There's a story in the Scriptures about Jesus as a twelve year old. Her and his parents were in Jerusalem for Passover. When the family started back for Nazareth after the Passover, Jesus stayed behind. Mary and Joseph came back to Jerusalem and found Jesus at the temple.
During the most-likely heated discussion that ensued, Jesus questioned his parent: "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" The story ends with the family reunited, returning to Nazareth, and Jesus being obedient to his parents, and growing "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:51-52).
"Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" Even as a young man Jesus was teaching people about priorities. Worship, prayer and study matter. Through those acts God speaks to individuals and to nations. The Father's house is the place where one comes also to be in community with other believers - Mary and Joseph found Jesus talking (visiting, socializing) with the teachers of the temple court. The Father's house is the central locale for learning, socializing, and growing in faith.
The same is true of your church home. Whether out of inheritance ("my family has gone to this church for generations") or choice ("I decided to join this church"), you are a part of your congregation, your faith community. This is the community in which you have opportunities for fellowship, for learning, for worshipping, for sharing, for growing in faith.
It is said that a muscle is only as strong as the amount of exercise it receives. Make a new year goal of exercising for faith muscle. If you do, I guarantee you that by the end of 2015, you will experience the promise of a new life.
But remember, it starts by being in God's house and making an intentional decision to be a part of the faith community... just like Jesus.
May God bless you and yours with a wonder-filled new year!
- David Schweppe