"yowie" <***@tgips.cam> wrote in message news:***@tetypiv.cgs...
. My True Heart
. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NASB)
14 For this reason I ?a?bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom ?1?every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
16 that He would grant you, according to ?a?the riches of His glory,
to be ?b?strengthened with power through His Spirit in ?c?the inner man,
17 so that ?a?Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that
you, being ?b?rooted and ?c?grounded in love,
18 may be able to comprehend with ?a?all the ?1?saints what is ?b?the
breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know ?a?the love of Christ which ?b?surpasses knowledge,
that you may be ?c?filled up to all the ?d?fullness of God.
20 ?a?Now to Him who is ?b?able to do far more abundantly beyond all
that we ask or think, ?c?according to the power that works within us,
21 ?a?to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all
generations ?1?forever and ever. Amen.
3:14 Now the apostle picks up the thought he had begun in verse 1 and had
interrupted with a parenthetical section on the mystery. Therefore, the
words, For this reason, refer back to chapter 2 with its description of
what the Gentiles had been by nature and what they had become through
union with Christ. Their astonishing rise from poverty and death to riches
and glory drives Paul to pray they will always live in the practical
enjoyment of their exalted position.
His posture in prayer is indicated: I bow my knees. This does not mean
kneeling must always be the posture of the body, though it should always
be the posture of the soul. We may pray as we walk, sit, or recline, but
our spirits should be bowed in humility and reverence.
The prayer is addressed to the Father. In a general sense, God is the
Father of all mankind, meaning He is their Creator (Acts 17:28, 29). In a
more restricted sense, He is the Father of all believers, meaning He has
begotten them into His spiritual family (Gal. 4:6). In a unique sense He
is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, meaning They are equal (John
3:15 The particular role of the Father which Paul has in view is as the
One from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. This may
1. All the redeemed in heaven and on earth look to Him as Head of the
2. All created beings, angelic and human, owe their existence to Him not
only as individuals but as families as well. Families in heaven include
the various grades of angelic creatures. Families on earth are the
different races springing from Noah and now divided into various nations.
3. All fatherhood in the universe derives its name from Him. The
Fatherhood of God is the original and the ideal; it is the prototype of
every other paternal relationship. Phillips translates the verse, "from
whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name."
3:16 We cannot help but be struck by the vastness of Paul's request: That
He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory. He is going to
ask that the saints might be spiritually strengthened. But to what extent?
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown answer: "in abundance, consonant to the
riches of His glory; not 'according to' the narrowness of our hearts."? 20
Preachers often point out that there is a difference between the
expressions "out of the riches" and according to the riches. A wealthy
person might give a trifling amount; it would be out of his riches, but
not in proportion to them! Paul asks that God will give strength according
to the riches of His perfections. Since the Lord is infinitely rich in
glory, let the saints get ready for a deluge! Why should we ask so little
of so great a King? When someone asked a tremendous favor of Napoleon it
was immediately granted because, said Napoleon, "He honored me by the
magnitude of his request."
. - Thou art coming to a King,
. - Large petitions with thee bring;
. - For His grace and power are such,
. - None can ever ask too much.
. -John Newton
Now we come to Paul's specific prayer requests. Instead of a series of
disconnected petitions, we should think of them as a progression in which
each petition lays the groundwork for the next. Picture them as a pyramid:
the first request is the bottom layer of stones. As the prayer advances,
Paul builds toward a glorious climax.
The first request is that they would be strengthened with might through
His Spirit in the inner man. The blessing sought is spiritual power. Not
the power to perform spectacular miracles, but the spiritual vigor needed
to be mature, stable, intelligent Christians. The One who imparts this
power is the Holy Spirit. Of course, He can give us strength only as we
feed on the word of God, as we breathe the pure air of prayer, and as we
get exercise in daily service for the Lord.
This power is experienced in the inner man, that is, the spiritual part of
our nature. It is the inner man that delights in the law of God (Rom.
7:22). It is the inner man that is renewed day by day, even though the
outward man is perishing (2 Cor. 4:16). Though it is of God, our inner man
needs strength, growth, and development.
