Monday, February 22, 2016

Jesus is MY Servant??



During this past advent season, I was greatly blessed to read John Piper's Advent Devotional, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.  Each devotion provided new and wonderful insights about our Lord and Savior, insights I had never pondered before...

One insight that John Piper shared about Jesus, which struck me quite profoundly, was that He is OUR servant.  Jesus is My servant??

My first thought of servanthood, in the context of Christianity, is service to the Lord.  There are certainly verses that speak directly to God's people being called to "serve God".

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD, 
"Let My people go, that they may serve Me.  
Exodus 8:1

So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, 
"Go, serve the LORD your God! 
Exodus 10:8

Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.
Psalm 100:2

Jesus answered him, "It is written, 
'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY."
Luke 4:8

The more I searched the Scriptures, the more perplexed I became at John Piper's bold statement that Jesus was our servant.  

The list of definitions for the word serve in the KJV Dictionary was convincing me further that Jesus was not MY servant.

:To act as the minister of; to perform official duties to; as, a minister serves his prince.
:To obey; to perform duties in the employment of; as, to serve the king or the country in the army or navy.

{He is the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  That can't be!}

:To be subservient or subordinate to.

{May it never be!}

It seemed I wasn't finding any definition for serve that would back up John Piper's statement.

Until...

:To be sufficient for; to satisfy; to content.

This lone definition of serve shed light on something I was losing sight of - Jesus came to earth to serve.  He served through His death, a death that was the ONLY act sufficient to cover over our sins, to satisfy the penalty of death that we deserved...

Dictionary of Bible Themes says...

Jesus Christ laid aside his majesty in order to serve humanity. His death is the supreme example of His servanthood: the fulfilling of the will of God his Father.

And Jesus' own Words...

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, 
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45

John Piper says...

"What a horrendous mistake it would be if we heard Jesus' call to be the servant of all, {Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all... Mark 10:44}, as a call to serve Him.  It is not.  It is a call to learn how to be served by Him.  Don't miss this.  This is the heart of Christianity.  This is what sets our faith off from all other major religions.  Our God does not need our service, nor is He glorified by recruits who want to help Him out.  Our God is so full and so self-sufficient and so overflowing in power and life and joy that He glorifies Himself by serving us."

It was this next quote from John Piper's devotional that spoke such encouragement and comfort to me...

"Here is the general truth to ponder and believe:  every time Jesus commands something for us to do, it is His way of telling us how He wants to serve us.  Let me say it another way:  the path of obedience is the place where Christ meets us as our servant to carry our burdens and give us His power."

Does that not fill you with amazing hope and confidence?!

The Lord will never ask us to do something He isn't already planning on doing through us!  He stands ready to help, to guide, TO SERVE.  We just need to seek and accept that help.

Not only does He help us with the works He has set aside for us to do, but His servanthood leaves us without excuse to walk in obedience.  Jesus gives us HIS power to fight temptation and to obey!   "The Lord commands our obedience and offers His help."

I've never had the privilege of having a maid or a house cleaner that comes in once a week to clean my house. The few people I've known who employed the service of a maid seemed to have the same story...  They didn't want the maid to see how messy their house was, so they ended up doing a good part of the cleaning anyway - negating any benefit of having a maid in the first place.

I think we all can be guilty of this when it comes to relying on God for help.  I know my natural response is to try to do things in my own strength.  How silly, when I have Jesus who is ready and willing to serve me with His strength and wisdom.  

If I may be so bold to say, when we don't rely on Christ as our Servant, we are negating the benefit of His death on the cross.

Your life, Your death
Your blood was shed
For every moment
Every moment
Michael W. Smith

Yes, we are also called to be servants of Christ, but in that office of servant, we must act in Christ's strength to serve so that Christ's Glory is seen - the true Servant.  We are the vehicle's, but Christ must be the driver.

May we all submit to Jesus' spectacular offer to be our servants; to let Him be God; to trust Him to be the Supplier, the Strengthener, the Counselor, the Guide and the Savior, so that we may enjoy ALL His benefits.

