I spent the day yesterday in the great outdoors. The weather was beautiful and I had the day free to relax and do some things in the yard. Before going inside, I checked my boots for dirt and mud by the door, and took special note of the mat just outside the door. While it is highly functional in cleaning any mud off my boots, what it says took hold of my heart. Woven into the mat was one word, “Welcome”.
Image courtesy of: chrisinplymouth
“God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” – Acts 15: 8,9
After Jesus had risen from the grave and empowered the disciples with the Holy Spirit, the disciples were going around and preaching the good news. A question arose on whether Gentiles had to be circumcised according to the law of Moses that required it for the Jews. So the priests and elders and believers gathered around to discuss what to do.
First thing to note is that they gathered many together to help make this decision. It is always wise to seek counsel from a group of believers when making important decisions. They relied on scripture to verify their decision. The Bible is the Word of God, and the perfect foundation for counsel and guidance in all of our decision making.
A second way to verify what to do is to look at what Jesus did during his life. By looking at what Jesus did, they could be comfortable with their decision. This is another way to get a second level of verification when making important decisions. If we can verify that our decision is going to be aligned with what Jesus would have done, then we can be comfortable in our decision. God never forsakes those who follow Him, who follow the Way.
What was decided among this group of believers is that Jesus welcomed everyone. He did not discriminate based upon any personal characteristic, race, status, fault, or failure. He welcomed everyone, and purified their hearts by faith. Jesus accepted everyone, and gave them the Holy Spirit, both Jew and Gentile. He welcomed them just the way that they were.
And today He welcomes us just the way that we are. No matter what we have done in the past. No matter what struggle we face. No matter how we feel about ourselves. Even when we don’t feel loved. He is always there. His love is never ending. His love never fails.
When we put out our welcome mat by our front door, let us remember our Lord Jesus Christ who welcomes everyone. And let us not discriminate and judge others based upon something that they have done. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. And since we have all sinned, none of us should be casting stones. And let us love and welcome everyone as believers into the faith through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your Word today. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins and to show us the Way and give us an example by which we can model our own actions. Thank you for the scripture, the living Word, and for the Holy Spirit which lives in us and is the very power of God. We seek you first each day. Guide our every word, our every action, our every thought. Fill us with your goodness, and let your Holy Spirit overflow in us. Help us to be more like You Lord. And let us welcome everyone into the faith as your precious children, by the love of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Image courtesy of: Eden Project Communities
Photo By chrisinplymouth
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