"No Room For Christ in the Inn" Spurgeon

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7.

Reasons Christ would be laid in a manger

To show forth His humiliation
Would it not have been inappropriate that the Redeemer who was to be buried in a borrowed tomb should be born anywhere but in the humblest shed, and housed anywhere but in the most ignoble manner? The manger and the cross standing at the two extremities of the Savior's earthly life seem most fit and congruous the one to the other. He is to wear through life a peasaut's garb; he is to associate with fishermen; the lowly are to be his disciples; the cold mountains are often to be his only bed; he is to say, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head;" nothing, therefore, could he more fitting than that in his season of humiliation, when he laid aside all his glory, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and condescended even to the meanest estate, he should be laid in a manger.

To be declared the King of the poor
In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection, a man in their own garb attracts their confidence...The things which are not, under him shall bring to nought the things that are, and the things that are despised which God hath chosen, shall under his leadership break in pieces the might, and pride, and majesty of human grandeur.

To give an invitation to the most humble to come to him as the manger was free to all
We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger.  Class exclusions are unknown here, and the prerogatives of caste are not acknowledged. No forms of etiquette are required in entering a stable; it cannot be an offense to enter the stable of a public caravanserai. So, if you desire to come to Christ you may come to him just as you are; you may come now. Whosoever among you hath the desire in his heart to trust Christ is free to do it. Jesus is free to you; he will receive you; he will welcome you with gladness, and to show this, I think, the young child was cradled in a manger.

To show that even beast-like men may come to him and live
I believe our Lord was laid in the manger where the beasts were fed, to show that even beast-like men may come to him and live. No creature can be so degraded that Christ cannot lift it up. Believe on him and he will make thee a new creature.

The inn itself had no room for Him but there were other places besides the inn which had no room for Christ.

The palaces of emperors and the halls of kings afforded the royal stranger no refuge
How could kings accept the humble Savior? They love grandeur and pomp, and he is all simplicity and meekness. He is a carpenter's son, and the fisherman's companion...O great ones of the earth, I am but little astonished that amid your glories, and pleasures, and wars, and councils, ye forget the Anointed, and cast out the Lord of All. There is no room for Christ with the kings.

Senators, forums of political discussion, the places where the representatives of the people make the laws
One or two will give him a good word, but if it be put to the vote whether the Lord Jesus should be obeyed or no, it will be many a day before the ayes have it. Parties, policies, place-hunters, and pleasure-seekers exclude the Representative of Heaven from a place among representatives of Earth.

Good society”
There is room for all the silly little forms by which men choose to trammel themselves; room for the vain niceties of etiquette; room for frivolous conversation; room for the adoration of the body, there is room for the setting up of this and that as the idol of the hour, but there is too little room for Christ, and it is far from fashionable to follow the Lord fully.

The schools of the philosophers
Too often learning is the forge where the nails are made for Christ's crucifixion; too often human wit has become the artificer who has pointed the spear and made the shaft with which his heart should be pierced. We must say it, that philosophy, falsely so called. (for true philosophy, if it were handled aright, must ever be Christ's friend) philosophy, falsely so called, hath done mischief to Christ, but seldom hath it served his cause.

In general conversation
We talk about many things; a man may now-a-days talk of any subject he pleases...Speech is very free in this land; but, ah! how little room is there for Christ in general talk! Even on Sunday afternoon how little room there is for Christ in some professed Christian's houses.

In the workshop
There is room there for everything else; there is room for swearing; there is room for drunkenness; there is room for lewd conversation; there is room for politics, slanders, or infidelities, but there is no room for Christ. Too many of our working men think religion would be an incumbrance, a chain, a miserable prison to them. They can frequent the theater, or listen in a lecture-hall, but the house of God is too dreary for them. I wish I were not compelled to say so, but truly in our factories, workshops, and foundries, there is no room for Christ. The world is elbowing and pushing for more room, till there is scarce a corner left where the Babe of Bethlehem can be laid.

Have you room for Christ?
Never mind what the past has been; he can forget and forgive. It mattereth not what even the present state may be if thou mournest it. If thou hast but room for Christ he will come and be thy guest. Will he come indeed! Do you but set the door of your heart open, do but say, "Jesus, Master, all unworthy and unclean I look to thee; come, lodge within my heart," and he will come to thee, and he will cleanse the manger of thy heart, nay, will transform it into a golden throne, and there he will sit and reign for ever and for ever.

