Home by Christmas?!

As I write this blog I am very much aware of the emotion that is associated with Christmas time, the many memoires people have, some good, some bad, but hopefully mostly good; and the fact that my blogs tend to be a bit longer than most (as some of you have pointed out – thank you for that).  This blog is not so much about ‘Christmas’ as it is about ‘Home.’  Bing Crosby sang, I’ll Be Home for Christmas as part of the musical/movie we love to watch at Christmas time called White Christmas.  It’s a feel-good movie that is packed with some great musical numbers and acts by Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, and Bing Crosby, along with a host of other entertainers from another era long since passed.  In the opening scene of White Christmas, we find our heroes in the midst of WW2 in the European theater, fighting the Axis Powers, but enjoying a reprieve with the troops.  In one scene Bing Crosby sings, I’ll Be Home for Christmas while the troops reminisce on those Christmas’s past as they long to be home in America with their families and not at war in Europe.  It is that scene from that movie that is the emphasis of this blog. 

All of us as believers in Jesus long to be home with Jesus in heaven, but we are engaged in this life, a spiritual battle of faithful service to our Lord.  As we live out our faith we develop a better understanding that this life, as temporary as it is, is but a vapor.  It’s what’s to come that is as real and eternal as our heavenly home.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “For we know that if our earthly house (our physical body), this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation (eternal dwelling) which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee (down payment). So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.”                   – 2 Corinthians 5:1-6

While I have preached many a message on our heavenly and eternal home, and have used this same passage to reveal some rich truths about heaven, I feel that it fits perfectly with today’s blog topic which reminds us of the temporariness of this life and the eternal-ness of the life that is to come for all those who have placed their faith in Jesus. As Christians, we all have this hope, this longing, this wanting to be at home with the Lord in heaven.

Paul emphasizes this sacred truth for all of us to embrace in that…

“…while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.”  – (vs.6b)

This world, these bodies, this life is a temporary place for all of us.  Every time we attend a funeral or hear of someone’s passing, we are reminded of this reality.  Each us of has an expiration date on our lives and one day that day will come when we will ‘expire.’

The Hebrew writer said it this way,  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,”                   – Hebrews 9:27 

This ‘appointment’ is made by God Himself, and when our time comes, He will call us up to be judged and rewarded accordingly for the things done in this life.  For the believer in Jesus, this happens at the Bema Seat Judgment where we will be judged for those things done in this life, good and bad.  For the non-believer, this judgment happens at the Great White Throne after the millennial reign of Jesus.

This blog is about what it looks like to be home, that is, absent from this body, our temporary home, and present with the Lord, our eternal home.  The faith walk that we live our here on earth will be rewarded there in heaven.  Everyday is one more day God has given us to serve Him faithfully and to trust Him implicitly for those things that we need in this life.  This is a faith walk, not a sight one.

Paul continues, “For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.”       – 2 Corinthians 5:7-9 

Our longing to be home in heaven is established by our faith in God through Jesus Christ.  This longing to be loved part of our spiritual life makeup is established by the Holy Spirit of God Himself who dwells within us.  The proto-type is manifest in Hallmark movies, romance fantasies, and wandering hearts, but all of that is flesh and of the flesh.  While we may love this life, and the people and things in it, it is all very temporary.

Our faith and our confidence must be in Christ alone. It reminds us that we would rather be absent from this body, this life, this place, and to be present with the Lord Jesus, in our eternal home in heaven.  Until that glorious day, we have a responsibility, a purpose, a charge from the Master to be well pleasing to the Lord in this life.

In the opening scenes of the movie White Christmas we find the main characters in battle, with explosions around them and bullets flying overhead and such.  They would all rather be home by Christmas, instead, they were fighting for our freedom. While it was just a movie, we all know it depicted a greater truth; one that each of us knows too well.  Here’s a shout out to all the men and women from the Greatest Generation, the ‘builder’generation who served tirelessly and fought valiantly for our freedom.  Many of them never returned from the battlefield as they gave their lives for the cause of freedom.  How like them, we too are engaged in a spiritual battle on this side of the veil, a battle that is fought in the heavenlies and manifested here on earth.

