hospitality? The word hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. It is also means the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, and generous way. In Greek the term for hospitality carries the meaning of being fond of guests or strangers, being friendly, or being actively fond of a stranger.

Within scripture we see hospitality as a requirement for leadership (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8). In 1 Peter 4:9 we are encouraged to, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” Again in Romans 12:13 Christian behavior is described as, “Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” A widow was qualified for support by other believers based partially on if she had been hospitable (1 Timothy 5:10).

How do we know what a heart of hospitality is? We simply look to the Father. A genuine heart of hospitality within us comes from God the Father. We gain a hospitable heart by experiencing God’s heart of hospitality. God is always welcoming. He desires us to come into His presence and welcomes us with open arms. Jesus modeled this hospitality throughout His ministry on earth.

Jesus was consistently inviting others into fellowship with Him. The invitation of, “Come to Me,” was open to all and always open. He not only invited people in, but He welcomed them in. Many of those who responded to the invitation were known sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes. These people responded to the heart of hospitality within Jesus. They needed to be welcomed. They needed to be invited. They needed to be loved.

We can imagine how often this group had not been welcomed, even not allowed in. But here was Jesus, not only allowing them in, but acknowledging their presence and welcoming them. As we look at the heart of Jesus we realize that His hospitality traveled with Him. It was not reserved for where He was dwelling alone. Jesus took it on the road with Him. He took it to the well, into the synagogues, onto the streets, and into each interaction He had with others. This is because hospitality was not simply an action to Him, but a way of life. It was part of who He was.

Christians today tend to think of hospitality as something that is done within our homes. But the reality is that the heart of hospitality should travel with us. It should be a part of who we are. The heart of hospitality should be made manifest in each interaction we have with the people we come in contact with. Our goal is to demonstrate the Father’s heart of hospitality by welcoming others in.

Genuine hospitality  cannot be mustered up. It cannot be acted out. But rather true hospitality comes as we experience God’s hospitality. It comes as we see Jesus demonstrating hospitality to those around Him. It comes as we ask the Father for His heart for others.

Sincere hospitality changes people. The demonstration of the Father’s heart to others is what draws them in. It is what shows them that they are valuable. The challenge for us today is to live out a hospitable heart. To authentically welcome others into our lives and hearts. To ask God to work that out within us.

Demonstrating a heart of hospitality will cost us something. It may cost us time. It may cost us comfort. It may cost us personal space. The bottom line is that true hospitality will cost us some measure of self. We have to make room for a heart of hospitality within us and within our lives.

Things of true value will always cost us something. But it is those things that cost us something which yield the highest eternal reward. Jesus says to count the cost and follow Him. May we count the cost of hospitality and begin to ask God the Father for His heart in regards to it. For a sincere heart of hospitality. Be blessed in your seeking dear Christian.

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The Lord’s Little Lambs

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“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My lambs. He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You. He said to him, Tend My sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep.” John 21:15-22

A few years back I went to visit my brother and his family out of town. We only had three little ones at that time and I had timed the drive back around bedtime so they would sleep in the car. It didn’t take long for the kids to fall asleep and I began a deeper conversation with my Father. During this conversation I asked God what He desired of me. These verses in John came to mind. But instead of Simons name, it was mine. “Tina, do you love Me?” I responded, “Yes, Lord; You know I love You.” “Feed My lambs.” Again the question came to me, “Tina, do you love Me?” Again I responded, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” “Tend My sheep.” And a third time the question arose, “Do you love Me?” My response was, “Of course, Lord; You know that I love You.” I was puzzled over this exchange and asked, “What lambs Lord?” I glanced in the rearview mirror and received the answer as I saw our three little children peacefully sleeping. These were the little lambs. This is the flock He has entrusted to my husband and I. These are His little lambs.

As mothers, we each have our own little flock the Lord has entrusted into our care. God has called us to feed and tend our little lambs. The Greek word for feed means to bring to pasture. We as parents are the ones leading our little sheep to the pasture grounds so that they may feed. It is our responsibility to keep them on the right path and not to get distracted on the way. Essentially this is training them in the way they should go as seen in Proverbs 22:6 and pasturing them on the good ground of the Lord and His ways. We must gently keep them on the path of righteousness. If we see one of our little lambs going astray, we must redirect them back onto the path that leads to pasture.

This is our calling as mothers. When we are at home with our children, we need to be fully pouring ourselves into their little lives. Paul says in Philippians 2:17, “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” Dear mother, be that drink offering and pour yourself out for your children. Put your own desires aside and stop to play legos, explain something, or give them a horsie ride. Whatever time you have with your little lambs, make it count. Enjoy them and let them enjoy you. Smile at them. Laugh with them. Find a way to bring every experience or statement back to Christ. Don’t get yourself so busy that you can’t find time for your lambs. Our little lambs need the tender care of their mother. No one else could be the mother that you are to your children. God has called you to tend your flock. He has asked you to feed your sheep. And He has also provided everything pertaining to life and godliness that we may continue on this journey of motherhood. What a marvelous (and sometimes difficult) calling we have!