The world will have no room for you if you are truly His
The world has no room for you -  The world, I say, has no room for the man who has room for Christ. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. There is no room for you to take your ease; no, you are to be a soldier of the cross, and you will find no ease in all your life-warfare. There is no room for you to sit down contented with your own attainments, for you are a traveler, and you are to forget the things that are behind, and press forward to that which is before; no room for you to hide your treasure in, for here the moth and rust doth corrupt; no room for you to put your confidence, for "Cursed is he that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." From this day there will be no room for you in the world's good opinion—they will count you to be an offscouring; no room for you in the world's polite society—you must go without the camp, bearing his reproach.

"Jesus, I thy cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee;
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be."

The Lord help you to do so, and to him shall be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Information vs. Wisdom and the Book of Proverbs

"We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom"
I passed that sign one day this summer and have not been able to stop thinking about it. We have more information more technology and greater connectivity than ever yet we are more lonely, divided and indecisive than ever.

This project wall has become a recent favorite. Yet I look at all these books, not quite the collection Belle got in Beauty in the Beast (oh Disney how you tease - only in fairytales), and wonder what good has all this information been in my life.  These pages have mentored, shaped, guided, inspired, and challenged me. But it's not in the information and the words on the pages alone that changes you, it's what is done with them. The difference of information and wisdom.

Once a year I like to spend 31 days in the 31 chapters of Proverbs. This year in May a group of ladies did this together and talked through the chapters each week. Most weeks we felt pretty beat up, seeing ourselves in the foolish unrighteous one, being exposed to the ugliness of our sin and shortcomings and walking away from 7 chapters each week feeling... well "whoof" was our usual sentiment.

There is a danger to take these wise sayings of Solomon as simply moralistic teaching - live this way and it well go well for you - as qualifying efforts for the Gospel. The lessons and characteristics in Proverbs ultimately point to Jesus as the wisest man, the Son perfectly attuned to the Father, the true husband, the faithful son, the true and loyal friend,  the perfect worker, the good steward who knew how to handle wealth, and the man who followed God’s plans.  This is not a book of virtues but of redemption in Jesus. He redeems our morals and character to His likeness when we abide, when we live out the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of the day.  

Proverbs 1:20-22 says wisdom is calling out:
"Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:" How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?"
Wisdom is crying out in the everyday place of life -  in the hustle and bustle of the noisy streets, in the markets, and at the city gates. What do you envision? An old wise woman? Gandolf? Walking around crying out for their attention, to be listened to. Why? Because much calls for our attention, drowning truth and wisdom out if we aren't attuned and listening for it, to it. And lesser things can disguise themselves as the good eternal things.
There are two voices compared in parts of Proverbs. Lady Folly and Lady Wisdom. They both call out to be heard. They cry out saying the same thing in Proverbs 9:4,16 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" Who will you listen to, follow, and how will you discern if the voice is wisdom or the voice of folly?
Where is Wisdom found?
  • The very Word of God, The bible is God's revelation to us, His wisdom, counsel, way for life. Psalm 19 says His word is perfect, reviving the soul; sure, making wise the simple; right rejoicing the heart; and pure, enlightening the eyes.

  • The Spirit of God reveals, searches, illuminates, gives understanding, instructs and gives Christians the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:6-16)

  • Those living ahead of us and have gone before us. Those saints of old who have scribed their life lessons with pen and paper - read their pages. The people around you, seasons ahead of you with grey hairs and lines on their faces marking the years of their lives and the lessons learned - seek them out.

  • Suffering - frees you, detaches your hold on temporary things,  teaches you what matters, gives birth to eternal perspective and new values. Don't let suffering slip through your days without letting it refine and grow you in wisdom.

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

In Proverbs 8 wisdom is there again, calling out, in the coming and going places of our day.
  • At the "height beside the way" -  along your way, above your steps - wisdom is there.
  • At the "crossroads she takes her stand"  - where choices are made between two things, two ways: this or that, here or there - wisdom is there.
  • "Beside the gates" - where cultural decisions are made, in your leadership, in your influence - wisdom is there.
  • At the "entrance of the portals" - in your coming and going, when you are changing places, choosing the places you’ll go to - wisdom is there.

The steps we take, the decisions we make, the people we encounter, all need to be covered by His grace and wisdom, not by mere information.

We are overloaded with information coming at us in every direction and every media avenue. Information may "inform" you what you "should" be getting, what you should demand for, what you are entitled to, who you should vote for. But that information alone is not leading us to actually consider and think through the implications, how those things work themselves out, it does not think long term, does not look within ourselves but points out to say you can do all and be all with facts. Wisdom however sees through the "data" that disguises itself as power and wants to humble teach as we go about our way through life.

