Devotional Blog

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 15

THE GIFT OF CHRIST HIMSELF, AN OFFERING, A SACRIFICE

Do you know that smell is one of the senses that can trigger a particular memory? It’s weird, but I still remember the smell of our new plastic telephones in our home in the late 1960s. Can you remember your grandmother’s perfume? Or how about the smell of leather at the saddle shop? The famous “new car smell?” The scent of a certain flower? A visit to a different country? I can tell you from personal experience that Mumbai, India, in late June, has a distinctly different smell than the mountains of Switzerland in the springtime.

What is the most pleasant fragrance you’ve ever smelled?

One year at Bibletimes Marketplace, our children’s summer Bible school event, one of the workshop leaders talked about the fragrance of the burnt offerings offered by the Old Testament priests. To recreate the event, he took some seasonings popular in the Middle East, like cumin and paprika, mixed in some rosemary plants and rose petals, and threw them in a fire. What a beautiful and amazing aroma it was! The Bible suggests that such fragrant offerings were pleasing to God.

Today’s gift is the gift of Christ Himself, an offering.

“Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2, NIV).

Paul writes that Christ loved us so much that He gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

It’s hard for most of us to get our heads around the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, and that such an offering pleased God. Pause and think about that for a second.

There are two things to ponder here as it relates to the sacrifice of Jesus. The first is that a true sacrifice is offered by oneself. In the Old Testament, Leviticus, Chapter 1 has certain rules about offering a sacrifice. The first is this: when a man offered bulls or birds, Leviticus says he did the actual killing himself. And then, he gave the slain animal to the priest. There is a reason for that. You must offer your sacrifice to identify with the killing of life.

The second rule from Leviticus relates to sacrifice: the one making the offering is to skin the animal and give the meat to the priest to burn, but the skin is offered to the priest to keep as a robe. This is so significant! Think about how God had to kill and skin an animal to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness in Genesis, Chapter 3, to cover their sinfulness. In the same way, the offering, the sacrifice of Christ, clothes us in righteousness. God doesn’t see our sins when He looks at us. He sees the righteousness of Jesus, clothing us in a garment of praise with a beautiful aroma pleasing to the Lord, our God.

So this gift of Christ Himself — an offering, a sacrifice — is, indeed, the greatest of all gifts.

Receive this gift today — the gift of our Lord Jesus!

PRAYER

Father God, I give my heart to Jesus today! Thank you for this wonderful gift. Thank you for the sacrifice He gave to clothe me in His righteousness. May my life give off the sweet aroma of the love of Jesus to everyone I meet today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 14

THE GIFT OF A NEW SELF IN THE LIKENESS OF GOD

Today’s gift from God is a three-part gift.

“… and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24, NIV).

Putting on the new self can’t happen until you, Part 1, take off the old self and then, Part 2, renew your mind, and Part 3, put on the new self.

Are you a collector? Do you have things around the house that have little value? I confess I’m one of those people. I used to collect all sorts of things. Baseball cards. Vintage 45 records. Pop bottles. License plates. The front pages of old newspapers with memorable headlines. I’m sure there was a reason why I decided to keep these things, but today I have to wonder why I kept them.

We all have some old junk in our lives. Throughout this chapter, Paul takes the reader through a long list of old junk we need to get rid of if we are to live the full life God has for us: impure sensuality, greed, stealing, unwholesome talk, bitterness, wrath, anger, slander. Get rid of it. Renew your mind.

That is a tremendous gift! Once we say “yes” to being a Christ-follower, we get rid of the junk and live a burden-free life in God’s likeness! In your old self, you might have had the label “adulterer,” “thief,” “loser,” or “addict.” But guess what? That’s not you anymore! What a beautiful gift! It’s like putting on a gorgeous new dress or a tailored suit.

I visited my mom a few years ago while on a business trip. I was on my way to a meeting dressed in an Italian suit and ready to tackle the day’s business, but I first took a detour to drive mom to one of her weekly Bible studies. When seeing me for the first time since I was a teenager, one dear woman exclaimed: “Wow! You look like a million bucks!” It’s great to put on our finest clothes from time to time, but let me tell you when you are a new creation in Christ, your value to our Lord is always “priceless.”

