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5 Strategies for Practicing Biblical Hospitality

biblical hospitality cover

5 Strategies for Practicing Biblical Hospitality

Sometimes lessons that need to be learned must be experienced before they take root. When Chad and I were newlyweds, we relocated to a different city for work purposes. In no time we found our place in a local church that offered a weekly class with other newly married couples. In the midst of making new friends, serving, and learning more about the Bible, we also experienced what it looked like to practice Biblical hospitality. Essentially, it was a phenomenon caught rather than taught. Although we were only there for two or three years, the fruit from that era has lingered for decades.

A Real Live Example of Biblical Hospitality

Chuck and Kathy were old enough to be our parents. They were empty nesters who were spending their lives pouring into twenty-somethings. They did not teach that class filled with newlyweds, but they were the heart and soul of establishing a welcoming environment for anyone who showed up. From our first appearance on the premises, these two helped us feel as if we already belonged. In fact, I believe they invited us to their home for pizza within the first two weeks. This act, we learned was nothing special. It was simply the way they lived life. You were never an inconvenience, your need was never too great, and their doors were always unlocked.

At the time I couldn’t put my finger on why they were so different or what caused them to stick out in my head as examples of how to meaningfully engage with others. I just recognized the impact these ordinary lay leaders were having on those who happened in their sphere of influence. Today, I know we were simply experiencing a living example of Biblical hospitality.

What is Biblical Hospitality?

Hospitality can be defined as “the act or service of welcoming, receiving, hosting, or entertaining guests.” We often think of hosting a dinner or gathering, making sure everyone enjoys themselves and has everything they need. But Biblical hospitality is more than working a room and providing awesome hors d’oeuvres.

Hospitality in the Old Testament

The concept of hospitality is introduced in the Old Testament. We find Abraham welcoming three men on a journey, spending the day with them, and providing a place to rest and food to eat (Genesis 18:2-5). As the men (or angels) move into Sodom and Gomorra, Lot meets them in the public square inviting them to his home for the same (Genesis 19:1-3). it was issued as an explicit command.

By the time Moses liberates the Israelites from Egypt and God directed them into the wilderness, hospitality is more than optional. It’s made part of the law.

“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt” Leviticus 19:33-34.

Hospitality in the New Testament

In the New Testament, we find the word, hospitality, used four different times. In Greek, the word literally means ‘love of strangers.” It first shows up in Paul’s letter to the Romans where he encourages believers to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality,” (Romans 12:13). Biblical hospitality at its essence, is sharing who we are and what we have, not with those close to us, but also with those outside our circle. In fact, Paul calls the reader to look for opportunities to do so.

Such hospitable behavior is viewed by the early church leadership as virtuous—something to excel in and practice for a lifetime. To Timothy, Paul mentions hospitality as one of the requirements of widows who would receive assistance from the church (1 Timothy 5:10).

The Hard Work of Biblical Hospitality

But that kind of giving and serving is not easy. It’s not cheap, either, nor does it necessarily come naturally. The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 13:2) taps into this reality when he encourages believers to be hospitable because of the possibilities at stake. You just never know. By practicing hospitality, you may encounter an angel, harkening back to the experience of Abraham (Genesis 18). In other words, any expense or effort is worth it.

Peter also understands the demanding nature of biblical hospitality as he encourages those believers to whom he writes.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

Why might grumbling come with the responsibility of biblical hospitality? Because it’s not on our agenda. It often is needed at times when we have other things to do, other financial responsibilities, and we frankly just want to do something else. For many, expending themselves in hospitality is like asking your teenage son to take out the trash or clean the litter box. We just don’t want to do it.

Those who have gone before us, showing the importance, commending the actions, and calling us to persevere understand that the heart of the matter is that showing hospitality to others is really an extension of the Gospel.

Hospitality as The Gospel

Why all the fuss about something we deem as a skill some possess and some do not?

Because these early New Testament writers recognized that the Good News is best shared by word and deed, in relationship. At the core, real transformation is seen and heard in the everyday stuff of regular life. It’s how you interact with the person next door. Inviting them into your life—for something as simple as coffee can communicate more than small talk. We demonstratge the Good News when you and I handle difficult situations with joy instead of despair or extend a helping hand and expect nothing in return. It might even occur when you show up with a meal or gift card. Relationship and a sense of community is the starting point.

“Hospitality is the ground zero of the Christian life.” Rosaria Butterfield

Living a Life that Pursues Hospitality

Indeed, the Christian life calls us to live beyond ourselves. Maybe you don’t see yourself as the hospitable type. Paper plates and take-out pizza more your flare? No problem. Nowhere in the Bible does it specify how we demonstrate hospitality, just that we do it.

