Rev. Jeff Chapman Faith Presbyterian Church
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,* 15from whom every family* in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21, NRSV)
In the fall of 1947, a pastor named Robert Boyd Munger was preparing to preach a Sunday evening message to the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. As he prepared he was drawn to passages in scripture like the one we just read from Ephesians 3, passages which touch on the remarkable idea that God of the universe, who we know in Jesus Christ, desires to come and make a home in each one of our hearts. That evening, speaking extemporaneously from a few notes, Munger shared a message centered on this truth which entitled My Heart, Christ’s Home.
I’m about to do this morning what I have never done before. I’m going to preach somebody else’s sermon. For some of you, these words will be familiar. Some years after it was preached Munger’s sermon was published in booklet form and, for the last 60 years or so, millions and millions of people have been encouraged by the message. I still remember the first time I read a copy of My Heart, Christ’s Home way back in high school.
As you hear this message again this morning, may Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3 be realized in your life in unmistakable ways. “I pray that according to the riches of this glory, God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”
One evening I invited Jesus Christ into my heart. What an entrance He made! It was not a spectacular, emotional thing, but very real. He came into very center of my life. He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire in the cold hearth and banished the chill. He brought music where there had been stillness, and he filled the emptiness with his own loving, wonderful fellowship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will – not into eternity!
This, of course, is the first step in making the heart Christ’s home. He has said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you, and will eat with you, and you with me.” If you are interested in making your life a home of the living God, invite Christ into your heart and he will surely come.
After Christ entered my heart and in the joy of this new relationship I said to Him, “Lord, I want this heart of mine to be yours. I want to have you settle down here and be perfectly at home. Everything I have belongs to you. Let me show you around and introduce you to the various features of this home that you may be more comfortable and that we may have fuller fellowship together.”
He was very glad to come, of course, and happier still to be given a place in the heart.
The first room I showed him was the study – the library. You might call it the study of the mind.
Now in my home this room of the mind is a very small room with very thick walls. But it’s an important room. In a sense, it’s the control room of the house.
Christ entered with me and looked around at the books in the bookcase, the magazines on the table, the pictures on the walls. As I followed His gaze I became increasingly uncomfortable. Strangely enough, I had not felt badly about this before, but now that He was there, looking at these things, I was embarrassed.
There were some books there that His eyes were too pure to behold. There was a lot of trash and literature on the table that I knew I had no business reading, and as for the pictures on the walls – the imaginations and thoughts of the mind – well, I was ashamed for him to see them.
I turned to Him and said, “Master, I know that this room needs to be remodeled. Will you help me make it what it ought to be? Will you help me make every thought captive to you?”
“Of course!” He said. “I will gladly help you. First of all, let’s take all the things that you are reading and looking at which are not helpful, pure, good and true, and let’s just throw them out! Then, let’s put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Let’s fill this library with Scriptures and meditate on them day and night.
As for the pictures on the walls, you’re going to have a difficulty controlling these images, but here is a help with that.” Then he gave me a full-size portrait of himself. “Hang this up, right in the center,” he said. “Hang it on the wall of the mind.”
I did. And I have discovered through the years that when my thoughts are centered upon Christ himself, his purity and power cause impure thoughts to back away. So He has helped me to bring my thoughts into captivity.
May I suggest to you if you have difficulty with this little room of the mind, that you bring Christ in there. Pack it full with the Word of God, meditate upon it and keep before it the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus.
From the study we went into the dining room, the room of appetites and desires.
Now this was a very large room in my heart. I spend a good deal of time in the dining room and much effort in satisfying my wants. I said to him, “This is a favorite room. I’m quite certain that you will be pleased with what we serve here.”
He seated himself at the table with me and asked, “What’s on the menu for dinner?”
“Well,” I said, “my favorite dishes: money, wealth, academic degrees, with a little bit of fame and prestige for dessert.” These were the things I liked – worldly fare. I suppose there was nothing radically wrong in any particular item, but, as I was about to learn, it was not the food that should satisfy the life of a Christian. When the food was placed before him, he said nothing about it. In fact, he didn’t even touch his meal.
