Last week I mentioned George Washington, and some of his strengths and weaknesses. One of the good qualities that he and his wife Martha had was the gift of hospitality. After the Revolutionary War, in which Washington became a hero, he went back home. His mother was thinking about moving in with him, and he wrote back to her that she shouldn’t consider it unless she liked a lot of people — because there were hardly any hotels like there are today, so people just stayed in the nearest home — that’s just what everyone did. And since the Washingtons were famous, everyone who traveled anywhere near Mt. Vernon wanted to stay there and eat with the war hero. I read that at one point he had something like FOUR total days in over two years when it was just he and Marta in their home. The Washingtons just had an amazing gift of hospitality.
Well as we look at the story of Mary & Martha here in Luke 10, that is what Martha did too, isn’t it? Here was this traveling evangelist/preacher/Messiah, Jesus, and the Bible says in :38 that Martha “welcomed Him into her home.”
The word “welcomed” here in the original Bible language is hupo-dexomai: literally, “under,” “to receive” — in other words, to “receive under” your roof; to “receive under” your personal care and attention. That is what Martha did with Jesus: she “received Him under her roof” — and that is what EACH of us must do with Jesus as well. We must invite Him “under the roof” of our heart, and our home. A lot of people think about Christianity as being a lot about things that we do “at church.” But real Christianity is not just about “church;” it is about our real, everyday life at HOME. If Jesus is really going to be your Lord & Savior, you have to personally “receive Him into” your own life, and into your HOME.
So in this final message in this “Mary & Martha” series in Luke 10, I want us to look at this idea of “Inviting Jesus Into Your Home.” This is a personal and IMPORTANT thing for each one of us. So: WHAT ARE SPECIFIC WAYS WE CAN “WELCOME JESUS INTO OUR HOME”?
1. Make sure that you have really received Jesus as the Lord & Savior of your whole life, including your home.
Now, this may be more tricky than it sounds at first — because many of us have gotten so used to that spiritual language of “asking Jesus to be your Lord & Savior” that we think of it as just this “little religious decision” that we make at church, that really does’t affect the rest of our lives. You know: you go forward in church, you sign a card, you get baptized, whatever. It is just this “religious thing” you do. We think of it as a “church thing,” when in reality surrendering your life to Jesus a “whole life thing” that will dramatically affect every area of your life — including your HOME.
One of the most effective “schemes” the devil has managed to pull off on people in modern times has been relegating one’s commitment to Jesus to being just a little “religious side show” in your life, instead of the revolutionary life commitment that it really is. GO BACK TO THE NEW TESTAMENT: READ the words of Jesus. You never see any intimation that following Him is a “minor” thing; a “little part” of your life. Instead you will see that He always demands a total life commitment from those who would follow Him:
— He told Peter to leave his nets (his job!) and come follow Him.
— He had Matthew leave his tax office (again, his full-time job!) and follow Him.
— He told the Rich Young Ruler that if he wanted eternal life, he had to be willing to sell all his possessions and come follow Him. He had to be willing to give up everything to be Jesus’ disciple!
I’ve been reading in Luke in my own daily Bible readings, about how Jesus talked to people who said they wanted to follow Him. He was very demanding:
— He told one, if you follow Me you’ll have nowhere to lay your head. It involves hardship
— He told another if you want to follow Me, you have to be willing to leave your father and mother and children — and even be willing to lose your own LIFE if you want to be My disciple!
Do we get the picture?! Inviting Jesus into our life is NOT a “little religious decision.” It’s not just like getting a library card, or becoming a member of the 4H. Following Jesus is a commitment of your WHOLE LIFE to Him, so that every single aspect of your life is subject to Him as your Lord & Master.
Tim Keller spend most of his life as pastor of the Redeemer Church in New York City, where the gospel flourished even in that difficult place through his ministry. A few years back he talked about a conversation he had early in his life that revolutionized his commitment to Christ:
He said in 1971 a woman named Barbara Boyd talked to him and said, “If somebody says to me, ‘Come on in, Barbara, but stay out, Boyd,’ it’s a bit of a problem, because I can’t separate them.’ You have to take her as the whole person she is: “Barbara Boyd.”
