Let Us Be Radical Welcomers

Radical Welcomers

Everybody loves a good song don’t they, there are just some songs that make you feel right at home when you hear them. Today I want to look at being a radical “welcomer”, for you individually and us corporately we must be singing the beautiful song of the Gospel in harmony through the actions and words of our daily lives so that the world around us feels welcome.
Romans 15: v.1-2We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

1)We must love our neighbors.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  So, you want to be a Christian, so you say you are a Christian, a Jesus follower, you want to be like Jesus. Then we must love our Neighbors. We who are strong, that is not to mean those of us who have everything together, nor is it to mean those of us who are self-sufficient and can take care of ourselves, not that those are bad things in an of themselves, but we who are strong is to mean those of us who have placed our faith in Christ. Remember Romans 12, we are strong in our zeal for the Lord, in serving our King, not in winning our own petty little battles.  God will repay, leave it to the wrath of God. Our duty, our obligation is to LOVE our neighbors, to lift them up.

I truly believe this begins by becoming radical welcomers. What does this mean? A radical welcomer? Not just individually but corporately as the church. We must be radical WELCOMERS

A)We must love them Corporately as the church.

What are we doing as little c church, New Hope Presbyterian to make people feel welcome? What are we doing as big C   church, Presbyterian Church in America to welcome people?

How do we become radical welcomers as the Church and the church? It starts with us collectively. We have to invite people to be a part of this. We have to welcome people to attend church. We could spend hours debating, well they might not like this about our church or they might not like that about our church. We could go on and on about how worship and preaching isn’t this or isn’t that, (and there are things we as leaders must hear, and we as leaders must adjust to I get that) but ultimately we must welcome them into the presence of the living God. Who we are as the Church should ultimately attract others in to see what attracts us to Church, which hopefully is the LOVE OF CHRIST. How do we as New Hope build up our neighbors? How do we make Eustis, Apopka, Leesburg, Tavares, Mt. Dora, Umatilla beautiful?  We Host the boy scouts, how welcome do they feel, to attend our Sunday morning worship? We Host Pop Warner Football, how welcome do they feel to attend our Sunday morning worship? Does anyone in the community know we exist? Are we pleasing our neighbor to the point that their life is better because of us? As the church it is going to take all of us being vigilant and diligent in the task of making this community flourish, from our jobs to our social circles to our casual encounters. As the church of Jesus Christ we must radically welcome people to meet the REAL ALIVE RULING AND REIGNING KING JESUS we must be those that radically welcome others into our lives so that they might meet our KING.

B)We must love them individually.

All of us have time to love somebody. Most of that time is spent looking out for our own welfare. We have a warped sense of loving others. We aren’t very good at living for other people. It is contrary to our “American Spirit.” Have you ever thought about life that way? How welcome would someone feel if you made them supper and they weren’t sick or injured and you “had to” because it was on the church email. When is the last time you went to a neighbor’s ball game just to support them? When is the last time you sat with a neighbor and just asked to hear about their life story? When is the last time you did something to build your neighbor up? That’s being a radical welcomer, not many people spend time trying to make their neighbors life better. What would happen if we all did that? If all 77 or 100 of us New Hopians decided today, I’m going to live this week with the purpose of loving my neighbor so well that at the end of the week he or she is built up, they will have experienced the love of Christ in a real and tangible way. What would Lake County look like 1 year from now, 5 years from now, a decade from now? I bet a lot more people would know that the Gospel gives us hope. There would be a lot of people worshipping Jesus that are not today, a lot more radical Welcomers, we can only do this by looking to Christ and trusting Him and His Word

v3-4  For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2)The Gospel gives us hope.

A)Christ gives us hope. Look at verse 8-13 with me, Christ says that even He is not living for Himself. He is living to do the will of His Father. His life was to make our life better. So if we want to be like Christ we need to live in such a way that makes our neighbors lives better. What better way to build up our neighbor and what better way to encourage and strengthen them than to tell them about the hope that Christ gives us? It’s not about look at me I’m living this great life, or come to bible study your life will be better or come to church and hear a great sermon, it’s about showing them the hope we have in Jesus Christ, in the good news of the Gospel. That God loves sinners enough to send Jesus Christ to take their place, to endure His wrath, to redeem them from their brokenness, their lostness, their salvation has been bought with a price. God gave us His one and only Son Jesus. He placed a song in our heart, He gives us a place in His story and He gives us a song to sing, declaring our allegiance and our joy and our happiness to our King and a song to sing forever and ever.

B)God gives us encouragement and endurance.

