Almost Home

Lonely house in the distance

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT)

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

 

Waking up Saturday morning sleeping more than an hour past the usual 7:30 AM wake up, I could see the sun through the blinds. The sheets felt familiar. The house smells like home. Walking through the house, turning off the night light. Releasing the hounds for the running of the Chihuahuas. I couldn’t help but smile as I passed our two remaining sleeping princesses. This is our house. It is our home. Last week at this time, we were in a hotel room in New England on vacation visiting our daughter, watching our home team play football and visiting Fenway Park. It was fun. It was an adventure. But it was not home. The people were not the same. The places were not familiar. The room with two queen beds and a small bathroom a bit cramped and uncomfortable. Strange sounds. Sheets smelled like bleach. The room smelled odd. Although a giant hunk of our heart lives in the area, it was far from home. Traveling has always renewed our appreciation of home – at least for me. It’s fun to go but also fun to melt into your own bed. It was nice to think today I can just rest and relax in this place of comfort of our own design.

This world is not our permanent home. In fact, the more we become familiar and comfortable in the Presence of God the more foreign it feels. Our allegiance to Jesus Christ made when we accepting His Repayment of our sins repenting and turning from them began an incredible journey that will make us uncomfortable and lead us to unfamiliar territory many times. Some days it is easy to forget that we are no longer of this world because of being born into it. But if we are to be Kingdom Kids, it requires becoming Children of God. To transfer our life from the foundation of sin and death to be transformed by His Love into His People.

When we were traveling, we flew from Atlanta to Boston. It was a two-hour nonstop flight which was quite nice. What if we had to walk it out? Driving without traffic or necessary stops, it takes 21 hours. In order to get there in that timeframe, there are tolls…big ones along the way. My daughter lives there now so even without the benefit of plane, train or automobile, I would make the journey to be where she is and see her. I love her. I want to be where she is or have her here with me. I love Jesus. He is the Center of my life. I want to be where He is. Am I willing to travel home to see Him once a year? Once a month? Daily? Or even step by step? Each day we are traveling closer to God or farther from Him. The Love of God is all encompassing. His Love does not change according to our direction, but our destination is determined by how we travel through life.

John 14:1-3 (NLT)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

My daughter shared a story about a recent restaurant experience in New England. They had finished eating and the waitress asked if anyone needed anything else. She requested a to-go cup of the soft drink she was drinking. The people at the table looked at her strangely. She noticed their faces and obvious surprise. When the waitress came back with a coffee cup covered with a small lid, it was apparent that this was not a common practice in this restaurant though when at home in the same chain it is offered to patrons. Being her mother’s daughter, she had to ask if this was not something done up there. The waitress laughed. She had gone to school in Florida and worked at our favorite barbeque place who gives diners HUGE to go cups filled with sweet tea or whatever they are drinking. She told her that in the North it is frowned upon but in the South all the restaurants do it. Lesson learned. There are several things up in the New England area that are different then where she grew up and she is learning their culture and customs. Seems kind of strange since it is the same country but it is very different there.

The decision to follow Jesus Christ is a change of direction that should cause a change in our culture. The things we do and do not do, our attitude and actions should all be a byproduct of His Grace, Love and Mercy in our life. This will cause us to undergo some uncomfortable changes and choosing differently than before we discovered His Love. In sin, we lived as slaves in bondage due to our inability to pay the price necessary for our freedom. Jesus did it for us. To accept His Repayment is to repent from sin and desire to change. Now we live in service to God. It is the underserved privilege of those who choose to be sons and daughters of God to serve Him willingly and openly sacrificing our life to be in His Kingdom. We have chosen a new home and now must move in it. Our daughter chose a new home in a new place. The culture is different and she must act according to her new environment. We must do the same to live in the Kingdom.

When we bought this house, it was a pile of red clay and cinderblock surrounded foundation with a set of plans promising to become our dream home. It took several months to be constructed. While it was being built, we would visit here often but at the same time I began to prepare for the move. Each day packing a box or two and filtering through those things we would bring or getting rid other things that would not be in our new home. What a process with five children “helping”, but we did it. When we asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, we chose a new home. He is preparing it for us now. We must be prepared to inhabit it.

John 14:23-24 (NLT)

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.”

