The simple utterance of that very word makes your eyes close, your head lift, and your lungs take in a deep breath of air. A sense of tranquility and peace washes over you.
The word “sanctuary” must have been very important to God as it is mentioned 137 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Those references evoke images of stillness, peace, tranquility, and the very presence of God.
Do you know what the word sanctuary means? In the Old Testament, the the Greek word for sanctuary, miqdas, refers to the physical sanctuary of worship where sacrifices and offerings were made. It implies a distinct difference between things that are profane and things that are sacred. It was a holy place.
The Lord is referred to as our spiritual refuge and sanctuary many times in the Bible: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” Ezekiel 11:6.
Reflect back on Adam and Eve in their sanctuary, the Garden of Eden. It was a holy place where they communed with God and their every need was met. Then they made a choice to entertain the enemy in their sanctuary, and he’s been slithering his way in ever since.
According to scripture, our homes and our bodies are to be physical and spiritual sanctuaries. His Word states that God dwells in the midst of the sanctuary. Living in this chaotic and troubled world, it is difficult to create, maintain, and protect the sanctuary, but we are commanded to do so. We know God is everywhere in this world, even in the darkest places, but we also know He isn’t there for entertainment. He goes there to plead with us to leave. He shows us a way out or a way to change.
God’s Word is full of instructions on creating and caring for a sanctuary. Some scriptures contain meticulous and detailed instructions specifically for the temples back in that time. Others are less specific and refer to a spiritual sanctuary, but they are all applicable to us today.
I pray this list of 10 tips for making your home a sanctuary will bring you peace, tranquility, and a closer relationship with The Lord:
1. Give God first place in your heart and home. It is impossible to create peace and tranquility without the Father. Giving Him first place is not just a one-time decision. It is a moment by moment choice to allow Him to be The Lord of your life and home. You must let go of your own will and turn it all over to Him, living a life of submission and obedience.
2. Be disciplined. We have to stop living by our feelings and start living despite them. It is just like I tell my blessings, “We don’t do what we feel like doing. We do what is right.” Why do we give our feelings so much power? By living by our feelings, we give them lordship of our lives. Think about it—there is no magic fairy that is going to come along and clean up the chaos in our lives that trickles into our home and family. We can’t sit around and wallow and whine about our circumstances. We have no right to have a pity party when we are inviting our poor circumstances to come in or at least not kicking them out. We have to be disciplined enough to do the work it takes to make things right. We don’t have to do it alone, though. God is faithful to walk with us and strengthen us through these disciplines.
3. Pray, pray, pray. We must communicate and spend time with the Prince of Peace. There are times when I struggle with setting aside time alone with God. I may whisper prayers all day long, but sometimes I get so carried away in the events of the day that I forget to set aside time with Him. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. I must remember to seek Him first and let Him take care of everything. When I do that, there is plenty of time to do what needs to be done, and I have a peace about what’s left on the list. When I take the time to kneel at the feet of Jesus at my prayer bench, I always feel His presence. He sweetly lifts my chin, looks me in the eyes, gently disciplines me, and lovingly strengthens me for the day ahead. He promises to walk with me through the day. He is a parent who will never let me down. Periodically, I pray in every room in my home denouncing evil and ushering in God’s presence. Don’t know where to begin? Start with The Power of a Praying Woman or The Battle Plan for Prayer or Fervent.
4. Praise The Lord. Have you ever verbally and outwardly counted your blessings? It may sound a little strange to some, but doing this makes your home and family a place of sanctuary. You are worshiping and glorifying The Lord when you praise Him. You are creating a place where He can dwell. You are showing your family the presence of God all around you. It’s a wonderful example for your children to follow that will carry onto their adult years. We want our blessings to experience less hardship than we do, or at least to handle the hardship better, and they will if they grow up in a home where The Lord is brought into every conversation, word, deed, and moment. Singing and thanking Jesus for even the simplest of blessings gives you a new outlook on life.
5. Read and Live The Word. Why did God give us His Word? Why did He call Jesus “The Word”? Because it is God’s loving communication to us. He guides, directs, disciplines, helps, strengthens, and loves us through His Word. We cannot go through the Christian walk without reading His Word. How can we expect our home to be full of God when we don’t fill it with His Word? Reading devotions with your family and applying God’s principles will always bring peace to your home. I could not possibly list all of the beneficial resources for reading and applying The Word, but here are a few we utilize: The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People, Exploring The Story: A Reference Companion, Our 24 Family Ways: A Family Devotional, Our 24 Family Ways: Kids Color-In Book.