So I said to Him, somewhat disturbed, “Master, don’t you care for this food? What is the trouble?”
He answered, “I have food to eat, different food, which you don’t know anything about. My food is to do the will of Him that sent me.” Then he looked me straight in the eye and said, “If you want food that really satisfies, seek the will of the Father, not your own pleasures, not your own desires, not your own satisfaction. Seek to please me and you will taste food that fully and forever satisfies.”
And there at the table he gave me a taste of doing God’s will. What a flavor! There is no food like it in all the world. Let me tell you, it satisfies like nothing else. Everything else leaves you hungry in the end.
Now if Christ is in your heart, and I trust he is, what kind of food are you serving Him and what kind of food are you eating yourself? Are you living for the lust of the flesh and the pride of life – living for yourself?
Or are you choosing God’s will as the bread you eat and the cup you drink?
We walked next into the living room, a very intimate and comfortable room. I liked it. It had a fireplace, big overstuffed chairs, a comfortable sofa, and a quiet atmosphere. Immediately he seemed pleased with it. He said, “This is a delightful room. It’s secluded and quiet. I’d like to spend some time here with you. A lot of time.”
Well, naturally as a young Christian I was thrilled. I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do than spend time with Christ, just him and me.
That’s when he promised, “Listen, I will be here early every morning. Meet me here, and we’ll start the day together.”
So I did. Morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the living room and he would take a book of the Bible from the bookcase. He would open it and then we would read together. He would tell me of its riches and unfold to me its truths. He would encourage my heart as he revealed the love and grace his Father had toward me. Those were wonderful hours we spent together in that room.
But, little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, our time together got shorter and shorter. I don’t know, I guess I just got too busy to spend all that time with Christ. It wasn’t intentional, you understand; it just happened. Before I knew it, not only was the time shortened, but I began to miss a day now and then. Always for good reason, understand. Something urgent just always seemed to come up.
I remember one morning when I was in a hurry, rushing downstairs, eager to be on my way. As I passed the living room, the door was open. Looking in, I saw a fire in the fireplace and Jesus was sitting there. That’s when it hit me, “He was my guest. I invited him into my heart! He has come as Lord of my home. And yet I have neglected his company.”
I turned and went in. I remember my head was down. I couldn’t look him in the eye. I said, “Master, forgive me. Have you been here all these mornings?”
“Yes,” he said, “Of course I have. I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you.”
I was so ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my unfaithfulness. I asked his forgiveness. He forgave me at once, just as he always does.
“The trouble with you is this,” he said. “You have been thinking about this time with me, this time in scripture, this time in prayer, as a factor in your own spiritual progress. What you have forgotten is that this hour means something to me as well. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at great cost. I cherish your fellowship.”
“Now,” he said, “if only for my sake, do not neglect this hour. Whatever else may be your desire, remember that I
desire your fellowship!”
And you know, coming to understand that Christ really does want my companionship, that he really does love me, that he waits for me every morning, this has done more to transform my time alone with God than anything else. Don’t let Christ wait alone in the living room of your heart. Find time every day to meet with him in scripture, to meet with him in prayer.
One day Christ asked me, “Do you have a workroom in your home?” I did. Down in the basement of my heart I had a workbench and some equipment, but I wasn’t doing much with it. Once in a while I would play around with a few little gadgets, but I wasn’t producing anything much substantial or worthwhile.
He wanted to see it. So I led Him down there. He looked over the workbench, the few simple tools that I had. “This is quite well furnished,” he said. “What are you making down here? What are you producing with your life for theKingdomofGod?”
He looked at one or two little toys that I had thrown together on the bench and held one up to me. “Are these the only things you have been working on?”
“Well,” I said, “Lord, that’s the best I can do. I know it isn’t much, and I would love to do more, but I don’t think I can. I don’t have the strength. I know I don’t have the skill.”