In a post-Covid world, most of us need to be reminded of how the simple act of showing hospitality can change a life. Not that we drag people into our circle to try to convert them, but to demonstrate what it looks like to be a believing mom, wife, or sister who is willing to share what she has as if she had known them for ages.

You and I also need encouragement. If you lack the How-To for Biblical hospitality, I have given you five strategies you can use, no matter your background or experience. You don’t need to be a Pinterest Queen or an excellent cook. Just take the next step. It might just be right across the street.

biblical hospitality stories

5 Strategies for Practicing Biblical Hospitality

Begin with “hello.” Remember the famous line from the movie, “You had me at ‘hello’”? (Jerry McGuire) That’s what we are aiming toward in extending hospitality to others. The examples I shared from my newlywed days have withstood decades of various moves and constant church-going. What I learned those years ago turned out to be spot on. Extending hospitality begins before offering any invitation. It starts with contact. Introduce yourself and take note of the person’s name.

If you struggle with names, come up with a system for remembering. I have people often repeat their name before we end the conversation (because I often have already moved on), and then I jot it down in my Notes section on my phone, along with some fact about them, such as profession, number of kids, or where they are from. You and I should work on being attentive. Doing so communicates more of Jesus in you than you might be aware. Currently, many in our midst feel as if they are unseen and unknown. Taking a moment to focus all of our attention on the person before us will fuel more than the conversation. It may be the very thing the person needs.

 

Start small. If you have little experience with carrying conversations with people you don’t know well – or the whole idea freaks you out, don’t go there yet. And when you do go forward, go with a plan. Come up with three or four general questions that require more than a yes/no response. Make your inquiry generic so that you can remember your go-to questions and use them whenever necessary. It will calm your nerves and give you the direction you need.

One thing I observed in my time with Chuck and Kathy was how much time they spent asking questions, allowing the person to talk about what was near and dear to them. The conversation focused on the other person. Biblical hospitality begins long before a person steps into your home, but with your first contact.

 

Develop a friendship instead of attempting to save their souls. Do you have a suspicion the person doesn’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior? No problem. Be open and available to build a friendship with them. But it’s not our job to make them accept the Gospel. That role belongs to the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is to show up, to speak the truth, and to extend compassion and love to them.

 

Add hospitality to your schedule. Although our desire should be to become hospitable people, we may find we don’t have room for it. Showing hospitality to others who might not be like us likely won’t come naturally. We need to pray, asking God to reveal what can go so that there is bandwidth for living out the Gospel where we are. It won’t just happen. You and I need to pivot toward being intentional about showering hospitality to others, making choices, even sacrificing what we want for what they need, and serving for the sake of Christ.

 

Just do it. Forget having the ideal conversation starters. Don’t worry about the aesthetics. Forget vacuuming. Feed them frozen pizza if you must. Your meeting together doesn’t need to be Pinterest-worthy. Just do it because hospitality is a kingdom-focused work God uses us to complete. Do it, because showing hospitality changes you and me.

 

When we practice hospitality, we experience the refreshing joy of becoming conduits of God’s hospitality rather than being self-decaying cul-de-sacs. The joy of receiving God’s hospitality decays and dies if it doesn’t flourish in our own hospitality to others. Saturate

This week, what is one thing you can do to show Biblical hospitality within your sphere of influence? I plan on inviting a few neighbors over for coffee. I’m putting it on the calendar. What about you?

I can’t wait to hear about it.

For His glory,

Did You Know?

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A Prayer Against Distraction

cover against distraction

A Prayer Against Distraction

She Prays on Fridays

What’s your plan for the day? I’ll bet you are multitasking and fighting to get everything done on your “To Do” list. How’s that going? If you and I are anything alike, half the battle is me and my personal wanderings. I spend too much time fighting against distraction, landing in a wilderness—miles, and miles from where I intended to go.

The “what if’s,” “maybe I should,” “ooh, look at that,” “oh, I forgot about X,” cat videos and social media scrolling, creep in, seeping into my thoughts and my thumbs, turning my actions away from my original agenda, and often in an opposing direction.

I know you get it because current data supports my predicament. Researchers have found that 47% of our days are spent in this wilderness wandering. Apparently, this wandering is so common and natural that we don’t even realize it is happening.

This finding shouldn’t be surprising in light of John 10:10.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

How better for the enemy to steal our focus and attention, far from experiencing the life Jesus came to give, than to lead us into distraction before we realize it’s even happening?

If you and I desire, not only to become the most productive versions of ourselves but women who live in abundance through Christ, we need to do what is unnatural, spending our efforts working against distraction.