3:17 The second step is that Christ may dwell in your hearts through
faith. This is the result of the Spirit's invigoration: we are
strengthened in order that Christ may dwell in our hearts. Actually, the
Lord Jesus takes up His personal residence in a believer at the time of
conversion (John 14:23; Rev. 3:20). But that is not the subject of this
prayer. Here it is not a question of His being in the believer, but rather
of His feeling at home there! He is a permanent Resident in every saved
person, but this is a request that He might have full access to every room
and closet; that He might not be grieved by sinful words, thoughts,
motives, and deeds; that He might enjoy unbroken fellowship with the
believer. The Christian heart thus becomes the home of Christ, the place
where He loves to be-like the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Be
thany. The heart, of course, means the center of the spiritual life; it
controls every aspect of behavior. In effect, the apostle prays that the
lordship of Christ might extend to the books we read, the work we do, the
food we eat, the money we spend, the words we speak-in short, the minutest
details of our lives.
The more we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the more we will be like
the Lord Jesus Himself. And the more we are like Him, the more He will
"settle down and feel completely at home in our hearts" (KSW).
We enter into the enjoyment of His indwelling through faith. This involves
constant dependence on Him, constant surrender to Him, and constant
recognition of His "at home-ness." It is through faith that we "practice
His presence," as Brother Lawrence quaintly put it.
Up to this point Paul's prayer has involved each member of the Trinity.
The Father is asked (v. 14) to strengthen the believers through His Spirit
(v. 16) that Christ might be completely at home in their hearts (v. 17).
One of the great privileges of prayer is that we can engage the eternal
Godhead to work in behalf of others and ourselves.
The result of Christ's unrestricted access is that the Christian becomes
rooted and grounded in love. Here Paul borrows words from the worlds of
botany and building. The root of a plant provides nourishment and support.
The groundwork of a building is the foundation on which it rests. As
Scroggie says, "Love is the soil in which our life must have its roots;
and it is the rock upon which our faith must ever rest."? 21 To be rooted
and grounded in love is to be established in love as a way of life. The
life of love is a life of kindness, selflessness, brokenness, and
meekness. It is the life of Christ finding expression in the believer (see
1 Cor. 13:4-7).
3:18 The preceding requests have outlined a program of spiritual growth
and development which prepares the child of God to be fully able to grasp
with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height.
Before we consider the dimensions themselves, let us notice the
expression, with all the saints. The subject is so great that no one
believer can possibly grasp more than a small fraction of it. So there is
need to study, discuss, and share with others. The Holy Spirit can use the
combined meditations of a group of exercised believers to throw a flood of
additional light on the Scriptures.
The dimensions are generally taken to refer to the love of Christ,
although the text does not say this. In fact, the love of Christ is
mentioned separately in the following clause. If the love of Christ is
intended, then the connection might be shown as follows:
Width -The world (John 3:16)
Length -Forever (1 Cor. 13:8)
Depth -Even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8)
Height -Heaven (1 John 3:1-2)
. F. B. Meyer expresses it well:
There will always be as much horizon before us as behind us. And when we
have been gazing on the face of Jesus for millenniums, its beauty will be
as fresh and fascinating and fathomless as when we first saw it from the
gate of Paradise.? 22
But these dimensions may also refer to the mystery which holds such an
important place in Ephesians. In fact, it is easy to find these dimensions
in the text itself:
1. The width is described in 2:11-18. It refers to the wideness of God's
grace in saving Jews and Gentiles, and then incorporating them into the
church. The mystery embraces both these segments of humanity.
2. The length extends from eternity to eternity. As to the past, believers
were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (1:4). As to the
future, eternity will be a perpetual unfolding of the exceeding riches of
His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (2:7).
3. The depth is vividly portrayed in 2:1-3. We were sunk in a pit of
unspeakable sin and degradation. Christ came to this jungle of filth and
corruption in order to die in our behalf.
4. The height is seen in 2:6, where we have not only been raised up with
Christ, but enthroned in Him in the heavenlies to share His glory. These
are the dimensions, then, of immensity and, indeed, infinity. As we think
of them, "all we can do," Scroggie says, "is to mark the order in this
tumult of holy words."
