advent, God's word, Hymns, spiritual growth

Prepare Him Room?

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Let every heart prepare Him room…

 

There was no room at the inn.

There was no room at the inn for the Creator of all universes to be born into the world.

There was no room at the inn for the Sustainer of life to break into our darkness in order to rescue us from ourselves.

There was no room at the inn for the King of Kings that had been promised and YEARNED and GROANED for since the garden.

 

I am going to guess that we could find ourselves on both ends of this story in this season.

THE INNKEEPER

Stretched to capacity, no margin to contemplate preparation for one more thing, we are the innkeeper shutting down our hearts.  “Nope—no room, go away—maybe another day,” we say.  Actually, we might be to the point that we just stick the sign on the door so we don’t even have to interact.

Our hearts, laden with sadness, with crushed expectations, with unrealistic expectations, with the weight of lost hope, shut down to perform our duties to “produce” a holiday for those around us.  In essence, we say “there’s no room for me to unpack what I am really feeling, what is really going on—no one wants to hear that in this season.”

We let the flood of information and the flood of our heavy schedules drown the needs of our hearts and truthfully…the hearts of those around us.   We may even have the best of intentions to “prepare room for Him” in our hearts, and then, the flood wipes away our resolve.

THE DESPERATE COUPLE

Or, we could be quite aware of the urgency of our need.  We could be knocking, looking, asking all while “no vacancy” signs are thrown up in our faces from those in whom we are seeking to find some room to process or get a need met.  It’s a helpless feeling to be falling apart and not know where to turn.  So, we find ourselves in a cave (the stable)—a forgotten place.  It’s not sterile, it’s cold and uncomfortable and it echoes with the pain of our need.

It’s the place Jesus was given to be born—not in fanfare or the perfect setting (by human standards).   The One who had come to save His people from their sins was not esteemed by mankind to have the royal treatment.  He was a man of sorrows—well acquainted with grief.   He, who condescended from Heaven and from beautiful community with the Father and the Spirit, actually felt what we feel in our bodies, in our emotions, in our longings.  He knew perfection—He created it.  Yet, He had to live in the muck of the consequences of the sins of the world physically and relationally.  What does it even tell us that to rescue us from this darkness that He would have to die under the weight of that darkness of humanity—undeserved and cast aside with the weight of all wrath upon Him for our darkness?  It tells us…the He is amazing, beautiful, worthy of all honor and glory.  It tells us that if there is One we can find room in, it is Him.

 

Wherever you find yourself today…it is not too late to prepare Him room.  It will be a messy room filled with piles in the corners.  Piles of shoulds, need tos, what do I do with thats and boxed up pain are there.  The thing about preparing Him room—it doesn’t mean that you clean out all the junk to be presentable.  He is the One who shines Light into our darkness so we can even understand what is really there.  He is the One who has already faced the punishment and consequences of the hidden and not so hidden things in the closet of your room.  He simply says—invite Me in, trust Me.  He says turn from your ways of being that have denied Me room and walk with Me every step of the way and experience My Joy and Beauty.

The irony is that our rooms have more in common with the cave than we can see.  We dress them up, but the same reality is there—deep need and deep loneliness.  Whether you find yourself filled up in the Inn or wandering to find your cave, reach to Him in the midst.  May the words of “Joy to the World” be your anthem this Christmas.

 

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

Let (your name) receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing.

 

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

 

He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.

advent, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, grace, healing, Hymns, sin, the gospel, transformation by truth, Uncategorized

When blind hearts see

I hate that thing in us, in me, that thinks we know better than God.  The voice that says, “yeah, but I see another angle.”  “Just this one time I have it figured out.”  “I deserve better.” It gets us in a whole heap of trouble.

That trouble becomes the state of our heart health and our sight and our hearing.  We become blind to what reality is–we even begin seeing illusions.  We hear what we want to hear instead of actually what is said.  We become hardened to things that matter and strive to fulfill senseless passions.  We destroy ourselves and the people around us in one blow and sometimes with little blows that wrecks relationships over time.

I hate it–hate it.  Yet, why do I fall into it more often than not.  It’s subtle, but the final blows are catastrophic.  Marriages wrecked, children disillusioned and neglected, relationships destroyed, hearts jailed in bitterness.  Three little letters–SIN.  A billion consequences–for ourselves and those around us and our offspring.  Did I say I hate it?  I obviously do not hate it enough not to die more to it daily and be on guard against the enemy that is out to steal, kill and destroy me and those around me.

This morning, I remember a phrase from scripture…”Those who are walking in darkness have seen a great light.”  “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

This sin thing is not new–it’s been around since close to the beginning.  But, so has a promise of rescue–rescue from ourselves and our own brand of “wisdom.”

This rescue comes in the most unlikely way–the God of everything condescending to us in the form of a baby–humble, helpless, feeling the arrows of the collective sin of the world.  Born in filth, cold, no fanfare.  Growing, serving, perplexing those who seem to have it down pat.  Turning conventional wisdom upside down to introduce real wisdom, real life, real hope.  Taking the blows in a horrible death meant for me, for you, for those who hated him.  Making a way to enter our hearts in relationship that was an impossibility on our part. Holding the promise of real joy and life and peace out to us saying “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  Asking us to trust Him in faith that we might turn from our sin, our way and put our faith in His work on our behalf.

“O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today

O Come to us, Abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!”