Maybe you sitting here today or listening and wondering well I’m just not buying that God gives us encouragement and endurance, how does a God I can’t see, can’t touch, can’t audibly hear going to encourage me? What are you talking about David. God wrote these words for me and you, and they are so much more than just words in a book. God spoke these words into being, all Scripture is God breathed. Do you believe that? This is the only way that God is able to give us encouragement is if we believe in what was written for our instruction. The Gospel story starts with God. God has always been, and he will always be. He has created all things. He entered fallen humanity as the Word made flesh and dwelt among us staying pure and undefiled. He has redeemed us, and he is making all things new. God gives us encouragement through His Word. His Word is the ultimate rule, it is the ultimate truth. If you are not living by it, then how can it possibly be and encouragement for you? And endurance we know that His Word is like an anchor when we are tossed to and fro in this society of wishy washy theology, and you believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want. Only Scripture lasts forever along with God and God’s chosen race and all the things He is making new, {so why not look to the one thing that will endure forever for endurance. His Word is life giving and helpful in a time of need, but also a great model for rest, refreshing the soul and joy giving. God gives us encouragement and endurance through His Word..

C)The Holy spirit is granted to us for peaceful living.

We have been given the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, we are to be praying at all times in the Spirit. We are to let the Spirit lead us to peace with the brothers and love with faith, and love our Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible love.

Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Is that how you are living today? Is your neighbor living to build you up? Are you at peace? Do you have joy? Is your soul at rest knowing that the Trinity lives for your betterment? That God the Father lives to give us encouragement and endurance by the power of his word and that Jesus Christ the second person of the trinity lives that we might have hope and peace in believing and Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit that we might ABOUND IN HOPE! That we might be comforted by his presence living in peace with one another, experiencing joy and righteousness, being built up,

Are you living as if you believe in the Gospel, are you living as a part of a community of believers (repenting and trusting Christ) with the purpose of bettering your community? My prayer for us is the same as Paul’s was in Romans that we might be UNITED in Christ.

neighbor

3)United in Christ we glorify God.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

A) When we have one voice as the church God is glorified.

What song are we singing church? Are we just a clanging symbol, playing out of turn, are we the noisy KAZOO in the corner making our own special noise?  Or are we every musicians favorite the recorder playing loud and proud only a song we can hear? We are the body of Christ,we must sing his song, we have to see that Paul’s plea, his prayer for the church is that GOD HIMSELF, would grant to us ENDURANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT… OUR MESSAGE CANNOT CHANGE CHURCH… Love the Lord with all your heart and your soul and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. When we are singing this song, the harmony is flawless, even the worst listener, the most tone deaf can hear the beautiful sounds of Grace flowing from this song. Forgiveness, steadfast love, completeness, unconditional love, acceptance, LIFE, FREEDOM, a community where you belong, church does your life shout this from the mountaintops. HE IS ALIVE, Christ has risen from the dead, trampling over death by death, COME AWAKE, COME AWAKE.. Come and rise up from the grave

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he’s alive! he’s alive!
Or are you paralyzed by fear are you consumed with selfish interests and desires, are you living in harmony with others in the church IS YOUR LIFE IN ONE ACCORD with JESUS CHRIST if not repent and believe in JESUS,

B)Our one voice should say,”WELCOME” to the Lord’s table, welcome to the gospel, welcome to God’s kingdom” come to church with me and hear the Good news about a great hope I have

We must become radical welcomers.. what makes you feel welcome in others presence?

When they love you… when you can be yourself WARTS AND ALL, and people love you, they accept you, they encourage you, they look after your interest before their own. Doesn’t that sound good.

Growing up I was blessed by parents who modeled this, many times to a teenagers embarrassment or disappointment. From letting a homeless man sleep at our house, to giving hitchikers a ride, to hiring the town bum or drug addict to work with me, to taking wild game we killed and giving it away to the poor in our town, even though we were by no means rich. My parents were and still are radical welcomers. They often have huge “feeds” at their house inviting friends and neighbors to come and partake of whatever it is they are cooking, ribs, chicken, steaks, seafood. And many times I’ll meet people I’ve never met before sitting in my parents living room, people they have “adopted” or helped in some way along life’s path, people they had welcomed and loved. And the funny thing is my parents always have people giving them way more than they can use, there is often 20 or 30 watermelons on their porch or a bushel of tomatoes or 4 or 5 five gallon buckets of oranges, most of which they will give away. If you were to drive down to Zolfo Springs right now and walk in to my Mom’s house, she would welcome you in and make you feel welcome, and she would feed you .

Church is this us? Church how does LAKE COUNTY SEE NEW HOPE PRESBYTERIAN? It HAS TO BE US! We’ve got to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us, and this is for the Glory of GOD.

Christ came to us, IMMANUEL, to be God with us, Christ incarnate, God became flesh and dwelt among us, for our betterment, for our benefit, sure, but ultimately to bring His Heavenly Father Glory, in the work of Salvation, Redeeming lost souls, by becoming everything God needed Him to be, by substituting Himself to satisfy Himself, that we might Love God again, that we might love our neighbors, showing them the Love of Christ that lives in us, will you do it? Will you come together with one voice and glorify God? I pray as Paul did that God will grant us endurance and encouragement, That He would continually give us the ability to please our neighbor for his good, to find strength in God’s word, in Christ himself that we would find hope and with one Voice Glorify God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. To God by the Glory forever, AMEN!

 

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