A dear friend of mine wrote me to tell me her grandmother had passed away. I remember her grandmother: a sweet, gentle soul who had a spark in her smile and a twinkle in her eyes. One summer, she even invited me to stay with her for six weeks while I attended college. What a tremendous blessing she was to me during that time! We ate together and had many great conversations. I’ll always have fond memories of her as the generous person who opened her home to me and welcomed me with warmth and hospitality. Hospitality demonstrates the love Jesus gives to us. The Bible says God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son to die for us on Calvary (John 3:16). Then, He rose from the dead, providing a way for us to live forever with Him. God loves us more than anything, and Christ was born to live out that love to the world. When we were sinners, He did everything so we could be with Him. Now that is what I call hospitality! God loves people, and we should too. Hospitality says the following: “I accept you. You are welcomed. And I love you just as you are.” That is what Jesus says to us, and that is what we should say to others. He takes us just as we are, slowly transforming us to be more like Him. Remember that we are to encourage those who need love—students, missionaries, the aging. We may not always see them as lovely, but God loves them. In Christ, we’re called to love them too. You might be surprised by how blessed you are when you show God’s hospitality to others. Who has shown hospitality to you lately? What did they do for you? It can be difficult to offer hospitality when you are young, but God has given you unique resources and gifts. How can you use them to show hospitality to others?
Being Hospitable Doesn't Require Much
September 10, 2019 • Erendira Ramirez-Ortega
September 30, 2019 • Bonnie Haveman
Picture someone who has done a great favor for you. You thank them profusely and ask if there is anything you can do for them. They ask you to take care of their dog for the next month. You agree, so you feed, water, and bathe the dog, as well as take him for walks. When the month ends, you take the dog back to its owner, completing your obligation. Now imagine you have your very own dog. Now, you feed, water, bathe, and take your four-legged friend for long walks. Your attitude is completely different toward this dog—your dog—than toward the dog you simply took care of for a month. The first time, you were fulfilling an obligation, but now you are invested financially and emotionally. How do you see God? Is He an obligation or do you love Him? Do you do what He asks out of duty or simply because you love Him? In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul gives a long, and even overwhelming, list of ways believers are supposed to be living. But, guess what? You can’t live the kind of life Paul is speaking of by fulfilling an obligation. The kind of life Paul is encouraging you to live requires a heart that is made new by Jesus Himself through a relationship with Him (Jeremiah 24:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17). God doesn’t desire a perfect, duty-driven servant. He desires a loving relationship with you. And that loving relationship spills over into your relationship with other believers, which is built on love, not obligation. Love isn’t a feeling. It’s about relationship with God and others. We love because we are loved by Jesus, and, in Him, we no longer live in fear of losing love (Romans 8:38-39; 1 John 4:18-19). So, as Christians, our only obligation is to love God and love others through Him. Through Jesus, what are ways you can love God and others? Can you engage in following God out of love—and then turn it into an obligation? Can you engage in following God out of obligation—and then turn it into an act of love?
Our Father's House
September 29, 2019 • Adam Aldridge
Twelve-year-old Jesus has been at Passover all week with His family, where they have worshiped, prayed, eaten, and sang. At the end of the week, when everybody is ready to go home, Jesus stays behind and heads to the temple In the temple, He sits among some of the greatest teachers of the time, having a conversation with them. Now, at twelve years old, Jesus has been training His whole childhood with the rest of the boys in His Jewish community by memorizing the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Simply put, Jesus knows His Scripture. He knows what He’s talking about. And He’s listening to these teachers speak—listening so well that He asks some incredible questions. Then, when they ask questions, His answers leave them amazed. Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents, eventually find Him and ask, “What are you doing?” To which He replies: “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Mary and Joseph don’t understand. In fact, they are astonished, which tells us this is unusual behavior for Jesus. *His Father’s house?* This is a pivotal moment in Jesus’ life. Jesus is becoming more aware of His identity. That feels weird to say because we often only think of Jesus as the divine Son of God. He should know who He is, right? We forget He was also the human son of Mary, and this truth matters a lot. In order for Jesus to redeem you and me, He had to live a fully human life. Which means He had to be fully a twelve-year-old boy. Jesus was and is fully God and fully man and, because of that fact, His death and resurrection make it possible for us to be saved from sin and death. This is the good news! Have you ever felt like you don’t know who you are? Where do you look to form your identity? Jesus placed His identity in the truths of Scripture—God’s Word. Why is it important that God is the source of our identity? Why is it important that Jesus is fully God and fully human?
Are You Salty?
September 28, 2019 • Melissa Yeagle
Do you like potato chips? They can be so addicting! Sometimes, you start eating them, and before you know it, the whole bag is gone. There are so many flavors to choose from: dill pickle, sour cream and onion, chili cheese, and many more. The one thing most potato chips have in common is salt. Salt gives them flavor. Have you ever tried chips with reduced salt? Did you notice they had a little less flavor than normal? The Bible calls Christians “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). In other words, we are salty. While salty can mean “bitter” or “angry,” today we’re going to use a different definition. To be salty in a biblical sense means to be thoroughly seasoned with God’s love and truth. We are called to reflect God’s love in the world by loving Him and loving others. The Bible says in John 13:35 that people will know we are Christians by how we love one another. That’s how we can be the salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13 goes on to say that salt that has lost its saltiness “is no longer good for anything.” When we, as Christians, don’t show God’s love and truth to others, we are not doing our job. But, when we remember God loves us so much He sent Jesus to die for us, we naturally reflect His love, pointing others to Jesus. We don’t have to show love in big gestures; it can be in small, everyday ways. For example, you could offer to share your bag of chips with someone nearby or talk to someone who is going through a hard time. Show people Jesus. Then, watch Him work. Do you believe God loves you? How does this help you love others? How can loving someone show them who Jesus is? What are some ways you can show love to others on a daily basis?