I think one of the reasons we collect stuff is because we hope that someday it will be worth something. We believe if this thing is worth something, and I own this thing, then I am worth something.

May I tell you something? Once you put off the old and put on the new self, in the likeness of Christ, you are the wealthiest you will ever be! Your Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. You have been given every spiritual blessing. You can’t get any wealthier!

Here’s how The Message version summarizes this gift:

“Everything — and I do mean everything –connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (Ephesians 4:24, MSG).

God wants to reproduce His character in you! And it’s beautiful when you let Him do it! It’s a beautiful, priceless gift!

Get dressed up for today’s gift — the gift of a new self in the likeness of God.

PRAYER

Father God, thank you that I am priceless in your sight. Thank you for the gift of a new self, created in your image. Help me receive this gift every single day, even today! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 13

THE GIFT OF LEARNING WITH A PURPOSE

Have you ever visited one of the great redwood forests in California? These natural skyscrapers set records for height and girth. They never stop growing until it’s time for them to die.

How about you? Are you still growing spiritually? Or do you say you have “peaked” and are just waiting until it’s time to move from this life to the next? I believe that for a Christ-follower, retirement is not an option.

You’ve heard it said that God has a wonderful plan for your life. The idea is that we grow to fullness and maturity in the faith. Not just grow old, but grow in maturity of the faith. God does not want you to reach a certain level that you might determine on your own as “being mature” and then let you stop or coast for the rest of your life. God expects growth from you, year after year, season after season, just like the giant and grand redwood trees.

I want to gently challenge and encourage you: Do you have the same level of faith you had a few years ago? Do you remember the manna that rained down on the people of Israel as they wandered through the desert for 40 years? God gave them just what they needed for that day by way of bread-like food each and every morning. Are you experiencing a fresh and daily delivery of manna from heaven?

Dear child, look to God to provide you with every spiritual blessing every day. Remember, that was our first gift on Day 1 from Ephesians 1:3. If you were to measure the relationship you have with God, is it new and fresh and growing? Or do you take that relationship for granted? May I encourage you to press into all that God wants you to receive each day? Even today.

God has given the body of Christ great leaders and teachers, both inside your local congregation and outside of it, or those who have gone before us whose writings can still inspire and teach. He has put people on the mission field, who, by their example of living for God daily in a small village, can teach us how to depend on God or how to see the miraculous move of the Holy Spirit in a way we’ve not seen before. All of these people have great things to teach if you are willing to be taught.

Today’s gift:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV).

While there are a number of ways to look at this passage, I’d like to focus on the “so that” portion. God desires we become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. May I suggest another way of saying that is “learning with a purpose?”

Do you have a bucket list that includes learning new things? Do you wonder how to search out and find new ways to learn new truths about God’s greatness? I hope so. May I encourage you to grow in spiritual maturity? Paul says that those who are mature are not tossed here and there by the waves when trials or challenging times come. They press into the love of Christ as the head of the body, which holds us, collectively, all together. They do so by their willingness to be taught and encouraged by those who hold the spiritual leadership posts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.

Every single one of us can find someone more spiritually mature than we are; that may even be someone who is chronically younger. Search them out and learn from them. It will strengthen you so that, down the road, you might embrace the position of leadership yourself. Don’t ever give up learning more and more about God’s love and plan for you. They say the best way to learn is to teach. So, you might also consider mentoring or coaching.

Open your hands today and receive the gift of learning with a purpose. Don’t ever stop. Keep growing.

PRAYER

Father God, help me never tire of desiring to learn more and more about you and your love and perfect plan for my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 12

THE GIFT OF GRACE

What is “grace” besides the prayer often offered before a meal? Grace is a gift, and it often looks different depending on who is giving the gift.

Have you heard the story of a man who fell down some icy steps? While he may not have been too graceful as he slipped and tumbled, he says the ‘gift of grace’ looked completely different in each person who came to his rescue. The first person helped him to his feet, examined where it hurt, took him inside, and put an ice bag on the injury. This person had the grace gift of mercy. A second person asked him why he hadn’t properly poured salt on the icy steps beforehand. This person had the grace gift of exhortation. Still, a third person showed the man how to properly hold on to the handrail and slowly work his way up each step, little by little. This person had the grace gift of teaching. Three different people, three different expressions of the same grace gift.