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home Intentional Tuesday ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog HopBooknificent Thursdays

Monday, February 15, 2016

God's First Responder & Emergency Response Team



When you find yourself going through trials or afflictions, what is your first response?  Do you worry, become fearful, feel anxious or even panic?  Do you feel angry?  Do you shut down, become quiet and withdrawn?  Do you turn to food or other forms of self-medication?

If your like me, at one time or another, your initial response to trials or afflictions can be any one of these emotions or actions...

There are certainly situations that warrant initial responses of fear and panic; like having a child go missing; receiving news that a loved one has been in a serious car accident; hearing a terminal diagnosis; confronting an intruder;  or finding yourself in a life-threatening situation.

In fact, the Lord has wired His creatures, including His children, with a flight of fright response which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system; the part of the body that controls how it responds to a perceived threat.  Once triggered, the body produces adrenaline which causes the brain to become more alert while increasing the heart rate, speeding up the body, and tensing and contracting muscles.

Both my parents, me and my children got a little extra wiring in the sympathetic nervous system department.  lol.  We tend to go into flight or fright mode when the threat is insignificant.  For me it is doctor's appointments which can drive my heart rate and blood pressure up through the roof, as if I were being chased by a lion!  lol.

Apparently, there are positives to my hyper sympathetic nervous system.  My doctor once told me that he would want me around in an emergency because I have such a heightened response to threatening situations and will leap into action.  lol.  Actually, one such time, when my daughter was a toddler, she climbed up her bureau which then fell back on top of her.  Indeed, I did leap into action and lifted the bureau off of her with one arm; strength I did not know I had!  {My daughter was okay, but her lip bled for quite a while, as lips do...}

It is truly amazing how God has created our body's with such an incredible built in form of protection.

But God has also sealed those who are in Christ Jesus with the indwelling Holy Spirit, the protector of our souls.

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6


Our society also has measures in place to provide help and to protect...

Merriam-Webster defines First Responder as "a person (as a police officer or an EMT) who is among those responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance.

The emergency response team shows up soon after with Fire and Rescue.

The Holy Spirit is our First Responder in times of testing - in trials, afflictions and temptations.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
John 14:26

He is that still small voice that whispers peace in our ears...

Dictionary of Bible Themes says...
"The Holy Spirit brings a sense of well-being, contentment and wholeness to believers whatever their outward circumstances. Peace is therefore an indication of the Holy Spirit’s presence."

 The Holy Spirit brings us that peace through God's Emergency Response Team:

His Son
His Word
His Faithfulness
His People

His Son
Through prayer, we have 24/7 access to our Lord and Savior.  We can come to Him with our need, no matter how great or small, and Jesus will settle us with His love and peace.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  
Psalm 46:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  
Matthew 11:28

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

For me, it's the big things, those that feel overwhelming, where my first response IS to cry out to the Lord in prayer.

One such time happened when my doctor detected something unusual with my EKG.  So much so that he booked an appointment for me to see a cardiologist - immediately!  I remember as the doctor was speaking those words, the room began to spin, but then I started praying, acknowledging that God was the maker of my heart, He had numbered its beats and He knew exactly what was going on.  I felt at peace, in the moment.  

It turned out that my heart was just fine.  Apparently, the way my heart tilts in the chest cavity, causes the EKG to give a funky reading, but is nothing at all dangerous or concerning.  

It is so important for us to cease striving long enough to hear the Holy Spirit's still small voice when our circumstances are calling us to flight or fright.   O what peace would be ours, if we would call upon Jesus as our first response...

His Word
Through God's Word, we have access to ALL the promises of God.  Promises that speak peace to every aspect of our lives, including trials and tribulations.

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.
Isaiah 40:8

You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:114

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, 
and it will be done for you.
John 15:7

Early on in my walk with the Lord, I bought a little handbook, the name of which I don't recall, but whose contents categorized God's Promises for every situation a person could face.  The table of contents listed all of life's trials, difficulties and temptations.  Whatever I was facing,  I would look it up in the table of contents and then go to the page that listed all of God's promises which spoke peace to that situation.  For one who suffered with much anxiety at that time, I clung to the promises of God and truly felt transforming peace.

ALL of Scripture speaks of the gracious, merciful and loving character of God...  A God who has made approximately 3573 promises to us!  Is that not amazing!  3,573!