Paul said it this way, “You therefore must endure (share) hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”         – 2 Timothy 2:3,4

  • Like those soldiers in the movie White Christmas, and also on real battlefields of foreign war, we as believers in Jesus are engaged in warfare, spiritual warfare. Each of us would rather be at home with Jesus in heaven, but we are still here, in this world, doing and being what Christ has called us to do and be for Him, as His ambassadors.

The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”                                           – 2 Corinthians 5:20,21

An ambassador is someone who represents the interests of a king or nation in a territory, nation, or country they are assigned to by that king or leader.  In our case, we are Christ’ ambassadors who have been commissioned by the Lord to represent His interests in this world during our lifetime.

Question: What is God’s interest in the lives of the people in this world? Answer: God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  – 2 Peter 3:9b

Our mandate of obedience to the Lord is found in His commission for us to go into this world and preach the gospel to every nation, baptizing them in His name and discipling them in His Word. (Matthew 28:19,20) So when you think of the phrase, ‘home for Christmas’ you have to ask yourself, what does that phrase mean to me personally? We all know that Christmas brings up different and various images for each of us.  We are reminded of the many emotions associated with this holiday. I need to be honest with you, many of my childhood memories of Christmas were not always good. 

Coming from a broken and dysfunctional home and trying to celebrate a day where the Christ we professed was to be honored in a home where He was not always was tough emotionally on me and my sisters.  Be that as it may, as I grew older and came to appreciate the real meaning of Christmas, the holiday became more sentimental and enjoyable because I developed a better understanding of the Christ who came into this world to save it from itself. We all have certain traditions that we enjoy at Christmas, some of them are with family, others are more personal. I like watching Christmas movies at Christmas time, it brings a sense of normalcy into the holiday season. 

Rob Lee’s top 5 Christmas movies at Christmas time.

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life – Jimmy Stewart & Donna Reed
  2. The Family Man – Nicolas Cage & Tia Leon
  3. The Christmas Carol – The Pixar/Disney Version – Jim Carry
  4. Miracle on 34th Street – The 1994 Version
  5. All of the stop-animation Christmas stories from the 60’s

In the Lee house we’re all about decorating, setting up fake trees, baking cookies, and Debi assembling her mini village that she spends hours on.  I also enjoy being with family and our times where we gather, exchange gifts, and enjoy a dinner together.  These are good memoires of family at Christmas. One of our traditions we have always done since our kids were very young was to read the Christmas story from the Bible and say a prayer of thanksgiving for what it was that Christ had done for us in coming into this world as a baby in a manger. I hope that your Christmas experience this year is exceptional and that, in spite of this tough year, you will enjoy a wonderful holiday with your family and/or friends.

The other word in the phrase, ‘home by Christmas’ is the word ‘home.’

This also has varied meanings to it.  For some, home is where you hang your hat.  It’s that place where you reside at the time you are living there; it could be a childhood home that you grew up in, an apartment, a dormitory, or a room with a family in their home.  I sometimes have dreams where I am experiencing something in life, but at the home where I grew up in West Covina, CA. For other people, the word home means the place where you currently live, and may have lived for many years.  For others it could be the city or area where you live.  Some people think of home as more of a group of people, like a family or a church.  For many of you, the church that you attend and the people you frequent there is your family.  You feel at home in your church, because for you, that’s more of a home and family than where you live, and that can be a very good thing, a God thing.  You church is where you have found community, the community of the King.

When the time came for me to resign my post as Lead Pastor in Gardena, I began to feel that the city, my house on 184th Street, and the local community at large was becoming less my home than it ever had been. This was a new sensation that I thought I would never experience, but alas, I did, about one year ago. I fought those feelings because I am not one who makes changes easily nor am I an emotional leader. I am, for all intents and purposes, a ‘home body.’  I like to be home, at home, in my home, working around my home and having people over to my home.  The key phrase here, ‘my home.’

For Debi and me, something shifted in our ‘home base’ mentality and we felt a strong sense that our home really is with our immediate family; and by family, I mean our adult offspring, their spouses, and our grandkids.  My sister Cheryl and her adult children were also included in this family.  While I loved the church in Gardena and very much consider them my family, that biological family bond is something extra special, especially when three little princesses and a Lincoln Boy are involved. My call as a pastor will never leave me and I know that God is not finished with me in ministry, but my time to leave G-Town had come. The truth be told, my exit plan from Gardena was the rapture, however, it became clear to me that God had a different plan for me, and our family, and I wanted to follow His plan in obedience.  It was a difficult time, a difficult transition, a time to leave something I loved very much, the church, for something I loved a bit more, my family.  I am reminded of the times when the believers in the NT were sad when Paul would leave; this is how it felt to leave Gardena; and that was just one year ago. We still love them, but we are glad to be where God has called us to here. We still pray for them, and we know God will continue to be faithful as He is with us.

