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4A76AECC-7D6E-48FA-91C3-6CB4150294A0.jpeg“I am going to prepare a place for you” John 14:3

Right now I’m sitting on my back porch swing, coffee by my side, Bible in my lap, listening to the falling rain. My hibiscus has a bright pink bloom and blue daze spills out over the sides of their pots. A pair of squirrels are chasing one another around a nearby tree, one loudly scolding the other. My cat Celina sits by my feet watching the show. Birds twitter their praises to the Creator. I am so blessed.
Just a few months ago I did not feel blessed at all. We were facing hard times – no jobs, no funds, no place to live, health struggles and battles with insurance companies. We were forced to pack up our lives, leaving dear loved ones behind. I was heart-broken. Actually I was broken. Period.
But God was at work. He was speaking to others on our behalf. He reminded a friend of a family member about a house for rent. Maybe it was available. And it was. Would the rent be reasonable? Yes it was. Could we move in right away? Yes we could. Would God provide the funds when we had no jobs? Yes He did. And it’s a great house, out in the country where it’s quiet. It’s a beautiful house. And it has this great back porch. I love this place and thank God for it every day.
But there is an even better place coming. A place that Jesus Himself is building for me. Did you ever wonder why He apprenticed on earth as a carpenter’s son? He is building a place for all His children – for me and for you. This house is rent-free and will be stunning and beautiful. It will be perfectly suited for each one of us. I’ll bet it will even have a great back porch – with a swing and lots of flowers. As much as I love the house God provided for me here, I cannot wait to move into my place in heaven.
Beloved, I’m sitting here on my back porch writing this to tell you that God knows your need. He knows your struggle. And He is working even now on your behalf. He is a good Father who cares for and about His children. He provided for your greatest need when He sent His Son to die for your sins. Will he do any less for these temporal needs you have now?
He is preparing good things for you today and He is building something wonderful for you for eternity. From my back porch and my heart: your Father loves you. You can trust Him.

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Finding My Way Back

“In their distress they turned to the Lord and sought Him and He was found by them” 2 Chronicles 15:4.

Wrong wayI am notorious for getting lost on the road. Well, the truth is, I can get lost in the mall too and I’ve wandered the halls of many of hospital in bewilderment. So, I’m not very good at finding my way around. I was so thankful when my husband got me a GPS. Even if I don’t exactly know where I’m at, I just tell it where I want to go and my little friend sets a route right from where I am and leads me by the hand all the way.

I remember getting lost as I was coming home from a meeting at a church in a part of town I rarely go to. I had been to this same church when a friend drove who knew the area well and she had taken a backroad that bypassed all the heavy traffic. So I thought I would give it a try. Big mistake. I got out of the parking lot okay and onto the exit road, but from there – did she turn left or right? I decided she went left and so I did the same.   I knew there was a turn ahead, but I thought it was sooner than this. Still I kept on driving, looking for the turn and beginning to question myself. Ah, this must be it – blinker on and I turned and drove for a few blocks to find a dead end. Well that couldn’t be the right road so I turned back and kept driving. Eventually, I realized I was lost. I had no clue where I was or what to do – and now it was dark. Mind you, this was before I had a cell phone so I couldn’t call my husband who always knew his way around. Tears started falling as I drove and prayed. “God I’m scared. I made a wrong turn and now I’m lost and it’s dark and I don’t know where I am or how to get home. Please help me.” And as I continued to drive, I followed this sense of “Turn here” and I began to see familiar things – I remember that house, I remember seeing that big oak tree and there’s the church again! Relief and thankfulness flooded my heart as the lights of the main road came into view and I knew I was safely on my way home.

Getting lost doesn’t just happen on the road – or in the mall. We can get lost spiritually too. We set off on our way and everything seems fine. Then we decide to turn left when we should have turned right. We think we know which way to go, but the truth is we’re headed in the wrong direction and we don’t even realize it. We keep getting farther and farther away from where we need to be, taking more wrong turns and going deeper into unknown territory. We hit one dead end after another, trying to turn ourselves around and get back where we belong, but nothing looks familiar, in fact it looks more and more foreboding as the light begins to wane and the night sets in around us. Darkness distorts everything, and fear begins to grip our hearts. We realize we have gone too far and have no idea how to get back to the safety of home.

At this point we have one of two choices – we can either keep going in our stubbornness and pride heading deeper and deeper into darkness, or we can cry out to God from wherever we are and He will come to us and lead us back home. Our God is the rescuer of the lost. His heart is attuned to His children as He strains His ears to hear even the faintest cry and searches us out with tenderness and love. That is the beautiful image we have as Jesus declared Himself “the good shepherd” (John 10:11) – He is the one who “leaves the ninety-nine [sheep] in the open country and goes after the lost sheep until he finds it” (Luke 15:4). And He doesn’t stop looking until “he finds it and joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:5-6). That is His mission, “The Son of Man came to seek and save [the] lost” (Luke 19:10).

Do you find yourself today far from the safety of home?

You may be a believer in Christ who has wandered away from your Shepherd and far from His good pasture. You may not be able to even see the Shepherd, but be assured, His eye has never left you. Stop where you are and call out to Him – “God, I am sorry, I made a wrong turn and now I’m lost and it’s dark and I don’t know where I am or how to get home. Please help me.” Jesus will come to you and lead you back to safety.