And she told Keller that it’s the same way with Jesus. The Bible tells us that He is “Lord & Savior.” You can’t say: ‘Jesus, come into my life, forgive my sins, answer my prayers; do this for me …—but don’t be the absolute master of my life; Jesus, Savior, come in; but Lord, stay out.’ He can’t do that. He is “Lord & Savior”
In fact let me add to Keller’s testimony here: if you look at the New Testament, every time the words “Lord & Savior” are used, “Lord” always comes first. You can’t have Jesus as your “Savior,” but not your “Lord.” If He comes into your life He must come as both LORD & Savior! Jesus doesn’t come in to your life as a little “side hobby;” He comes in as LORD & Master — or not at all!
Keller then said this lady told him: “If the distance between the Earth and the sun, which is 92 million miles, was the thickness of a piece of paper, then the diameter of our galaxy would be a stack of papers 310 miles high. And our galaxy is less than a speck of dust in the part of the universe that we can see. And that part of the universe is just a speck of dust compared to the whole universe. And she said: “If Jesus is the Son of God who holds all this together with the power of his word, is this the kind of person you ask into your life to be your little personal assistant?” Then she told him to go outside and for one hour say nothing. “Just think about what this means to you.’” Keller decided that meant that this Jesus: amazing, all-powerful God, had to be the total LORD of his life. Nothing less would do.
And the same thing is true for us today. So the first thing you need to do today, as we think about “inviting Jesus into your home,” is to evaluate your own life: HAVE I MADE THIS KIND OF COMMITMENT TO JESUS? Have I ever truly committed myself to Him as my LORD: NOT just a “little religious figure” I’ve “added” to my life, or go to church an hour a week for — but one to Whom I have committed my WHOLE LIFE and everything in it — including the way I live my life at HOME? Has that happened to you?
If it hasn’t, then TODAY you need to bow your head and ask Jesus to be the LORD & Savior of your whole life, including your home!
Now, many of us might say, I really HAVE made that kind of total commitment to the Lord, but I have not APPLIED that to every area of my home yet. And really, I think that’s going to be the case with all Christians, to some extent. We are ALL “a mixed bag” as we saw last week; we are ALL “a work in progress.” None of us have “arrived” where we want to be as Christians yet. But maybe this will encourage you: one of the best signs that you really are a genuine follower of Christ is that you are actively WORKING on some areas of your life. You are not content where you are. If you’re working on some areas that you know Jesus needs to be the Lord of, then it’s a good sign that He really IS your Lord — even though you are very imperfect still! So what are some ways we need to be applying this, if we are serious about “Inviting Jesus Into Our Home.”
2. Live the Christian Life at home.
This just makes sense. If we have really “invited Jesus into our life” as our LORD & Savior — Lord of every area of our life — then this is going to affect the way we live our lives at home — and EVERYWHERE we live — but also and especially in our home.
I will go so far as to say: if Jesus is not impacting the way you live at home, you are most likely not a true Christian at all. How can Jesus being Lord of your life, not impact the place where you live most of your life?
P.G. Wodehouse was a writer back in the early 1900’s, and he wrote a series of comic novels — one of the books was all about golf. At one point in one of the stories one of his characters said: “If you want to know the real character of a man, play golf with him.” You’ll see how he handles his temper, how he responds when he does poorly, etc. If you want to know his character, play golf with him.
I do think there’s really some truth to that — but I also think it is even more so of the home. If you want to know how what kind of a Christian a person is, see how they are living their faith at home!
