Hope for the Homecoming

Amid tremendous darkness and despair in a time of exile, Isaiah speaks to the hope that is ours. The text gives us pause to wonder, what might our coming home to God be like today? And on that glorious day when Christ comes back in person to dwell with us here on earth? Notice the longings which rise up within you as you pray with this passage. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlarge your hope.

Isaiah 60:1-6 NLT

“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.

For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.

2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,

but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.

3 All nations will come to your light;

mighty kings will come to see your radiance.

4 “Look and see, for everyone is coming home!

Your sons are coming from distant lands;

your little daughters will be carried home.

5 Your eyes will shine,

and your heart will thrill with joy,

for merchants from around the world will come to you.

They will bring you the wealth of many lands.

6 Vast caravans of camels will converge on you,

the camels of Midian and Ephah.

The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense

and will come worshiping the LORD.

For Your Reflection and Prayer:
What word, phrase or picture stood out to you as you listened to the text? Bring this into your conversation with God.

Which emotion rises up within you as you meditate on this passage? Where do you feel it in your body? Gently welcome it and bring it into your prayer.

Rest in any consoling words or images given to you in your prayer.

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Making Yourself At Home in God's Love

Remaining in love and obedience can seem like an odd pairing of commands, especially according to the standards of the world. Yet there is deep wisdom in these words of Jesus. He knows that to obey is to listen -- really listen and hear the heart of his Father in the words of his Father. By remaining at home in his Father's love, Jesus heard the will of his Father. That love fueled his choice and power to act in love, ultimately laying down his life for his friends, including us.

John 15:9-17 (NLT)
  “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this text? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings.

Sketch or color a picture of what “remaining” might look like for you.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God’s compassion for you.

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How Do You Make Your Home in God?

How do you make your home it God?
What do you need there which allows your heart, mind and soul:

  • to rest
  • be nourished
  • be known
  • be loved
  • be delighted in
  • be forgiven
  • be strengthened
  • to wait
  • to join together and become one
  • and flourish?

    And how do you take this mobile home in God with you, wherever you go or wherever you are?

John 15:1-8 (MSG)
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with God in your prayer.

Sketch out your idea of what making your home is God is like. What do you hope it is like?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

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A Place For You

As we enter Eastertide - the other side of the Resurrection - let us reflect on the places where Jesus has already prepared for us to dwell with him. Here. Now. Today.  Can we imagine a place even now, where we can always be with the risen Christ? Keep listening to the longings deep within your soul. The Holy Spirit will guide you towards a place called home.

John 14:1-4 (NLT)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

John 14:1-4 (MSG)

“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”


For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Do you ever long for home? Draw or write about that longing. Be as descriptive as possible.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

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Near To The Father's Heart

The freedom to truly be a child -
dependent;
not responsible for anything too big for us;
to cry out for what we need, whether nourishment, physical comfort, protection or attention;
living in the moment with whatever captures our interest and attention;
to be seen through the eyes of love and simply delighted in;
- these are the gifts of being a child who lives near to the Father's heart.

Jesus, show us how to live near to our Abba's heart.

John 1:10-18 NLT
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Which words, phrases, pictures or stories come to mind as you listen to this scripture? Savor them and bring them into conversation with Jesus.

As you listened or read the text, did you see yourself in the text? if so, what did you notice? Can you identify anything which you long for?

Sounds of Freedom

Again this Christmas, we celebrated the coming of Jesus and we remember again the purpose of his coming: to restore us back to God. In this Psalm, we are given a front row seat to hear the voices of a people who are freed from captivity and brought back home to God. Let us find our own voice within this crowd and join the cry for freedom.

Psalm 126 (AMP)
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion (Jerusalem),
We were like those who dream [it seemed so unreal].

Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
 
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad!
Restore our [b]captivity, O Lord,
As the stream-beds in the South (the Negev) [are restored by torrents of rain].
 
They who sow in tears shall reap with joyful singing.
 
He who goes back and forth weeping, carrying his bag of seed [for planting],
Will indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Footnotes:
Psalm 126:4 I.e. the remaining exiles.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says in response to you.

How have you experienced being restored from captivity?  Reflect on your experience; either your lifetime or this past year. Bring your reflections before God in prayer.

Perhaps your longings reveal a desire for new freedom. Ask God to give you courage to listen and discern what they may be revealing. Ask God to meet you in your longings.

Does a spontaneous response arise within you to God? To sing or dance or make music or write or any kind of art form? What ways of expression of worship flow from your marvelous design?

Jesus' Willingness to Go Home

One could wonder why Jesus was willing to go home with his disciples. Often, those who were healed by Jesus were sent home to re-enter their lives with a changed story amongst their own people. Jesus is willing to do the same with the people of his own hometown. Jesus comes as both prophet and priest. A prophet willing to bring light, truth and revelation to his people and a priest extending compassionate grace and love to bring restorative healing to any and all who are willing to receive. This is a painful story and perhaps an intentional opportunity Jesus gives his disciples to learn the unforced rhythms of grace which he is training them to live in.

Mark 6:1-6 NLT
Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which stood out to you as you listened to the text? Dwell on it. Bring it into your prayer with Jesus.

What is it like for you to live out your faith in your hometown or amongst your family?  How do you experience Christ with you there?

Recall a time when you have felt “scoffed” or teased or rejected because of your faith. Journal about it and have a conversation with Jesus about it. Record what he says to you or shows you. Perhaps there is some healing which is still needed as a result of the offense. Invite Jesus to minister his healing presence to you in that memory.

How does Jesus invite you to come alongside him and fan the flame of belief in others?