6. Remove outside influences. We must live in this world, but we are not to live lives that mimic this world. Worldly influences are not to be brought into the sanctuary. Remember miqdas (Greek word for sanctuary) means sacred and holy, the opposite of profane. Therefore, there should be no profanity or any unholy influence in your sanctuary. Be sure to keep a watchful and righteous eye on what is being played on the television, music, video gaming devices, reading material, or even our own hearts, minds, and mouths that may spew out to others. Don’t believe the lie of the enemy that we must bring worldly influences in to our sanctuary to teach our children. There is a difference in allowing the world to permeate your home, and having a brief discussion about sin, why it is wrong, how to guard our hearts, and then removing it from our midst. You can utilize all sorts of technological resources t o help you filter media like TV Guardian.
7. Follow a schedule. Uh-oh. I know that “schedule” is a bad word to some, but the Christian walk cannot possibly be lived while flying by the seat of our pants. We say we don’t have time for God, that our schedules are full. We are busy living—we have work, sports, family, volunteering, and what about “me” time? We say we don’t want to be restricted by a schedule. If you haven’t already noticed, we are already restricted by our schedule only we don’t own our schedule, our schedule owns us. The world runs by punching the clock at work, school, appointments, kickoff, etc. All of these activities seem to own your schedule. You must decide what is most important to you. Who do you want to be Lord of your schedule, the world or God? I’m a list and chart type of person, so I’ve always found these types of resources very helpful. I just list priorities for each family member in order of importance putting time with God at the top of the list. Of course, you don’t want to reduce time with The Father as something to mark off of your to-do list, but if you find it’s something that gets put on the back burner seeing it written down may help you remember and create a good habit. Family Chore/Priority Chart
8. Slow down. It is essential that we slow down. It is difficult to hear what is going on when our life is spinning in a whirlwind of activities. The world tells us to spend every evening away from our sanctuary. We don’t have time for prayer, family devotions, family dinners, and heart-to-heart talks, because we are trying to keep up with the social demands of this world. The world tells us we need “need” many extracurricular activities. No. We need God. We need family time in our sanctuary. When those essentials are in place, then we can pray about other activities like Bible study or music lessons, things they can use for God’s kingdom.
9. Decorate. I’m no interior designer, but I have tried to incorporate God’s influence in our home décor. Things like crosses, printed scriptures, and Christian holiday decorations can be little reminders that you see all through the day as you are taking care of your home and family. You can even create wall hangings with memory verses by using Silhouette machines or printers. Take your children outside and explore your yard. Discuss God’s creation with them. Make it a family event to introduce symbols that will remind you of the Gospel of Jesus all year round. Bring creation inside through cut flowers, bird nests, stones, and other treasures God has created for us to enjoy. I prefer fresh over silk, but you depending on where you live you may need to get a little more creative. Here are some great resources for decorating: True Woman: 201 Interior Design 10 Elements of Biblical Womanhood, Wrought Iron Cross.
10. Clean and refresh. If you are going to bring creation inside, you may want to get rid of the dirt and clutter. Nothing dampens my spirit more than to wake up and start my morning a messy home. When our homes are dirty, they collect bacteria and dust that can cause all kinds of illnesses. Many people say, “a little dirt never hurt anybody”. A “little dirt” probably didn’t, but do you realize what we track in on our shoes? Our children play outside all day where all sorts of creatures have been, and then they come inside with those germs on their shoes. Then we allow them to eat that bacteria-laden sucker off of the floor. When they are sick we wonder how on earth it happened. It is difficult to find peace when germs are spreading from person to person. It hurts this mommy’s heart to see her family suffering with an illness that could have been prevented or at least quarantined simply by wiping down the counters or mopping the floors. I also believe in the grand scheme of things God would rather I spent more time nurturing the spirits of my children over their bodies. He doesn’t want me to obsess over germs to the point that I don’t care for their souls. However, there is a good balance that you’ll find if you seek His direction. Making Room for Jesus: Getting Rid of Mental, Emotional, Spiritual and Emotional Clutter, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul.
It takes time and effort to build a sanctuary. These days it seems we are running low on both. I’m so thankful I don’t have to live my life confined by the limits of time and energy. With God’s help and our faithful determination, we can have a sanctuary and Our Lord will dwell among us.