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Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
At Christmas, we often sing the song, “Joy to the World”, a song that announces the good news about the birth of Jesus, who is Lord and King over all the world. A key lyric in the song includes this: “Let every heart prepare Him room and Heaven and nature sing.” We sing this phrase with excitement and often times casually, but what does it mean to prepare Him (Jesus) room in our hearts? The word “prepare” in its various forms appears many times in the Bible. Generally speaking, this word means to make ready, to make the necessary preparations, to furnish or to equip. 1,2 In times past, this word might be used to describe the preparations involved with making roads level and clearing the path for a king’s journey. Another context where the word “prepare” might be applied is to the building of a house and all the adorning and equipping that comes with it.
This past weekend, we learned about the Wise Men, who responded to the gift of Jesus with worship, and how it cost them something (click here to view the sermon). They had prepared to go on a pilgrimage journey, following the star in the East that they knew signaled the birth of the King of the Jews. They also prepared gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh to give to the young Child. The Wise Men’s desire to worship Jesus led them to prepare. Similarly, our desire to worship Jesus will lead us to prepare as well, which will require our intention, effort and persistence.
1. Preparing Him room requires our intention.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4 NLT)
The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae, reminding them of their new life in Christ. He knew that for them, and for us too, the distractions, temptations and worries of this world could easily cause them to forget about what Jesus had done for them and about their new heavenly identity. He encouraged them and is encouraging us today as well, that to prepare Jesus room in our hearts, requires that we intentionally set our sights on Him and the realities of His heavenly Kingdom.
When I was making preparations for renovating my apartment, I had to pay attention to the space, the plans for the space, the trades needed, the vendors for the materials etc. It was not helpful spending time looking at where I used to live or someone else’s home, or even focusing on what I didn’t have. I had to be intentional about my focus, time and resources, if I wanted to see a good result. If we want to prepare Jesus room and see Him at work in our lives, then we need to be intentional about our focus, time and resources as well.
If we’ve become consumed with a sport or hobby, tempted by certain friends or pleasures, or worried about finances or the future, prepare Jesus room by intentionally going to Him in prayer, and asking Him to help us set our sights on His perspective for our lives. Jesus wants us to experience His life for us and He wants to help us by the power of His Spirit.
2. Preparing Him room requires our effort.
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. …
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:5-15)
Being intentional is vital to preparing Jesus room in our hearts, but it also requires our effort. The language Paul uses to describe how we are to deal with the sinful things within us is very clear … “put to death” … “have nothing to do” … “get rid of”. In its place, we are to put on our new nature, make allowance for each other, remember God’s forgiveness, and let His peace be the ultimate power and authority in our lives. When we become a new creation in Christ, yes, the old is gone and the new has come, but remaining in our new nature means a new way of living, where sin is no longer welcomed or entertained, and where we make every effort to walk in God’s ways, taking time to know Him and be renewed in the process.
When I prepare to have guests in my home, leaving garbage or dirt around is not an option. I make sure to clean every surface, vacuum the floor, get rid of the clutter, and throw away any garbage. Not only that, but I will usually put on some nice music, prepare some snacks, light a candle and ensure good lighting. I make this effort in honour of the guests coming, because I want them to feel welcomed and I want them to know that I thought of them in advance. How much more does our Lord Jesus deserve the same and so much more.
It’s important to note that any effort we make apart from the Holy Spirit is futile and unproductive. The Spirit of God is the power at work within us to cut off sin and put on our new nature. Remember also what Paul writes, “be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him” (verse 10). While we are clear on how to handle sin and what new nature to put on, our focus is on neither of these, but on our Heavenly Father, who renews us as we follow Him!
3. Preparing Him room requires our persistence.
“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)
Preparing Jesus room in our hearts certainly requires our intention and effort, but without persistence, we will find ourselves having a yo-yo relationship with Him. A yo-yo essentially depends on the force of a throw and gravity to unwind and wind up. There is no steady state for a toy yo-yo. In other words, temporary times of intention and effort to prepare Jesus room may result in sweet moments with Him, but we will find ourselves easily frustrated over time. The reason for this is because interspersed between the sweet moments with Him, will also be times when we may feel distant or lost again, because we lost sight of our Lord and His heavenly realities, as well as forgotten about our new nature in Him.
I will never forget coming to the realization of my own yo-yo relationship with Jesus when I was a child and well into my adolescent years. I could not understand why my fervency for the Lord seemed to be so strong when I went to yearly church summer camps, but then it would wane throughout the year. I was clearly depending on church events to inspire me to have a deeper relationship with Jesus, but what I did not realize, was the importance of persisting in my faith throughout the year, throughout the week, and throughout the day. Over time I learned that my walk with Jesus and having sweet moments with Him grew more consistent when I spent time with Him daily in prayer (including praying in the Spirit), reading the Bible (with the purpose of knowing Him more), journaling (writing down my prayers, as well as what I sensed the Lord saying to me), and fellowshipping with other believers (especially in church small group).
The apostle Paul encouraged the believers to fill their lives with the message of Christ, but not only that, also to teach and counsel others as the Holy Spirit enabled them. He admonished them to sing songs to the Lord and be thankful. Lastly, Paul went further, reminding the believers to remember the Lord Jesus in everything they do or say, because they do not live for themselves, but for Christ, as His representatives. Paul’s words are for us today as well. If we want to prepare Jesus room in our hearts this Christmas season and all year round, we will need to persist in doing these things.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing. I hope we sing this carol with new perspective, preparing room in our hearts for the Lord Jesus every day by intentionally setting our sights on Him, making every effort to walk in His ways, and persisting in filling our lives with His message. The result of living this kind of life is clear:
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
(Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)
May we be those whose daily delight is in Lord and His ways, who is planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in every season of life, and prospering in everything we do for the Lord.
1 “G2090 – hetoimazō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nkjv).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 16 Dec, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2090/nkjv/tr/0-1/>.
2 “G2680 – kataskeuazō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (nkjv).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 16 Dec, 2023. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2680/nkjv/tr/0-1/>.