"There is a difference between healthy learning and information gluttony: one is about being fully human, and the other is about craving limitlessness...unmeasured consumption of information brings us not increased peace of mind, as we had hoped, but increased dissonance...information overload ... affects our cognition, and thereby our productivity, shortening our attention spans and diminishing our ability to concentrate...paralysis by analysis... God help us if the church succumbs to inaction and indifference in the face of human suffering." Jen Wilkin

“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness to the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12

I just finished another semester of seminary and already deep into the next and goodness do I feel those words, that often much study is weariness to the flesh when not applied and engaged to the heart for transformation of heart, mind and will.

Information says this should be your opinion and make sure everyone knows.
Wisdom leads you to think, consider, evaluate your opinion but also how you share that opinion with others.  
Information and data say "werk werk werk werk werk" (or maybe that's Rhianna), work more for more success.
Wisdom says rest and your work will be more fruitful. Rest from your work and striving, and then work out of an overflow of your rest.
Information says do more, learn more, be more - for your own personal success
Wisdom says, say no so you can say yes to what matters most, do less and give more to meaningful places -  for the sake of healthy relationships because people matter.
Information says the cross killed a man.
But wisdom says that which was meant to kill brought victory.

Proverbs says to seek out, take hold, do not let go of and guard the wisdom of God for it is life. What are some practical ways to lessen the information binge and sink deeply into truthful wisdom?

  • Choose a few wisely - choose less to listen to/read and dive into those well.

Years ago I found myself trying to read 4 books at once, listening to 6 podcast and reading every blog post I came across. I could not keep track of all I was listening to and reading nor my own thoughts. This also led me to live second handly through others. I wanted first-hand relationship with the Lord and to soak in well, little, rather than not really retain and engage from overload. When choosing ask such questions that Jen Wilkin’s poses:

Will the time and attention I give this made me more like Christ? Will it make me better able to serve God and serve others? Am I feeding my intellect in a way that enables me to love the Lord my God with all my mind, or in a way that causes information overload? Does what I'm learning cause me to worship myself, or cause me to marvel at "the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge" (Job 37:16)?

  • Discuss with others - Share what you are listening to, reading, your thoughts, criticisms, spur each other on and challenge each other, challenge the norm, the values of culture.

  • Choose your Bible - it is not merely information but "alive and active' (Heb. 4:12). God's Words are identical to His actions. When He speaks He does. His words and actions are one in the same. Consider Psalm 119  to read King David’s love letter to the very Word of God - oh that we would value, cherish, and live by His words.

I need to be in the Word because with all that I know (or think I know) I need to be reminder of Who is actually all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present, in control and sovereign and stop thinking it's up to me to make all the things happen. Abiding in His pages are full of reminders that He is all these things and more. To quite trying muster up all of my own efforts, knowledge, experience and find true wisdom power and life in the One who wrote life itself.

For He “is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6), “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36)!

When the garden of your life is planted in the soil of God's wisdom, you can't help but produce good fruit.

Clear waters. Clear heart and mind. And how idleness clouds.

In the backyard of my old home I had this beautiful waterfall pond. The water pulls from this small size pool that then pours down from the waterfall back into the pool, recycling the water through and through. I loved sitting outside reading while water is pouring down, a little escape like I’m sitting at the base of a magnificent waterfalls at Yosemite. But it takes work for this waterfall to function properly and to it’s fullest potential. The pool water itself needs to be cared for with chemicals to keep it clean, skimmed of leaves and others objects that drop in the water and have to clean out the filters. This water also needs to be frequently stirred up to mix the chemicals and have circulation within the water which means running the waterfall at least for an hour once a day. Sometimes I neglect to do these things and the effect varies on the duration of neglect. When it’s been cold, rainy, windy, and gloomy I did not have the motivation to go do the work because I wouldn’t be sitting out there enjoying the waterfall. I would glance through the window once in awhile checking on the condition of the pool water as I know I had been neglecting it. At one point it had been over a month since I had done any of these things when I usually did them weekly. I could see the water getting dirtier, greener and darker. I finally went out there to take a closer look at it and saw what I was afraid of, I would have to do great work to get it clean and running once again. The pool walls itself were thick with algae because I failed to pour in the proper chemicals, the bottom filled with dirt and leaves because I failed to remove that which dropped in it. I had thick stagnant water and clogged filters, unable to flow the water through the pumps to pour the once clean and clear water beautifully down the waterfall to be enjoyed. What could be beautiful flowing waterfall was then a stagnant dirty and clouded pool of gross water. 

