First United Methodist Church

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Devotion from Pastor Rachel (July 16)

As we’ve been settling into our beautiful and very comfortable new Parsonage, we’ve spent a lot of time doing the normal things, things like unpacking boxes and filling closets and finding out where things will go.

This past week, we finally got around to beginning to hang our photos. One commitment Ryan and I have always made to our little family is that we would document them as they grew. We had a great family photographer in Gainesville and also another one in Boca Raton that captured the essence of our children’s personalities and the joys of our little family. All that to say, we have a lot of pictures! Over this last week we’ve hung our wedding photos in one room and our baby photos in another.  And as we continue to hang up family photos that mark moments that are significant in our lives, I was thinking about how we make our houses a home. It led me to then think about how Jesus makes our heart his home. We were taught early on, if we were fortunate enough to grow up in church, that we must invite Jesus into our heart in order to experience eternal life. As good Wesleyans, we know that Prevenient Grace means that Jesus has been with us all along and doesn’t need an invitation, we just needed to wake up to God’s presence in our lives and except it for ourselves.

As we grow and deepen our faith, it’s no longer about Jesus simply being invited into our heart but inviting and allowing Jesus to make our heart His home. If you watch any of those home remodel shows, you might enjoy watching the sledgehammer knock down walls and the team that rebuilds old countertops. You might love the before and after photos when you see brand new furniture, painted walls or new light fixtures that brightens the space and chases away the shadows that once were there. And in this reflection, I can’t help but see the comparison of the work of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives too.

After inviting Jesus to make our heart His home and growing in our own spiritual maturity, it won’t just be about hanging up pictures or filling up closets. When Jesus is really the Lord of our lives, there will inevitably be some major reconstruction and even full demolition of the interior places of our heart and soul. But that’s what we signed up for, is it not? Gone are the days when we simply say the prayer and hope that Jesus will do a little chiseling away of our inner sin in hopes of being “good enough.” This is never what was meant by Jesus when he came to announce the Kingdom of God on earth. Gone are the days when we can simply paint a few walls or hang a few pictures or add some new furniture because there’s so much more that Jesus wants to do in us for the sake of the Kingdom and the transformation of the world.

Jesus wants to knock down the walls in each of us that are so divisive in our personal, professional and oftentimes strained relationships. Jesus wants and has every right to demolish the anger or greed or prejudices that are within. I don’t know what needs remodeling in your heart, because I don’t know your story yet and you don’t know mine. But we all have walls, me included. Walls that keep the “other” out, that justify our hate or perpetuate our privilege. We all are in need of new light fixtures in order to see the shame or pride or sadness that we hide from others. Jesus wants to do the remodeling work in each of us through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we have to be willing to open the door, invite him in and allow the work to begin. It is sometimes painful, but always freeing and it is what is required of each of us that call ourselves members of the Body of Christ.

I encourage you today to read and reflect on Ephesians chapter 4:17-32. I encourage you to focus on these verses in particular.

You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:22-24


Holy and Loving God,

We want your image and likeness to be what others see. We know then that we must let you in, give you the sledgehammer or tools and step back to watch you work. We want to be new people that reflect your light and grace. So do what you will, make us into what you will and make our heart YOUR home.