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Hello! It is me again! May I come in?

I remember welcoming my two grandsons into this world, privileged to be at both of their births. The joy was overwhelming, but so was the relief. The relief that my daughter had made it through, that the pain was over, and that she would stabilize her very stressed body. She suffered from high blood pressure, excessive swelling, and lots of health worries just prior to delivering the boys. When we welcome someone, or something that can occur, we are actually expressing a little bit of pleasure in the moment. There will be memories attached to it, but there might also be a little bit of work! Welcoming new life into this world is a lot of work. So is welcoming Jesus into your life! You don't have to 'do the work' of being forgiven for your sins, but you do have a 'lot of work' ahead of you in learning how to make right choices and 'rework' what have become bad patterns or habits in your life! Good news is that we don't do it alone!

It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me! (Romans 10:9-10)

The word for our day is "welcome". A word we can use as interjection when one's arrival gives one PLEASURE. This is like saying, "Welcome, stranger!" That is how it is with us when we first "welcome" Jesus into our lives - he is a "stranger" to us at first. His ways are a little foreign to us, his purpose for our lives seems a little like setting out into the unknown, so we welcome him, but as a stranger, not as a familiar member of our lives. Yet, in welcoming him in, there is the infilling of such pleasure that we are overjoyed by his presence. At other times, this borders on a greeting of kindly COURTESY. This is like saying, "Let's give him a warm welcome". There are times I think we treat Jesus this way - kind of formally welcoming him, but not really excited about his arrival or his purpose! We extend the "courtesy" of allowing him access into our daily lives without really much forethought or "end-thought" for that matter. Our relationship with Jesus is quite different when we anticipate the pleasure his presence brings vs. extending him a mere courtesy of access!

There is also the idea of RECEIVING something we will experience in a new or deeper way as we welcome someone or something into our lives. This is like saying, "It was a welcomed time of rest." When we welcome Jesus into our lives, we are welcoming all we will receive at his hands. This means that we welcome (move from mere acquaintance into practical experience) all that he brings our way. It means we give someone the FULL RIGHT to something we hold access to alone. This is like saying, "He is welcome to give it a go." When we welcome Jesus in this manner, we are really telling him that we don't want to give it a try alone! We want him right there, alongside us, helping us with the issue at hand. We "grant" him the right to be in control - to move us from "trying" into actually "experiencing" what it is he has in mind for us.

Last, but not least, there is the negative meaning of welcome that we cannot overlook. This is the idea of an UNWANTED welcome. This is like telling Jesus he has "worn out" his welcome! I hope we are not at that place EVER with our Lord! Yet, I wonder if there are times when we just want to ask him to "leave" for a while - because the "heat" is too hot, the "intensity" is too intense. We may feel that his presence is a little "no longer welcomed" because we really did not count the cost before we stepped into what he asked us to do. It is the "word of faith" that welcomes Jesus to go to work in our lives. I think this is kind of like telling Jesus, "You are welcome to have full access to my life." We are doing more than being "courteous" to Jesus - we are viewing that his work in our lives will ultimately produce "pleasure" beyond our imagining. I have times when I am guilty of welcoming Jesus in a half-hearted manner. I think this is human nature. Thank goodness, I have more times now of welcoming him with eager anticipation. That is the process we refer to as growth - moving from courteous welcoming of Jesus' work in our lives into a place where we are cheerfully embracing his work! So, how have you been welcoming Jesus this week? Just askin!

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