1. Center Down
Our breath prayer for today: As you inhale, whisper, “We desire…” As you exhale, whisper, “…to truly serve You, Lord.”
2. Slowly read aloud the following Scripture passage
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked or give You clothing?
When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?’
“And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46, NLT
For further exploration:
Book: Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a
Christian Tradition, by Dr. Christine D. Pohl
3. Kingdom Prayer
Righteous Father, we thank You for being a God of grace and mercy. Thank You for knowing each homeless person and family intimately. Thank You for being their protection, shelter, hope and help. The heavens proclaim Your Glory, Lord. The skies display Your craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night You are made known. Father, Your instructions are perfect, reviving the soul. Your decrees are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Your commandments are right, bringing joy to the heart. Your commands are clear, giving insight for living. Reverencing You is pure, lasting forever. Your laws are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.
Glorious Father, we confess that Your arm is not too weak to save the homeless, neither is Your ear deaf to hear their calls. Lord, You know each of them and call them by name. You know everything about them, when they sit down and when they stand up. You know their thoughts even when they are far away. We rejoice Mighty King, because You said You will never fail nor abandon them. Lord, You said that the poor will always be among us, but You also mandated that we take care of them. You said that we are to share our food with the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, and give clothes to those who need them and to not hide from our relatives who need our help. We declare that, as a Church Family, we will commit to feeding the hungry and helping those who are in trouble. Lord, then You will guide us continually, give us water when we are dry and restore our strength.
Holy Spirit, show me how I can be a blessing to the homeless community in Houston:
Holy Spirit, we ask that You would be a wall of protection and deliverance around the homeless daily. Watch over them while they sleep and protect them from violence, abuse, and theft. Lord, we cry out on behalf of the children whose families are homeless. Help them to overcome their bleak beginnings and show them how precious they are in Your sight. Help them to focus and study so that they will excel in school. Encourage them when other children say mean things about them because of their circumstances. Holy Spirit, change the hearts of the leaders of our country who continue to ignore the plight of the homeless, yet they pursue greed and avarice. Lord, for those who are homeless because of an addiction or mental illness, please help them to find the help they need so that they can get their lives back in order and begin to rebuild. Father, bless Pastor Velosia and Daniel Kibe and each member of our Global and Local Missions and Outreach ministries as they serve those in need. Please continue to empower and provide for our Church Family financially so that we have the resources to battle this cultural atrocity.
Merciful Father, forgive those homeless persons whose poor decisions have led to their current situation. Forgive those who are homeless due to drugs, alcohol, gambling, addictions, or poor work habits. Forgive those people who would seek to take advantage of the homeless. Forgive those who look down upon the homeless. Forgive those of us who have resources to give to the homeless but refuse to give. Forgive those agencies who claim to be advocates for the homeless, but misappropriate the resources. Forgive our nation for creating systems that produce a homeless population. Lord, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).
Holy Spirit, remind the homeless of those they need to forgive and help them to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He reveals them, say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help the homeless not to yield to temptation but deliver them from the evil one.
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, where is there anyone as mighty as You? You are entirely faithful. You are far more awesome than all who surround Your throne. Your home reaches up to the heavens, while its foundation is on the earth. You draw water up from the oceans and pour it down as rain on the land. The Lord is Your Name! You are mighty, but You do not despise anyone! You are mighty in both power and understanding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
4. Concepts to Consider
God is serious about hospitality. Providing for the stranger, the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the pilgrim, the least, the last, and the lost are everywhere you turn in the Biblical narrative. From Genesis to Revelation, we see examples of hospitality that go way beyond our modern “let’s have a few friends and family over for dinner” definition of hospitality.
Kingdom hospitality has a great deal to do with how we see “the other,” our Creator, and ourselves (aka, our Kingdom disposition). A classic case in point is the Matthew 25 passage above. When we are able to trust God with our very lives–”what we shall eat and what we shall drink”–then welcoming someone who cracks our facade of self-reliance and stretches our sensibilities becomes easier. We don’t want to miss Jesus Himself because we were too narrowly focused on what we don’t have or what we could lose.
To be clear, the Biblical hospitality imperatives are not asking us to be undiscerning about who we allow into our presence and homes, but they are asking us not to make biased assumptions about people who cross our paths who may not be “our kind of people,” but to whom God may desire us to show holy love and hospitality.
Indeed, one of the words translated as “hospitality” in the New Testament is “philoxenia” (φιλοξενία; pheelohx-eh-NEE-ah) or “brotherly love for a stranger or foreigner” (see: Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2) and was a distinctive feature of the early Church.
While we today may from time to time receive kindness from strangers during the aftermath of natural disasters or when our car breaks down out of town, in the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman contexts of the Bible, providing hospitality could mean life or death on a regular basis. Remember, there were no Hampton Inns, Denny’s or Ubers around. Travelers and visitors depended exclusively on the hospitality of people outside of their immediate family group for food, security, and shelter. Not providing hospitality was viewed as a terrible social faux pas and was the height of societal neglect.
Biblically, hospitality is derived from the core belief that all persons are created in God’s image and by virtue of this fact all humans are deserving of radical and responsible welcoming provision and care. Throughout this week we will explore how to give and receive Godly hospitality.
- Personal Reflection: When have you received hospitality? What was the experience like?
- Kingdom Reflection: Why do you think hospitality is so much a part of the Biblical narrative?
Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:
If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord. If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Scriptural word, phrase, or image.
You may want to set a timer.