3:19 The apostle's next request is that the saints might knowby experi
ence the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. They could never explore it
fully, because it is an ocean without shores, but they could learn more
and more about it from day to day. And so he prays for a deep,
experimental knowledge and enjoyment of the wonderful love of our
The climax in this magnificent prayer is reached when Paul prays that you
may be filled with (?lit.? unto, ?Gk.? eis) all the fullness of God. All
the fullness of the Godhead dwells in the Lord Jesus (Col. 2:9). The more
He dwells in our hearts by faith, the more we are filled unto all the
fullness of God. We could never be filled with all the fullness of God.
But it is a goal toward which we move.
And yet having explained this, we must say there are depths of meaning
here we have not reached. As we handle the Scriptures, we are aware that
we are dealing with truths that are greater than our ability to understand
or explain. We can use illustrations to throw light on this verse, for
example, the thimble dipped in the ocean is filled with water, but how
little of the ocean is in the thimble! Yet when we have said all this, the
mystery remains, and we can only stand in awe at God's word and marvel at
H. Paul's Doxology (3:20, 21)
3:20 The prayer closes with a soul-inspiring doxology. The preceding
requests have been vast, bold, and seemingly impossible. But God is able
to do more in this connection than we can ask or think. The extent of His
ability is seen in the manner in which Paul pyramids words to describe
Able to do
Able to do what we ask
Able to do what we think
Able to do what we ask or think
Able to do all that we ask or think
Able to do above all that we ask or think
Able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think
Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think
The means by which God answers prayer is given in the expression,
according to the power that works in us. This refers to the Holy Spirit,
who is constantly at work in our lives, seeking to produce the fruit of a
Christlike character, rebuking us because of sin, guiding us in prayer,
inspiring us in worship, directing us in service. The more we are yielded
to Him, the greater will be His effectiveness in conforming us to Christ.
3:21 To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever. Amen. God is the worthy object of eternal praise. His
wisdom and power are displayed in the angelic hosts; in sun, moon, and
stars; in animals, birds, and fish; in fire, hail, snow, and mist; in
wind; in mountains, hills, trees; in kings and people, old men and young;
in Israel and the nations. All these are intended to praise the name of
the Lord (Ps. 148).
But there is another group from which endless glory will be given to God,
that is, the church-Christ the Head and believers, the Body. This redeemed
community will be an eternal witness to His matchless, marvelous grace.
The eternal glory of God as God and Father will be made visible throughout
all ages in the Church and in Christ Jesus. Amazing statement! Christ and
the Church as One Body will be the vehicle of that eternal demonstration.?
Even now the church should be giving glory to His name "in the services of
praise, in the pure lives of its members, in its world-wide proclamation
of the Gospel, and in its ministries to human distress and need" (Erdman).
The duration of this praise is to all generations, forever and ever. As we
hear Paul call for eternal praise to God in the church and in Christ
Jesus, the response of our hearts is a hearty Amen!
What was the cause? It was because of his deep interest in these
Ephesians. He wanted them to enter into the great truth of this
dispensation, this new economy in which we live, and to experience all the
riches of His grace in Christ Jesus. That was the background. That is why
he inserted the parenthesis between verses 1 and 14.
We have already called attention to the fact that Paul was a man of
prayer. This is the second great prayer of Paul in this epistle. As he
viewed the church as the poem of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the
mystery of the ages, he went to God in prayer that these great truths
might become realities in the lives of believers.
In this verse we have another characteristic of the prayers of Paul. It
reveals his posture in prayer. I do not want to be splitting hairs, but
here it is: "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." I
don't insist that we all get down on our knees in our public prayer
meetings today. However, I rather wish that we did.
During my first pastorate in Nashville, Tennessee, I conducted a meeting
in Stone's River Church near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It was one of the
best meetings I have ever had. It was a little country church, and when I
began, I said, "Let's bow our heads in prayer." I shut my eyes and heard a
rumbling. It sounded as if everyone was walking out; so I ventured a look.
I didn't see a soul and thought they had really walked out on me. Since I
was praying to the Lord, I just continued to pray. When I said, "Amen," I
opened my eyes and these people came up between those pews just like corn
coming up out of the ground! They had all been down on their knees. We had
a wonderful meeting. Now don't misunderstand me-I'm not saying we had a
great meeting just because they were down on their knees, but I do want to
say that I think it helped a great deal.
