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Archive for the tag “Family”

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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Perfect Reflection

I am very grateful for my Dad. Yesterday, he had his eighty-eighth birthday. Last month was my parent’s the sixty-fourth wedding anniversary. My Mom is already in her heavenly home, but my Dad is still here with us. Dad didn’t remember their day, but I did. I still like to remember how special my parents were together. My sisters and I are a result of their union. My sister has four boys of her own. They in turn have their children. Three generations, so far, have come from my parents union. I am grateful for my Dad because he is a good Dad. I don’t really have any daddy issues that I can pinpoint. I had a good upbringing. So when I think of God as Father, I am okay with that. Dad did a good job reflecting (as best as he was able) the picture of God as a good Father. But my Dad was still an imperfect Dad. He did much that was right and a few things that could have been better.

In a perfect world (as the world began), God put the perfect reflection on earth in a family setting. However, sin entered the world and everything changed. And we have been suffering the consequences of sin ever since. The perfect reflection became imperfect. There are many in this world do not have such a good image of a father. To them, the idea of God as Father is a poor reflection of who He really is. A father is one who is supposed to support us; to be in our corner cheering us on. He is supposed to love us without conditions. He is supposed to catch us when we fall. He is supposed to hold us close when our hearts are broken. That of course was supposed to be the perfect reflection of a good Father. Jesus gives us access to the only good and perfect Father that we will ever have. We are adopted as God’s son and daughter when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. We become God’s children!

God is not a reflection of our earth father. He is the perfect image of a perfect Father. We don’t have to be afraid of the Father who loves us unconditionally. We don’t have to assume that we are going to be condemned for doing something wrong. He tells us that we don’t have to earn His love. And believe it or not, He also likes us. He made us in His image! What’s not to like? When we receive the truth of that in our hearts, it may give us a new perspective of ourselves and we could actually love (and like) ourselves too. Our earthly fathers may have done a poor job in being a good Dad, but we can change our perceptions of who God is to us when we identify with Jesus as son and daughter of the heavenly Father. When we read that Jesus is the reflection of God – He spoke what God told Him to speak; He did the work that God wanted Him to do while He was here – we will see a new image of God as Father. Jesus was the perfect reflection on earth of our heavenly Father.

We have already inherited a glorious future that we really didn’t deserve, but He gave it to us anyway. The Gospel of Jesus Christ death and resurrection gives us the access we need to become who God meant for us to be – His beloved children. God asked us to obey and honor our earthly parents. It was a commandment that we were supposed to obey, and the only one with a promise. When we do that, we are told it will go well with us (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:3). The promise wasn’t that it would be better for our parents, but better for us as children. It’s not easy to obey and honor when our parents are not the best people in the world, but when we have the power of the Gospel message living in us – all things are possible. When the world sees the power of the Gospel message living out in us, they see the reflection of Jesus in us that will draw more to Him. We are image bearers. And we have a higher standard to live by. We live it by the power that lives in us. I may look like my earthly Dad, but I want the true reflection of my heavenly Father living out through me.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:1-2

Message by Louie Giglio – May 3, 2015 – A God to call Father

Pennies from Heaven

I was having a bad day. I had been writing all morning. I was struggling to get through writing about the worst days of my life. I was having fits of crying from emotionally draining memories. I listened to a sermon while I ate lunch. It was about worrying. I’m really not much on worrying. Sure I have concerns, but I can’t call them worries, can I? I listened to the sermon and the last point the preacher made was about uncertainties of the future – hmmm… maybe I do have a “worry” after all. He said to bring the whole truth to God, and He would give me peace which transcends all understanding. It really wasn’t about the uncertainty, but about the “fear of the unknown.”

The section of my life I was writing about was the death of my Mom. It was the hardest thing I have lived through in my “relatively” short life. I had to sit down after that sermon and discern what my real concern is about the uncertainty of my future. I am single. My whole life, my parents were my family. Yes, I have sisters but they have their own lives and families. Oh, I know I am a part of their families, but it’s not the same. When push comes to shove as the saying goes, they think of their families before they do me – as it should be. If I was married and had kids, I would be doing the same thing, but I don’t.

A year after my Mom died, my Dad got married again. Praise God, he found someone to live out the remaining years of his life. Once again, I am left in a bit of a predicament. God has shown me my real fear. I am afraid of being alone. I know I have family and friends, but I really am totally alone. This was my deepest, truest revelation I have had in quite some time. As I was in the midst of this struggle on this day, I decided to go for an afternoon walk. I was tired of thinking about these deep issues.

Once again, God opened up my heart to look down. I saw two pennies lying on the street as I walked along. If you remember from a post several months ago, God places pennies in my path to remind me “in God we trust.” I have only one who really is my source of strength and who I can rely upon. The future is uncertain and no one is guaranteed a long life. I could be alone whether I was married or single. I acknowledged God’s providence and continued on. My fear of the financial future came up as well. I don’t have money coming in, and I don’t have any prospects of the future. Again, a penny was placed before me. God will work it out. I have to trust Him with everything! Yes, I have anxious times ahead, but God is faithful in everything. He is in control!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

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