Tuesday, May 2, 2017

HEBREWS 11:13-14

"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises,
but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance,
and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own."

without receiving...
having seen them (promises)...welcomed them...from a distance...
confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
...clear that they are seeking a country of their own."

This is a good definition of faith.  But we want to receive things here and now, not from a distance!  We want to live comfy, not as strangers and exiles!  But there is a country of our own out there.  That is amazing!  If we can imagine the perfect country of our own, what would it look like?  How about no dying; nor sickness; nor tears; nor mourning; nor crying; nor parting; nor darkness; nor rubbing elbows with the cowardly, nor with the unbelieving, the abominable and murderers,  immoral persons, or sorcerers and idolaters, or liars.  Instead, imagine a place made for us by Jesus Himself for at least the last two thousand years,and seeing Him face to face.  Isn't that worth waiting for, for looking to the fulfillment of that promise seen from a distance?  Is that clear enough for you?  "These words are faithful and true." (Rev.  21 & 22)

Andrew Murray writes, "having seen them and greeted (embraced) them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth...It is the faith of a man that makes him forsake his home for our goldfields...Faith makes heavenly-minded...Separation from the world is essential to a life of faith...(to) leave all and sell all for this pearl of great price."

Inexplicably the younger twins got disenchanted with home last week.  Addie suddenly felt the need to pack and run away from home--that is, until she sobbed at bedtime deciding to stay--while her brother was led to dig a tunnel in the backyard to escape to Toys R Us!!!  It's okay.  We all want to leave home sometimes, but I don't think we can take luggage where we are going or dig a hole to heaven.

John Wesley says of "having seen them and embraced them," "as one does a dear friend when he meets them."

Adam Clarke wrote, "Strangers, persons who are out of their own country, who are in a foreign land: pilgrims, sojourners only for a time; not intending to take up their abode in that place, nor to get naturalized in that country.  How many use these expressions, professing to be strangers and pilgrims here below, and yet the whole of their conduct, spirit, and attachments, show that they are perfectly at home!"

There was a branch of the Wesleyan Church of which my kin were apart from its beginning called the Pilgrim Holiness Church.  Yes, they were super diligent to avoid any appearance of evil because they wanted no attachments to this world as its citizens, nor hindrances in placing their entire hope of a better country. 

It is from this heritage that when asked by the Civil War Reenacter if I liked to dance, I said no, much to his mouth-hanging-open surprise.  I was raised that "dancing broke down the inhibitions between a man and a woman. "  Hmm.  Just read a historical novel to know it is an awakening of romance, the man plus woman thing.  There's nothing wrong with that unless it leads to other things like getting a cart in front of a horse.   I admit, I've even written fiction including this thing called dancing, not bad for a non-dancer.  Dancing is a beautiful thing.  We will do it in heaven.  Yet, there can be temptation.  I hesitate to say it knowing how ridiculous this opinion seems to most of the worldly world.  But I am often appalled at what parents encourage their daughters to wear to prom that is  very provocative.  I don't know about your high school, but from what I heard from my-back-in-the-day, there were certain expectations about what happened after the prom. (If you had to take Health Class in 10th grade CA schools, you'd know the series of questions guys are supposed to ask the girl at each step which they are taught is okay to take as long as they ask first.)  But nowadays, I'm the laughable radical fuddy-duddy.  I'm a pilgrim and proud of it!

My granddaughter Jane says she shouldn't dance because it might make her imaginary friend sad that she dances better than her.  But that's not why I never learned to dance, though I'm sure my imaginary friend dances way better than me.  I even turned down the chance to be on the homecoming court of my high school because it meant I'd have to go to the dance afterwards. All this to say that we've come a long way from being a pilgrim, having become very comfortable in this world, enough so that it is hard to tell a Christian from a non-Christian.  Dancing, rather not dancing, is just a little bitty example from my Pilgrim heritage.  By the way, I'm not your dancing conscience, I'm just stating mine.  In fact, at age 16 we allowed our children to make that choice, and they had fun.   But I'm just saying that if God wants to cut in, let Him.

"...for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one
and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and ..." 

That's a pilgrim, a stranger, a sojourner, an alien, an exile waiting, longing, to go home to their own country.  What will Jesus see when He looks at our I.D. before letting us enter into that place He has prepared for us when our citizenship is revealed?  I hope to be found other-worldly with my citizenship found in heaven.

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