I will be honest here: I believe that what happens in many cases of young adults rebelling against religion is that they have seen their parents live one way at church and another way at home. So when they get old enough to make their own choices, they say, “NO — I am not having any part of that hypocrisy.” And so they chuck the whole thing. Now, that is not ALWAYS the case; God has given every person the freedom to make their own choices, and the best Christian parents can have a child that rebels — God was the perfect Father and His children rebelled against Him! But I do believe that often this is the case: a child sees that the faith they are taught at church is not being lived out at home, and they don’t want that hypocrisy, and as soon as they are able to make their own choice, they are out of there! And to an extent, those kids are right! If your Christian faith is real, you will be living it in your home — not perfectly, because as we saw last week, none of us are perfect. But your faith WILL impact the way you live at home.
3. WORSHIP God at home, not just at church
Just as we should serve the Lord at home as well as at church, we should WORSHIP Him at home as well. As we have talked about numerous times before, the reason God MADE us was to worship Him. That perfect worship was interrupted by our sin, which cut us off from God. That’s why God sent Jesus: to die on the cross and pay for our sins, so that we could repent, and come back to God. But when we come back to God through Christ, what we come back to, is the WORSHIP relationship with Him that He originally created us for. And if we really have that worship relationship with Him, it is not going to be restricted to a “building” only — at church — but you will worship Him everywhere — including and especially in your home, because that is where you live so much of your life.
You should get up every morning and make your “first order of business” for the day, to worship God. THE most important commandment, Jesus said, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart.” So you need to start the day by fulfilling the greatest commandment. Start the day in worship. David said in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice. In the morning, I will order my prayer to You, and eagerly watch.”
I really believe that the single most important commitment you can make in your life once you have asked Christ to be your Lord & Savior is to walk with Him every morning in a time of worship. That morning time is so important because it gets you started in the right direction for the day, so you can keep it going all day long.
Now, just because we start the day with worship doesn’t mean that’s it; we should continue to worship Him all day long, but beginning the day with worship will help us to do that. And if you don’t start the day with worship, at what point in the day ARE you going to start it? It’s not just going to “happen” some time along the way. Be committed to start your day with worship: read a Psalm of worship, sing some songs, give God thanks. — in a couple of weeks we will be learning more about how to pray during that morning time, by looking at the Model Prayer. But make sure you are “inviting Jesus into your home” by worshiping Him at home.
This is so important. In fact, if pressed, I would say that it is more important for you to worship at home than it is to worship at church. “How can you say that,” someone may ask? “Isn’t worship at church really important?” YES it is; it is vital. But worship at home is even MORE important. Worship at church is usually only one day a week. Worship at home can be every day, so it can have a much bigger impact on you.
It’s easy to see that. Apply it to another area of your life: Which would be better, to go work out at the gym one day a week, or to work out at home, 7 days a week? ANYBODY would tell you it would be better to do daily workouts at home, over just one day at the gym. There is no comparison.
And the same thing is true spiritually. What you do at home every day will have a much bigger impact than anything you can do at church one day a week. (Youth ministers have been telling us this for years: they can’t fix in one hour a week at church what we are messing up all week long at home!) It’s got to be happening at home.
If your commitment to Jesus is real, it will be real at home. If you are really worshiping Him, then you will worship Him at home. When we come together for worship at church on Sundays, it should just be the great consummation and bringing together of God’s people to do what we have been doing all week long in our own homes. It’s like, we’ve been practicing at home all week long, now let’s come and put it all together and “perform” for the Lord with all our hearts. Our Sunday worship will be so much more effective if we are worshiping at home all week long. And honestly, if we are not worshiping at home all week long, our Sunday worship is pretty hypocritical. If we’re really worshipers, we will be “inviting Jesus into our home” in daily worship.
4. REMOVE any “stumbling blocks” from your home.
John Newton, who wrote the song “Amazing Grace,” wrote to a friend and said: “The new nature and the old have each their respective, proper food, suited to their different appetites … and what is nourishing to one, is death to the other.”
