Ephesians 3:11-12 -This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.
One day a missionary was returning home after several seasons overseas. As he rode the train, he met a man who asked him, "Was anybody there to welcome you when you got off the ship?" The missionary said there hadn't been. The man snickered a bit and said, "Sir, after all that service and no one to cheer your return—has it been worth your effort?" The missionary could only reply, "I'm not home yet."
Hearing this remark, the man thought the missionary was implying he would be met at his last stop by some admirers, a few souls thankful for the missionary's faithful service. But it was not to be. When they arrived at the home station, there was no one to greet the preacher. The man resisted the urge to say anything more and simply walked away. Standing alone, the missionary was a little hurt. He had done, to the best of his ability, what God had asked him to do. Would it have hurt somebody, anybody, to come out to welcome him back?
Then, standing there alone, the Lord spoke to the missionary's heart and said, "Remember, you're not home yet." Those words comforted the missionary a great deal. He recalled what he had been preaching all those years: this world is a temporary home for Christians. It is a place of transition. No one who lives in this world can say that they have truly reached "home."
So it is for us, too, as we live our lives. Each passing day takes us closer to that moment when we will breathe our last. Will that time be filled with uncertainty and fear? Will we struggle against a "great unknown"? Not if Jesus is our Savior. Christ entered this world to bridge the gap our sins have caused—a gulf that separated us from our Heavenly Father. Jesus lived, suffered, died, and rose so that we might approach God with freedom, not fear; with confidence, not cowardice. Now Jesus sends His Holy Spirit to comfort us and keep us in the faith so that death is no longer a fearful prospect.
The blood Jesus shed for you and me is God's divine declaration that forgiveness has been won for all mankind. Because Jesus took our sins to the cross, now, in repentant faith we can trust Him as our Lord and Savior. We are welcome in His presence. And yet, though this is true, we—like the un-applauded missionary—will still encounter problems as we travel home. There will still be crosses to bear, pains to endure, and all the things that come with living in this sinful world.
But we know Jesus is with us on this journey, watching over us, keeping us safe until the time comes when we eventually reach our heavenly home.
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, remind us that we are coming home to You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
From "Approaching God," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Kenneth Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
1. It's easy to be let down by other people. How is God there for us when others aren't?
2. How does faith in Christ's saving work on our behalf give us confidence to not lose heart?
3. It takes a special kind of person to be a missionary. What are some qualities that would be valuable in this task?
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