By: Joe Stowell, Strength For The Journey
“Our citizenship is in heaven” Philippians 3:20
Victoria Perez watched as the Cessna touched down on the road in the distance. When she was sure it was him, she shouted to her children, “That’s your father!” Grabbing the little ones, they ran to the plane and scrambled aboard. The engine buzzed to life, and the tiny aircraft lifted off. They were finally leaving Cuba. It had been two years since her husband Orestes had defected to the United States, and he had finally returned to fly them to their new home in America.
I am sure that Victoria initially lived for the day that her husband would return and take her to their new home in a better land! But I wonder, not knowing when he would return, if she ever gave up hope and hunkered down in her home in Cuba as though it was the only home she would ever have?
You’re probably connecting the dots. As followers of Jesus, this world is not really our home. For the most part, it’s not all that bad a place to live—but it’s still not home. Jesus has not only gone to prepare a place for us but has promised that He will come again to take us there (John 14:1-6). And as Paul notes in our text for today, our citizenship is in heaven. So, until we get there, we need to consider ourselves transient, like immigrants on our way to a better place. Saint John the Divine said it best when he wrote: “God is at home; we are in the far country.”
So what should we do to keep our eyes toward heaven and our hearts fixed on our new home?
Our first challenge is to remember that we are people of a different nation. We are people of His kingdom (Colossians 1:12-13). As citizens of a different land, we live by the principles of our homeland. We are generous, we forgive, we serve others instead of ourselves, we are patient and kind and extend mercy and grace whenever we can. Jesus is our King and we live to be like Him. Like pasta is to Italians, so living like Jesus is to people who are citizens of heaven!
With Abraham, we consider ourselves strangers and aliens here, desiring a better country (Hebrews 11:13-16). It’s not that we are aliens in the weird sense. We don’t have antennas on our heads and green skin. But if we know where we are headed, we will be different—wonderfully different!
Of course, there are things to enjoy and appreciate here. Being citizens of heaven doesn’t mean that we don’t live to revel in the glory of God in art, music, nature, friendships, love, and the material gifts that He has graciously bestowed on us. But when we are headed home, those things don’t ever tempt us to set up permanent residence in their pleasure. In fact, if we were to lose everything here, we could still hold our head high because we can never lose our greatest treasure: Jesus and the home where He will take us when He comes again. We live in the midst of both pleasure and pain with the confidence that the best is yet to come!
The old hymn gets it right when it says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Victoria Perez must have known that. As she and her children ran for the plane, one of the kids lost a shoe. “Forget the shoe!” Victoria yelled. “Father is in the plane!”
A free salvation
By: Charles Spurgeon
“Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 15:13-16
He who is a happy Creator will be a happy Redeemer; and those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, can bear witness that the ways of religion “are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.” And if this life were all, if death were the burial of all our life, and if the shroud were the winding-sheet of eternity, still to be a Christian would be a bright and happy thing, for it lights up this valley of tears, and fills the wells in the valley of Baca to the brim with streams of love and joy. The gospel, then, is like wine. It is like milk, too, for there is everything in the gospel that you want. Do you want something to bear you up in trouble? It is in the gospel—“a very present help in time of trouble.” Do you need something to nerve you for duty? There is grace all-sufficient for everything that God calls you to undergo or to accomplish. Do you need something to light up the eye of your hope? Oh! There are joy-flashes in the gospel that may make your eye flash back again the immortal fires of bliss. Do you want something to make you stand steadfast in the midst of temptation? In the gospel there is that that can make you immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. There is no passion, no affection, no thought, no wish, no power which the gospel has not filled to the very brim. The gospel was obviously meant for manhood; it is adapted to it in its every part. There is knowledge for the head; there is love for the heart; there is guidance for the foot. There is milk and wine, in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Streams In The Desert
By: L.B. Cowman
Trust in the Lord and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! (Ps 37:3)
I once met a poor colored woman, who earned a precarious living by hard daily labor; but who was a joyous triumphant Christian. “Ah, Nancy,” said a gloomy Christian lady to her one day, “it is well enough to be happy now; but I should think the thoughts of your future would sober you.
“Only suppose, for instance, you should have a spell of sickness, and be unable to work; or suppose your present employers should move away, and no one else should give you anything to do; or suppose—”
“Stop!” cried Nancy, “I never supposes. De Lord is my Shepherd, and I knows I shall not want. And, Honey,” she added, to her gloomy friend, “it’s all dem supposes as is makin’ you so mis’able. You’d better give dem all up, and just trust de Lord.”
There is one text that will take all the “supposes” out of a believer’s life, if it be received and acted on in childlike faith; it is Hebrews 13:5, 6: “Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
—H. W. S.
“There’s a stream of trouble across my path;
It is black and deep and wide.
Bitter the hour the future hath
When I cross its swelling tide.
But I smile and sing and say:
’I will hope and trust alway;
I’ll bear the sorrow that comes tomorrow,
But I’ll borrow none today.’
“Tomorrow’s bridge is a dangerous thing;
I dare not cross it now.
I can see its timbers sway and swing,
And its arches reel and bow.
O heart, you must hope alway;
You must sing and trust and say:
’I’ll bear the sorrow that comes tomorrow,
But I’ll borrow none today.”’
The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself as to how it is to cross rivers.