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building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Dwelling Place”

Ho Ho Home for Christmas

No matter what stage of life I’m in, I always want to be home for Christmas. I love being there with my family gathered together. This year is extra special since my nephew and his family is back from the far country where they have been for the last few years. I am grateful that God has brought them home again safe and sound. But I am also grateful for the time they have had serving the Lord in what He has called them to do. As we all gather, my nephews and families, my sisters and husbands, my Dad and his wife – it will be as it should be – together again.

Home has changed throughout the years. When my parents and I moved when I was twelve, home moved with us. However, the dynamics changed because my sisters didn’t move with us. Christmas became a moving event. We either went to my sisters or my sisters came to us. Sometimes it was just for a day, sometimes it was for two or three days; every year was a bit different. But when my parents settled back in my hometown after their retirement, it once again felt like it should be. It was home in every sense of the word.

When my Mom died, it felt like everything got off kilter and we lost our center – our anchor. The first year was a tough year. But we managed through it. As the years have passed, I have come to realize Mom wasn’t the center of our family. Mom was a representation – a physical presence – but what lives on is love. Love is the core of who we are as a family. It wraps us up in a warm embrace. It feels like home.

This morning, I read about Jacob’s dream (found in Genesis 28:10-17) about seeing God and the angels that went to and fro from the place where he rested. God gave Jacob a promise that night. God said that Jacob’s descendants would possess the land where he rested. That land was going to be home to millions. But at that time, Jacob had no one. He was alone and running from his brother. God promised Jacob “Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14). That’s a big promise.

Eventually, Jacob did make it back to that place and settled in that land. Eventually, there would be millions who would come from his family line. God fulfilled His promise to Jacob. But the bigger promise of everyone being blessed because of Jacob’s family was much more defined by a person than the family itself. The blessing came centuries after the promise through Jesus Christ. A baby would be born in Bethlehem to a virgin; an announcement from the angel under a starlit sky to shepherds watching over those sacrificial lambs; God had done this thing He promised to do. The blessing was born – the promised fulfilled.

The author who wrote the devotional this morning (Tim Gustafson, Our Daily Bread, December 21, 2017) had this take away from the Jacob’s dream scripture: “Home is not so much a place on a map, as it is a place to belong. God gives us that place.” Jesus is our home. He is the love that surrounds us and gives us that belonging. He is the center of our family and He is the one who draws us close.

Sometimes we can run away from home, but love will always bring us back. If we are truly Jesus’ followers, no matter how far away we run, He will always search for us and receive us back. He wants us to be home with Him forever. He went to great lengths to assure us of His promise that we will always have a place with Him. “Home is where the heart is” but it’s Jesus at the center of that heart that makes it true in every sense.

Jesus gave us another big promise at the end of His life. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3) Just as the promise for Jacob was fulfilled through Jesus, we can trust that what Jesus promised will also be fulfilled by His word. We have a home being prepared for that day and it’s going to be glorious.

During this Christmas season as my family gathers, I recognize that this is just a small representation of what heaven will be like one day. The larger family will gather in a glorious place filled with love. There will be a feast beyond imagination and a celebration of Jesus that we cannot fathom at this time. This is the idea that helps me celebrate with more enthusiasm every year that passes. One day, I will be home for Christmas and the best gift of all will be the eternal blessing with Jesus.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “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. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)

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The Perfect Place

Last week, I wrote about my love for waterfalls. I would love to live in a place where I had access to such natural beauty. Ideally I would have a view of mountains, a lake or a beach. When I was twelve, my parents and I moved to the North Carolina Mountains. When I went to college, my parents moved further into the hills of NC. Their house was placed amongst rhododendron with a small stream running along the back of the property. A waterfall provided the stream up the hill from the house which flowed beyond our house into a lake. You could sit outside on the deck with the sunlight filtering through in perfect peace. My parents eventually moved back down to the flat lands soon after I graduated from college. I didn’t appreciate those moments when I had them to sit in that perfect place in perfect peace. I was restless to move on.

I think I would be more creative in natural surroundings. I think my creative juices would flow best if I could hear the rustic sounds of nature just outside my door. Right now, I’m here in the midst of the blaring music, dogs barking and rushing cars flying down my neighborhood street. One day maybe I’ll pack up and move to a less hectic place. But where would I go? As I contemplate my perfect place, I realized as I walking my neighborhood one morning there is no perfect place. There is always something that would cause me some irritation.

I do not like critters – snakes, spiders, or crawling bugs invading my personal space. If I was at the beach, there would be all sorts of bugs encroaching on my territory. If I was at the mountains, there may be a few bears, lots of snakes, and other sorts of critters that would keep me in constant flux! Maybe if I moved to an island in the Pacific, I would find peace amongst the swapping palms; if the mosquitoes didn’t eat me alive. I’ve been to Maine and Alaska in the summertime. There are issues with bugs there too, not to mention the unfavorable weather for a hot climate girl like myself.

Maybe the perfect place is the place where I am right now. God gave me instructions to move here several years ago. Until I get direction to move again, I am in His perfect place. Every time I have moved in my life, God has given me opportunities in those new places to learn something about Him that I might not have known if I stayed where I was. Sometimes we have to move in order to grow. Sometimes in the midst of staying we learn patience and endurance. God has placed me in different places for different reasons. I can be content right here and right now because God has something for me to learn in this place and in this time. I can’t rush the process of learning. Is it perfect for my creativity?

My house may not be in the ideal place for my creativity. But I have made a place in my little area where birds are welcomed; where squirrels lounge on my deck; where flowers bloom and trees grow. I have a little space of quiet in the midst of a busy neighborhood. And God has given me peace here. No matter what my circumstances, I have found my rest in Him. I have found my perfect place. And it has nothing to do with my physical dwelling. I will stay in this place because I don’t want to be anywhere else a part from Him. I am resting in Jesus’ loving arms, feeling His presence and soaking in His peace. Thank you Jesus for being my perfect place!

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Psalm 23:1-3(NLT)

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