Make Room in Your Heart for Jesus
Notes from an Evening Together
Family, here are some notes taken the other night when some of us were together. We hope they will encourage you as they have us. Love, several there that night : )
We started by talking about recent illnesses and how things seemed to be going. It seems that there was a significant difference when the saints were fasting and praying, but that some illness still lingered or were flaring up again. There are three ways to view that. First, the rain falls on the just and unjust. In other words the illnesses among us are just the statistic norm. Second, God brings illness to get our attention. In 1 Cor. 11 some were sick and dying. God was trying to get their attention because they were not properly discerning the Body. The third possibility is to be specifically attacked, supernaturally. It seems on the testimony of several that the third reason is the case for the recent illnesses. The illnesses can be directly traced back to the day the book on children was made available to folks across the world. And, while it has affected many among us, there has been an incredible attack against the children. We prayed about these things to fight back. It made me think of how satan gets caught in the very traps he sets to cause others to fall. We prayed about the children’s immune systems becoming stronger (making them less vulnerable in the future) as a result of the antibodies being built up.
As a result of the prayer, I was reminded of Romans 4 it talks about Abraham’s body being dead and Sarah’s womb also being dead. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promises of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” In the face of this impossible situation, not only did Abraham not waver, but he was strengthened in his faith. If we’ll keep our eyes on God and not waver in our faith, we will not only just survive, but become stronger. God really does intend that we become stronger, and that has to do with our faith. A recent e-mail on “Doubt—The Sin That God Hates Most” has everything to do with this. Will we approach the things God brings into our lives with faith? Faith is not believing in the teachings of Jesus, but believing Jesus! They are two different things. It is a relationship with Him. Will we look to heaven, believe God and praise Him on this side of the Red Sea? Consider Mary and Martha. Martha had a certain level of faith. She believed that if Jesus had been there He could have saved Lazarus, but couldn’t fathom that He could raise Lazarus from the dead. The verse about “beyond all we could ask or imagine” came to my mind.
We also talked about the different responses to Lazarus being raised from the dead. In the recent Jesus movie, a Pharisee’s response is, “Glory to God.” Because he believed, the natural, spontaneous overflow from his heart was “Glory to God!!” Others, without true faith or with ulterior motives, will always doubt or find ways to discredit things. They’ll say Lazarus wasn’t really dead, and that people just threw the corpse of a dog in there. However, those with true faith will see God and no one will be able to take that away from them.
You, Consider How to Spur One Another On. And No Loose Ends!
Pretend you’re in another city and this roomful of saints gathered here is what constitutes the gathering of saints in that city. This “picture” is not far off from 15 years ago and the beginning days of the Church here. The reason it is good to try to imagine things on a smaller scale, is that there is a better chance of taking things in a more personal way. We could have talked about the following things in a larger setting than the living room that night, but sometimes it might not have the same impact (though it should) when you’re sitting 3 rows deep in a large crowd. The following thoughts were somewhat of a spiritual kick. The reason for much personal and corporate growth in the church here (from those living rooms 15 years ago) had to do with two things.
1. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10: 24-25) How many of you really took any time to consider how you might spur one another on tonight? How many of you gave it even the slightest amount of time or prayer? Are you here as a styrofoam dummy to soak it in? How many of you took responsibility to come prepared instead of just “attending”? If you are going to be an attender, then you might as well be at the local baptist building. Basically, the amount of Jesus in the room right now is the amount of Jesus that each person has allowed in their hearts for Him. How much space is in your heart for God? How much do you care, and did you care, about coming prepared for tonight? This isn’t about being mature and having everything together. “Of course you’re immature, or weak, or have had problems this week.” So what! We live by faith. If we had to feel it first, then we’d be walking by sight. That’s not it. It has to do with caring, taking responsibility, and truly considering how to spur your brothers and sisters on (and all the more as the Day approaches).
He is bigger than our immaturity, weakness, or problems. Obviously, we need to be honest with those things and deal with them, but it isn’t dependent on us. It is dependent on how much room we are willing to give Him in our hearts. If we’ll give Him the room, He intends to prosper something far beyond our own ability. He will be able to bring forth things that far surpass anything we thought possible—because HE is doing it. Things will be said that go beyond our knowledge, ability, or capacity. Where two or three are gathered in His name, He’ll be there. The key is His Name! They have allowed room in their hearts for Him and He is there. Yes, there needs to be humility on our parts as there was with Paul…..”I am the chief of all sinners”, but it is not limited by me. My capacity and performance are not my limits if I am making room in my heart for Him.
Another part of the conversation had to do with not only making room, but taking things personally that are said. When the Word of God comes forth how much do you apply it in a personal way? Are you back to being that styrofoam dummy again? Does it just bounce off of you or is there a real application to your life? It was mentioned again about the beginning days of the church here and how a lot of the growth was because of a very real, personal application of what was being brought forth.
