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Nov 21, 2010

Christ @ Home

Passage: Ephesians 3:14-17

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Postcards from the Front: A Wartime Romance

Category: Ephesians

Keywords: residing christ, heart, residence, home, surrender, consecration, sanctification


Paul returns to his prayer that he was going to pray in 3:1. The first thing he prays for is that God's people would learn to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit SO THAT Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. If the church is to be that one place where God is experienced in this world today, individually we must learn to make our hearts that place where Christ really takes up residence and is at home...in every part of our life, every room of our heart.


Christ @ Home

#9 in the series “Postcards from the Front:  A Wartime Romance”

November 21, 2010

Ephesians 3:14-21


  • What is your favorite room in the house and why?
  • If friend asked you, “Where can I see God in action today,” where would you take them AND what would you want them to see or experience?


Do you ever get sidetracked in a conversation?  When was the last time you started to talk about something, got off on a rabbit trail, and ended up lost in the wilderness of your own thoughts? J  It’s happening with me so much lately that I’m discovering my rabbit trails actually are my main thoughts.  Now, where was I? J

Conversations with God sometimes end up getting diverted down rabbit trails too.  Who hasn’t started talking with God about something and before you know it, you’re two states and five people away in your thinking from what you had been originally talking with God about? 

Well, you’re in good company!  The Apostle Paul had that problem when he wrote and prayed under the inspiration and direction of even the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 3, he actually records one of those holy rabbit trails as he begins to tell the Ephesian Christ-followers what he prays about when he prays for them.  Look at how he starts this chapter (Eph. 3:1): 

      “For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--….”  And then he’s off on a 13-verse rabbit trail.   At vs. 14 he returns to his main train of thought. 

      14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”

      The logical question at this point is, “WHY do you pray for God’s people, Paul?”  For the answer to that, we have to go back to the end of chapter 2.  Paul was talking about what an amazing development it now is to include Gentiles in “the people of God”…the “house” of God…literally the “family” of God.  Ephesians 2:19ff pretty well summarizes his train of thought:

            19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household…In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”   

      Paul is using a metaphor here to speak of the church—that crazy, wacked-out compilation of people we call “the church.”  God has to have a good sense of humor!  He wants us to be THE one PLACE, the one PEOPLE in all the world, where He takes up residence and makes his presence known in our day. Any wonder Satan loves to mess with the church and turn it into a place that wounds people rather than helps them experience God’s presence?

As crazy and improbable as it may seem, God’s primary means of showing off who he is to people in the world today is supposed to be His church.  I’m not talking about an institution, some denomination or even some specific community church like Mosaic.  There’s no way any church, small or huge, can become that “dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” on their own.  But we can, as the people of God in an entire city, become that visible PLACE and PEOPLE where God lives by his Spirit and where people can actually see God living by his Spirit.

So WHY is it that so many people in our culture have been turned off cold by Christians and by the Christian church?  I think Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 has a whole lot to do with the answer to that question.  Paul wanted the Ephesian church to understand what kind of prayer life would be needed in order for that dream of God-among-them to become reality. 

APP:  There is no way WE as God’s people, as Mosaic Fellowship, are going to be able to experience God’s powerful presence among us without becoming also people of prayer as Paul is demonstrating here.  And we can’t leave it up to the person sitting next to us to do this praying.  Prayer is that place, that experience where each of God’s children is invited to encounter God.  When we encounter God in prayer, then maybe the world around us will encounter God in us.

Let’s take a look at the beginning of this prayer in Eph. 3:14. 

“For this reason... (because God wants US to actually BE the place where He is “at home” and visible, Paul says, “…I kneel before the Father [Gk--“pater”], from whom his whole family [Gk—“pasa patria’] in heaven and on earth derives its name.” 

      You can see the play on words Paul makes with this statement.  Our very family name as Christians flows (at least in the original Greek language) from the very word for our heavenly “Father”—pater.  Paul is reminding us in yet another way that we all share the same family name whether we are a Jew or a Gentile, rich or poor, male or female, young or old, educated or uneducated—everyone in this Family enjoys equal standing. 

      That’s one of the amazing things about “family.”  Family can be as different from each other as night and day…yet the simple fact that we all have the same last name unites us in ways nothing else does in life.

ILL:  Sandy & I have some long-time friends here in Spokane that a number of you know.  It’s the Gardner family.  We knew Steve & Michelle before they were married.  Sandy was Michelle’s roommate when we got engaged.  In fact, we got engaged on the same weekend Steve and Michelle did without even planning it.

