Categories
Christian living

Where Do I Belong?

We all want to feel we belong…

There’s an old sitcom about aliens who come to earth in human bodies to study people. They never quite feel like they fit in (duh!), until they attend the Pendleton Badger football game. They wear Badger shirts and join in the Badger cheers. Suddenly, the high commander understands what it’s like to fit in with humans, and why humans love their football teams.

Sometimes we feel like aliens, like we don’t fit in, like we aren’t understood or accepted. All our longing to belong will ultimately be met through our relationship with God.

Where do we belong?

  • We belong in God’s family. “Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another” (Romans 12:10). When God saves us, we become part of his family. We become his sons and daughters. We are no longer orphans, but dearly loved children of the most-high God. We respect, honor, and love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they do the same for us.
  • We belong in our heavenly home. “But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). We live on earth. While we’re here, we have a spiritual family. But we are destined for better. We have a home in heaven prepared and waiting for us.

Hebrews, chapter 11, talks of great men and women of faith. These faithful people, “acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth.” They were journeying through earth on their way to their heavenly homeland. (See Hebrews 11:13-15.) We’re on the same journey as these people of faith. We are aliens here on earth. Our citizenship is in heaven.

Yes, we all have a desire to belong, to fit in. And we do belong in God’s family and in the church. We find love and acceptance here on earth through our relationship with God and others who serve him. But our desire for belonging will not be fully met until we reach our homeland—our eternal home in heaven. In that place, we will experience perfect love, complete acceptance, and ultimate belonging.

Right now, we’re on the journey home. It has ups and downs, good and bad. But, y’all, the destination—heaven—is going to absolutely blow our minds. We’re going to finally and eternally be in our perfect home, right where we belong.

Dear God, help me remember that this world is not my home. I’m traveling through on my way to my eternal home in heaven. Place me in the family of God and the body of Christ as you see fit. Help me look for belonging from you rather than this world. Give me love and acceptance for others on the journey. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
truth

The Most Dangerous Lie of All

This lie has fooled so many…

Two Truths and a Lie is an icebreaker to help people get acquainted at a party, a training session, or a meeting. If you’ve never played, the title gives it away. Each person prepares three statements—two of which are true and one of which is false. The group has to guess which statement is untrue.

When the group discovers which statement is the lie, some people are happy because they weren’t fooled and others perhaps disappointed because they didn’t spot the lie. Everyone is a little better acquainted and no one is hurt. After all, it’s just a game.

But sometimes the truth isn’t a game. There are some lies that hurt us. There are lies with the power to destroy us forever.

Here’s one of them:

Good people go to heaven. Bad people go to hell.

This is absolutely FALSE, and is one of the most dangerous lies.

The truth about salvation matters more than anything else because it determines where we will spend eternity. If we’re wrong about tithing, we may miss a blessing. If we’re wrong about forgiving people, we carry grudges we weren’t meant to bear. But if we’re wrong about salvation, that’s forever. Nothing matters more than knowing the truth about salvation.

If we’re not saved by being good, how are we saved? The answer is in Acts 16:31: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

This is more than believing Jesus existed. To believe in the Lord Jesus means we believe Jesus’s death and resurrection is the only way to be forgiven of our sins and to receive eternal life. We accept Jesus as our Savior and as Lord of our lives. When we do this, we are saved.

And when we’re saved, God is preparing a home for us in heaven. We’ll spend eternity in the presence of God in the city he planned and built just for us.

Don’t be fooled by a lie. Heaven isn’t for people who donated lots of money to charity. It isn’t for kind people. It isn’t for people who are better than that one guy at work. Heaven is for anyone who calls on Jesus for forgiveness and chooses him to be Lord of their lives.

If you aren’t sure you’re saved, Jesus loves you and wants to forgive your sins. You can be saved today by praying the prayer below from your heart. When you do, Jesus forgives your sins, saves your soul, and prepares a home for you in heaven. Friend, nothing matters more than that.

Dear Jesus, I believe you died on the cross to pay the price for my sins. I believe you rose from the grave. Forgive me of my sins. I want you to be Lord of my life from this day on. Thank you for forgiving me, saving me, and giving me eternal life. In Jesus’s name, amen.

 If you accept Jesus as your Savior, we want to celebrate with you. Let us know in the Reply section.

Categories
fruit of the spirit

Joy Part 2: Quiet Confidence

“Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.” (Psalm 23:6)

So, Cinderella—she had a rough go of it, right? Evil stepmother. Jealous stepsisters. Fun fact: Her original name was Ella, but since she cleaned the cinders out of the fireplace, her stepsisters started calling her Cinderella, and the mean nickname stuck.

Do you know how the story ends? No, not with the Fairy Godmother. No, not with the mice and pumpkin and glass slippers. No, not even with marrying the prince.

We all know how it ends: She lived happily ever after. Just like Snow White, Rapunzel, Ariel, and Sleeping Beauty. Fairy tale authors hand out happily-ever-after endings all over the place.

Y’all, happily ever after isn’t real. But joyfully ever after is a very-real gift from God.

Kay Warren says this about joy: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

It seems that, if joy is an option, it wouldn’t take much to persuade Christians to embrace it. But the truth is, we find it difficult to remain joyful when things aren’t going our way. Could it be that we don’t really believe what we profess? Could it be that deep down we doubt whether God is going to make everything right in the end?