In the formality and ritual of our new churches with plush seats and
carpeted floors we are missing something in our relationship to the Lord.
My feeling is that there ought to be more easy familiarity with each other
in our churches but more worship and reverence for God, especially at the
time of prayer.
As creatures we ought to assume our proper place before our Creator and go
down on all fours before Him. Paul prayed that way and I have always felt
that was the proper posture. I must confess that since I have arthritis I
don't do it like I used to when I would get down right on my face in my
study and pray there. It is amazing how such a posture helps a person to
pray. I think it is something that is good for man. I don't insist on
this; I merely call your attention to it. This is the way Paul did it, and
I think he is a very good example for us today. Aren't we told that our
Lord went into the Garden of Gethsemane and fell on His face? I think it
would be proper for us if we would get down on our faces before God.
There is another point which I think is rather important to note. We have
here that Paul prayed to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ. You will also notice that back in chapter 1, verse 17, he prayed
to the "God of our Lord Jesus Christ." We find that this was his formula,
and I think it is a rather tight formula to address all prayers to God the
Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Someone may say, "Aren't you
splitting hairs?" Listen to the Lord Jesus: "And in that day ye shall ask
me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the
Father in my name, he will give it you" (John 16:23, italics mine).
The disciples had been with our Lord for three years. I think they were
like a group of children in many ways. I think it was, "Gimme, gimme" a
great deal of the time. Then our Lord told them that He would be leaving
them. After that they would not ask Jesus for anything. They were to
direct their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. What does Jesus
mean by that? He means simply that if you and I were to pray to the Lord
Jesus directly, we would rob ourselves of an intercessor. Jesus Christ is
our great Intercessor. To pray in Jesus' name means we go to God the
Father with a prayer that the Lord Jesus Himself can lift to the Father
for you and me.
We need to be very careful in our prayer life. Now that I am retired, I
notice things I never noticed before. I was in a service not long ago in
which they called on a visiting brother to pray for the meetings at this
conference. The conference had gotten off to a marvelous start. The music
had been excellent, the pastor had presided well, then they called on this
brother to pray. He prayed for a great many things, and I counted three
times that he prayed for me. When he prayed for me the second time, my
reaction was, Well, you don't need to tell the Lord that again! Then when
he said it the third time, I thought, He will turn the Lord off-He'll get
tired of hearing that repetitious prayer. Perhaps after this brother had
looked me over he decided I really needed praying for three times!
Nevertheless, it was vain repetition as the heathen use. The Lord heard
him the first time. We need to be very careful in our prayer life.
Have you noticed that Paul's prayers are brief? Both prayers here in
Ephesians and his prayer in Philippians are brief. In fact, all the
prayers of Scripture are quite brief. The Lord Jesus said that we are not
to use vain repetition as the heathen do-they think they will be heard for
their much speaking. Moses' great prayer for Israel is recorded in only
three verses. Elijah, on top of Mount Carmel as he stood alone for God
against the prophets of Baal, prayed a great prayer which is only one
verse long. Nehemiah's great prayer is recorded in only seven verses. The
prayer of our Lord in John 17 takes only three minutes to read. But the
briefest prayer is that of Simon Peter, ". Lord, save me" (Matt. 14:30).
He cried out this prayer when he was beginning to sink beneath the waves
of the Sea of Galilee. Some people think that was not a prayer because it
was so short. My friend, that was a prayer, and it was answered
immediately. If Simon Peter had prayed like some of us preachers pray on
Sunday morning, "Lord, Thou who art the omnipotent, the omniscient, the
omnipresent One .," he would have been twenty feet under water before he
got to his request. I tell you, he got down to business. Prayer should be
brief and to the point.
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named [Eph. 3:15].
God has a wonderful family. A great many folk think that it is only me and
mine-we four and no more. But it's a little wider than that. Some folk
feel that their little clique in the church is the only group the Lord is
listening to. Some people think their local church constitutes the saints.