“But to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Ephesians 4:7, NIV).

“But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.” (Ephesians 4:7, MSG).

Grace. We are given a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance, and as many “do-overs” as we need to fully accept all the love God has for us. Golfers call them mulligans. An opportunity to say the past poor shot never happened. It doesn’t count. It doesn’t negatively impact the score, but a new, improved shot in its place, can help win the game.

Some have suggested that no single man sums up the definition of grace like the man behind the song Amazing Grace. Do you know John Newton’s story? He was a slave trader and the captain of a ship in the mid-1700s that regularly traveled the Triangle Trade Route. Beginning with an empty cargo hold in England, he would travel to Africa and pack over 600 units of “human cargo” — slaves — onto the ship. He would then sail to America and deliver his cargo in exchange for money and goods made in America that were needed in England, the final leg of his trip. From his home in England, he would rest for a short season and start all over again. He met Christ during a terrible tempest aboard his vessel. He ultimately left the seaman’s life and studied for the ministry.

Near the end of his life, he was pastor at Saint Peter and Paul Church of England in Olney Parish. At age 82, Newton said,

“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.” He is buried in the cemetery there. On his tombstone, we read these words: John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.

Amazing Grace! What a gift! I want to be preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed, don’t you? May you be a recipient and a giver of this gift of grace today.

PRAYER

Father God, thank you for the gift of grace. Thank you for the chance to start over again, no matter how often. I can receive your love, new and fresh day after day after day. Thank you. As you have given me grace, help me to be quick to offer it to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 11

THE GIFT OF UNITY

Truly healthy families are few and far between. Most TV shows reflect this by featuring brothers and sisters who back-bite, lie and deceive each other. The Reagan family on the police drama Blue Bloods at least tries to show peace and harmony with a Sunday Dinner in every episode. But whether in fiction or real life, family unity is a real challenge in today’s frenetic world.

The believers who lived in Ephesus in the first century must have struggled with unity as well because Paul encourages peace among the family of Christ at the beginning of Chapter 4.

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6, NIV).

This passage summarizes the unity that God so longs for us all to share together as the body of Christ, no matter where we go to church.

A pastor friend used to say that some things are disputable within the body of Christ, such as music, dress, how we raise our kids, movies, politics, and those kinds of things, but certain things are bedrock truths. This is what Paul is saying here. This is the gift of unity. One body. One spirit. One hope. One faith. One baptism. One God, the Father. And right in the middle? One Lord. One. His name is Jesus Christ! So Paul is essentially saying, “C’mon, church. We can agree on this! Let’s lift up the name of Christ together … for His glory.”

Have you ever traveled someplace far away, whether on a mission trip or just someplace away from home, and met another Christ-follower for the first time? There is a sweet common bond, isn’t there? A unity that is shared together. And it’s deeper than who your schoolmates were or being a part of a group that cheers for the same sports team.

Paul says,

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”(Philippians 2:1-2, NIV).

Why is unity so important? Jesus says in John 17, it’s so that the world will see how much we love each other, and that will cause unbelievers to believe!

May we be encouraged to embrace unity. No matter our race. No matter our geography. No matter our education. And may we do so in a way worthy of Christ. Being humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love. May you receive and give this gift of unity this Advent.

PRAYER

Father God, I pray for all believers around the world today. May we all be united in bringing the Gospel message to the lost and hurting, especially during this season. May Your peace come on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 10

THE GIFT OF KNOWING HOW MUCH CHRIST LOVES US

Parents and their younger children often play the “How Much Love?” game. You know how it goes. It usually starts with Mom or Dad looking at their child and saying, “I love you.” And the child looks up with big inquiring eyes, “How much do you love me?” The game continues with the parent comparing the amount of their love with the number of stars in the sky, grains of sand on the beach, or the favorite in our home “to the moon and back.” In the Disney movie, Tangled, Rapunzel’s stepmother says, “I love you very much, dear.” To which Rapunzel replies: “I love you more.” And to finish the game, her mother says, “I love you most.”

In Ephesians 3, Paul suggests Christ’s love for us is like a box with unlimited proportions.

I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love — how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19, NCV).

It is an amount of love that you just cannot get your hands around. It is reminiscent of Romans 8:35, where Paul asks, “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” Then he gives us the answer a few verses later in a long list that includes “nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39, NASB).