      The Gardners have 12 kids.  Their first three came to them biologically…by birth.  The next 9 were adopted from all over the world—Russia, China, Ethiopia (and I’m probably missing some).  What unites them together despite different biological parents, different nationalities, different races and genders is one thing:  Steve & Michelle’s decision to include every one of them in their family…on equal footing…with the same last name…with the same legal rights and responsibilities.

      Now, like it or not, they are family.  They each have a place at the table.  They each are loved deeply by Steve & Michelle.  They each spend their growing up years at home, sharing holidays and birthdays, trials and tribulations. 

APP:  The same is true in the spiritual sense for every one of us who, by spiritual adoption and rebirth, are part of the family of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  Like it or not, we all have the same family name—Christ-ones, Christians. God treats us all equally. (See Rm. 2:11; Gal. 2:6.)  He plays no favorites.  He loves us all equally…and listens to all of us with equal interest.   

      Do we really believe that…or do we tend to believe that God hears and answers someone else’s prayers more than ours?  God didn’t listen to Paul more than he listens to you.  He doesn’t pay more attention to you than he does to me.  And despite whatever you may have been taught growing up, God doesn’t listen more attentively to Mary or St. Augustine or Mother Teresa more than he listens to you.  

      That’s another reason why we ALL need to be growing in our prayer experience with God.  That’s why prayer is one of those spiritual practices you will popping up over and over and over again in the Bible.  It’s simply one of those things God longs for each of his children to experience with Him as much as possible.

So, let’s take a look at just WHAT Paul encourages us to talk to the Father about.  Ephesians 3:16-17a.

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

      Another version phrases that last statement, “…so that Christ might settle down and be at home in your hearts by faith.” 

      This is one of the most amazing doctrines of the entire Bible:  that God himself should take up residence, not in our church or in our home, but in our hearts…in the most intimate and personal recesses of our lives.  That is reality for every person who has every surrendered their life to Jesus Christ—he sends his Holy Spirit to take up permanent residence in our lives, never to leave us in this life. 

C.S. Lewis has written about this metaphor of our lives being a place of God’s residence in the book Mere Christianity.  He writes, "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.

      But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

If Christ is going to “dwell in our hearts”, it is going to take a growing faith on our part.  It is going to take the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us when He starts breaking down walls and building whole new rooms and extensions to our lives.  If our families and God’s family, the church, are to be places where others can experience God, then we’ll each need to continue to grow in our capacity to “make Christ at home in our hearts.” 

Robert Munger has written a classic short story entitled My Heart, Christ’s Home.  In it he walks us through what it is like for Jesus Christ to move into every room of our life.  It is precisely what Paul is praying for in this passage:  “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.”

       I’ve taken literary license and changed some of his imagery to help bring it into sharper focus for our 21st century American culture.  As I read this, listen for the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to you about becoming a person where Christ is “at home” in your heart. 

Munger writes, “One evening that I shall never forget, 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 the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire in the cold hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been stillness and he filled the emptiness with his own wonderful loving friendship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will-- not into eternity!

      After Christ entered my heart and in the joy of that new-found 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 my home that you may be more comfortable and that we may have deeper friendship together." He was very glad to come, of course, and…to be given a place in my heart.

THE STUDY:  The first room was the study, my library. Let us 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 is an important room. In a sense, it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books in the bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the pictures on the wall. As I followed his gaze I became 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 a Christ-follower had no business reading and as for the pictures on the wall -- the imaginations and thoughts of the mind—these, I began to realize, were shameful.

      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 to you?"

      "Surely!" he said. "Gladly will I help you. That is one reason I am here. First of all, take all the things that you are reading and seeing which are not helpful, pure, good and true, and throw them out! Now put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Fill the library with scriptures and meditate on them day and night.

      As for the pictures on the wall, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but here is an aid." He gave me a full sized picture of himself. "Hang this centrally," he said, "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 imaginations to retreat. So he has helped me to bring my thoughts into captivity.

      May I suggest to you if you have difficulty in 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 ever the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus.

THE DINING ROOM:  From the study we went to the dining room, the room of my appetites and desires. Now this was a very large room. I spent a lot of time and hard work trying to satisfy the taste buds of my personal appetites.

      Jesus seated himself at the table with me and asked, "What is on the menu for dinner?"

      "Well," I said, "my favorite comfort foods: money, academic degrees, ease, notoriety, personal accomplishments, sexual pleasure, entertainment and a host of other really good tasting stuff."