Then there are others who think their denomination is the whole family of
God. Then there are some who think it is just the church-that is, those
saved from the Day of Pentecost to the Rapture. My friend, God saved
people long before the church came into existence, and He is going to be
saving people after the church leaves. Also God has other members of His
family. The angels belong to His family. He has created intelligences
which the apostle John saw and said cannot be numbered. All of those are
the family of God.
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be
strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and
grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length,
and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be
filled with all the fulness of God [Eph. 3:16-19].
Notice again that he prays according to the riches of His glory, not out
of the riches of His glory. If He would take it out of His riches, He
would be like Mr. Rockefeller who used to give his caddy a dime.
There are four definite petitions here which Paul makes on behalf of the
1. The petition is that the believers might "be strengthened with might
[power] by his Spirit in the inner man." The spiritual nature of the
believer needs prayer as well as does the physical. How often the
spiritual is neglected while all the attention is given to the physical
side. Paul prays for the inner man because he realizes that the outward
man is passing away. Power is needed to live the Christian life, to grow
in grace, and to develop into full maturity-which is the work of the Holy
We tend to pray a great deal for the outward man. It is a marvelous way to
pray, praying for the physical needs of folk. Paul did, and he prayed for
himself. Three times he asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh. It is
wonderful to know that God does hear and does answer prayer, but we need
to remember that the spiritual nature of the believer needs prayer as well
as the physical. Only the Holy Spirit can supply power, living, and growth
for the full maturity of the believer.
2. In the second petition Paul prays that "Christ may dwell in your hearts
by faith." This is to think the Lord's thoughts after Him. "Ye in me and I
in you." Paul could exclaim, ". Christ liveth in me ." (Gal. 2:20). In
Christ is the high word of this epistle. The wonderful counterpart of it
is that Christ is in us. In Christ-that is our position. Christ in us-that
is our possession. That is the practical side of it. "Examine yourselves,
whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own
selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor.
Christ has not come as a temporary visitor. He has come as a permanent
tenant by means of the Spirit to live in our lives. "I am the vine, ye are
the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth
much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
3. The third petition is a request that the believers may know the
dimensions of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. He prays that they
may be "rooted and grounded in love." "Rooted" refers to botany, to life.
"Grounded" refers to architecture, to stability. This is for all the
Paul wants them to "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." The
vast expanse of the love of Christ is the love of God Himself. From this
launching pad we can begin to measure that which is immeasurable and to
know that which passes knowledge. This is one of the many paradoxes of the
The breadth. The arms of Christ reach around the world. "I am the door: by
me if any man enter in, he shall be saved ." (John 10:9). ". him that
cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).
The length. The length of it begins with the Lamb slain before the
foundation of the world and proceeds unto the endless ages of eternity.
The depth. The depth goes all the way to Christ's death on the cross. "And
being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8).
The height. The height reaches to the throne of God. "Who, being in the
form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Phil. 2:6).
Only the Holy Spirit can lead a believer into this vast experience of the
love of Christ. Since it is infinite, it is beyond human comprehension.
4. The fourth petition is a final outburst of an all-consuming fervor that
believers "might be filled up to all the fulness of God." Christ was thus
filled. In proportion to our comprehension of the love of Christ, we shall
be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask
or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world
without end. Amen [Eph. 3:20-21].
This is both a doxology and a benediction which concludes the prayer of
Paul. It also concludes the first main division of this epistle. This is a
mighty outburst of spiritual praise, which any comment would only tarnish.
We are not able to so much as touch the hem of the garment of the
spiritual gifts that God is prepared to give to His own. How wonderful
this is! He wants to give to us super-abundantly. How good He is, and how
small we are. We cannot even contain all of His blessings.
. JESUS: AT HOME IN YOUR HEART
A Topical Study of
Confusion must have filled their hearts. Questions must have flooded their
minds, for hadn't Jesus said, "In My Father's house are many mansions. I
go to prepare a place for you" (see John 14:2)? Why, then, a few moments
later did He say, "If a man love Me, He will keep My words. My Father will
love him and We will come unto him and make our abode with him" (see John
"I'm going to prepare a place for you," Jesus said-"and yet I will come
and live in you." We see Paul the apostle using the same imagery in our
text when he says his prayer is that Christ will dwell in our hearts by
faith. The Greek word translated "dwell" is katoikeo. Oikeo means "to
dwell in a house." Kat means "down." Therefore, katoikeo means "down
The idea is that Jesus would be completely at home in our hearts.
