Home

 

Recently, my mom, sister, and I had the pleasure of taking a road trip down to Florida for a dear friend’s wedding. We were also able to sight-see and take little adventures up the coast. This excursion of ours lasted almost a full week, including the drive there and back. It was a lovely trip, but needless to say, by the time it had ended, we were ready to come home!

This morning I have been able to enjoy some resting time after being on the go all week long. I’m back in my cozy room, morning light pouring softly through the window, with my cup of coffee and open Bible – my favorite place to be, and I thought, “There’s truly nothing like coming home.”

When you think of your “home”, what do you think of? Home is a wonderful thing to think about, and it often means something different for everyone. Perhaps this is why “home” has both a tangible aspect and a non-tangible aspect. Though we may think of a certain house or a specific area, most of us tend to associate our home with the people with whom we occupy a certain place, or even with the memories made there. The saying rings true, “Home is where the heart is”. Why is that? Why does a certain place or even a group of people (like family) make our hearts feel at home?

I’m sure we could all give different answers, but I believe it all boils down to love. You could be born in a certain place, but it takes the people you love (and those who love you) to truly make a place feel like home.

The same is true of our spiritual lives, is it not? In John 14:23, Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Do you feel at home with the Lord? The Bible tells us that it is indeed possible! A similar passage is found in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” 

But, just as physically going home implies the action of moving from one location to another, so it is with God. In Luke 15, we read the familiar parable of the prodigal son. A father had two sons, and the younger wanted his share of the family inheritance to spend it on himself. The text says that he “journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal [or reckless] living” (verse 13). Soon he ran out of both money and food on which to live and took a job of feeding pigs. Yet, it didn’t take long for this rebellious son to realize how wrong he had been, and that he needed to go home to his father, though he felt so undeserving of a home (verses 18-19). Rather than punishing his son, the father ran to meet him on the road and kissed him, welcoming him as a part of the family once more (verse 22-24).  The younger son had all he could ever need while growing up with his family, but it wasn’t until he knew what it was like without it that he knew just how much he truly needed it.

The younger son in this story represents us, and the father represents God. Though we are born into a friendship with God, our sins separate us from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). It is only by the saving power of His Son’s blood that we are brought into the family once more. Ephesians 2:12-13 says, “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

Remember how Jesus phrases His promises in John 14:23 and Revelation 3:20: He will “come in to” us and make His home “with us”. The wording here is very similar to Ephesians 2:13 above, and implies a specific process of how Jesus comes to live “in” us. We are able to dwell “in Christ Jesus” only by “the blood of Christ”! Why? Because it is only by Christ’s blood that we are able to be cleansed of sin, qualifying us for a relationship with God: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14) Revelation 1:5 describes Jesus as “Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood”. Acts 22:16 tells us how to be cleansed and contact Jesus’ blood: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Thus, Paul’s words make sense in Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” 

By reenacting Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in being immersed in water, our sins are forgiven, and our hearts are made ready for Him to dwell in us (Galatians 2:20). No matter how far we may wander, our Father is ever ready to welcome us back home with open arms, loving us with a love greater than we could ever ask for. Truly, there’s nothing like coming home.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.” ~ Revelation 21:3

The Journey

If you have ever scrolled through Pinterest or walked through Hobby Lobby you have seen the quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination”, or “life is all about the journey – enjoy the ride”. We hear (and even sometimes sing) the song that proposes that life “Ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side; it’s the climb.” In a manner of speaking, these quotes can be true. As we move through life, we are on a hypothetical road trip. There will be bumps in the road, pit stops, detours, and even a wreck or two. We never grow old enough to say, “I have finally arrived at where I want to be.” We are always working to be better, stronger, and higher.

However, the question yet remains: if life is all about the journey, where are we going? The world likes to embrace the wanderlust metaphor so that they can feel free as a bird, going wherever the wind may take them, seldom taking thought for what comes next. But if we live by a philosophy of “enjoying the ride”, we may end up somewhere we never intended to go.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” ~Lewis Carroll

As followers of Christ, we have a different mindset. Having been transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), we now possess a higher perspective. Our life is a journey – on the way to somewhere far better than we could ever imagine.

“This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

Heaven. Do we believe it? Jesus Himself tells us, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) John tells the believers, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) We don’t need anyone or anything on earth to convince us that heaven is as real as the words we just read from Scripture.

If we believe in heaven, we can know we are going there. If we know we are going there, that’s where we find our destination, our goal, and our purpose.  We can abandon the aimless living of the world because we are now filled with a clear focus: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20) God didn’t create us to live upon the earth forever; we belong to Jesus! If we are citizens of a heavenly city, that’s where we already belong, for we are only “sojourners” and “exiles” in this world (1 Peter 2:11). 

Many people are uncomfortable talking about what comes after this life – some have reason to be. But if we are washed in Christ’s blood (Acts 22:16; Hebrews 9:14), we have our passports stamped and verified. We have no reason to fear death – Jesus has already overcome it! He died in order to save us from that bondage of fear the devil places on us just so we can spend eternity with Him (Hebrews 2:14-15).

