Genesis 32:1-12; Matthew 10:40-11:16; Psalms 14:1-6; Proverbs 6:12-15
OT: “Then Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Go back to your land and to your family, and I will cause you to prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. Indeed, I crossed over the Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two camps. Please rescue me from my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children. You have said, ‘I will cause you to prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, too numerous to be counted.’”” (Genesis 32:9-12 CSB)
From what I can tell, this prayer is the first time that Jacob ever asked for the Lord’s help – and it wasn’t until he was faced with the consequences of all his past self-centered conniving. So, when he finally got out of his depth and faced something he couldn’t control, he welcomed the hand of the Lord in his life. How convenient. This goes to show just how merciful and forgiving the Lord is… and how willing He is to step into our lives when we humble ourselves before Him and welcome His presence. In my own strength, I would not be so willing to help. My tendency would be to say, “you dug the hole – so now you have to get yourself out.” Thank God that the Lord is great in mercy and abounding in forgiveness… and thank the Lord that he doesn’t respond to people’s mistakes the way I would. But along those lines – just as the Lord is willing to forgive when we humbly welcome Him in, He will give us the grace to be just as merciful and forgiving to others if we welcome Him in to our relational challenges.
NT: ““The one who welcomes you welcomes me, and the one who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he’s righteous will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.” …Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”” (Matthew 10:40-42; 11:4-6 CSB)
When we welcome those who represent the Lord Jesus into our lives, we welcome the Lord Jesus… and when we welcome the Lord Jesus, we welcome God the Father. The blessing that we receive directly correlates to the level at which we welcome someone in. If we welcome someone in with a high level of respect and honor (like a prophet) we will receive a prophet-level reward. If we lower the respect level and only recognize them as simply a righteous person, then we will receive a reward commensurate to our welcome. But even if all we do is just be kind and offer a glass of cold water, we will still receive blessing for that meager act of respect. John the Baptist wasn’t sure if he could fully welcome Jesus as the Messiah, or just a righteous man. He had certain expectations of The Messiah that Jesus didn’t seem to be meeting… so he sent his disciples to ask Jesus a very pointed question: “Are you truly the Messiah, or do we need to look for another?” Jesus response to John was look at what is being accomplished… the prophecies in the Bible about the Messiah are being accomplished through me… you decide. If we recognize who Jesus truly is and welcome Him into our lives appropriately, we will be blessed.
Psalms: “The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one. Will evildoers never understand? They consume my people as they consume bread; they do not call on the Lord. Then they will be filled with dread, for God is with those who are righteous.” (Psalms 14:1-5 CSB)
Many in the world… maybe even most in the world foolishly reject God… and even in their heightened sense of their own understanding and intelligence – because they can’t see God in the flesh – reject even the notion of His existence. This rejection removes from them the sense of absolute good, absolute truth, and absolute righteousness – which leads to corruption. When we reject God and do not welcome Him in, we become corrupt and deceived by our own biases. Ultimately, because they cut off the source of life, peace, joy, etc. their lives become marked with anxiety and dread. For everything good flows from the Father of Lights, and He and His blessings are only with those who welcome Him and walk in his righteousness. Are you filled with dread? Are you fully welcoming, with humility, the presence of the Lord in your life? That’s a good place to start, at least.