      These were the things I liked. I suppose there was nothing radically wrong with most of the foods I enjoyed, but then again, it was not the food that should satisfy the soul of a real Christ-follower. When I placed my food in front of Jesus and dove into my own dish with enthusiasm, he said nothing about it. However, I observed that he just sort of picked at it with his fork.  I said to him, somewhat disturbed, "Savior, you don't like the food I’m used to? What’s the matter?"

      He answered, "I have food to eat that you don’t know about. My food is to do the will of my Father who sent me." He looked at me again and said, "If you want food that really satisfies, seek the will of the Father first and foremost.  Make finding pleasure in him your strongest appetite."

      And then he gave me a taste of doing God's will. What a flavor! There is no food like it in all the world. It alone satisfies me long-term. Everything else now leaves a stale taste in my mouth and an emptiness in my soul compared to His food of doing God’s will.

THE LIVING ROOM:  We walked next into the living room. This room was a quiet, comfortable place with a warm atmosphere. I liked it. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a bookcase, sofa and a relaxing atmosphere.

      He also seemed pleased with it. He said, "This is indeed a delightful room. Let’s come here often. It is secluded and quiet and we can have good talks together here."

      Well, naturally, as a young Christian I was thrilled. I could not think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes alone with Christ in close companionship.

      He promised, "I will be here every morning to meet with you before your day gets busy and hurried.” 

      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 explain to me its truth. Through the Bible and his Holy Spirit, he would talk to me.  In prayer I would respond.  So our friendship deepened in those quiet times of personal conversation. 

      But little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened.  I guess I thought I was just too busy to spend that time with Christ every day. It wasn’t intentional; it just happened that way. Finally, not only was the time shortened, but I began to miss entire days now and then, such as during midterms and finals at the university. Then it was other seemingly urgent things.

One morning, I remember, rushing down the steps, in a hurry to be on my way to an important appointment.

      As I passed the drawing room, the door was open. Looking in I saw a fire in the fireplace and the Lord sitting there. Suddenly in dismay, I thought to myself, "He is my guest. I invited him into my heart! And yet here I am neglecting him." I turned and went in. With downcast glance I said, “Master, forgive me. Have you been here every morning?"

      "Yes," he said, "I told you I would be here to meet with you." I was even more ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. I asked him to forgive me and he did as he always does when we acknowledge our failures and desire to do right.

He said, "The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer, as a means for your own spiritual progress.  That is true, but you have forgotten that this time means something to me also. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at a great cost. I desire your fellowship. Just to have you look up into my face warms my Father’s heart.  Whether or not you want to be with me on any given day, remember that I always want to be with you.  I really love you!”

THE WORKSHOP:  Before long he asked, "Do you have a workshop in your home?" Out in the garage of the home of my heart I had a workbench and some great power tools.  I actually spent quite a bit of my life in my workshop. 

      He looked over the workbench, the tools and the talents and skills I had. He said, "This is quite well furnished. What are you producing with your life here for the Kingdom of God?"

      "Well," I said, "Lord, I’m making quite a bit of money out of here actually.  And I’ve gotten to know lots of people in the process.  But I’m not sure I know how to use this place to build your Kingdom.”

      "Would you like to learn to do that?" he asked. "Certainly," I replied.

      "All right. First, relax in me and let my Spirit work through you.  And so, stepping around behind me and putting his great, strong hands over mine, controlling the tools with his skillful fingers, he began to work through me.

      I was amazed at the difference his presence made.  Not only were the things I now produced more beautiful and of greater quality; my work had new meaning and purpose to it.  And many of the people I knew through my work began to ask about my new level of craftsmanship and service.  So, one by one, I began to introduce them to Jesus in my workshop. 

      There's much more that I must still learn and I am far from totally satisfied with the product that is being turned out.  But I do know that whatever is being produced with God has been through his strong hands and the power of his Spirit in me. And I now know the real reason behind knowing every one of my clients.  It has made my time in the workshop something I look forward to every day.


I remember the day Jesus inquired about my family rec room—the place I went for fun to spent my unoccupied evenings and weekends. 

      I had been half-hoping he would not ask me about that. There were certain activities and amusements that I wanted to keep for myself. There were certain things I did that I was pretty sure Christ would not choose to do with me. “Besides,” I reasoned, “Everyone needs a little ‘down time’ now and then.”

I remember the first evening he asked to join me watching TV.  All of a sudden I found that his presence in the room with me made me feel uncomfortable watching some of the things I had been fine with previously.

      Finally Jesus turned to me and asked, “Would you like my help in choosing movies and TV programs?” 

