Folk-singer, teacher and author Michael Card shares how he celebrated Christmas with his family in an authentic manner, but…with a disturbing realization.
“Christmas is a struggle…that ongoing war with the world seems to intensify itself when the decorations go up all over town. There is His name, in every window. Sometimes even a little statue of His infant body lying in some straw, with shepherds and wise men standing around with blank porcelain expressions. I’ve always thought those expressions convey pretty much the attitude of the world towards all this. Aside from that struggle, Christmas is a time of light. It is a time when, despite the world’s commotion, that peace, which is just another form of light, settles in and around our hearts. It is our family custom to go to a barn and read the Christmas story. We make certain that it is a real, working barn. That setting allows us to focus more clearly on the story for what it is, a picture of poverty in which He would live out His entire life. The shabbiness of that setting is also a reminder to me of that other shabby place He chose to be born into, the human heart, a place more filthy and cold than any stable.”
When I was a child the church taught me that a feeding trough, where cattle ate from, was the dirtiest place for baby Jesus to be laid. But what about the heart? Hear these disturbing words, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” (Matthew 15: 19-20 NLT)
You mean to tell me that the Holy Spirit is willing to take up residence in “our” hearts, if we ask?! YES! Acts 2:21 says, “But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (NLT) More specifically, If you admit or confess your sins to God who is holy 24/7, He will cleanse and forgive you because of the sacrificial shed blood of his son Jesus Christ. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, His Spirit is alive and will dwell in your heart if you ask and believe. That’s the miracle of Christmas!
But this is where it gets dirty and sticky. Is it ok if other roommates live in our heart in the same room with the Holy Spirit? From his book Ephesians, Paul answers, “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live…” (4:30a NLT) You and I grieve the Holy Spirit when what we allow to live in our hearts and lives is in direct opposition to God’s holiness.
Bitterness and the Holy Spirit cannot co-exist. Lust and the Holy Spirit cannot co-exist. Fill in the blank, ______________________in my heart and the Holy Spirit cannot co-exist.
Do you have any other roommates in your heart hotel that you need to kick out?
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”