Merriam-Webster defines promise as:  a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future

How much more when it is God who is making the promise!!

Let us immediately respond to trials and tribulations by calling upon the promises of God, for they fill us with hope and peace.

His Faithfulness
Every one of us has a testimony of circumstance after circumstance showcasing God's past faithfulness. Faithfulness that has rescued us from danger; faithfulness that has calmed our fears; faithfulness that has answered our prayers; faithfulness that has shown us grace and mercy.

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
Psalm 77:11

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.
Psalm 105:5

For me, when I am faced with a circumstance that I know will be difficult, my first response is usually worry.  But instead, like the Psalmist, I should be remembering what the Lord has already done for me.   It seems that many trials can have similar themes; not necessarily the same exact situation, but a familiarity where we can call upon the remembrance of God's past faithfulness to give us hope and peace to face the new situation.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;  his mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

When I was watching someone going through marriage difficulties, with each new difficult hurdle, I had a quiet peace as I remembered the small victories the Lord had already provided for them.  I steadfastly prayed, even as each new challenge came about, some which seemed like it would be the end of the road for their marriage.  Yet I persevered in prayer with the quiet peace that God was going to continue to be faithful...  In the end, He brought about such a miracle of redemption in this couple's marriage, it was stunning!

Let us quickly remember what God has already done for us when we face all kinds of trials.

His People
The Lord created us for community; to be the hands and feet of Christ, serving together, serving each other, supporting each other, carrying each others burdens, laughing together and crying together.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

2 Corinthians 1:4

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
Ephesians 5:19

 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:16

Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Romans 12:13

When my son-in-law (who was my daughter's boyfriend at the time) deployed to Afghanistan, I went through one of the biggest challenges of my faith...  The situation was so far out of my hands, I could only place it in God's hands...  

I employed God's entire Emergency Response Team those nine months.  Through fervent prayer; trusting God's promises; remembering how He watched over my son-in-law during his first non-combat deployment two years earlier and through my friend, whose son had deployed to a combat zone the year prior.  She was the one I leaned on for encouragement and prayer, knowing that she understood EXACTLY what I was feeling.  It was such a comfort to talk my friend during those difficult nine months.

And O how the Lord heard our prayers, protecting my son-in-law not once but three times from circumstances that should have ended in death.  God is still in the business of miracles!  There is no explaining why my son-in-law didn't die, but God... being rich in mercy, blessed us abundantly!


Dear Lord, when life gets messy, when fiery trials come, when we feel weak, when we are fearful, help us to first respond by calling upon the name of Jesus, by searching the Scriptures, by remembering what You have already done and by participating in the blessings of sweet fellowship. 

He has lovingly given us everything we need through God's First Responder and His Emergency Response Team.

Amen!  Amen!

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home Intentional Tuesday ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many Blessings

Monday, February 8, 2016

Getting Back to the Heart of Worship



A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook written by Michael Livingstone called The Heresy of Worshiptainment.  An article which caught my eye and spoke to my heart, a heart already grief stricken over the direction of many churches in America today...

The following is an excerpt from that article:

"The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members “want to be entertained while they are edified.” He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was “scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”*

More recently, David Platt has asked, “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? 
What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? 
Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?” David Platt

Would it be enough?

Tozer got it right: “Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message.”

HALLOWEDNESS, NOT SHALLOWNESS

Like Tozer, we should be concerned that so many people in our churches want to be entertained while they worship. We should be concerned when we no longer recognize the difference between the two. And we should be concerned by the growing belief that adding more entertainment value to worship is necessary for the church to accomplish its mission.


I may stand alone, but it grieves me when I see worship services characterized more by props, performances, and pep rally atmospheres than by any 
sense of divine sacredness; and hallowedness giving way to shallowness."
Mike Livingstone

I experienced first-hand a statement that put feet to the quote above that there is a "growing belief that adding more entertainment value to worship is necessary for the church to accomplish its mission."

An impassioned plea for today's youth, given by a youth leader.  Clearly this person has a tremendous heart for teens.  His desire to reach them for Christ was incredibly admirable.   The youth leader spoke about methods for bringing teens into church, specifically types of music.  He shared about a family who would not allow their child to attend the evening youth group because of concerns for the type of music...  I sensed that he could see where this family was coming from, but in desperation the youth leader exclaimed, "But we have to do whatever it takes to get them to come to church!"