When I think of home I think of heaven, my eternal home.  I think of Jesus, being with the Lord of glory, and being given a glorified body that will never fade, be in pain, or grow weary.  I think of a peaceful environment where the holiness of the living Christ permeates the atmosphere of everything that is in that place.  I think of colors I have never seen that actually make beautiful music.  I think of a beauty that extends beyond my ability to describe.  I think of being with Jesus in an intimate way, embracing His love and loving countless others who I will somehow know.  When I think of home, I think of the words of the Apostle Paul, quoting the OT Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:4) who described heaven this way.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”                                     – 1 Corinthians 2:9

When I think of my home in heaven I think of how John described… “…the great city, the holy (city) Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs (1,377 miles). Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones:”                                                                             – Revelation 21:10-19

It’s not just the place that is heaven, our eternal home, but Who lives there.

The Glory of the New Jerusalem:

“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”                                                                                          – Revelation 21:22-27

This home, our home, the place that the Lord Jesus has prepared for us will be full of His presence, God’s presence, and His glory.  It’s as if the very atmosphere is love. When you think of the Lord’s presence, you have to associate it with His joy.  When we think of joy we think of an emotion, but in reality, an emotion is more about happiness, which is a seasonal emotion that many never really experience.  Joy is not so much about an emotion as it is a state of being.  We can be having a bad day (or week or month or year) but we can also have the joy of the Lord which is associated with His hope and promise to us that it shall be well if we’re in Christ.

The Psalmist said it this way, “O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain (uphold) my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest (dwell securely) in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One (Jesus) to see (undergo) corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”           – Psalm 16:5-11

When we think of this kind of joy, we need to think of this kind of home, our heavenly home.  We need to think less of our earthly habitations and dwelling places and more of our heavenly abode where righteousness dwells.

Paul said, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”           – Colossians 3:1-4

  • This promise is from the Lord and it is just as true as true for us, who are hidden in Christ.  We must always set our minds on that which is to come if we are going to maintain our joy in this life.  It doesn’t mean that our heads must be in the clouds so much as it conveys a perspective that this world is NOT our home; heaven is.

Jesus said it this way, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions (dwelling places); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”    

     – John 14:1-3

  • In this passage alone we see the word ‘your or you’ used seven times.  This indicates that what Jesus is saying to us is actually for us!  It’s as personal and intimate as it is real. 

The dwelling places (mansions) that the Lord has prepared for us are as custom to us as they are eternal.  We are going to need a new body to even be able to enjoy this heavenly home, and the Lord is going to give us a glorified body so we can enjoy all the blessings He has prepared for us.

The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery (hidden truth): We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed (transformed)— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”      – 1 Corinthians 15:50-52

  • The Apostle Paul is talking about the Resurrection/Rapture of the Church, a doctrine that you should be very much aware of.    This ‘change’ is necessary because ‘flesh and blood’ can’t enter into heaven; we need a ‘heaven suit’ because our ‘earth suit,’ as great as it may (or many not) be, will never survive in our heavenly abode, our heavenly home.

Our real home is in heaven, it that glorified body that will be given to us by the Lord when we get there.  We will need it to survive, enjoy, and thrive in the home that the Lord has prepared for us in heaven forever. When Jesus told His disciples to ‘not let your hearts be troubled,’ He said it to them in context to His leaving.  He would go on to say that He must go so He can send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who is the Christ in Spirit form.  In essence, He goes to heaven and sends a portion of Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit to indwell within us and empower us in our faith and Christian living.

This blog is entitled ‘Home by Christmas’ and the inference is that we will all be home, in heaven, by Christmas.  Whether it’s this Christmas, or the next one, or the next one or whenever, one of these days we will all be ‘home by Christmas!’ Like the beginning minutes of the musical White Christmas, the soldiers on the battlefield wanted to be home for Christmas, they didn’t want to be engaged in the warfare that was WW2. 