Perhaps you have never placed yourself under the Shepherd’s care, but you realize that where you are is dark and lonely and foreboding. You want to be in the warmth and joy of God’s light and under the loving care of Jesus. Stop going the wrong way and tell Jesus, “I know that I am lost without You. I cannot find my way. You are the only one who can help me. I am turning to You Jesus, please come and save me.” He will seek you and find you. Luke 15: 6-7 says that He will rejoice over you and all of heaven will celebrate your coming to Jesus.

Today can be the day you go from wandering in the wilderness to the safety of home. Today can be the day you go from lost to found. Today can be a new beginning with a new life and a glorious new future. Please don’t wait another day, another moment. Come to Jesus. Come home.

Jesus, Savior, Good Shepherd, Finder of the lost and weary, we have wandered far from you and the way is hidden in darkness. We are helpless to find our way home without You. Please do what You came to do: seek us and find us and bring us safely home. Amen.

The Hope of Home

“In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you…that you may be where I am.” (John 14:2,3)

There’s something special about home, especially at Christmas.  In WWII, teary-eyed soldiers in Europe sang, “I’ll be home for Christmas”[1] as they sat in muddy foxholes.  College dorm buildings become ghost towns as students head for home and family for the holidays.  At Christmas, we long to be with those we love the most.  We long for home.   And for Christians, that longing for home extends beyond this earth to our heavenly home.

I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness to keep His promises, especially the promise of an eternal home.  There was a season in my life when, through a series of set-backs, our family lost our home.  The kindness of a friend kept a roof over our heads, but it was the hope I have in God’s promise that kept me going as I continually reminded myself: “This world is not my home. Jesus is building a mansion for me in heaven.”  Jesus’ words in John 14:2-3 were my hope:  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.”

This home exceeds anything the greatest architect could ever design.  It is grander than the finest castles and mansions in the world.  Hebrews 11:10 tells us that its “architect and builder is God.”  Our minds cannot imagine the beauty and immensity and wonder of this eternal, heavenly home.   Listen to these descriptions from Revelation 21 – “It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, it had a great, high wall, with twelve gates…each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.  The glory of God give it light and the Lamb is its lamp” (vs. 11, 12, 21, 23) And this precious promise: “Nothing impure will ever enter it” (v. 27).  Loved ones will be there, waiting to welcome us and show us all that God had prepared for us.  I will see my mom again.  The “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounded us and cheered us on will be there – Moses, Abraham, Paul, Mary, David, and a lady I really want to meet, Dorcas.  We will see flowers unknown on earth, we will enjoy the fruit from the tree of life, and drink from the river of life that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Rev. 22:1-2) And don’t forget this precious promise “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4)

But the best part of our heavenly home is that we will forever live with our Heavenly Father and blessed Savior.  Listen to the words of the angel: “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servant will serve Him.  They will see His face…” (Rev. 22:3-4a-emphasis added).  That is hope for Christmas and every day.

Holy Father, This world is not my home.  My heart longs to be at home with You, with Jesus, and with the saints of all the ages.  Fill me with the hope that You have a place for me and I will never, ever be away from home again.  Amen.

 


 

[1]  “I’ll be Home for Christmas” Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram

When My Spirit Grows Faint Within Me

“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.”  Psalm 142:3

Have you ever gotten weary?  Weary is more than just tired.

Weary goes down into the bones and drains your energy and hope.  Weary affects body, mind and spirit. You know what I mean.  When the stack of bills gets higher but the job prospects are shrinking, when you take your child to one more specialist, only to hear him say, “I don’t know how to help her.”  Maybe you are in a difficult marriage, have an elderly parent you are trying to care for, or are dealing with an adult child who can’t find his way in life.    Perhaps your work is pulling you down or you are struggling with a particular sin you cannot break free of.  You are weary.

David, the author of Psalm 142, understood weary.  At the time of this writing, David is hiding in a cave from the current King of Israel, Saul, a jealous and unstable ruler.  Though he is an innocent man, he has been running for his life for many long months.  He feels all alone – listen to verse 4-“Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me.  I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.” He describes his situation as “desperate,” (v. 6) he sees himself like a prisoner (v. 7).  He is tired, he is lonely, and he is weary.

But he is also wise, because he knows where to go for strength.

He turns to the Lord.  In this Psalm he says; “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord,” “I pour out my complaint before him,”” (v. 1, 2) Because David is confident of God’s mercy (v. 1), he confesses his weakness and finds the strength he desperately needs in the face of his troubles.  He remembers who God is and encourages himself as he declares that God is his refuge (v. 5), God will rescue him (v. 6), and set him free (v. 7).

The amazing thing about this Psalm is that David knows his destiny is not to run and hide forever.  His destiny is the Throne of Israel; for God, through the prophet Samuel, has already anointed him. He cries out to God, and trusts Him to fulfill what He had already promised.  God knew “the way” he was taking , and He knew the way to bring him to the palace.

David is a wonderful example for us.  He took his needs and his feelings to God. He didn’t put on a brave face before God, but was open with his pain and loneliness. He recalled God’s character and His promise to be David’s refuge and helper.  Did you notice that as David focused his mind on God, his lament turned to praise?  Now David is speaking of his rescue as if it has already happened, and he is planning the testimony he will share on the other side of this difficult time.

Are you weary today? Has the path of your life taken you into the wilderness?  Turn to the Lord, and cry out to Him for strength and hope.  Remember his character and His promises.  Remember that, in Christ, you are a child of the King, and your destiny is eternal life with your Father.  Yes, God knows the way you are taking now, and He knows the way to get you where you belong.

He knows the way home.

Holy Father, when the struggles of this life make me weary, You know my way – because You are right beside me, leading me home.  Amen.