I thought that was a really good analogy: your “flesh” (your worldly, sinful person) and your godly spirit, have two entirely different kinds of “diets.” What is good for one, is harmful to the other, and vice-versa. What your sinful self wants, will hurt your spiritual life, and what your spirit needs to feed on, will oppose your flesh. Thus it is VERY important what kind of “spiritual food” or input you have around you in your home.
One of the things Cheryl & I have found is that if we don’t want to drink Cokes, don’t buy them and keep them in the house. We haven’t had any in our refrigerator for a while, and as a result I think Cheryl hasn’t had one for over three months now, and I’ve had one or two when I was out, but not very many. It just makes a BIG difference what you have, and don’t have available there in your home.
And the same thing is true with spiritual food as well. Just like some foods don’t need to be in our home for our PHYSICAL welfare, there are some things that don’t need to be in our home for our SPIRITUAL welfare:
— books, movies, DVDs, music that may lead you to temptation, or discouragement. When I was young I used to get in little “droughts” of depression, and one day I thought, you know it just might have something to do with some of the music I was listening to: I’d have Barry Manilow on all day, singing “Oh Mandy …” and all of his sad songs — no wonder I would get depressed! The things you watch and listen to and read really DO have an impact on your life.
Some of us need to make some changes in our SPIRITUAL diet, to make our home a more welcoming place for the Lord and what He wants to do in our lives. “Invite Jesus into your home” by getting rid of things from your home that might quench His presence and work in your life.
5. EMPLOY things at home which encourage your faith:
The opposite of that last point is also true: get OUT of your home things that might quench His Spirit, but DO employ things that will be of benefit to you spiritually in your home.
I had the privilege of doing the funeral service for Darlene Ramsey’s mother, Wanda Smith, a couple of weeks ago. One of the signature things that marked her life was that in large, artistic print on her dining room she had painted Psalm 118:24, “This the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Every day she and her husband saw that verse, and it impacted them — and it became the “theme verse” of their life.
It’s beneficial to have godly input like that in your home. Have scriptures and encouraging sayings posted, or Bible verses on scripture memory cards in various places where you can see them and remember them. Play Christian music that will lift you up and cause you to worship God. Instead being dragged down with “Oh Mandy …”, play “O God Our Help In Ages Past” or “10,000 Reasons” and other good Christian songs! Have Christian books, and other edifying literature that has a “moral thread” around for you to read.
Some of the most important things you can employ in your home are the things you need for your daily quiet time with the Lord. The other day, Cheryl took a picture of the desk where she has her morning worship time: it has her Bible, and notebook, and prayer lists, etc. on it, and her iPhone to listen to a worship song. Then she asked each of our family members to share with her a picture of THEIR place — so she could pray for them and their walk with the Lord. It’s important to have that place. And we need to employ all kinds of godly input in your home that will help you “invite Jesus into your home.”
6. USE your home as a base of ministry
We know from this passage that Martha literally invited Jesus into her home — and then she prepared a meal for Him (and most likely many other guests as well). She was using her home, and allowed Jesus to use her home, as a base for ministry. As I mentioned earlier, this was more common in their day than in ours, because they didn’t have as many “hotels” then as we do now. This is one of the reasons why I Timothy 3 says that one of the qualifications for the pastor is that he must be “hospitable” — it was an essential part of their culture; any good person in their day would be willing to host travelers in their home, or else travelers might be forced to stay in the elements on the road. It was part of very basic, and in their day, very needed hospitality — and we see numerous people in the Bible practicing that: Martha, and Levi, and many others.
This is not as necessary, or as common now as it was then. But it COULD be — and for us as Christians, it SHOULD be. We should use our home as a base for ministry to others.
I think I mentioned one time before, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, a former liberal, lesbian professor from the northeast, who was radically saved, and who is now a pastor’s wife in North Carolina. A big part of her salvation testimony is the pastor and his wife who would have her over to their house for meals, and just talk — and God used those times to slowly draw her to Himself. And so now she believes strongly in using your home as a base to reach and care for others. She has come out with a great book, called The Gospel Comes With A House Key — which challenges us as Christians to use our homes for God’s Kingdom purposes.
