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“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them." - Revelation 2:13 (NLT)
I’d like to take a look this week at some key ingredients that have gone into some very significant “homes” in our journey as a family -- and how the hospitality in each of them has stirred us towards Christ-centered community and a glimpse of Heaven here on earth. When we think about Heaven, our forever home, we get a sense that all of these earthly homes have something in common -- they all depict an experience that leaves us longing for our eternal home!
Every day I am growing more and more aware of how our home serves as a place to not only teach and prepare our children for life after high school --- but more importantly, to create an environment where they fall in love with Jesus, feel safe and loved, and where we can be intentional.
From the words out of the very first book of the Bible “in the beginning” to the final chapter -- the resounding location of our Heavenly Father is “with us.” His proximity is dwelling with us--forever. There is nothing more comforting than to know that in our eternal home is our forever God. He is creating experiences here on earth for us to see and encounter Him in this realm. It leaves us wanting and desiring more.
Have you ever thought about your earthly home being intentionally designed with Heaven in mind? That when those in your home reflect back on their encounters with you or your home -- it resembles Jesus? Our home is a work in progress; we deeply desire to achieve this aim. What an awesome opportunity we have been given here on Earth!
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." - Revelation 21:4 (NLT)
Is it the smell of dinner rolls? Or the table covered in a cloth with china at every place setting? Or the welcome at the door? Or the many guests who are sitting on the couch when you arrive? Or blankets neatly placed out for you to plop on the chair after a long drive? All that and more is what makes my in-laws’ home so inviting! And so full of peace. I like to think of it as a refuge -- a safe place.
We see in this passage the day coming when God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, and no more pain. We so long for this day. We have this hope -- He will turn our mourning into dancing. Hope is what fuels our faith. Knowing that He will make all things new. It is the hope of Heaven, ultimately, which brings peace. This is not our eternal home.
Is there anyone in your sphere of influence or family circle who could use this life-giving message of hope? An inviting, peace-filled, refuge-type home can be such a place to breathe, put your feet up, and gain some eternal perspective. I find that is where heaven comes down to Earth and we see a glimpse of the amazing gift of Home that our Heavenly Father has prepared for us.
Hebrews 6 gives us a snapshot of two foundational pieces to the character of God surrounding hope: a promise and an oath… “therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us -- this hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our soul.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” - Revelation 21:5 (NLT)
One of my best memories growing up was how much fun we had in my home. During the cold months, my family would have the whole bus stop in our house waiting for the bus. During the summer months, we would play broomball in the street. As we got older, we did Ohio State vs. Michigan parties. We love football and lots of food! And, now every Thanksgiving, we do a big Turkey Bowl. We have so many fun traditions and our kids have a ton of memories with their cousins. Every time we get together guarantees some kind of hilarious moment that will make a lasting memory.
What has made my family so fun and their home so enjoyable is how we watched God restore a broken home, blend two families, and begin a generational blessing in all of our homes.
In this passage, we see God declaring, “I am making everything new.” Heaven affords us the life of the great exchange: old to new, lost to found, broken to whole, hardship to overcoming, and the list goes on.
In Matthew we read in the Lord’s Prayer, “...May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” This gives us a vision of Heaven. A proper perspective on how we are to live on Earth. And it will be a rehearsal for what we will get to experience for an eternity.
A little taste of Heaven is what our family experienced. I am so thankful that God, in His goodness, saw it in His plan for us to encounter heavenly happenings here on earth! I pray that all of us today yield our lives to Kingdom preparation and invite God to do what only He can do to make all things new in our lives.
"The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there." - Revelation 21:24-25 (NLT)
We have some very dear friends. We actually met them when we started attending Southland 18 years ago. Little did we know what the Lord had in store for our friendship. I remember the day we prayed together as two families and the Lord set in motion a ministry that would land on their property. Not only did they open their home and their land to allow a ministry to bring hope to others, they invited guests into their home, around their table for stories, laughter, and good, good food! The guests leave full every week -- and not just their stomachs.
These friends would come to be family in our lives and ministry teammates. We, too, gather often at the kitchen table and laugh until it hurts! And we share so many stories. When you drive up the lane to their home it is as though you follow a beam of light resting over their home. Their door is always open and there is not a capacity limit!
It makes me see Heaven as described in this passage -- their love for the Lord and others shines so brightly and there’s not a day when their “gates” shut. I truly can see how the Lord gives us a glimpse of Heaven here on Earth by living life in community with others and being welcomed into their homes. I always leave their home “full.”
Heaven will be an amazing place of eternal fullness. We can enjoy that fullness to an extent this side of Heaven. As His Word shows us in John 10:10, “...I have come they you may have life and life to the full.” Heaven, as our forever home, will be a place of unending joy and ongoing thankfulness.
"And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life." - Revelation 21:26-27 (NLT)
The other day our daughter was invited to one of her friend’s house with some other girls. They were all so excited -- texting back and forth about the snacks they were bringing, all the activities they could do together, and counting down the hours. She told me they all were so excited it was like Christmas Eve. It was an event she could not wait to experience!
While all these incredible ingredients in all of these homes we have visited this week give us a taste of Heaven, all of them pale in comparison to our forever home in Heaven. It is astounding to realize that Heaven will not lack anything which holds us back from Christ-likeness. We want the Spirit to rid us of anything that would get in the way of us walking in obedience and graciously accept His invitation to a forever relationship with Him.
I love how our church demonstrates its’ faith in Jesus and displays His love towards others. That kind of love can only be anchored in the confident hope of what God has prepared for us in Heaven. We wait with excitement and anticipation! While we are waiting, let’s enjoy the essence of Heaven here on Earth by walking hand in hand with God each day and experience His nearness. I guarantee we will find “hints of heaven” along the way. Each day is preparation with Him.
One thing we can be assured of is that our Heavenly home is one of peace and joy. And, we will walk through the threshold of that doorway in God’s perfect timing, kick our shoes off and breathe, “Home...”