The Good News in our Battle Against Distraction

The good news is that we are not alone. This recent discovery by researchers is nothing new. We don’t have a discourse on the thinking behind David’s writing of Psalm 119, but we can deduce where his problem areas surfaced. He aggressively attacks the battle with thought and action.

  1. He recognizes the problem.
  2. Then he sees the solution in seeking hard after God.
  3. In that process, he prays –affirming his battle plan.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119:15 ESV

But fixing his eyes and mind on God’s truth is not his only defense. Not only does David go on the offensive, he makes some defensive moves.

Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:36

This one Psalm has found its way into my prayers regularly – for the sole reasons I expressed above. I can’t make good decisions without divine intervention. My deep need and depravity and longing for what seems natural – overpowers me and I lose.

Unless I do exactly what David models here.

How to Win Against Distraction

Recognize the problem

Attack the problem by doing what is not natural

Praying for God to enable me to be victorious in seeking Him over that which seeks to weaken me, shrink my reach, make me ineffective, and live a life absent of abundance.

I find Proverbs 4:25 to be helpful as I think and move and pray.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25

We could go on looking to other places in the Bible that illustrate this same fight – and hear from different people from various centuries who knew the battle well. From Job to the writers of Psalms, Solomon, Luke, Matthew, Peter, Paul, and the author of Hebrews, to name a few, the battle against distraction is as old as time and common to all peoples.

Today, let’s advance toward abundant life in Jesus through prayer – to help us do what we cannot and experience what we might miss otherwise.

A Prayer Against Distractions

Against Distraction pinLord,

I am so thankful for your timeless Word that meets us in our culture, our circumstances, and our need. Today I pray over my friend what I, myself need. Help her to recognize her need to move away from distraction and toward You. And as she does, make her away of what is stealing her attention and affection from you. If it’s too much on her agenda, give her the wisdom to know what NOT to do.

When her mind wanders into the wilderness of wastefulness, help her see how and when it’s happening. Instead, draw her focus to your word. Make it clear, easy to understand, and enable her to embrace what you give over every natural inclination that beds down in her heart. Show her how to meditate on you and what it means to fix her eyes on you. And at the same time, turn her attention away from all that will not last. Supernaturally enable her to look directly forward, and gaze on you and the eternal purposes you have planned. Give her life in your ways, and nothing less.

Thank you for transforming her thought life to experience the abundance that lies in you.

In the glorious and unmatched name of Jesus.

Amen

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Releasing Today Conquering Your Chaos

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New on YouVersion, Conquering Your Chaos

Today is the day. The newest reading plan went live this morning and I could not be more excited, because Conquering Your Chaos is for you and me. Ever feel like you can’t get it together? Does your To-Do list out-distance your day? Do you wonder how to know what to do and what to leave undone? What if it were possible to sort out all the confusion so that you complete the right things? In this five-day plan, you will encounter Scripture and practical strategies to help you conquer your chaos when there’s no time to waste.

This is where we are headed for the next five days.

And there is more.

Included in the plan are three bonus videos with additional teaching. To give you a taste, I am including the first one below.

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conquering your chaos pinNext week, on March 1, we are hosting Plans with Friends on YouVersion so that we can work through the plan as a group. If you have not participated in the past, all you need to do is 1) download the free YouVersion app, 2) follow this link and sign up, and 3) show up in your app on the start day. That’s it. I hope to meet you there. But hurry. The spots will fill up.

Thanks for stopping by. I pray we meet again soon.

For His Glory,

 

 

Discovered Cheri on YouVersion where she has over TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from, such as:

If you like the Journey you will like Finding Light

If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out the Stirring Faith Podcast, where you will find encouraging episodes like this one:

If you like Truths Jesus Taught you will like finding light

 

 

 

 

 

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Becoming a Stronger You when to quit

Breaking Free from a Spirit of Fear

Breaking Free from Fear

Breaking Free From a Spirit of Fear

by Cheri Strange, Ph.D.

Have you ever opened your eyes first thing in the morning, scared silly? Before your feet hit the floor or the list of all that lies before you in the day begins, you are afraid? For whatever reason, there is an overwhelming sense of trepidation you cannot shake nor identify, but a spirit of fear remains. That’s exactly what happens to me. I wake up in that very spirit of fear. Afraid of I don’t know what. That’s the problem.  Maybe it’s a premonition of some sort–that uneasy feeling that the bottom is about to drop out of my life, beckoning me to starting fearing and dreading the doom and disparity now!

I know all of this is not reasonable, but I’m not done. My next move is to count the ways the awaiting disasters could come. There could be an accident with my daughters driving home from school. The calamity could involve my spouse. then I go back to the three daughters coming from all directions and then move to the one with the boyfriend. All sorts of mischief and mishaps fill my mental capacities.