 

What does Heaven have to do with me now? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit comes to live in each person who asked Jesus to save them from their sins and be the Lord of their life. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that we have been forgiven and can live in the Kingdom of God. He is our helper to change those things in us that are reminiscent of our old life and old ways so we can become part of Christ’s Culture. Though we live in two different places, we are the family of God. We love each other. We want to be with each other. We consider each other in our attitude and actions. We desire spending time together. Obedience is not an act of slavery it is an act of submission to our Father. We love Him and honor Him by obeying Him now. We have chosen to surrender our life to Him. It is not a hostile takeover by another form of bondage but the commitment to make the journey home. We are almost home. He is closer than we think. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit live with us, in us and around us. We must be conscious of our close proximity.

Genesis 39:2-5 (NLT)

The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.

 

We live in this world but are not longer of this world. Our hearts are filled with the Kingdom of God and therefore natural to assume a change in our everyday life should follow. It will. If we choose to obey the Lord in our current circumstances and consequences, He promises that every detail of our life will be made good. (Romans 8:28) Life is the process by which we work out our salvation. It takes time. Sin runs deep. The Love of God and His Grace run deeper. Faith is the connection by which we disconnect from this world and connected to Jesus Christ. Confident hope keeps us committed to the journey when the valleys are dark and the mountains too high. Joseph’s brothers did not like him. They were sick of the dreamer’s dreams so they threw him in a pit. One took pity on him and they decide rather than allowing him to die that they would sell him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Potiphar’s house. Now Joseph could have given up and rebelled or even tried to escape but he didn’t. He worked. The Lord was with Joseph. Joseph trusted God and did his best to survive and please his earthly master. God blessed him. He was promoted. The entire household prospered under his supervision and care. How are you faring in your earthly home today? Are you happy? Are you content? Are you faithful? Do you work as unto the Lord even if your environment is less than favorable? Are you obedient? This is what the Kingdom inside you needs to expand and develop in our life. We must live for our future home not our earthly dwelling place.

Luke 15:3-19 (NLT)

 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

Facedown in a pig pen eating slop, the prodigal son came face to face with humility. His father had given him everything, he had squandered it all. There was nothing left. He could not even afford to feed himself. In that place of nothing, he discovered humility for the first time. We often do not know what we have until it is gone or come close to losing it. I am guilty of this, too. When he came to his senses, he realized that “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare…” Humility is the birthplace of surrender. When the young man went home to beg for a job, he was given the kingdom all over again. God wants to give you the Kingdom. Jesus handed us the keys. When we are humbled and decide home is where we want to be, we will do anything even surrender our way to be there.

To come home from New Hampshire required following a lot of directions. Obedience was required. We had to follow the GPS into Boston allowing enough time for uncertain traffic conditions. Drop off the rental car. Catch a shuttle to the terminal. Check our bags. Go through security. Find the gate. Wait for boarding. Give them our boarding pass. Find our seat. Buckle our seat belt. Wait for the two hour flight. Find the baggage claim. Get our bags. Make our way through a huge parking lot to the car with two tired teenagers overloaded with luggage. Drive four hours to the house all to get home. We did it because we wanted to be there. What are you doing to make it to the Kingdom of God? I am asking myself the same question today. Am I willing to do what the Word of God says and follow His Way to be in His Home?

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (NLT)

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

I am glad to be home. Our house was given to us by God and is a testimony all by itself. The Hand of God has made our life into something beautiful. But it is nothing compared to the place being prepared for us. I want live there one day. I want to be with Jesus forever. It requires that make the connection now before it is too late. Many churches don’t talk about repentance and renewal anymore stopping at come as you are. When the prodigal son came home, the father met him with a robe and ring. The robe of righteousness is given to us by the Father. It allows to live in His Presence covered by the Blood of Jesus which means to avoid sin at all costs. We cannot live for this world and the Kingdom of God at the same time. They are rival communities. He gave His Son the ring that told others that the boy was his child. The rings back in the Old Testament were used as a seal. It was like identification and a shiny new American Express card. We have been given the Holy Spirit. He is our helper. He produces the Fruit of the Spirit that lead to completion and total satisfaction of our body, mind and spirit. Traveling from here to our home in Christ, we have everything we need to live a godly life, boldly entering His Presence and finally living with Him forever if we choose to make the trip. It is completely up to us. We are almost home now. Will our goal be to please the Father? When we stand before Jesus will He know us at all? This is determined now. I love living in the South. I had somehow hoped that maybe I would like it up in New England and we could move closer to our daughter so far away. But I know now that is not my home and as comfortable as it is this is only the temporary place that I live. God help me to live the way that I should live to make it all the way home one day! Help me to remember that I am almost home and still have a ways to go. May I live each day like you are coming tomorrow!

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NLT)

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

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