      “I’d love that, please,” I responded.  “And while were on the subject, would you take charge of the remote too…, you know, change the channel…or just turn it off…whenever you don’t like what’s on?” 

      “Certainly,” he replied.  “And I’ll do something else, too.  How about we spend a little time each day talking over even what you do end up watching?  You and your family could really benefit from those discussions.  This leisure part of your life has tremendous opportunity for you to address so many important things about life together.  Rather than letting entertainment drag you all down into the cultural sewer of the day, I can teach you discernment about what you watch.   And I can help you actually grow in godly wisdom that learns from what you watch so you all live life better and more fully.”   

      “Done,” I replied.  I was actually relieved to find that Christ wanted to be part of such an important room of my life.

But even after Jesus joined me watching movies, I was still a little unsure about some of the other things I really liked to do.  I was half-afraid that he was going to ask me to stop doing other things I really enjoyed…stuff like playing golf or reading a good novel or even video-gaming with the guys. 

       “So why don’t you take me golfing or gaming with you?” Jesus asked one Saturday. 

      “I didn’t think you’d be interested,” I said. 

      “What, not interested in sharing time with you in the great outdoors that I made for you to enjoy?  Not interested in hanging out with your friends whom I love just as much as I love you?” 

      “Well, now that you put it that way, it does sound pretty stupid,”  “So would you please join me in every part of my Rec Room?  And while you’re at it, would you help me know when I’m spending too much time in general in this room?” 

      He agreed to do that…and he has.  Instead of wasted hours of empty entertainment, Christ has brought amazing depth of relationships and wisdom about life. How much fuller and more refreshing all those activities have become with him at my side in each of them! 


There is just one more matter that I might share with you. One day I found him waiting for me at the front door. There was an arresting look in his eye. He said to me as I entered, "There is a peculiar 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 those words, I knew what he was talking about. Yes, there was a small hall closet up there on the hall landing, just a few feet square.  In the closet, behind lock and key, I had one or two little personal things that I did not want anybody to know about and certainly I did not want Christ to see. They were SO important to me, yet I knew they were dead and rotting things. I wanted them so for myself that I was afraid to admit they were there.  Reluctantly, I went up the stairs with him and as we mounted, the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed at the door and said, "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 rec room, the workshop, and now he was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said inwardly, "This is too much. I am not going to give him the key."

      "Well," he said, reading my thoughts, "if you think I am going to stay up here on the second floor with this odor, you are mistaken. I will take my bed out on the back porch. I'm certainly not going to put up with that." And I saw him start down the stairs.

      When you have come to know and love Christ, the worst thing that can happen to you is to sense his fellowship retreating from you. I had to surrender. "I'll give you the key," I said sadly, "but you'll have to open the closet. You'll have to 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 over 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 cleansed the closet, painted it, fixed it up, doing it all in a moment's time. Immediately a fresh, fragrant breeze swept through the house.  The whole atmosphere changed.  Oh, what victory and release to have that dead thing out of my life!

Then Jesus took me by the shoulders and looked me straight in the eye.  “If you should sin and fail like this in the future, feeling shame and guilt as you have here today, know I still love you and will remain with you. Talk to me about it! Acknowledge the wrong! Take the steps necessary and work the plan needed to avoid letting that rotten thing take hold ever again in your life! Rely on my strength to keep you from falling and to lead you into the right relationship of love with me and with people.”


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 then another room is dirty. I begin on 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 just am 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 lighten up as he replied, "Certainly, that is what I came to do. You can’t live out the Christian life in your own strength. That is impossible. Let me do it through you and for you. That is the only way it will really work. But," he added slowly, "I am not 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 trying to play the host. From now on, you are going to be the owner and master of the house.  I’m going to be the guest and servant."

      Running as fast as I could to my filing cabinet, I took out the title deed to the house describing its assets and liabilities, its condition, location and situation. Then returning to him, I eagerly signed it over giving title 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 and make it your home."

Ephesians 3:16-17

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.


  • Have you even invited Jesus Christ to come into the home of your heart?  Have you given him the key to your life and put your faith in Him as your Savior and Lord?  (Invitation to faith in Christ.)
  • Which room(s) was the Holy Spirit speaking to you about this morning that need you to invite the Spirit of Christ to occupy and organize?  Maybe it was a room I didn’t mention—the bedroom, the laundry room, the storage room, the office or school room?  Maybe it was just something in particular in one of the rooms.  I’d like to invite everyone to take the next few minutes to write a brief prayer to God inviting him into that part/room/activity/relationship of your life. 

Share in communion together.