Of course, my first line of defense is to pray about this cloud settling over me to try to move it out. But left to my own resources, I continue to wallow in my own negativity, begging and pleading to God for what is not even real. I worry God is secretly giving me this wretched angxt to prepare me for the worst which is on the verge of happening.

Still, the police haven’t called.

No one is sick.

There is no warrant for anyone’s arrest.

I can’t smell any smoke.

My wake-up call to fear is fully imagined. Therefore, I must break free.

Chances are, I’m not the only one to ever find herself in a tizzy over fears fantisized or given mental real estate to roam with them. Today I want to offer a path forward. One simple strategy that works.

Breaking Free with Scripture

A few years ago I began using my phone for good and not for mere distraction, or even evil. I downloaded an app to help organize my prayer life. But the best thing it did for me was allow me to put Scripture on my device in a useable format. The last time I found myself scared for no apparent or logical reason, I had a resource: my phone. The first thing I opened to was Psalm 118:6

The LORD is for me;

I will not be afraid.

So simple. Honestly, it’s all I needed to talk me down off the frenzied ledge of doom. No matter what the day could bring, this truth keeps me.

But I want to leave you with four more verses. I’ve written all five out and given them to you in a format you can simply download to your device. Whether your fears are real or imagined, God’s Word is the key to helping you break free.

Five Verses for Breaking Free from a Spirit of Fear

The LORD is for me;

I will not be afraid. Psalm 118:6

Breaking free 2

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,

for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

breaking free from fear 1

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;

I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

Breaking free 3

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

Breaking Free 5

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;

it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 43:13

Breaking Free 4

I hope you will.

For His Glory,

 

 

Have you discovered Cheri on YouVersion where she has TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from, such as:

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out the Stirring Faith Podcast, where you will find encouraging episodes like this one:

Truths Jesus Taught How to Pray

 

 

 

 

 

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

Becoming a Stronger You

Finding Your Vocation

Finding Your Vocation

Finding Your Vocation

by Anita Peluso

Has anyone ever asked you “What is your vocation?” (Not your vacation to Hawaii, but your vocation.) A vocation is what you do that uses the gifts and talents God gives you. Within the church, it may describe your ministry.

When I enrolled in seminary, I was required to take several assessment tests to help me discover my gifts and determine my vocation, or my personal “calling.” Chasing after a vocation as revealed by an assessment test made me feel uneasy. Not everyone is called to be a Moses or a Paul. Not everyone’s gifts and talents are meant for full-time church work. Most of us are the unnamed faithful followers of the assembly. Over time, I discovered that developing a watchful eye for ways to live out the truths given in the Bible for all believers in all generations was my “calling”.

The Israelites were told to:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:5)

Similarly, Paul tells us to:

“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life, […] and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:13)

What does it mean to love God, putting off your old self, and putting on your new self? Micah plainly tells the Israelites,

“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

In the same way, Paul tells New Testament believers,

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Col 3:23)

What Vocation Looks Like for You and Me

Vocation then becomes living out our daily lives in a manner that glorifies God, represents His character, and encourages others. As a wife, I am to be kind and respectful to my husband – even in the midst of disagreements. Toward my neighbor, I am to act justly and truthfully, not with deception and disrespect. As a customer, I can show appreciation for the hard work the store employee does to provide a service.

The “good works prepared in advance” (Eph 2:10), often used to describe vocation, then become the fruit of these simple truths. At your job, working honestly and heartily is the “good work” of physically demonstrating God’s righteousness to others. In your home, being kind and respectful is the “good work” of showing God’s steadfast love to those whom you love. In a paid ministry job, being humble, fair, and perceptive to the needs of those whom you serve becomes the “good work” of displaying God’s character to them.

All of these actions are our living testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. This living testimony is our vocation – to be ambassadors for Christ. (2 Cor 5:20)Finding Your Vocation

Your Turn

Where can you apply these biblical truths in your life today? Choose one biblical truth that you can bring to the Lord, asking him how you might apply it to a current situation or relationship in your life. The Lord will be faithful to show you how to be an ambassador for Him.

Anita

Anita recently graduated with an MA in Biblical Studies where her love of all things Old Testament took root. She lives in Western Washington with her software engineer husband and two furry cats.  Together, they are renovating 2 ½ unkempt suburban acres while converting a Ford Transit van into a camper van. On the side, she moonlights as a freelance quilt designer. You can find her on Instagram here

 

 

 

 

Have you discovered Cheri on YouVersion where she has TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from, such as:

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out the Stirring Faith Podcast, where you will find encouraging episodes like this one:

Truths Jesus Taught How to Pray

 

 

 

 

 

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

Truths Jesus Taught we Like to Forget