Joy is a supernatural gift from God. It flourishes in a heart confident of God’s intention and power to make all things end up as they should. If we find ourselves daunted and fearful about our circumstances, we may also find our joy diminished.

Do we truly realize what our future holds? According to Psalm 23:6, God’s goodness will be with us every day for all of our years on earth. His kindness will never fail us. We are surrounded by his tender care every minute of our earthly lives. When this life is over, jackpot! We move into heaven, where the splendor is beyond anyone’s ability to imagine.

We may have troubles in this world, but temporary trouble doesn’t change our future. God’s children will ultimately be OK. Believe it.

If you’re having trouble with joy, here’s some practical advice from Psalm 95:1: “Come on, everyone! Let’s sing for joy to the Lord! Let’s shout our loudest praises to our God who saved us!” So many Bible verses associate singing, shouting, and praise with joy. When you’re running short on joy, try shouting a praise at the top of your lungs. Or enthusiastically singing a worship song. Or a roar a heartfelt hallelujah.

Our God is faithful. Our future is amazing, and it’s guaranteed. We have every reason to abound in joy.

Dear God, I want to live “joyfully ever after.” When my world is noisy and confusing, help me rest in your quietness and peace. When I don’t see how things can turn out OK, help me focus on your provision and kindness. Let me shout your praise and sing for joy in the midst of any storm. Fill me with your joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
Heaven

Perpetual Worship

“I will praise the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1)

Worship should continually spring from the depth of our souls. But that’s not always the case, is it?

Consider this person’s story: “My family was going through an unsettling time with jobs and finances. It had been a difficult week, but I was in church on Sunday, joining with the others in the congregation in singing the beautiful song, ‘Ever Be’ by Bethel Music. I heard myself singing the words, ‘Your praise shall ever be on my lips,’ when I realized that, in the past week, I had actually whined and complained much more than I had praised. I wasn’t singing the truth. Tears began to fall, and I asked God to put praise back in my heart and on my lips.”

Can you identify? Do you ever find yourself complaining or criticizing more than you praise?

The Bible tells us that heaven will be filled with spontaneous worship, shouts of the worthiness of God and the Lamb. Revelation 4:10-11 gives us an example: “…They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.’”

Heaven is a place of worship. Really, how could we not worship when we see God sitting in the throne room of heaven? When we come face to face with Jesus, who redeemed us with his own blood? When everything we hoped for becomes a reality?

But should it be any different here? Praise and worship should continuously flow throughout the earth from the lips of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. The Lord’s prayer says, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). There should be spontaneous, heartfelt worship on earth just as there is spontaneous, heartfelt worship in heaven.

What has been on our lips this past week? Has it been more worship and praise, or more criticism and complaints? Friend, God is worthy of our worship, in good times as well as difficult times. As we praise God here on earth, we prepare for that glorious day when our voices join the throng of worshippers gathered in the throne room of heaven. What a day that’s going to be!

Lord God, you are so worthy of my praise. I repent of the times when worship has been far from my heart and not at all on my lips. Fill my heart with a revelation of your holiness and power. Remind me of how you rescued me. I praise you for your faithfulness, your forgiveness, and your never-failing love. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
Heaven

It’s Good to Be Home

“And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

The word, “and,” connects the beginning of Psalm 23:6 to the end of it. The first part of the verse says goodness and mercy will follow us during our time here on earth. Then we find the word, “and,” connecting our yesterdays and our today with our “forever.” Our “forever” is a place we call heaven.

In our flesh, it’s hard to remember that our time on earth is actually the short phase of our lives. The “forever” part of our lives starts after our time on earth is finished. Our most precious hope is the promise of spending eternity in the presence of the Father.

The Bible says, “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (1 Corinthians 15:19). God’s unfailing love and constant goodness fills our days on earth with hope. But even greater is the promise of an eternity spent living in God’s house, dwelling in his presence, and abiding in his love.

An old proverb says, “He’s so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good.” The greater danger is to be so earthly minded we miss heaven altogether. Our goal is not the temporary satisfaction we may find in wealth, education, good looks, or popularity. Our goal is to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and to live eternally in our forever home.

We’re never completely satisfied here on earth because this isn’t our real home. Max Lucado put it this way: “If you take a fish out of the water and place him on the beach, is he happy? The answer, of course, is no! How do you make the fish happy? Do you cover him with cash? Get him a beach chair and sunglasses? Do you bring him a martini? No, he will only be happy when you put him back in the water because he wasn’t made for the beach.”

And we weren’t made for earth. We will never be completely happy on earth because we were made for heaven. The joy, peace, and contentment we will experience there is entirely beyond our current ability to comprehend.

Just think—in heaven, there is no sickness, no weeping, no death. God lives and walks among his people. Heaven is illuminated by the majesty of God. There is no evil and no sin. The peace of God reigns forever and ever. This is our promise. This is our hope.

You may have lived in some fancy houses in your life. Or maybe you lived in some very basic houses. You may have experienced a great deal of joy or a great deal of sorrow. Either way, look up. Know that your forever home is a mansion on streets of gold. Your forever home allows you to live in the constant presence of the Lord. Friend, your faith means your future is absolutely breathtaking.

Father God, sometimes I get so comfortable in this life that I don’t think about my forever home. Other times, I look around at the world and long for the glory and peace of heaven. Help me bring glory to you during my time on earth and help me remember that my final home is a place more amazing than I could imagine. In Jesus’s name, amen.

What do you most look forward to in heaven? Comment in the “Leave a Reply” section below.