“Would you like to do better?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“All right. Then let me have your hands. Now relax in me and let my Spirit work through you. I know you are unskilled, I know you feel clumsy and awkward, but trust me. The Holy Spirit is the Master-Worker, and if he controls your hands and your heart, he will work through you.”
And so, stepping around behind me and putting his great, strong hands over mine, controlling the tools with his skilled fingers he began to work through me that day. There’s much more that I must still learn and I am very far from satisfied with the product that is being turned out, but I do know that whatever has been produced for God has been because of his strength, his skill, his Spirit in me.
Do not become discouraged because you cannot do much for God. Your ability is not the fundamental condition. It is he who is controlling your fingers and upon whom you are relying. Give your talents and your gifts to God and He will do things with them that will surprise you.
I remember the time he asked me about the playroom. To be honest, I was hoping he wouldn’t ask about that one. You see, there were certain friendships and certain activities that, well, I wanted to keep for myself. I didn’t think Christ would enjoy them or approve of them. So I avoided his question. I changed the subject.
But then one evening when I was on my way out with some of my friends and just as I headed out the door he stopped me with a glance and asked, “Are you going out?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Good,” he said. “Can I come? I would love to go with you.”
“Oh,” I answered rather awkwardly. “You know, Lord, I don’t know. I don’t think you would really want to go with us. How about tomorrow night? Tomorrow night we’ll go to church. But not tonight. I’ve got somewhere else to be tonight.”
“Okay,” he said. “It’s just that, I thought that when I came into your home, we were going to do everything together, to share all of life together. I just want you to know that I am willing to go with you.”
“Well, I promise, we’ll go someplace together tomorrow night.” And off I went.
That evening I spent some miserable hours. I felt horrible. What kind of a friend was I to Christ when I was deliberately leaving him out of my friendships and going places without him because I sensed he wouldn’t much enjoy himself.
When I got home that evening, there was a light in him room. So I went up to talk it over with him. I said, “Lord, I have learned my lesson. I can’t have a good time without you. From now on we will do everything together.”
That very night we went down into the playroom of the house and he transformed it. He brought into my life real
joy, real happiness, real satisfaction. He brought new relationships and new excitement. Laughter and music have been ringing through the house ever since.
Before I finish, there’s just one more matter that I might share with you.
One day I found him waiting for me at the door when I got home. At once I could tell that something had upset him. As I entered, he said to me, “There is a strange odor in the house. There is something dead around here. It’s upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet.”
As soon as he said this, I knew exactly what he was talking about. There’s this small closet up there on the landing, just a few feet square, and in that closet, behind lock and key, I had one or two little personal things that I didn’t want anyone to know about. I certainly didn’t want Christ to see them. I knew they were dead and rotting things left over from the old life. And yet I loved them. I wanted them for myself. I was afraid to admit they were there.
Reluctantly, I went up with Him, and as we climbed the stairs the odor became stronger and stronger. When we got to the top he pointed at the door. “It’s in there! Some dead thing is in there!”
I won’t lie to you. At this point I was angry. That’s the only way I can put it. I had given Him access to the library, the dining room, the living room, the workroom, the playroom, and now He was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I remember saying to myself, “This is too much. I am not going to give Him the key.”
“Well,” he said, reading my thoughts, “if you think I’m going to stay up here on the second floor with this stink, you are mistaken. I’ll just take my bed out on the back porch. I just can’t put up with that.” And he headed down the stairs.
Let me tell you something. When you have come to know and love Christ, the worst thing that can happen is to sense his fellowship retreating from you. I had no choice. I had to surrender. “Okay,” I said sadly. “I’ll give you the key. But you’ll have to open it up. And you’ll have to clean it out yourself. I haven’t the strength to do it.”
“I know,” he said. “I know you haven’t. Just give me the key. Just give me your permission to take care of that closet and I will.”