2. No loose ends!!! Is there anything that is undone? Is there anything between you and another that hasn’t been dealt with? It could be on your part, something you’re holding against someone, or an opinion you have against another, or an apology you need to make. Or it could be that you sense something on someone else’s part that you need to get resolved. When the saints were together in the earlier days here, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see two brothers slip out to work through something, or someone slip a note to someone else to clear something up. There was a very clear sense of taking assertiveness and making sure there was room for Jesus to rule and reign. There can’t be room for Him in your heart if it is full of other stuff. This “other stuff” could be in the form of things that are unresolved between you and others. i.e. “I don’t like their clothes, I don’t like their hair, the way they talk, etc.” It can also be many things like food, sleep, laziness, or entertainment, or a host of other areas. What are you made of? How real are you being? Is there depth there in reality with others? You only can bring what room you’ve allowed in your heart. How much room is there for Jesus?
Let a Letter Rip You Open
One of the reasons that some emails and letters from around the world get passed on to us to read is so that we don’t lose sight of what it is like to be hungry. There are real people out there. When you get those e-mails, do you just read them and delete or file them? Do you read them prayerfully and perceptively, allowing yourself to feel what they are feeling? If you don’t feel what they are feeling, then it is a very good sign that there isn’t much room in your heart and you’ve just dulled yourself. You have probably refused to be self-disciplined and in the process you’ve also denied yourself the ability to have wisdom, compassion, and love. You ought to feel shame when you read those e-mails at times. Shame at your life, the wealth you’ve been given, and what you are doing with it. It is good to allow yourself to feel the shame at times. To remind yourself of the hunger and what others are doing with the very little they have. One of the reasons we fast is to feel the hunger. To remind ourselves of what it is to deny the flesh. Is your life a life of denying yourself and taking up your cross daily? It needs to be if you want to be one who can feel what others feel and be of any help.
Here’s a test: If someone from another city came and stayed in your home for a week, would they still admire you? If you didn’t change anything you do for the week, what would their impression be at the end of the week? Take it personal!!!! Sure, God is doing some very special things that are affecting people all over the world, but what about your personal life? If it isn’t there, it can be. Live up to it! By the grace of God, you can be the person they expect you to be and then some. (I found great hope in that being said!) Don’t think that so and so’s gift covers that or is going to be that person for you. Yes, our strengths are all of our strengths, but our (my) weaknesses are all our weaknesses, too. (What I leave in my life as a weakness also becomes a weakness to others…..a little leaven leavens the whole batch.) Put Him first and buffet your body—deny your flesh—and you’ll be amazed! You have to decide to make room in your heart and take it personally. Will you let a letter rip you open?
We talked about a Discovery Channel video on the heart that was seen recently. The video showed how one cell in the heart started beating wrong and it affected the whole rhythm of the heartbeat. One cell affected the whole heart. It took a shock to bring it back into a correct beat, and if it wasn’t corrected it would have been fatal. And the cell probably started beating wrong because of some fat build up prior to that. All this can be applied to us. One cell generating its own impulses affects the whole heart.
Gary mentioned how all of these things were right on target for him. He has felt the shame and being ripped open by e-mails from other places. He has recently gone on a diet of sorts. It wasn’t driven so much by a weight thing and a feeling that there was something wrong with eating whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He said there was, “an ache in the back of his heart that this isn’t the right way to live.” He was thinking about how his decisions affect his household and others around him. What really drove it home was when he was reading from Romans 5. It was the part that talks about how sin and condemnation came to all through one man’s choice, but grace and life also came to all through one man’s choice. In other words for him personally, he was feeling in his life that the choices he makes do the same thing. Choices to live an undisciplined life will overflow and affect his household and the ones around him negatively. Choices to deny his flesh and choose to plant righteous seeds will overflow and affect his household and others positively. Who you are really will be what affects their life, not what you know, say, or teach. A righteous life will bring life.
At this point our evening had come full circle. So what do we do about all this? “As it is written about Abraham: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (Rom 4:17) Believe God!! We are Abraham’s children if we have the faith of Abraham. We will only ever see change by faith. It isn’t, “I used to do this and now I don’t. Or, I used to not do this and now I do.” What is the work of God? To believe on the one He sent. It is dependent on who He is. God is a God who raises the dead. Martha had one level of faith. Mary had another level. What level of faith did Lazarus have? : ) A dead man can’t do a blessed thing for himself. It’s not my commitment or my knowledge, or my anything…but BELIEVING GOD AND THE ONE HE SENT.
There is no room for “Yeah, but…”. It might be a verbal thing or something in your heart, but allowing that kind of seed brings a breakdown in the harmony of relationships. It is a time to “train your soldiers”. You need to make them come under submission to Jesus and not let them stray, run wild, or go AWOL. “Yeah, but…” is a place for judgments of others or what they are saying. Here’s a test of whether or not this is true: What person who “Yeah, buts…” all the time, feels at peace with God? There is no place for it. The proof that it is wrong is that you cannot be intimate with God when you are living like that. Do not let those little soldiers do that to you. Living in the knowledge of what you think is good and evil is the tree of death. Peter, James, and John stayed with Life even when they didn’t understand. You may not understand it all, but you are not far from truth if you pursue peace.
So….. How much room is there in my heart for Jesus, and do I demand of myself to Take It Personal?
The evening was wrapped up with maybe getting back together another time to read what Doug had brought. : ) Also, a suggestion of listening to in smaller settings sometime soon “Don’t Flirt With Doubt” and maybe some of the Romans tapes. They both go along with what was talked about. And, if you haven’t read the e-mail “Doubt—The Sin That God Hates Most” it would be very good to do so soon.