But at what cost?...

The first time I attended adult Bible study, which happened to be the same night as Youth Group, I entered the church doors, the loud heavy bass sounds filled the space, mainstream music playing loudly; multicolored lights swirling around on the walls.  I wondered to myself, had I entered a church or a nightclub!

Yes, eventually the mainstream music was replaced with a praise band singing worship songs.  Yes, the Word of God was shared, but are the church leaders trusting in that very Word of God to do what it says it will do?

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 
Isaiah 55:10-11

It doesn't seem so...

Instead, trust is being placed in the method of entertainment rather than God's Word to "get them" to come.  Sadly, this misplaced trust is being played out in more and more churches in America today...

Yesterday, I was reading Exodus 31 about keeping the Sabbath.  The following verses spoke to my heart about the true intent and sacrificial mindset of Worship:

...Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you  {set you apart}. 
You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you.
Exodus 31:13-14

Are church services today conducted in a manner {set apart} from mainstream life?  Sadly, not so much anymore.  Instead, more and more church services are conforming to the world.

“That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.” 
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Much of the book of Exodus is devoted to the carefully laid plans of the Lord to ensure purity and sacrificial offering when approaching the altar of God, from utensils to clothing.

Indeed, we have been purified by Christ through His precious blood.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, 
that we may receive mercy and find grace...
Hebrews 4:16

But that doesn't mean that we turn the altar of God into what we want rather than a place to offer our sacrificial worship.

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
Romans 12:1-2a

Sunday mornings may be a struggle for many to set aside time to intentionally go to church.  There could be a million things that need to get done; a desire to sleep in; a beautiful day outside, but we make that sacrifice for our Lord and Savior who sacrificed His life so that we would be set free from the punishment of sin and death to live in eternity with Him forever.  We set apart time on the Sabbath to sit under the teaching of His Word and to Worship Him.

One of the definitions Merriam-Webster gives for the word sacrifice is "the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone"

It seems there is no desire to sacrifice for the sake of learning and knowing God's Word. To endure sound teaching...

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.
2 Timothy 4:3

Instead churches are feeling the need to make worship services as painless as possible using multimedia presentations, productions, music lacking Biblical content that is me-focused, and short sermons that avoid offense.  

When we offer sacrifices to the Lord of the things we don’t want or does not cost us, it does speak worship, but it speaks worship of ourselves rather than worship of the Lord.
Scott Kircher

Anecdotally, I have actually heard people say the following:  sitting under a sermon longer than a half hour is arduous and difficult for people to focus on; a turn off to those who are seeking; sermons should never speak on offensive subjects; doctrine is legalistic, and no longer necessary.  We just need to love on people.

I fear, then, that the church is loving and entertaining people right into hell.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
 but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

Is this really true worship??

Worship must be vital and real in the heart, and worship must rest on a true perception of God. There must be spirit and there must be truth. . . . Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers . . . . On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship.  
John Piper

The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:23-24

I don't want to be misunderstood that this blog post is a criticism of different worship styles, praise songs vs. hymns.

I am just sharing a heart that is grieved to see so many churches trying to please those whom they are seeking and those believers sitting in the pews with a worship style that is razzle dazzle. A misconception that "worshiptainment" will make people want to come to church...  

...when it is God's Word alone whose power attracts.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, 
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and 
discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

The modern church today needs to get back to the heart of worship.

Back to the Heart of Worship
Matt Redman

When the music fades
and all is stripped away
and I simply come.
Longing just to bring
something that’s of worth
that will bless Your heart.

I’ll bring You more than a song,
for a song in itself
is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within,
through the way things appear,
You’re looking into my heart.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it

when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.

We are the church... 

A heart change toward Worship begins with us...


"Take this reminder with you as you ready your heart and roll up to your next corporate worship gathering. The externals do matter, but they are not the essence. They need not rule the day.

Whether your corporate context is wonderfully conducive to what moves you most, or grates against all your personal preferences, the heart of worship need not be hindered — because the heart of worship is the heart.

