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Take Your Place

"In Christ and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."

- Ephesians 3:12

In many homes there is some sort of artwork or furniture piece that identifies the family which resides there. Families have creative ways of placing their name and staking their claim to their home: From mailboxes to doormats to framed pictures to vehicle decals. Above our front door entry we have a picture frame that has our last name, Zwerling, with the following words serving as a border, "Life is fragile, handle with prayer." The placement of the FAMILY NAME expresses a sense of ownership, pride, and character.

It is with this imagery that the Lord impressed a word on my heart for our church family a few Sundays ago: TAKE YOUR PLACE! The Holy Spirit was wanting each person to know that the Lord has invited them into His presence and is delighted to have us in this most holy, beautiful, and victorious place. We belong to Him and belong with Him! As I think about this idea of entering into the place where God dwells, there are a handful of Scriptures that are meant to be reminders that solidify our identity and faith:

Psalm 100:4- "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise."

I John 3:2-3- "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure."

James 4:8- "Come near to God and He will come near to you."

Matthew 11:28- "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Psalm 16:11- "You make know to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."

When we take more time to consider this amazing invitation into the presence, fullness, and joy of our Lord, we can discover that in the midst of the celebration for being accepted there is a transformation of our lives that happens in His light and love. Consider some of the following truths based on accounts that people had with God as they TOOK THEIR PLACE in His presence:

1) By taking our place we will SEE GOD: Moses encounters God at the burning bush. It is at that moment that God reveals His Name (Yahweh), His heart (that He has heard the cry of Israel in slavery), and His plan (He will deliver them to a promise land). When we accept the invitation to "Come and See", God reveals and unveils Himself in such a way that we can identify, feel, and be amazed by Him. This faith encounter Moses had is beautifully described in Hebrews 11:26, "He regarded the disgrace of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because He was looking ahead to His reward."

2) By taking our place we will be SAVED: Zacchaeus had heard much hoopla about this prophet from Nazareth named Jesus. After all, if someone was able to call out the religious leaders, speak about God in ways that were never heard before, and open blind eyes, they had to be something special. As the crowds were lining up to see Jesus pass by, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get a better look. It is at this moment that his life is changed forever with these words from Luke 19:5, "When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to Him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." This man who had been a tax collector (and thief) makes his way down as quickly, joyfully, and purely as possible, and by taking this invitation is given the gift of salvation. Jesus has called us to Himself so that we would be delivered, rescued, and cleansed in His love. Colossians 1:13 tells us, "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves."

3) By taking our place we will BELIEVE: Following the resurrection all the disciples had seen Jesus except for Thomas. Although the others were overwhelmed with joy and convinced of what they had witnessed, Thomas was having a tough time with the notion that Jesus had risen from the dead. It was illogical at every level and there was no proof to take him from doubting to believing. He even told the others without proof there was no point in all this talk and that he would not budge from his position. This sets up one of the most special moments in Scripture as Jesus walks into the room, calls on Thomas to experience the miracle answer first-hand. In John 20:27 Jesus says to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your had and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe." By taking our place at God's invitation I sense that many of us are being called to Him because "OUR TIME HAS COME!" He is ready to bring us the answer we have been seeking after or struggling with. A prayer we have cried out; a confession of fear or doubt; a need that is bigger than we can handle; a proof that will confirm His truths to our hearts.

As you TAKE YOUR PLACE may you find yourself not just personally invited into His presence, but fully enveloped by His goodness and glory!

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