"Behold, I stand at the door of your heart and knock," Jesus said. "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).
Holman Hunt's famous painting, depicting Jesus standing at the door of
what appears to be an English cottage, hangs in St. Paul's Cathedral in
"There's a problem with your painting, Mr. Hunt," a critic is reported to
have said upon first viewing his work. "There's no doorknob on the door."
"Ah," Mr. Hunt is said to have replied, "the door handle is only on the
inside, for it's up to the one within to respond to the knock of Jesus."
Jesus will not force His way into a heart. He won't barge in where He's
not welcome. He's a perfect gentleman who knocks and says, "If you'll
respond to Me, I'll come in and dine with you. But the choice is up to
Most of us have made that choice. We heard His knock and said, "Come in,
Lord. Come into the home of my heart." And He did.
The Living Room
The first room He saw in the home of my heart was the living room. "Nice
room," He said.
"Thanks, Lord. It's one of my favorite spots because it's relatively quiet
"I'll meet you here every morning of every day," He said. "Before the day
gets going, I'll meet you here in the early morning, and we'll talk about
what's ahead. When I walked in Israel, I needed instruction and help daily
from My Father. So morning by morning, the Father spoke into My ear,
giving me the tongue of the learned that I should know how to speak a word
in season to him that is weary (Isaiah 50:4). And now I'll do the same for
What followed was great. I would come into the living room, a fire would
be crackling in the fireplace, and Jesus would be there, ready to talk
with me and listen to me. It was a great way to start the day. As time
went on, however, things got busy, or so I thought. Rushing out the door
to a meeting, I caught a glimpse of Him, sitting. And I realized I hadn't
met with Him for a number of mornings. I stopped in my tracks and walked
sheepishly over to where He was sitting, thinking He would lecture me. But
He didn't. There was a smile on His face and a sparkle in His eye as He
said, "As I was saying." continuing the conversation we had shared the
last time we were together. And I understood then, truly, that there is no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). He just
continues to make Himself available morning by morning to help me speak
wisely and to navigate life successfully.
As the morning drew to a close, Jesus said, "What is that room over
"Oh, that's my study. Come on in." He followed me in, and I noticed He was
looking rather intently at the books on the shelves.
"Look, Lord," I said proudly, "I've got all the latest bestsellers:
Winning Through Intimidation, Watch Out for Number One, I'm OK You're OK,
Dressed for Success, and Awakening the Giant Within.
"Do these books work?" He asked.
"Not really," I answered. "That's why I keep collecting more."
"How about a book trade?" He asked.
"Sure, Lord. What do You have in mind?"
You give Me your books, and I'll give you sixty-six books bound in a
single volume-one that will make you unashamed as you study to show
yourself approved unto Me (2 Timothy 2:15), one that comes with an
incredible guarantee that if you meditate upon it day and night, you will
navigate life prosperously and successfully" (Joshua 1:8).
He took my books. I took His. And suddenly my study was filled with a Book
that would intrigue me for the rest of my life.
The Family Room
"What's that I hear down the hall?" Jesus asked.
"That's my family room," I said, opening the door. My kids stopped their
playing and rushed toward Him.
"Back off, you guys," I said, laughing.
"I think I've heard that before," He said, "when some other disciples
tried to keep their kids away from Me (see Matthew 19:13). Allow them to
So they tackled Him, and He wrestled with my kids on the floor. They had
the time of their lives. Then He calmed them down a bit and began telling
them stories. I could see my oldest son nod his head in agreement, and a
smile on the face of my youngest daughter. Suddenly, a peace enveloped the
room that was usually so rambunctious, so disorderly, so chaotic.
"This is amazing, Lord," I said. "You've altered this room radically."
"That's why I asked you, as head of the house, to let me into the family
room," He said. "I'll alter your kids, your marriage, your home, if you
will build a family altar to Me. You see, more than any other group of
people-more than your congregation or your elders or your friends-your
wife and your kids are your primary disciples. So bring your family
together, and learn of Me. There's nothing more important you can do."