At bottom, it’s not what we do (or don’t do) with our hands (or what someone else is doing or not doing), but what we do with our hearts and minds — because of the One who has captured our hearts and minds. Worship is in spirit and in truth."
David Mathis



You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home Intentional Tuesday






Monday, February 1, 2016

Finding Your Forever Home



My daughter and son-in-law are in the process of looking for their first home.  It is a very exciting time, but can also be frustrating.  As many of us who have bought homes know, there are so many things to consider; each person bringing a unique list of their "must haves" to the table; compromises usually inevitable.

And then there is the decision of whether the house you are looking to buy is going to be a starter home or your forever home.

I actually found a definition for starter home online...

noun
a relatively small, economical house or condominium that meets the requirements of young people buying their first home.

Although I didn't find a definition for forever home, in real estate terms, it is a home the buyer plans on staying in for the rest of his or her life.

I don't remember those terms being used when my husband and I were first in the market to buy a house back in the early 80s.  I'm not even sure conceptually we were forward-thinking in terms of moving again years down the road.   We were simply buying a house out of necessity and one that we could afford...

When Michael and I were first married, we moved four hours north, away from our childhood homes in New Jersey to Rhode Island.   Our move was prompted by my husband's acceptance to a college in Rhode Island where he was going to be studying Marine Biology.   I was already working for AT&T and was able to transfer to their New England offices.

All the details of our move were set a few months before we got married at which time we made our first trip to Rhode Island to attend an open house at the college my husband had been accepted to. We also used that time to do some sight seeing, but most importantly, to secure a realtor and look for our first home!

Interestingly, as we passed through one of the towns which was two towns away from where my husband's college was located, I said to Michael, I would love to live here!  And he agreed.  lol.   I was admiring a lot of the houses that were brick and said to Michael, "It would be so neat to have a brick house."  But I didn't stop there, I added, "... on the beach!"  We dreamed about the type of home we wanted, knowing that the "wishes" I expressed would remain just that.  The town we were admiring appeared "ritzy" with lots  of big homes.  Not quite in the price point of early twenty-somethings just starting out.

We then stopped at a beautiful park, on the bay, in the same town as the college.   I said to my husband, "Can you imagine being able to come to this park all the time?!"

We also ventured farther south to Newport and drove along Ocean Drive, taking in the stunning views of the ocean.  The mansions on Bellevue Ave. were a sight to behold.

So far "lil Rhody" was quite impressive, and I was excited at the prospect of making the state our home.

I don't remember how exactly we met Len, our realtor, but in looking back, I can see how the Lord had His merciful hand upon us, guiding us to the home He had set aside for us, before we were even in a relationship with Him...   Len took us under his wing and went to bat for us, so much so that he found a bank that was willing to approve us for a loan when all the other banks would not take a risk with young, first time home buyers.

After touring several houses that were for sale, we became discouraged because none of them seemed to fit.  We needed to make a decision in the short weekend we were visiting because our wedding was fast approaching, along with our big move.  I was concerned that we weren't going to find a place to live in time.

Our realtor then contacted us about one more house to see.  Remember that town I told you about that we wanted to live in, well the house the realtor wanted to show us was in that town!  Remember when I said I wanted a brick house near the beach?  This house was brick and one big mansion away from the beach!!  It was a cute bungalow, that  was dwarfed by a 26 room mansion next door.  But we loved it!  It had lots of windows, and a cute back yard.  You could see the bay when standing in front of our house, and smell the salt water in the air.  Everything was approved and we moved in right after our honeymoon.

My husband and I didn't think in terms of starter homes or forever homes, but we dared to dream and for us, our dreams came true, in that little brick bungalow near the beach...

After our first child was born five years after we bought the bungalow, we actually did end up moving to a new construction house that was just a little bit bigger.  {Remember the park I mentioned earlier that I said I would love to go to all the time?  Well you guessed it, this new house was just minutes away from that park!}  We have been in this home for the past 27 years; the home whose borders were established by the Lord so that I would find Him.  At the rate we are going, I guess realtors would say this is our forever home.   But I know this is the home that the Lord used so that I would find my Forever Home with Him...


When we hear the word home, the word conjures up different scenes for different people.

