S.R. Genesis 18:1-10


  1. If you are visiting today, we want you to know that you are our honored guest.
    1. We have a genuine interest in our visitors
    2. If you were a visitor how would people “honor” you?
  2. Think about various places you have “visited” in the past.
    1. What was said or done that really made you feel welcome and treated with respect and appreciation?
    2. Or in contrast, when you visited, what was said or done or not, that made you feel unwelcome and unwanted?
    3. When we visit we can be greeted and treated warmly or as an outsider.
    4. What do you think would be helpful to our many visitors?
    5. What is your definition of a friendly family?
  3. Come in.
    1. Louisa May Alcott said that the two most beautiful words in the English language are "Come in. Come in."
    2. Have you ever had someone say that to you?
    3. Have you ever had someone say:
      1. Do you live in this area?
      2. Do you have family in the area?
      3. What can we do to make your visit more comfortable?
      4. Come over to eat with us?
      5. Do you need a place to stay?
  4. James 2:1-10 (read text)
    1. 1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor… 8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
    2. Where are our manners? Do we show partiality?
  5. Romans 12:13 – “contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality”
    1. The word “hospitality” literally means. “Love of Strangers”
    2. Our friends are not the only ones who are to receive our warm responses.
    3. Would you agree that kindness and cordial respect are due all of our visitors.
  6. This principle of welcoming visitors is not confined to the assembly, but it certainly applies here.
    1. 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 is in the context of supernatural spiritual gifts.
      1. 24But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!
      2. When these gifts were used appropriately the result would be that the unbeliever would “fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you”
    2. What we do as a congregation has profound influence on visitors causing them to conclude:
      1. “God is with these people” or
      2. “These are not God’s people.”
      3. Not kind, not friendly, and not respectful. Not like Jesus.
  7. Maybe we don’t personally welcome - We suffer from the “bystander effect”.
    1. We presume that Someone will greet our visitors.
    2. We may think that Anybody can greet visitors and we presume that somebody will, but often nobody (or very few) actually do.
    3. We have actual reports of “no one spoke to me.” (Ted Bryan)
    4. Others report that we felt very much like outsiders and very few spoke to us even after months of attendance.
    5. Please move beyond family and friends look up, feet moving and hand out to greet those who are looking for Jesus.


  1. Get the House Ready for Company
    1. When Abraham entertained angels unaware (Hebrews 13:2)
      1. Abraham was “sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1)
      2. This was a custom of that culture
        1. A man would sit at the opening of the doorway so he could watch for travelers and strangers who might need food, drink, or a place to stay.
        2. When Abraham “lifted up his eyes and looked, behold three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them” (Genesis 18:2)
        3. In the ancient near east, hospitality was a pleasure, not a chore. Strangers became invited guests.
    2. Our preparation for visitors begins with our familiarity with the family of God.
      1. How can we be positioned at the door, looking for guests, when we don’t know who the members are?
      2. How can we be practicing hospitality to strangers when we don’t even do that for our local brethren?
      3. Visitors are observant. They watch.
      4. What impression do we leave when we talk only to our close circle of friends?
      5. Or when we leave quickly to get to our favorite restaurant to eat with our favorite friends week after week.
      6. Do we invite visitors to join us for lunch? If not, why not? Family only?
      7. Linda broke down crying. I had never had anyone in my home.
    3. Know of a congregation in Nashville, TN where the elders/deacons arrive early and greet every member and every visitor at every entrance to the large facility.
      1. Would you volunteer to serve our visitors along with Scot Willis and Dave Barcus?
        1. How about serving our elderly, our widows and handicapped.
    4. Do you clean house before inviting guests?
      1. Do we make each classroom as attractive as appropriate to demonstrate our focus on sharing the word of God?
      2. Do we clean the interior and exterior of buildings and grounds so that the neighborhood sees that we are expecting guests?
  2. Give Our Best to Every Guest
    1. Abraham didn’t offer his company any leftovers.
      1. He ran to meet them and begged them to let him be their servant.
      2. He hurried inside and had Sarah made fresh bread cakes.
      3. He ran to the herd and took a “tender and choice calf” (Genesis 18:7) and had it prepared.
      4. Once he brought the refreshments, he stood nearby in case they needed additional service.
      5. Remember, he was unaware of who these strangers were (Hebrews 13:2).
    2. Do we treat our visitors as we would treat the Lord or His angels?
      1. Well we didn’t know it was you, Lord.
      2. Matthew 25:42-45 – “42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45"He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'”
      3. Treat visiting Christians in a manner “worthy of the saints.”
        1. Oh, I didn’t know they were Christians.
        2. Did you bother to ask?
      4. Romans 16:1-2 – “1I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.”
    3. If Jesus came would we speak to him? What would the conversation entail?
      1. How would he be dressed? How would we be dressed?
      2. Where would he sit? Would you invite him to sit by you?
      3. Would you “visit”? Look carefully to his needs and meet them graciously.
      4. What would he think of your conduct and participation in the assembly
    4. Practical Tips:
      1. Will you, can you, help guests find the Bible classes for their children?
      2. Can you, will you, offer a stranger your seat so they won’t have to worry about taking someone else’s?
      3. Will you share with them an outline of the message and a visitor’s packet (includes a first lesson of a correspondence course, a pamphlet describing basic beliefs of this group, and a contact card for future reference – show each)
      4. Can you share with them the Wi-Fi access code (405NCreasy) so they can use their mobile device to access the website www.lafayettecoc.org and download past messages and singing and note future special studies?
      5. Can you, will you offer a visitor to eat lunch with you? Not asking you to pay.
      6. You would do that for the Lord, if he were to visit, wouldn’t you?
      7. When you do that for a guest, you serve them and Him also.
    5. People may not long remember what the preacher said, but they will long remember how they felt before and after the message. You are key to that.
  3. Keep the Door of Opportunity Open
    1. A. Abraham was rewarded for his hospitality.
      1. He hurried to serve three “men” who passed his way that day.
      2. He did not search for excuses but capitalized on the opportunity.
      3. Little did he know that after eating the prepared feast his visitor would say “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah, your wife shall have a son” (Genesis 18:10).
      4. Abraham thought he was serving them, but as it turned out, the Visitor was there to serve him and announce a promise and future blessing.
      5. This blessing of the “Seed” of Abraham would be one in which the Lord ultimately “visited” all the nations of the earth. (cf. Luke 7:16)
    2. B. Visitors are looking for “home.” For God, For Friendship and Fellowship.
      1. Their willingness to visit is a strong indication they are looking for spiritual…
      2. Shouldn’t we show some interest in them?
        1. One warm greeting, firm handshake, one extra effort could make such an impression that they conclude – “I think I found a home”
        2. They are looking for the Lord. Will they find him among us?
      3. Surely there are risks of embarrassment and awkwardness.
        1. Thought you were a visitor – been here for five years.
        2. When you run from the risks, you run from the opportunity.
      4. Are we looking for those who are looking for Him?
  4. Conclusion
    1. Hebrews 13:2 – “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
    2. Will we, like Abraham, seek to serve strangers who visit?
      1. Get the house ready for Company
      2. Give our Best to Every Guest
      3. Keep the Door of Opportunity Open
    3. Look up and look out - We are having company!
      1. Topics for fall series with Ryan Cummings as presenter and Mike Sullivan as moderator:
        1. November 1, 2015: "Does God Exist?"
        2. November 8, 2015: "How Does God Communicate?"
        3. November 15, 2015: "Does God Care?"
      2. John 4:35 – “35Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.'? 36Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”
    4. “Come in” Matthew 11:28-29 – "28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
    5. Matthew 25:33-34 – “33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”