This Advent hymn by Emily S. Elliott is one of my favorites.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.2 Corinthians 8:9 (NASB)
Jesus experienced much rejection in His life.
Jesus said to him, “the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”Matthew 8:20 (NASB)
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.Isaiah 53:3
Bethlehem really is a picture of our hearts. Will we make room for Him? Not only to be born in us through salvation, but to live His life in and through us day by day? We talked about Emmanuel earlier in our Advent series, that God has always wanted to dwell with His people. Jesus made this possible through His death and resurrection and sending His Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts through faith. The word “dwell” in Ephesians 3:17 literally means that “Christ may settle down and be at home in our hearts by faith.”
There is a great little booklet called “My Heart, Christ’s Home” by Robert Boyd Munger (you can read it here). It’s about a new Christian who invites Jesus into his heart but starts to feel uncomfortable when the Lord wants to go into non-public rooms such as the closet, the basement, the attic. You get the idea! Whenever you have a guest over for dinner, you don’t necessarily want them rummaging through your junk drawer! But the longer Jesus took up residence in his heart, the man realized that Jesus was not there as a guest. He had come as the new owner and wanted to renovate and transform the whole house.
I was recently listening to a sermon by Roy Hession about the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. Laodicea was outwardly rich and had need of nothing. However, Jesus knew the true condition of their hearts. They were unaware that they were in a state of spiritual poverty. They were believers who had put Self on the throne of their hearts. Jesus called them lukewarm, and Roy defined them as “casual Christians.” I love what he said about Revelation 3:20.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.Revelation 3:20 KJV
“This is a verse which has been much used, and not inappropriately, for evangelistic purposes. It’s rightly and properly used in that way. But its first use is not to those who are at the point of deciding for Christ, but it is used here with regard to a church in need of revival. Notice, this church is apparently a church from which Jesus had been excluded. His name may be on the outside of the church, but when it comes to practical affairs, He is excluded. Jesus is seeking readmission to this church” (Roy Hession).
The church of today is often referred to as the Laodicean Church.
Jesus says, “if any man hears My voice.” Roy comments, “He’s not sure that He’s going to be heard by the whole church, but He says there is a possibility of one man hearing. Revival begins with one man. Maybe there’s only one who does hear, sees their need, and allows Jesus to come back again to His rightful place (on the throne of their heart) . Revival will come to that man.”
Whenever Self is on the throne of our hearts, Jesus has become irrelevant to us. Over time, we become lukewarm just like the church at Laodicea. We can never lose our salvation, but our fellowship with Jesus gets broken. You might look like a great Christian on the outside, but Jesus knows your heart condition. If you are His child, you will know when Self is on the throne because the conviction of God’s Spirit within you will be knocking. “Open the door to the One in whom all fullness dwells!” Exchange your inability for His ability! He is drawn to your weakness and specializes in it because He has all power.
Prayer is simply “opening the door for Jesus to enter your acknowledged weaknesses and helplessness” (Professor O Hallesby/Norway). Revival comes from Jesus being Readmitted to the throne room of your heart.
1. Read 2 Corinthians 6:16. What does God say about His dwelling?
2. Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. How do these verses help you have confidence in coming to God with your weaknesses?
3. What does Colossians 3:16 say needs to dwell in us richly?
4. Are there rooms in your heart where you have excluded Christ? He is graciously knocking. Pray and ask Him to make you aware of any areas where you have let Self get on the throne of your heart.
5. What does 1 John 1:9 promise us when we are aware of sin and honestly confess our sins to God?
Click here to listen to an a cappella choral version on YouTube.