How much does Christ love us? He loves us more! He loves us most. He loves us bigger than the biggest box.

If Disney’s Buzz Lightyear was to answer the question, he would say, “to infinity and beyond …” That still would not be a box that could contain God’s love.

That’s an awesome, incredible gift!

So, open your arms wide — as wide as Jesus opened His for you on the cross — and receive today’s gift, the Gift of knowing how much Christ loves you!

PRAYER

Father God, thank you for loving me with an immeasurable amount of love. May I remember today, and every day, especially when I’m not feeling loved, that you love me more than I can comprehend. Help me receive your great love today! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 9

THE GIFT OF JESUS DWELLING IN OUR HEART

We all know the difference between a house and a home. A house is merely a place to live. It becomes a home when those who live in the house add love. It doesn’t have anything to do with the things we hang on the wall, the family room furniture, or the living room’s soft lighting. The proverb says, “Home is where the heart is.”

Today we receive a two-fold gift:

“I ask the Father in his great glory to give you the power to be strong inwardly through his Spirit. I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love.” (Ephesians 3:16-17, NCV).

Paul prays for the Church here, that Believers may be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that Christ may dwell in their hearts. The Greek word he uses for “dwell” means to “always be present.” Is there a greater gift to receive than this? Christ Jesus. Living in our hearts and in our life. Built on the foundation of love and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Always present.

God can and does give us many, many things … every spiritual blessing. (Remember the first gift in this Advent study?) John Eadie, a Scottish theologian from the mid-1800s, suggests that God is not being frugal here. “His bounty proclaims His conscious possession of immeasurable resources. He bestows according to the riches of His glory — His own infinite fullness.”

God gives us His all, strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that Christ may dwell in our hearts. God no longer dwells in a building that man has made, such as the tabernacle that Moses set up in the desert and moved from place to place. No.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.’” (Revelation 21:3, NASB).

Jesus is the new tabernacle! And He dwells within us! Jesus stresses the benefit of abiding with Him.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV).

That’s powerful!

Now, does Jesus physically get small and live inside the muscle and tissue that is our beating heart? No, but a life that has Jesus centered in the core of our being that beats and pulses continuously with His love and grace is a life of purpose, priority, and order. It is our life! As God’s children, we are given everything. That is represented in today’s Gift — Jesus dwelling in our spiritual hearts.

PRAYER

Father God, thank you that you no longer live or dwell in man-made buildings or temples but that Jesus lives in my heart. Make my heart a loving place where He can live. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 8

THE GIFT OF BOLDNESS AND CONFIDENT ACCESS

Think back to elementary school. Did you ever get called up to the teacher’s desk for a one-on-one meeting? Not a disciplinary confrontation, mind you, just a “please come here I want to talk with you” meeting. Generally, there were two opposite reactions from the room full of pupils. One student would sheepishly approach the front of the classroom, head hanging low, feet shuffling along, fearful. Another student would stride confidently, chin up, eyes fixed on the teacher’s eyes. The first lacked confidence, the second acted boldly.

Our next Advent gift is the gift of boldness!

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12, NIV).

The word “confidence” can be translated as “boldness” or even “cheerful courage.”

A friend once asked the question, “What was the difference between the disciple Peter at Passover and Peter at Pentecost?” It was 50 days, and there was a 180-degree change in Peter. Recall at Passover, Peter was afraid. He acted cowardly, even lying to a young girl about his connection with Jesus. At Pentecost, in Acts 2, Peter boldly proclaimed the Gospel on the steps of the Temple for all in Jerusalem to hear. Over 3,000 responded to his sermon and were baptized that day! What was the difference? He was filled with the Holy Spirit!

Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, gives us the boldness to proclaim the Gospel and also to approach the Father in Heaven to ask Him for whatever we need.

Why can we do that? In the days of Moses, man needed a mediator to go between him and Holy God. No longer, thanks to the grace of Jesus! You may recall that the moment Jesus died, the Holy of Holies in the Temple became accessible to everyone.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:51, NIV).

We now have access to the throne of God, and today’s scripture says we can have “confident access.” (Ephesians 3:12, NASB).