If you think about it, this just makes sense. For most of us, our homes are THE single biggest investment we have. There is no way that if Jesus is the LORD of your life, He is not going to USE the single biggest investment in your life, in some way for His Kingdom purposes! I guarantee you: God wants to use your home to glorify His name, advance His kingdom, and do His will — in all kinds of ways:
— to have people over and build relationships with them, so that they might eventually come to Christ, like Rosaria Butterfield did
— to host Bible studies and fellowships for other Christians
— to put up traveling ministers or other Christians
— we’re excited about our new building, but it may be that one day, we can’t meet publicly any longer, because of persecution. We need to be ready to move our worship and Christian fellowship into our homes.
— Cheryl & I purposefully bought the house we did, here in town in a central location, with a large meeting place, so that we could use our home as a base for ministry.
— Our daughter Libby read Rosaria Butterfield’s book and has been hosting young ladies and their kids in her home.
— Stephen & Kim Head have used their home to host the youth, and I noticed that as the hurricane was approaching the other day that they invited anyone from Louisiana to come and shelter in their home.
— I’ll be honest with you: I did not know when I wrote this message that Cheryl & I would be hosting some folks from Louisiana today. I literally had just finished this sermon when I heard that some of our former church members in Louisiana were going to need a place to stay because of the hurricane, and it was like: “OK, are you just gonna ‘preach’ about this, or are you going to really DO it?” And I have to tell you that there is a great joy in being able to put God’s word into practice. We are so glad to have Mrs. Joy and Gayla and Rebeka and Jasper with us. This is what we SHOULD be doing. God has blessed us with a home and with so many resources for a reason. We need to “invite Jesus into our home” and let Him USE our homes as a base for His ministry and purposes. And truly, there is surely a scriptural sense that when we invite others into our home, we ARE inviting Jesus into our home!
Whenever you are going to have company in your home, you get everything ready, don’t you? You clean, rearrange, get things ready for your guest: Cheryl always puts clean sheets on the beds, towels in the bathroom, new hand soap dispensers, and has snacks and food available.
In the same way, we all need to “prepare” our homes for Jesus. As we do that, there will be some things we need to remove; some things we need to “clean up.” There are some other things we need to set out, and do. In light of this Biblical principle this morning, What do YOU personally need to do, to “welcome Jesus into your home”?
— As we bow our heads for the invitation time; you might write the answer to that question as the last line on your notes from this message: “What do you personally need to to do, to ‘welcome Jesus into your home’?”
— is there some specific way God is showing you, that you need to live your Christian life at home?
— do you need to start worshiping God at home, not just at church?
— is there something you need to get OUT of your home, that is hurting you spiritually, and quenching Jesus’ presence there?
— and is the Lord showing you something you need to put UP in your home, or read, or listen to, to help you grow in Him at home?
— and what about making your home a base for ministry? Is the Lord giving you a vision for something specific you could do in your home, to reach or teach or care for people?
— Maybe you would say: “I would be willing to host someone from a church in Louisiana in my home” — maybe you’ve got an extra bedroom, or a wing of your home where no one’s staying; maybe you’re a senior adult and have 3-4 bedrooms with no one it in; and you’d be willing to host someone in your home — let me know. As people get back to Southwest Louisiana, they are finding devastation. There may be others who need a place to stay in the days ahead, and we should take them in, as a very specific way of “inviting Jesus into our home!”
— Some of us can use this time of invitation to prepare our offerings — our tithe, building fund, “Acts 1:8” — but also especially a special gift for hurricane relief for families like the Broussards, their worship leader, and their church, FBC Hayes, and other folks who have been hit hard.
— Or maybe you’d say you’ve never really made Jesus the LORD & Savior of your life, so that He impacts every area of your life — including your home. If not, why don’t you make that commitment to Him right now …