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Neighboring Well Part 1

This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Neighboring Well”.

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Scripture Reading

Romans 12:9-19 (MSG)
9 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. 10 Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 11 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, 12 cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. 13 Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. 14 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. 15 Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. 16 Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. 17 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. 18 If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. 19 Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

I am calling our new series Neighboring Well. We are going to be looking at the importance of hospitality.

“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Helping and serving – Hospitality

In our series on Interacting Well, where we looked at the importance of loving God, heart mind soul and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves we defined our “neighbor” as the people we encounter in our day to day life who need the mercy of God. We used the parable of the Good Samaritan to help us with this understanding.

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

So who is your neighbor?

Your neighbor is the person you encounter in your day to day life who needs the mercy of God. Your neighbors are the wounded, broken and lost people you are around every day who desperately need the compassion of God. They might live in your neighborhood. They may work with you. They are the servers at restaurants and the cashiers at grocery stores and the counter people at fast food restaurants. They are the drivers who don’t yield when they are supposed to. They are the people you encounter throughout each and every day in need of the mercy we’ve been shown by our Heavenly Father.

We are going to look at this idea of Neighboring Well, (hospitality) over the next few weeks, encompassing the spiritual and practical aspects of neighboring. First things first.

1. The importance of being sincere

Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

“Practice hospitality” literally means continuously pursue hospitality.

The Greek word translated “hospitality” means “love of strangers.” One definition of hospitality is “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.”

The “hospitality” we are talking about is all about loving others through Christ and making people feel special.

But it must be sincere. It must be genuine. If it is phony it won’t be effective. You can’t fake it. It is our hope that through our ‘hospitality” people will ultimately come to know Jesus, but it cannot be a requirement. We need to love people regardless of how they respond. Love must be sincere.

2. We are to be hospitable without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:8-9 (NIV)
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

We are to become hospitable people, demonstrating hospitality to others the way that God has to us.

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

The ultimate display of sincere and genuine without grumbling act of hospitality was when Jesus willingly went to the cross and died for sinners so that everyone who repents and believes becomes a member of the household of God. We find our true home in God. We are no longer strangers and aliens, we are the family of God.

3. The battle line has been drawn

We have to remember that this neighboring well idea goes on in the midst of a spiritual battle.

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

There is a very real enemy who wants to keep people in darkness. There are two Kingdoms. The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Only two. You are in one or the other. The kingdom of God by choice or in the kingdom of darkness by default. In our last series we saw that we were called to be a people who declare the praises of him who brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Now we engage in the battle for our neighbors. Since this spiritual battle is raging on around us we are going to spend the next few weeks looking at this spiritual battle and our part in standing against the schemes of the enemy on behalf of our neighbors.

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