So ask our Father God. Receive. Boldly proclaim with confidence. We can have such confidence because, as the writer of Hebrews notes

“… he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).

Be encouraged to use this great gift this Advent — the gift of being able to go directly to the LORD of lords, the King of kings. The gift of boldness and confident access.

PRAYER

Father God, I am grateful for this gift of being able to pray directly to you. Thank you, Jesus, for tearing the veil away from the Holy of Holies. Holy Spirit, give me the boldness to proclaim the love of the Gospel. For your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 7

THE GIFT OF MINISTRY

One thing that is fascinating about being a believer is that God calls each of us to act, and He does so through our spiritual wiring. Once we bow the knee to Jesus, something prods us along to engage others in care, compassion, and service. The next Advent gift is the gift of ministry.

The Apostle Paul says it this way:

This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. (Ephesians 3:7-8, MSG).

Do you know that every believer is a minister? The letterhead at the first church where I served listed all of the staff pastors. At the top of the list, it said, “Ministers, Every Member.” If you were an active part of the congregation, you were expected to also be a minister. Not in a vocational position but in the day-to-day community life of the fellowship.

That’s truly how it is. Paul says if you are Gentile, or non-Gentile, Christian or Jew, if you partake of the promises in Christ Jesus, if you have received His grace, you are a minister… one who God will use for His Kingdom purposes.

Can people come to know Jesus in a tattoo parlor? Absolutely! A ministry in St. Louis focuses just on that group of people. How about motorcycle gangs? I recently passed a guy on a Harley that had a “Bikers for Christ” patch on the back of his leather jacket. There is a Christian legal group for attorneys. There is the Christian Medical and Dental Association. There are ministries in professional sports, airline pilots, and even parents of toddlers. The list is almost endless. You name it, whatever the group of people, there are believers who are ministering to one another. Most are doing so without an ordained, pulpit-pounding, seminary-trained “professional minister” at the head of the organization. That’s the way God wants it.

It’s a gift to be able to minister to one another with His grace. Every believer has been given the ability — by the power of the Holy Spirit — to listen, to pray, to encourage, to minister.

God has uniquely equipped you to minister to your neighbor. Scripture says that one of the primary reasons we go through trials and difficulties is so that we can encourage others when we get to the other side of that challenge.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).

May God continue to give you grace and blessing as you minister to one another. So, receive this gift and use it often — the gift of ministering to one another.

PRAYER

Father God, thank you for the gift of ministry. May the Holy Spirit lead me to minister to those who need to see your love, grace, and compassion. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

THE GREATEST GIFTS – Day 6

THE GIFT OF BEING A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN

What is the next gift God has for us? Citizenship in Heaven!

Are you someone who has moved around a bunch in your life? I am. I have lived at 27 different addresses, and I didn’t grow up in a military family. My average is just under two-and-a-half years per address. So, let me tell you, I am so thankful for the gift of being a citizen of heaven.

“This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.” (Ephesians 2:19, MSG).

A few summers ago, the New York Times ran a list of word phrases that are considered “The Happiest Words in the English Language.” They include:

  • “You’ve been upgraded to first class!”
  • “Have you lost weight?”
  • “It’s benign.”
  • “Let me help you.”
  • “I love you.”

When a police officer says: “Be a little more careful next time. Have a nice day.”

And then there is this one …

“In the Spring of 1971, the announcement from the cockpit of a United Airlines plane, as it was rolling into position for takeoff from Vietnam to San Francisco. There were about 250 military personnel on board. ‘The tower has already cleared us for takeoff. Let’s go home.’”

“Welcome Home.”

Jesus has these comforting words for us:

“There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am.” (John 14:1-2, NCV).

The context is similar to that of a groom in the ancient days who proposes to his bride-to-be, then returns to his family’s home. He builds an addition to that house — a room for himself and his new bride. And when the construction of the room is completed, and he receives his father’s blessing, he returns to get his bride, and they are married and return to the new home he just built for their new family.

It is the same for us. Isn’t it great to know that we will always be welcomed by Jesus in heaven, no matter our wanderings, failures, or successes? That is such a great gift!

So open your arms and receive this homecoming gift this Advent, the gift of citizenship in heaven.

PRAYER

Father, thank you for the precious gift of knowing that you have prepared a place for me to call home in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.