My hands were shaking as I passed him the key. He took it from my hand, walked over to the door, opened it, he went in, and went right to work. He took out all the junk that was rotting there and threw it away. He cleaned the whole closet. He fixed it up and gave it a fresh coat of paint. It took some time but when he was done I can’t tell you the victory and release I felt to finally have that dead thing out of my life!
That’s when a thought came to me. I said to myself, “I have been trying to keep this heart of mine clear for
Christ. But it’s not working. I start on one room and no sooner have I cleaned that then another room is dirty. By the time I get to work on the second room and the first room is already dusty again. I am so tired and weary trying to maintain a clean heart and a pure life. I just can’t do it.”
So I ventured a question: “Lord,” I asked, “is there any chance that you would take over the responsibility of the whole house and do, for the whole house, what you just did with that closet? Would you be willing to take the responsibility of keeping my heart what it ought to be and keeping my life where it ought to be?”
At once his face light up. “Of course,” he said. “That’s what I came to do. You can’t do it on your own strength. It’s impossible. Let me do it through you and for you. It’s the only way.”
“There’s just one thing,” he added slowly. “I am not the owner of this house. I’m just a guest. I have no authority to make changes. The property is not in my name.”
I saw it in a minute and dropping to my knees, I said, “Lord, You have been a guest and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the owner and Master and Lord.”
Running as fast as I could to the strongbox, I took out the title deed to the house describing its assets and liabilities, location and situation and condition. Eagerly, I signed it over to belong to Him alone for time and eternity. “Here,” I said. “Here it is, all that I am and have forever. Now you run the house. Okay? And I’ll just stay with you, as your servant and as your friend.”
That day, he took my life and I can give you my word, there is no better way to live life than to live life with Christ. He knows how to keep it in shape and deep peace settles down on the soul. May Christ settle down and be at home in your heart as Lord of all! May your heart as well be Christ’s home.
Heavenly Father, the one from whom every family on this earth takes its name, we praise you. In our hearts we bow before you this day. You alone are worthy of our worship.
Lord, give us your strength. By your Spirit, come into our lives, in our hearts – all the way in! – and bring with you the riches of your glory that we would be filled with your perfect peace, and your unquenchable joy, and your never-ending love, and your inexhaustible grace. Fill us and transform us. Live within us. Shape us into your image. Make every thought captive to Christ. May every desire be for you and for your will. May our appetite hunger for the nourishment you give with always satisfied instead of for the things the world offer which always leave us hungry again.
You can do anything, Lord. Because your power is at work in us, you are able to accomplish in us and through us abundantly more than we could ever begin to ask or imagine. Have your way with us, Lord. That the world would see that you are truly alive and making all things right again.
Glory to you, Father. Glory to you through us, your church. Glory to the Messiah, Christ, who is our salvation. Glory through all the generations, forever and ever and ever.
We pray this in the name of Christ, and with the words he taught his disciples to pray, saying together…
The Next Step
A resource for Life Groups and/or personal application
Read Ephesians 3:14-21. This is a remarkable passage. What do you notice first?
When Paul prays that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith (verse 17) what do you think he means?
Verse 20 says that Christ has “the power to work within us to accomplish abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine.” Do you think this is true in your life?
As you listened to the different rooms in the house of your heart (i.e. study, dining room, living room, playroom, workshop, hall closet), which part of the sermon seemed to best describe your life?
As you have invited Christ into your life, what renovations has he made?
Which room is Christ currently working on renovating?
Is Jesus a guest in your life or is he the owner of your life?
Further ScriptureReadingsfor the Week:
Monday: Philippians 4:4-9 – Peace transforms
Tuesday: Revelation 3:14-22 – Open the door
Wednesday: Romans 12:1-21 – New life in Christ
Thursday: Ezekiel 36:16-38 – Renewal of God’s People
Friday: Psalm 24 – The earth is the Lord’s
Saturday: In preparation for worship tomorrow, read John 7:1-18.
 Robert Boyd Munger, My Heart Christ’s Home, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1954). I have revised and updated some of the language throughout.