My Heart Christ’s Home

By Rev. Dr. Brent Russett – Asbury Free Methodist

December 31st, 2023

            We are on the brink of another new year. While I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, I do think that this is one of the great times of the year to assess our lives. Are you living the life you want to live? There is a truism in life. If you keep on doing what you are doing, you are going to keep on getting what you are getting.

            Pete Greig, in his book How to Pray: A Simple Guide for normal people, tells this story.

The tranquillity of Guildford’s picturesque cobbled High Street was shattered one sunny morning by the yelping of a dog and a strange metallic clattering.

Suddenly, a crazed greyhound came scrabbling around the corner with its whippet tail between its wild legs, weaving between shouting shoppers. Frantic with fear, the dog was being hotly pursued by one of those cheap chrome bistro chairs that was attached to the other end of the dog’s leash. The chair seemed alive, like a dancing snake weaving and flailing, striking and biting at that terrified animal’s rear.

Perhaps the dog’s owner was unaware of the pet’s plight, innocently waiting for coffee at some nearby shop. A movement must have made that chair twitch, which had made the dog jump, which had made the chair leap, which had made the dog scamper, which had made the chair pounce, which had made the dog yelp, which had made shoppers shout, which had made the dog run even more frantically, pursued all the while by this terrifying piece of metal and these crowds of screaming, grabbing strangers. The faster the dog ran, the wilder the chair’s pursuit became—the higher it bounced, the harder it pounced, the louder it banged and clanged and zinged on the cobbles. For all I know that dog is running still

            That is a good metaphor for some of our lives. We experience this cacophony of noise in our hearts that drives us forward. If we only knew enough to stop and let the noise die down, we might find that there is a better way to live. I am wondering today if we can sit down and have coffee with Jesus. (If you are not a coffee drinker – I don’t know if we can be friends, but Jesus still loves you – substitute your drink of choice.)


            Isaiah was a prophet about 400 years before Christ. As the book opens, Israel is in a bad way. They had rebelled against God. They were religious, but their hearts were far away from God. They made sacrifices to God, but they didn’t live for God. Here is what God tells them.

Isaiah 1:16–19 (NIV)

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.

Take your evil deeds out of my sight;

stop doing wrong.

17 Learn to do right; seek justice.

Defend the oppressed. 

Take up the cause of the fatherless;

plead the case of the widow.

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”

says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson,

they shall be like wool.

19 If you are willing and obedient,

you will eat the good things of the land;

            I like how the NRSV puts the last two verses.

Isaiah 1:18–19 (NRSV)

18Come now, let us argue it out,

says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be like snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.

19If you are willing and obedient,

you shall eat the good of the land;

            God is a relational God. He says we need to talk it through, argue through, reason through, how you are living. If you get it right, you will be enriched; if you don’t, you will be impoverished.

            There is a leanness of soul that comes with sin and a feast that comes with righteousness. So, how do we argue it out or reason together?

            This morning, I want to read to you an edited version of a story that Robert Munger wrote. It is called My Heart, Christ’s Home.

One evening, I invited Jesus Christ into my heart, and His arrival was transformative. It wasn’t a grand or emotional spectacle, but an undeniably real experience that occurred at the core of my life. He entered the darkness of my heart, illuminated it, ignited a fire in the cold hearth, and dispelled the chill. He introduced music where there was silence and filled the emptiness with His loving fellowship. Opening the door to Christ was a decision I have never regretted and never will.

  This, of course, is the first step in making the heart Christ’s home. He has said, Revelation 3:20 (NRSV)

20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

To paraphrase, let me come over to your house and we will have coffee together – and we will talk.

In the joy of this newfound relationship, I expressed to Jesus my desire for Him to make my heart His home. I wanted Him to be perfectly at ease, and I offered everything I had to Him. As we embarked on this journey, I guided Him through the various “rooms” of my heart. He was very glad to come, of course, and happier still to be given a place in my heart.

  The Library

  The first room was the study – the library. In case you miss the metaphor, this is a picture of your mind Here, Jesus observed the contents of my thoughts—the books, DVDs, and pictures. As I followed His gaze, I became uncomfortable.  

 Strangely enough, I had not felt bad about this before, but now that He was there looking at these things, I was embarrassed. There were some books and movies that were there that His eyes were too pure to behold. There was a lot of trash on the table that a Christian had no business reading, and as for the pictures on the walls – the imaginations and thoughts of the mind – now that Jesus was here – I saw how bad they were.  

  I turned to Him and said, “Master, I know that this room needs a radical alteration. Will You help me make it what it ought to be? – to bring every thought into captivity and make it obedient to you?”

“Surely!” He said. “I will gladly help you.” I want you to thrive. When you set your mind on what is true, or noble or right or pure or lovely or admirable or excellent or praiseworthy – it brings life.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

            When you set your mind on things that belong to your sinful nature, it brings death. Fill the library of your mind with good things. Your home will be the better for it. Your heart will be better for it.

   The Dining Room

  From the study, we went into the dining room, the room of appetites and desires. Now, this was a very large room. I spent a good deal of time in the dining room and much effort in satisfying my wants. I said to Him, “This is a favourite room. I am quite sure You will be pleased with what we serve.” He seated Himself at the table with me and asked, “So, what is on the menu?”

  “Well,” I said, “all the things to satisfy my appetite. My favourite dishes include money, academic degrees and stocks, with newspaper articles of fame and fortune as side dishes.” These were the things I loved – worldly fare. I suppose there was nothing radically wrong with any particular item, but it was not the food that would satisfy.

