July 31st, '18
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message by Kris Jackson
SWEPT AND GARNISHED
finds it empty, swept and garnished" (Matthew 12:44)
Jesus said that when an unclean spirit goes
house hunting he is looking for the heart that is empty, swept and garnished.
These are the three major perils in people's lives. "Empty" is a terrible
condition. An empty gas tank gets you nowhere. An empty heart creates a vacuum
that can cause one's whole world to implode. Too much on the inside, whether
anger, frustration, pressure, or whatever, can cause an explosion. But
too little on the inside can cause an implosion. Many hearts are hollow.
You can see it in the blank stare. Hope is gone. Out of the abundance of the
heart the mouth speaks, yet these live in muted silence because there is no
"abundance" within. David cried, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is
within me". He had a "within". Full of praise, he certainly was not empty.
Soul-emptiness works just like gas in the car; you can only go so many miles on
one filling. There must be periodic checkups and fill-ups. That is why we need
worship and the Word.
"Swept" is the next peril. It implies that
there has been a surface dusting off of the soul but no in-depth scrubbing and
scouring of caked on grime. A swept house is not necessarily a clean house.
Sweeping removes what is visible to the eye but remember germs are microscopic.
Plus, many take the easy route of sweeping issues under the rug. That can breed
spiritual contagion. Man is made of dust (Psalm 103:14). Adam was destined to
return to dust (Genesis 2:19). So dusting is an important part of soul-care but
it is not enough. Paul defined the new birth as "the washing of regeneration,
and the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). A spic 'n span job requires
using some Spic 'N Span. "Now you are clean through the word..." (John 15:3)
"Garnished" then speaks of the soul that has
been redecorated, tidied and all dolled up. Curtains are hung, mantelpieces are
placed, the pictures on the wall are set to perfect plumb. A garnished house
might even have air freshener sprayed throughout the rooms but even that is
just a cover-up. Many today lean on religious props. It may be a Mother Mary
statue, a family Bible on the end table or a lunchtime chant of "God is great,
God is good, and we thank Him for our food". A Sunday bonnet is nice garnish,
but just like in eating hotdogs, it is still the dog you're after, not the
Is your tank empty? Are you content with a
broom job when what is probably needed is a roach bomb? Is your life garnished
with religious trinkets or adorned with the doctrine of grace (Titus
2:10)? It is not enough just to remove the bad tenant; we need to move in a
whole new householder, Jesus. As Tommy Barnett preached, "The absence of the
unholy spirit does not guarantee the presence of the Holy Spirit". As long as
your heart-house sits empty it is a standing invitation to burglars and
spiritual crack users. Take the "For Sale" sign down. Turn the keys over to
Jesus, "whose house are we" (Hebrews 3:6). He built the house then purchased
the house after He built it. Why are we so hesitant to sign over all rights?
The New Testament believers were all "filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost"
(Acts 13:52). They afforded no opening for depression or idleness. Leaving
doors unlocked and windows propped open, as mentioned, invites the prowler. See
that you "walk circumspectly" (Ephesians 5:15), that means, making the rounds,
checking the locks. A wise man watches for who is snooping outside, but the
wiser man makes sure that the stronger lives on the inside. And we know Who is
stronger. "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John