When I stared into this cloudy pool of water I realized how cloudy by heart, mind and perspective had become because I was neglecting time in the Word. When I am overwhelmed with an exhausted mind I can choose idleness of heart and mind rather than that which will pour life into me, being in the Word. When idleness creeps in my perspective gets clouded because of failing to pour into my heart and soul that which breathes life and fail to often see what things are dropping in my mind that I need to remove. Allowing things of the world to drop in my life when not being saturated in truth begins a slow subtle drift like algae slowly covering the walls of my heart and mind no longer allowing me to see life clearly. Discouragement, anxiousness and doubt creeps in my cloudy vision. When I grow weary and despondent I get more focused on entitlement rather than calling. My perspective turns narrowly inward focus and I no longer am flowing with life to give to others. Eternal perspective is anchoring for me and when I lose sight of that I’m prone to be discouraged and give up rather than persevere. I need the Holy Spirit overlooking the water of my soul reminding me and empowering me to do the work to clean it out again by letting the Word pour into me so I can be a life giving flowing fountain.

if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Isaiah 58:10-12 ESV

When We Take On Too Much and Do Too Little

"God won't give me more than I can handle"... "Oh yes He will."

I remember when this phrase naively came off my lips years ago talking to my senior pastor early in my college years about recent events and he forever changed those words and helped me unlearn a misunderstanding about God.

This seems to be a phrase passed around to tell each other "you can do it, you can make it through this – you are strong.” You. You. You. (Or we just say it because it’s been said to us.)

We are limited finite people and when we get ensnared in the enemy’s falsehood that we are self-sufficient, self-sustaining we live as if we in ourselves are all we need and do what we want to do. This autonomous mentality robs us of knowing the Sufficient One and His intended way of life. Our self-sustaining efforts hinder us from truly breathing life with gratitude and acknowledgment for the One who sustains us. Our heart is deceiving, not trustworthy (Jeremiah 17:9) and bent towards selfish ways that will not bring good, rather harm to ourselves and others. When we are given over to our own ways and thinking we tend to make a mess of things and not make them better (Romans 1:21-32) although the world tells you otherwise.  

The very thing or circumstance that makes you feel weak and inadequate is a strengthening tool in God’s hand to grow your dependence on Him who has the power to make dead things alive. His power in our shortcomings strengthens our faith and fuels our hope for perseverance and obedience. Paul got it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 in which he ends with “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We are to be a people relying on Him, not on ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). When we believe, look to, and place all that we are on the One who has the power to make dead things live the result is we are filled “with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear or uncertainty? Are you anxious and overwhelmed with circumstances or worries? These concerns of life are inclined to consume and freeze our steps, actions, and decisions. The enemy loves seeing followers of Jesus inactive and immobilized because of taking on concerns beyond what we are intended to in contrast to living out faithful biblical discipleship. I love these words of the David in Psalm 131 because I have a tendency to concern my heart and mind with things that are beyond my control.

"O Lord, my heart is not lifted up proud; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever more." Psalm 131

Which leads to the questioning of who is to handle what in our lives – what is my role and what is God’s? What’s my responsibility and what is God’s? In his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul Tripp helps discern the difference by identify between our concerns and our responsibilities.  We have CONCERNS that are out of our control that we are to ENTRUST to God. We also have RESPONSIBILTIES that God has given and asked of us that we need to FAITHFULLY OBEY. But we often confuse one for the other. This leads to taking on what we are to entrust, exhausting ourselves with effort, concern, worry feeling discouraged. We then are likely to neglect the very things He has asked us to be obedient in, unfaithful to our calling as His disciples.

Because we are inclined to be controlling fixers and want to give the responsibility God has given to us back to Him, we end up taking on too much and doing too little. When I have much on mind – things I’m worried about, nervous and anxious about and uncertain how to move forward – my heart and mind get overwhelmed. I have found this helpful to walk through to help discern what concerns to entrust and what my responsibilities to faithfully obey are. Trust and obey Jesus.

Start by asking the Lord to examine your heart to expose what things you are holding onto for control (concern) that you need to hand over to Him (entrust). And what things you are called to be and do (responsibility) that you need to pursue, take action on, make a decision (faithfully obey).

Then use whatever way you process best to identify them. I am visual, love writing to process and love making lists. So I write out all that’s on my heart and mind that the Lord has helped me identify. If you are a verbal processor, talk through them with someone. From what you’ve been able to identify which concerns verse responsibilities?

Once you’ve identified those, pray through them and ask the Lord to help you hand over and entrust to Him the issues you need to and ask Him to help you faithfully act upon what you need to.

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We are an anxious people. The things we are anxious about often reveal the idols of our hearts - what we're terrified of losing or desperately trying to get. Both which are out of our control. Glance at your heart. Gaze at Jesus. Trust and obey the Lord.