Some will envision a physical house, a place to live...

Others, will envision family...

And still others will envision Heaven...

A house...
  
There, of course, is nothing wrong with owning a house, but unfortunately, some people get in way over their heads, wanting the perfect house with all the bells and whistles; their main focus is on the house without instead of the home within...

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, 
and where thieves break in and steal.
Matthew 6:19

Family...

My husband recently watched a PBS program called The Italian Americans where he learned about the Roseto effect which is a "phenomenon by which a close-knit community experiences a reduced rate of heart disease. The effect is named for Roseto, Pennsylvania.  From 1954 to 1961, Roseto had nearly no heart attacks for the otherwise high-risk group of men 55 to 64, and men over 65 enjoyed a death rate of 1% while the national average was 2%.

These statistics were at odds with a number of other factors observed in the community. They smoked unfiltered stogies, drank wine "with seeming abandon" in lieu of milk and soft drinks, skipped the Mediterranean diet in favor of meatballs and sausages fried in lard with hard and soft cheeses. The men worked in the slate quarries where they contracted illnesses from gases and dust.[5] Roseto also had no crime, and very few applications for public assistance.[5]

Wolf attributed Rosetans' lower heart disease rate to lower stress. "'The community,' Wolf says, 'was very cohesive. There was no keeping up with the Joneses. Houses were very close together, and everyone lived more or less alike.'" Elders were revered and incorporated into community life. Housewives were respected, and fathers ran the families. Wikipedia

This phenomenon did not seem surprising to me.   God created families to love, support and enjoy each other.   Families come in all varieties, from blood relatives, to friendships, to the body of Christ in community.  We feel most at home when we are with those we love.  And oh how blessed we are.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.
 Acts 2:42


Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galations 6:2

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—
a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, 
help the weak, be patient with them all.
1 Thessalonians 5:14

Heaven... 

Those of us who are in Christ Jesus know that our Heavenly Home awaits us.  We anticipate with joy that great day when we will see Jesus face to face, where "He will wipe away every tear from {our} 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 21:4

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20

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?
John 14:2

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
1 Corinthians 2:9

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:1-5


As I pondered all of these things, the Lord showed me one more picture of home.  And it was ME!

 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
2 Corinthians 6:16

Would we invite someone over to our houses and then lock them away in a room and never talk to them, acting like they aren't even there?  No, of course not.  But yet too often, after we have asked Christ into our hearts, inviting the Holy Spirit to live within us, we can go days or even longer without acknowledging Him.

If being in relationship and communion with our families, friends and brothers and sisters in the Lord has such a profound effect on our physical health, how much more does our relationship and communion with the Holy Spirit have a profound effect on our spiritual health, our lives and our testimonies!

Intellectually, I understand that the Spirit of God dwells within me, and I see evidences of that, through the writing of this blog, for instance.  Yet although I acknowledge that, I don't think I am truly comprehending to the fullest extent that ALMIGHTY GOD DWELLS WITHIN ME!  He has chosen to make His home with me!  He is at home with me and I am at home with Him!!

The God of the Universe came down from Heaven to make His home with us!

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
My sins were washed away -
And my night was turned to day -
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!
John W. Peterson

Oh what joy and blessings we receive, and Glory we bring to God when we truly tabernacle with the Lord.

Even here on earth, our temporary home, we can be at home with the Lord...  When we greet Him with our morning prayers, when we talk with Him throughout the Day, and when we fall asleep at night acknowledging His provisions of the day.

I know I may be speaking to someone out there who is in a very lonely time of their lives right now, who is without friends or family... who is not part of a church body... who doesn't know Christ...

I hope that you will be especially encouraged to know that you can find your Forever Home with Jesus by receiving the free gift of salvation...

If you believe that the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus cancelled your sin debt, that you desire to repent of your sins and that you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit will come and make His Home with you here and now, and your eternal Home with Christ will then be sealed.  You will have found your Forever Home...

For those of you who know Christ but are feeling particularly lonely, I hope you have been encouraged that even now you are already at home with the Lord with all the comfort that brings.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18
  
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you
James 4:8

May we find our Forever Home in Jesus, and may His presence fill us with hope and peace.


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home Intentional Tuesday