 

 

The Small Places

IMG_5695This morning I was desiring to simply sit with the Lord. To dwell in His presence and settle into Him. I came out to the living room because there was a little one asleep on our bedroom floor. All was quiet as I made a cup of coffee. I wrapped myself in a blanket and got on my knees before the Lord. I began to talk with my Father and share my desire to just be with Him.

About five minutes into this time, I heard my husband pull in as he returned from working out. He came in quietly and went to shower while I remained. When he had come in, our outside kitties came in with him. They began to meow over and over. I knew my time was up. As I knelt there and tried to ignore the kitty for just another moment, the thought came to me, “God meets us in the small places”. This morning I only had something small to offer God.

  • My desire was more, but my reality was less.

When we come to God with the desire for Him and to be with Him, He will receive whatever offering we bring…even if it’s a small one. Even if we only have five minutes to sit with Him in quiet. Even if we end up with 10 minutes while the kids are playing outside. God meets us in the small places. God accepts the small offerings. We may think that because it is so small, why bother? Because it can’t look like “X” or “Y” that we shouldn’t bother putting forth the effort. But that is wrong thinking. God wants whatever it is that we can bring to Him. He wants the small things.

Dear ones, give God what you can. Don’t be dispelled from coming to Him because all you have is five or 10 minutes.  God will meet you in the small places.

Walking the Path of Loneliness

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When we come into relationship with Jesus Christ we will never be lonely again. Well…if that’s the case I missed something along the way. Loneliness or the feeling of being alone comes along with being a human being. Loneliness doesn’t care if you are a man or a woman. If you are old or young. If you are rich or poor. It is an equal opportunity feeling.
The difference when we are walking with Christ is that He is always with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Matthew 28:20).

The thing is that we know that, and we stand on that truth, but we still desire intimacy with another human being. We know that God the Father “gets us” totally. He is always ready to listen. But, in addition to our heavenly Father, we desire a physical friendship or intimacy. Often times this comes in the form of our spouse. My husband is truly my best friend. He is my first confidant after Jesus. But even though we have wonderful and open communication, I still feel lonely sometimes. This is part of life. And it can be part of the Lord calling us deeper in to Him.
There are places that the Lord calls us to and into that no one else can follow. These are very lonely places to be in. Places that can be described, but never accurately enough. Places that others only know if they have traveled them. And even if they have traveled them, they are slightly different for each individual. It is in these places we feel truly lonely. And rightfully so. There are times we need to be lonely to complete God’s will for us. When nothing but loneliness will do the job and bring it to completion.
And so, in these places of loneliness I am learning to trust God. To simply let Him be God. To know that He is with me even in the loneliness. And to allow the loneliness its perfect work. I trust my God. He will not bring you or me into something that He cannot use for His glory in and through us. Everything works together for good according to His purpose…even loneliness.

 

The Invitation

IMG_5929I love weddings. They represent new covenant, new beginnings, and new love. It’s like a door is being opened with the whole house yet to explore. When I get a wedding invitation in the mail I am excited to open it. When we receive an invitation we are being asked to join in with the inviter on some level of intimacy. It’s a beautiful thing.

God has recently been speaking to me of His invitation. I have been struck by how often we are invited into relationship with Him. And it is not just for those who are not yet in relationship with God. The invitation goes out to all and is addressed to all.

For those not yet in relationship with the Lord Jesus, it is to enter into relationship with Him. For those already in relationship with Him it is to enter deeper. We as believers are constantly being invited into further depth with our Lord.

We are invited to come boldly. To enter in. To leave our burdens. To abide. Over and over the invitation is given. Revelation 3:23 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I wil come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Jesus is constantly knocking on the door of our hearts. He desires further intimacy in relationship with us. He longs to dine with us.

Dining with someone denotes a level of intimacy. We have to open the door of our hearts and let Jesus in. That requires vulnerability. It requires submission. It requires us to trust Him and give the control to someone else. It can be scary.  It can be challenging. And…it can be done!

My challenge to you today is this…what area has the Lord Jesus been speaking to you in? Give it to Him. Let Him into that room in your heart. Open the door that He may come in and dine with you there. Give it over. Trust Him. God has something far above what you could think or imagine in this area if you will only give it over to Him. “Be strong and of good courage… for the Lord your God; He is the One who goes with you” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Open the door of your heart dear Christian! Enter in to the depths with our Lord Jesus. He will bring you through. Count the cost and follow Him. It is worth the difficulty of the journey.

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