The Recreation Room
Hearing a knock on the door, I opened it to find my buddies. We walked
down the hall into the recreation room. "Lord, You wouldn't like it in
here," I said. "This group is real rowdy. So I'll meet you in the living
room in an hour or so."
The boys and I grabbed our pool cues, turned on the radio, and began doing
what we did every Tuesday. But this time, it didn't work. The jokes just
weren't as funny, and the conversation suddenly seemed shallow and empty.
Even the lyrics of the music bothered me. After half an hour or so, I
heard a knock on the door. It was Jesus.
He began to talk with my buddies, and I was absolutely amazed because they
all loved Him. Oh, a couple of guys got upset and stormed out. But I
learned later they weren't my friends after all. They just wanted to use
my pool table.
I learned that Jesus is the Life of the party in the truest sense of the
word. I also learned that I'm free to do anything as long as I have Him
with me because He changes the atmosphere. Now, if I go into a party and
the party changes me, then I must leave. But if the party changes and
people start thinking about Jesus as a result of my being there, I am
free. And I discovered that Jesus Christ had spoiled me-for I had too much
of Him to enjoy the old spots. So I've learned to bring the Lord with me
to all of my recreational pursuits, and to watch how He infuses them with
The Dining Room
After working up quite an appetite, I said, "Lord, let's go get something
to eat." We went into the dining room and sat down to my usual meal.
"This is what you eat?" the Lord asked.
"Every day," I answered.
"Really? This is the way you satisfy your appetite?" He asked
incredulously as He looked at the large glob of cotton candy on my plate.
"This is the way I try to satisfy my cravings," I said. "I must admit,
however, that although it looks good, when I take a bite, there's just
nothing there. That's why I follow it with a hot fudge sundae. I eat the
ice cream and the hot fudge and the whipped cream, and there's something
there, all right-but every time I'm done, I feel sick. So I decide never
to have another one. Then about five hours later, I think another hot
fudge sundae would taste pretty good, so I dish one up again. But although
I feel full-I never feel satisfied.
After hearing this, He went into the kitchen and came back a few minutes
later with a most interesting meal for me: a little cup full of juice and
a little piece of unleavened bread. "This is My body, eat of Me. This is
my blood. Drink deeply," He said.
Something happened at my table that evening. It became the Lord's table.
And it became incredibly satisfying to commune with Jesus. Feeling
satisfied in a way I never had before, I suddenly understood what He meant
when He said, "Whoever drinks of the water I shall give shall never thirst
again" (see John 4:14).
Brother or sister-if you're thirsting today, it's because you've gone back
to the old watering holes. If you're feeling empty and troubled, it's
because you've gone back to the old ways. Whoever drinks of the water of
the world will thirst over and over again, for it will never be enough.
But whoever drinks of the water Jesus gives, will be satiated at last.
"What's behind that door?" the Lord asked.
"That's my workshop. I don't go out there much anymore," I said, opening
the door, to find some unfinished wooden planes and cars on the worktable.
"I've lost interest in these things," I said, "Besides, I'm not that good
"I'm a Master Carpenter," He said. "I can give you some help on these
projects." So He gave me some advice on putting them together.
Then He said, "Now take those toys-the hobby you've been pursuing-and give
So I grabbed my little toys, found some kids at the park, and said, "You
guys want some planes and cars?" Their eyes lit up. And suddenly my hobby
"So that's what You meant, Lord, when You told us that in the measure we
give out, it will be given back," I said (see Luke 6:38).
People garden, paint, remodel, bowl, and collect things only to get bored
and go on to the next hobby. If hobbies, however, were used for someone
else, what a difference it would make. You who like to garden-mow
someone's lawn for free next Saturday and leave a note on the door saying,
"God bless you." You who like to bake-make some cookies and give them to
someone in need in Jesus' name. You who like to ride bikes-how about
taking a kid who doesn't have a dad on a ride around the lake? In this
way, biking, gardening, and baking have meaning because you're in the
workshop using the talents and interests God gave you to share with
others. Use those talents only for yourself, and you'll be boring and
shallow. But give them away, and you'll be blown away with blessing.