However, for those of them who placed their faith in Jesus, and many of them did, especially when they were in a firefight; as they passed from this life, they entered into the very presence of the Lord. This is like so many others who have called upon the name of Jesus for their salvation, like Nora Norris, and Don Tupper, and Blake Riley, and Sandi Zschomler, and Les & Maryanne Whalley, and Neil and Roma Short and all those who have loved Christ’ appearing.

It is my desire to be home, in heaven, by this Christmas.  I don’t mean death by Mack truck either, I am talking about what the Apostle Paul was referencing when he said that ‘we would all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.’  However, we must be faithful to the Lord and His calling upon our lives.  We must see our calling, our role, our purpose, our mandate of service to our spiritual family as well the lost, for the season that we are called to serve the Lord here.   Churches are not about men or pastors or who fellowships therein.  The Church at large belongs to the Lord as He paid for it by His shed blood. In every church the central personality must be Jesus.

Questions: Who gets the best seat in this church?

                   Who gets the best seat in your heart?

                   Who gets the best seat in your home?

If the answer for these questions is Jesus, then your home is where you make it and furthermore, where you allow the Lord to indwell therein.  He’s knocking on the door of your heart, your life, your home.

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”              – Revelation 3:20

  • When Jesus spoke those words, He was speaking to the church in Laodicea, the lukewarm church.  The door Christ was (is) referring to is the door to your heart, your life, your home.  The doorknob to that door is on the inside; only you can open the door to the Lord and invite Him to come into your life, your heart, your home. 

The word for ‘dine’ (Greek: deipneoi) means ‘to sup.’  This term references the ‘taking of the chief meal of the day.’  In context to this passage, it speaks of the spiritual communion between Jesus and His faithful followers (believers). The Lord desires to sup with us, to have fellowship with us, to enjoy ‘the chief meal of the day’ with us.  This is like a dinner date with the Christ, except it’s permanent.  If you want to be home by Christmas, and enjoy the chief meal of the day with the Lord, than you must allow Jesus to indwell within you because He is the only way we can ever get home to the Father, our heavenly and eternal home. 

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”        – John 14:6

  • Jesus is the only way to the Father, to our heavenly home, the only way.

A lot of people think that they are saved, they think that they have a relationship with Jesus, they say that they love Jesus, but when you ask them about their obedience to the Lord, many of these same find themselves wanting.

Jesus remind us, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”          – John 14:21-24

  • Our love for Jesus is akin to our obedience to Him and our willingness to allow Him access to the central parts of our life.  Our love for the Christ will be manifest in our love for His Word and the devotion we give to Him.  A lot of people want to go home to be with Jesus in heaven because of the turmoil of their lives, but these same don’t spend the quality time necessary to develop a closer walk with the Lord.  These same want to be with Jesus, but chose not to spend time with the Lord in prayer.

These same desire the Lord, but they don’t worship Him, attend church, or have fellowship with fellow believers.  If we truly desire to be ‘home by Christmas’ one day, then we need to make our home with Jesus today, in our heart and life.  We need to allow the Lord to come in to our life and ‘sup’ with us and we with Him.  The truth be told, many people are ready for Jesus to come back, but in reality, they are not really ready.  They want to leave but then are not willing to stay and serve the Lord faithfully while they wait for Him.

We know the Lord’s return is close, even at the very doors, however, we all must still be about His business, occupying, doing business, working in His vineyard until he comes. If home really is where you hang your hat, let’s hope most, if not all of you, hang your hat in your local church and serve the Lord faithfully until He calls you elsewhere.  While I am hoping we can all be home by this Christmas, I am more concerned for the lost and that my brothers (and sisters) in Christ will make it their aim to reach as many people as possible for Jesus in hopes that those whom they engage will allow Jesus to be the Lord of their lives.  It is also my hope that as you grow in your faith in Christ that the Lord will bring you a new, fresh, and deeper love for Him in the coming months (should the Lord tarry).  You will know if you’re doing this by the way you love and treat others and they will now that you’re a Christian by your love for them.

Here’s hoping to be home in heaven by Christmas, but if not, at least we can be home with our families and friends whom God has blessed us with. Enjoy this season beloved, and remember, Jesus is the real reason we celebrate Christmas


Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Central Missouri.  He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren).  Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate.  He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry. 

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