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57

Life is not just about the journey; it’s also about the destination – for the type of journey we take will ultimately determine our destination. For the Christian, it does matter what’s waiting on the other side. Life on earth is simply a camping ground, a temporary stop, until we reach our final goal. Where are you traveling? Will the path you’re taking take you to where Jesus lives?

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:14

Faithful

We believe in a God who is able to bring justice and mercy to all 

And He promises strength for the journey to the steadfast who answer the call.

We believe in the truth of the Bible, in its power and purpose today

There is meaning and life in its pages; we believe and we choose to obey.

We believe that He’s calling His people to embody His story of grace

Bringing rescue and hope to the broken, may our lives be an offering of praise.

Let us be faithful, faithful, faithful, Lord 

Let us be faithful, faithful, Lord

Though we cannot see, we still believe 

Let us be faithful, faithful, Lord.

I recently learned this devotional song at a youth event, and have been stuck on it ever since! (Listen to a beautiful a capella rendering here.) The words are so uplifting, and got me reflecting on the concept of faithfulness in our walk with the Lord. The word “faithful” means “to be steady in allegiance or affection, to be loyal, to be constant, or to be full of faith”.  To me, this definition speaks of a deliberate choice, a decision made between me and the Lord, that I will follow Him closely no matter what may threaten to come between us. True faithfulness means taking ownership of my faith and living it out to its fullest potential. My faith cannot come from my grandmother, my parents, or my friends. A personal relationship with the Lord is just that: personal. My faith must be my own.

This means that I will not want to serve God out of obligation or out of habit, but rather because of all He has done for me. He has been faithful to me, so the least I can do is be faithful to Him! Digging a  bit deeper, what does it mean to be faithful as a child of God?

Faithful in worship.

This is what we typically think of when we hear the word “faithful”. If we are “faithful church members”, we are there every time the doors are open, perhaps even beyond that. Hebrews 10:24-25 does encourage this: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” But let’s go a little further – if we are truly “full of faith”, then we aren’t simply going to be filling up space. Just as the Hebrews writer states, we will be trying to think of ways to love our church family and inspire them to good works. But most importantly, we will be giving our all in worship to God, holding nothing back, praising Him for His faithfulness and promising ours to Him.

Faithful in Bible study.

When life gets busy, it is easy to neglect our spiritual growth. When we first come to the Lord, we are told to “desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). However, as the Hebrews writer warns, it is possible to become “dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11). The writer then admonishes his readers to “go on to maturity”, desiring the meat of the Word rather than simply milk (5:12-6:1). We cannot be faithful to God unless we are in His Word! It is through the Scriptures that He speaks to us and gives us purpose. Whether it is reading through a book of the Bible, using study tools such as devotional books and commentaries, or selecting a number of verses to memorize, find your niche and dig into the Word!

Faithful in prayer.

We all know 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.”  Romans 12:12 similarly exhorts us to “be constant in prayer”, while Colossians 4:2 instructs us to “continue steadfastly in prayer”. Just like our Bible study habits, we cannot live a faithful life without faithful prayer. It is the charger that connects us to our Power-source. Without it, our souls become weaker and are at risk for spiritual death. Just as we plug in our phones every day, talking to God should be as much of our daily routine as charging our devices. One way to do this is by possessing a prayerful mindset. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ”. We should possess such a frame of mind that we are able to have a continuing conversation with God throughout the day. Another way is by creating a daily prayer routine. Making a prayer routine means intentionally setting aside time every day simply to talk to God. We prioritize what we consider most important, so how important to you is communicating with our Savior?  It is impossible to pray without ceasing if we do not make the time to pray.

Faithful to our promise.

When we obey the gospel, we make a commitment to the Lord, a sacred vow, that we will follow Him wherever He goes, with “no turning back”. We die to the old life filled with sin and become a “new creation” filled with purpose for the glory of God (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:17). However, the Christian life doesn’t stop there.  True faithfulness means keeping that promise we made to Jesus as we obeyed Him. We are no longer “slaves of sin” (Romans 6:17-18);  we have a new Master! Yes, we will make mistakes and disappoint Him, but His grace flows freely and His love abounds. He will receive us anew when we but turn to Him (1 John 1:7, 9).

Faithful in our mission.

Just as our obedience doesn’t stop at baptism, our purpose doesn’t stop at committing our lives to the Lord. As followers of Jesus, we walk in His steps and do what He does (1 Peter 2:21). Christ’s mission on earth was “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), and so He passes the torch to us: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Paul likewise encourages Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Did you notice how Paul describes the men who would carry his teachings to others? Truly faithful people will bring souls to the Lord; it is in their very being! As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:13, “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke’, we believe and therefore we speak.”

Jesus said to all in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Faithfulness happens in the day-to-day. Faithful worship, faithful Bible study, faithful prayer, faithful commitment, and faithful teaching all culminates to being faithful in daily living. Each moment, each hour, each day, each month, each year devoted to the Lord will add up to a faithful life lived for Him!

 “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

“…for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)