When the food was placed before Him, He said nothing about it. However, I observed that He did not eat it, and I said to Him, somewhat disturbed, “Jesus, don’t You care for this food? What is the trouble?”

  He answered, “I have meat to eat that you do not know of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.” He looked at me again and said, “If you want food that satisfies you, seek the will of the Father, not your own pleasures, not your own desires, and not your own satisfaction. Seek to please Me.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

In doing that, you will find food that will satisfy you.” And there at the table, He gave me a taste of doing God’s will. What a flavour! There is no food like it in all the world. It alone satisfies. Everything else is dissatisfying in the end.

  The Living Room

  We walked next into the living room. This room was rather intimate and comfortable. I liked it. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a sofa, and a quiet atmosphere. He also seemed pleased with it. He said, “This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quiet, and we can fellowship together.”

  Well, naturally, as a young Christian, I was thrilled. I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes with Christ in intimate companionship.

  He promised, “I will be here early every morning. Meet me here, and we will start the day together.” So, 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 make my heart warm as He revealed His love and His grace toward me. These were wonderful hours together.

  But, little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened. Why, I don’t know, but I thought I was just too busy to spend time with Christ. This was not intentional, you understand; it just happened that way. Finally, not only was the time shortened, but I began to miss a day now and then. It was examination time at the university. Then, it was some other urgent emergency. I would miss it two days in a row and often more.

  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. Suddenly, in dismay, I thought to myself, “He was my guest. I invited Him into my heart! He has come as Lord of my home. And yet here I am neglecting Him.” I turned and went in. With a downcast glance, I said, “Blessed Master, forgive me. Have You been here all these mornings?”

  “Yes,” He said, “I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you.” I felt like a failure. He had been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. I asked His forgiveness, and He readily forgave me.

Then he said to me, “You have been thinking about your quiet time like you think about school. The more you study, the more you will progress spiritually. But I am more than a subject to be studied; I want a growing relationship with you. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at great cost. I value your fellowship.”

John 15:5 (NIV)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

  The Workroom

Before long, He asked, “Do you have a workroom in your home?” Down in the basement of the home of my heart, I had a workbench and some equipment, but I was not doing much with it. Occasionally, I would play around with a few little gadgets, but I wasn’t producing anything substantial or worthwhile.

  I led Him down there.

  He looked over the workbench and what little talents and skills I had. He said, “This is quite well furnished. What are you producing with your life for the Kingdom of God?” He looked at one or two little toys that I had thrown together on the bench and held one up to me. “Are these little toys all that you are doing for others in your Christian life?”

  “Well,” I said, “Lord, that is the best I can do. I know it isn’t much, and I really want to do more, but after all, I have no skill or strength to do more.”

  “Would you like to do better?” He asked.

  “Certainly,” I replied.

  “All right. Let me have your hands. Now relax in me and let my Spirit work through you. I know that you are unskilled, clumsy and awkward, but the Holy Spirit is the Master Worker, and if He controls your hands and your heart, He will work through you.” And so, stepping behind me and putting His great, strong hands over mine, controlling the tools with His skilled fingers, He began to work through me.

  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 for whatever reason, Jesus loves to work together with me.

  The Hall Closet

  There is just one more matter that I might share with you. One day, I found Him waiting for me at the door. An arresting look was in His eye. As I entered, He said to me, “There is a peculiar odour 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 what He was talking about. Yes, there was a 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 did not want anyone to know about and certainly, I did not want Christ to see them. I knew they were dead and rotting things left over from the old life. And yet I loved them, and I wanted them so for myself that I was afraid to admit they were there.

   Reluctantly, I went up with Him, and as we mounted the stairs, the odour became stronger and stronger.

  He pointed at the door. “It’s in there! Some dead thing!”

  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, and the workroom, and now He was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said to myself, “This is too much. I am not going to give Him the key.”

            The problem was that the foul-smelling room contaminated the atmosphere of the whole house. Even when we were together in the living room, I could still smell the traces of the hall closet. Jesus knew. I knew. It took me a while to believe that the stench from the closet was affecting my whole heart. But it was.

I had to surrender. “I’ll give You the key,” I said sadly, “but You’ll have to open the closet and clean it out. I haven’t the strength to do it.”

  “I know,” He said. “I know you haven’t. Just give me the key. Just authorize me to take care of that closet, and I will.” So, with trembling fingers, I passed the key to Him. He took it from my hand, walked over to the door, opened it, entered it, took out all the putrefying stuff that was rotting there, and threw it away. Then he cleaned the closet, painted it, and fixed it up, doing it all in a moment’s time. Oh, what victory and release to have that dead thing out of my life!

  Transferring the Title

  Then a thought came to me. I said to myself, “I have been trying to keep this heart of mine clear for Christ. I start on one room, and no sooner have I cleaned that than another room becomes dirty. I begin in the second room, and the first room becomes dusty again. I am so tired and weary trying to maintain a clean heart and an obedient life. I am just not up to it!”

  So I ventured a question: “Lord, is there any chance that You would take over the responsibility of the whole house and operate it for me and with me just as You did that closet? Would You take the responsibility to keep my heart what it ought to be and my life where it ought to be?”

  I could see His face light up as He replied, “Certainly, that is what I came to do. You cannot be a victorious Christian in your own strength. That is impossible. Let me do it through you and for you. That is the way. But,” He added slowly, “I am not the owner of this house. I am just a guest. I have no authority to proceed since the property is not mine.”

  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.”

            Where do you see yourself in the story?

Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.


            Run to the Father