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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hebrews 13 - Two Times in One Day

Hebrews 13:1-3 reads, "Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body."

Amazingly, God fulfilled these commands in me on Monday - it was a glorious day. First, I got to meet with one of my friends, "Jay," down at the county jail. Jay is awaiting trial for murder, yet God miraculously converted him a year and a half ago. He and I always have fun and deep conversations between thick plexiglass whenever I go visit him. Sometimes, the Lord brings Hebrews 13:3 to mind when I leave the jail, and I am thankful that God continues to help me remember my brother in prison.

Later that night, I met a new friend, "Nate." Nate is a homeless Vietnam veteran, and last night he needed a soda from the store. I was happy to help him. When Nate felt guilty for asking, I encouraged him that we are all beggars before God. We talked for several minutes as we walked back toward my house, and he was moved to tears and asked for help. His confession of need before God and man truly moved my heart. We had a long talk, about everything from God's evident favor to the local rescue mission, and he came back later that night and slept on our porch. Several times he either asked me if I was an angel or joked that he was. Hebrews 13 reminded us both that God commands us to show hospitality to strangers, and we were both happy to be a part of God's gracious plan.

Now I am not saying that you or I have to be any sort of special person to follow Jesus in these ways. According to the Bible, this kind of faith is the gift of God. So from God to all who believe, this way of faith is the way of happiness. Even when it's hard and doesn't make sense, the way of Jesus is always the best. In other words, the Bible tells us that taking up our crosses and following Jesus is the best thing that we can do with our lives. Even when it means going to jail and befriending strangers and receiving ridicule, staying with Jesus is always the only thing that matters. "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it," (Mark 8:35).

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