About fourteen years ago, I did something totally out of character for me. I agreed to go on a two-week mission trip without my husband. Our destination? Mongolia. It’s truly on the other side of the world. It was out of character because we always did things like that together. Well, at least on my part (he went lots of places without me when our girls were little).
I really felt led by God’s Spirit that I should, and could, go, even though he had no interest in this particular trip. So, I went. The time in Mongolia was challenging in a lot of ways, but a wonderful experience and a time of spiritual growth. What wasn’t so fun was the very long plane ride(s) home. I can’t remember the details of our original trip, but if you look up flights today, it’s about a 52-hour journey. It took a long time to get home. What kept me hopeful…what made the trip worthwhile…was the anticipation of what waiting for me when I got off the final flight. Family. Rest. Home.
A long journey home, but with a great reward at the end. That describes perfectly our final “12 Days of Christmas” gift – the gift of heaven.
When you were little, your parents always saved the best gift for last. Knowing this, the more you loved what you already had opened, the greater your anticipation of what that last gift might be! God saves the best for last, too. Think of all the gifts He’s given us to help us in this journey called “life in Jesus.” We are so blessed. Peter says His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of [Jesus] (2 Peter 1:3). If we have everything we could possible need, what must heaven be!!??
Heaven is where our eternal treasures are (Matthew 6:20).
Heaven is where Jesus is, sitting at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19, 1 Peter 3:22).
Heaven is where our names are recorded, in the book of life (Luke 10:20, Revelation 13:8).
Heaven is where our inheritance is being held (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Heaven is where no sin is allowed (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Heaven is where Jesus came from, to do the will of His Father (John 6:38).
Heaven is where Jesus went back to after accomplishing our salvation (Acts 1:11).
Heaven is a place, a city, that Jesus is preparing for us (John 14:2-3, Hebrews 11:16, Revelation 21).
Heaven is a gift, and the way to heaven is open to all who believe and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6). There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). [Jesus said] I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved (John 10:9a).
Entrance into heaven is God’s final gift. It’s God’s home; He created it, and He gets to determine who lives there. I’m not sure why people find it so offensive for God to say who is allowed into His home. If someone knocked on your door and demanded ownership of your house based on some random idea that it belongs to them, wouldn’t you think that strange? Yet instead of calling the angelic police and booting us off the celestial porch for our audacity, God graciously shows us the way we can legitimately claim that heaven is our home. He’s “paid the mortgage” in full; all we have to do is come through Christ.
Jesus warned Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter (Matthew 7:21). How do we do His will? Jesus told the Pharisees, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent (John 6:29). God’s will is that all put their faith in Jesus.
Christmas is a celebration of the way home: Jesus.
Jesus promised that He will return for us and take us home. He will literally “pick us up in the air
port!” Right now, we’re still on mission. Yes, we’re tired. We’re ready to leave this foreign soil and go home. We’re so close we can feel it, in fact, our bodies groan for it (2 Corinthians 5:1-3). Stay the course. Be faithful. If you’re not in the family yet, put your faith in Jesus. Open the gift, so we can all go home together.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 – For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.