What a difference the Lord has made in my heart. The workshop has meaning
again. The family room is not so chaotic. The dining room satisfies the
appetites and cravings of my heart. The study is rich with wisdom and
But one day, the Lord said to me, "From the day I came in here, I've
smelled something foul. It's making Me ill-not because of how it affects
Me-but because I know it is poisonous to you and your family. There's a
toxic dump somewhere in this house, and I've determined it's behind that
door right down the hall."
"Oh, Lord," I said, "that's just an old closet. I'm going to take care of
it sometime. I know it stinks, but You'll grow accustomed to it. Trust me,
I've had it for a number of years, and I don't even notice anymore."
"Can I have a look?" He asked.
"No, Lord," I said. "I've given You entry into every room in the house of
my heart. But that one closet is mine. I know it stinks, but it's mine.
You're welcome to go where You want and do what You wish in every other
room-but that closet belongs to me."
With that, He slipped away into the farthest corner of the home. And
suddenly, the family room lost its life. The study became tedious. The old
songs began to be played in the recreation room. And the dining room table
held only cotton candy and hot fudge sundaes. After several days, I said,
"Lord, I don't want You stuck off in a corner of the house. I want You to
move around freely. I need You in my family room. I need You in my study.
I need You in the living room. But I can't deal with that closet, Lord. I
don't know what to do."
"All I'm asking," He replied, "is that you agree with Me that it stinks
and that it's got to go. I'll do the rest-but you must give me your
permission." That's what confession is. Confession simply means to agree.
That's why the apostle John says if we confess our sin, He will be
faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
I had forgotten how good a house could smell. I was reminded of the home
of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary poured ointment on Jesus, and John
records that the fragrance filled the whole house (John 12:3). In other
words, the whole house smelled like Jesus.
"Lord, You have been such a wonderful influence in the house of my heart,"
I said. "From now on, it's Your house. I'll be the guest. You be the
Smiling, He said, "I have a better idea. Now that you've given Me your
house, let's go to My house. I've been working on it for two thousand
years. I can't wait to show you what I've prepared for you."
Once I gave Him control of my home, His work was done. Now He could take
me to His home. And that's a whole new story. I can't tell it to you
because eyes have not seen and ears have not heard the things God has
prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). It's a story beyond
That's where we're going, gang. You who, by faith, have allowed Christ to
dwell in your hearts, to be at home in your hearts, will soon find
yourself at home in the place He's preparing for you. In the meantime,
while we await that day, we can experience a bit of heaven in our lives
presently as we allow Him to be at home in every room of our hearts. May
the Lord help us to give Him the keys to every closet, the title deed to
the home in its entirety. May we be those who say, "Come on in, Lord. It's
a Phil 2:10
1 Or the whole
a Eph 1:18; 3:8
b 1 Cor 16:13; Phil 4:13; Col 1:11
c Rom 7:22
a John 14:23; Rom 8:9f; 2 Cor 13:5; Eph 2:22
b 1 Cor 3:6; Col 2:7
c Col 1:23
a Eph 1:15
1 V ?8, note 1?
b Job 11:8f
a Rom 8:35, 39
b Phil 4:7
c Col 2:10
d Eph 1:23
a Rom 16:25
b 2 Cor 9:8
c Eph 3:7
a Rom 11:36
1 Lit of the age of the ages
New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Eph 3:14-21). LaHabra,
CA: The Lockman Foundation.
? 20 (3:16) Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary Practical and
Explanatory on the Whole Bible, VI:408.
? 21 (3:17) W. Graham Scroggie, "Paul's Prison Prayers," the Ministry of
Keswick, Second Series, p. 49.
? 22 (3:18) Meyer, Key Words, pp. 53, 54.
lit. literal, literally
? 23 (3:21) George Williams, The Student's Commentary on the Holy
Scriptures, p. 925.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary
: Old and New Testaments (Eph 3:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
McGee, J. V. (1997, c1981). Thru the Bible commentary. Based on the
Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.) (5:245-248). Nashville:
Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary (1243).
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.