Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"This Man Welcomes Sinners"

Have you ever been tempted to doubt you belong in God's house? Does He consider you a homeless outsider? I am glad to share with you this thought I received in my mail from Wieland.

When you feel sinful and unworthy and have fallen short, you wonder. One day a Bible writer (who, we don't know!), came to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem feeling guilty and unworthy to enter in. Then he saw a sight that encouraged him: a little sparrow had made its home in some little nook or cranny in the most holy section of the temple, right near the sacred altar. There it was, twittering in joy, laying its eggs, and rearing its young in that part of Solomon's glorious temple where even the ordinary priests had no permission to enter! In fact, only the great high priest of Israel was permitted to enter that twice-sacred spot, and that on only one day in the entire year. And there was the little sparrow, totally unconcerned about the stay-away rules of Leviticus, confident of a welcome in the house of the Lord!

Then the poet wrote Psalm 84: "How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; ... Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young--a place near Your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God" (vss. 1-3, NIV).

It is possible that Jesus had that poem in mind when He told the disciples, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matt. 10:29-31).

If you own a home and if your soul is generous, you will enjoy making visitors feel welcome. It will be fun for you. Jesus says, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). That word translated "pleased" means that it's fun for the Father to do that! He enjoys welcoming sinners to His house. It's constantly "open house" night and day. "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come!'" (Rev. 22:17).

Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened" (Matt. 11:28). "Burdened" with what? More than carrying sacks of cement or office work! "Burdened" with sin, convictions of selfishness, vain regrets.

"Blessed [happy] are those who dwell in Your house" (Psalm 84:4). You are invited; come as you are, don't try to dress up first. For once the Pharisees were right, "This Man welcomes sinners!" (Luke 15:2).

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