What a privilege to know Jesus–our Hope, God with Us.  My prayer is that I, you, we pray to be made new–to place our faith in the One who gives abundant life, who pardons our sin, who gives us the strength to follow Him in this dark world.  Who, in the midst of the messes we make (in ourselves, our families, our friendships), asks us to trust Him and His ways–to follow His wisdom, to be quick to be truthful about our “junk” and to love with His love.  It is not too late…

advent, discipleship, eternal things, idols, self-absorption, sin, spiritual growth, suffering in joy, transformation by truth, trusting God

swirling thoughts

My prayer for today–also the words to a song:

‘Spirit, now living and dwelling within me, keep my eyes fixed ever on Jesus face.

Let not the things of this world ever sway me.

I’ll run ’til I finish the race…’

      These words encapsulate a theme swirling through my head and heart.  The questions at the forefront of my mind:  How can I continue to grow so much in selfishness?   How do I behold Christ and worship the Father with heart, soul, mind and strength through every thought, word, action, purchase, and decision when my culture and my adulterous heart subtly lull me to be enticed by worthless idols?   I am so easily pacified by worthless things.  Comfort becomes the end to which I strive–financial comfort, marital comfort, physical comfort, ministerial comfort.  This morning as I prayed, I confessed that so many times I use God as a rabbit’s foot…”hey, could you do this just enough so I can feel good and be comfortable and then go away?”  How I prostitute my heart to lesser glories–not lasting and certainly not knowing the greatest treasure of all–intimacy with Christ.  

     Yesterday we sang a song that I have sung seemingly a billion times.  One phrase haunted me ‘all of you is more than enough for EVERY thirst and EVERY need–you SATISFY me with your love.’  There have been times in my life where I have been satisfied by nothing else but His love–nothing else.  As I sang, I was convicted that I was relying on lesser things.  I longed for the times of intensity where I had to rely totally on Him (I was also scared half to death longing for those times because they were circumstantially exhausting).   Waning consumer satisfaction is what I am used to–eat this to feel good, attempt this goal to feel good, buy this for yourself or someone else to nurse the ache in your heart, change a room around to feel better about the void in your heart, look good on the outside to forget about the inside.  (The list is practically endless.)  The sick thing is that this is the easy out that people give.  Have you ever heard:  this has been a hard week, you deserve to relax…why don’t you…go out to eat, go buy something for yourself, go do something for yourself, have a few drinks, etc?   When I am meeting with someone in a disciple-making relationship, the temptation is to dole out that advice because it is easy–especially when I want to be liked for my own comfort.  However, that advice is so deadly–it is a lie, counterfeit joy.  The greatest satisfaction comes from knowing God and going to the depths with him.  The greatest satisfaction is to share our hearts in surrender getting past the surface of ourselves and knowing the absolute beauty of why we were created–to behold his glory.  I know that sounds trite or less than interesting to the heart when we are thinking about us, but going there with him is a deep gutteral lasting satisfaction.  He created us and everything in the world–does the creator not know what satisfies our hearts?  This takes commitment and perseverance  to continually lay down ourselves and trust in him.

     As God was working in me yesterday and today to bring me to this conviction, yet again, I picked up a book that my friend, Laura, gave to me a couple of months ago.  The book is called Five Who Changed the World by Daniel Akin.  It is a collection of five sermons about the lives of five foreign missionaries.  Tears came to my eyes and my heart was turned and awakened to greater treasures than the temporal things that tempt me.  So many times we are presented with theories of what we should be and live and do in Christ, but these were fresh, true biographical stories of giving up the temporal for the eternal treasure of Christ.  John Piper and others have also written biographies of the lives of those who lived fully in Christ.  Oh, how much you and I need to be reminded of what it means to live lives of abandon to Him.

    Now, secretly, I think every girl has this fear in her heart of being called to be single and serve as a missionary in China or some tribal land forgotten by God, but I was reminded of what was the heart of the issue in reading this book last night and this morning.  Each of these people were no more righteous or sacrificial than you or I in nature.  The theme of their lives seemed to be that they longed to know and treasure Christ more than anything.  The more they saw God for who He is, the more they longed more for Him.  The sacrifice that to you or I seems incomprehensible was not because it was about Him and not them.  They were each aware of their sin and aware of his holiness.  They also were aware of the state of the human soul apart from God.  They loved people because they realized His love for them.  Their main thrust or worship was of Him and not their husband or wife or family (and, yes, some had these).  The loss and the lack of human comfort in their lives was a stark contrast to our American culturized Christianity.  Whether serving in the 1800’s or 1900’s, these missionaries pointed out the counterfeit that each American was living when getting lulled to sleep in their comfort.  The prayers of Jim Elliot to know Christ–wow.

     In the land of plenty–yes, even in recession, do you know what I see?  A wasteland of spiritual poverty where we prostitute ourselves to so much lesser, temporal desires than living in abandon to know the One who brings us ALL we ever need–a deep soul quenching satisfaction from knowing Him and making Him known.  I am studying Hosea with Laura, and it is ripe with the imagery of adultery, prostitution and whoring, as the ESV states it, of the hearts of the people to false gods and idols.  They were completely about themselves, and yet, God was faithful.  He was warning of his discipline and he brought it.  The fruition of their prostitution was brought to them–yet he was also faithful to bring Christ–the end in which all hope rests.  Why are we playing the whore today when we have so much more than the people of Israel did–the fruition of Christ and his work on the cross?  In this season of celebrating THE HOPE of Christ’s birth, may you and I examine our hearts and repent and cling to His glorious purpose–our glorious hope.