Christ Death. Priceless Gift

The Back Story

In writing, there is a term called the “Back-story.” The back-story is simply “background information about a real person or thing that wrtpromotes fuller understanding of it.”

 

As believers, our back-story, in many cases, becomes the cornerstone of our testimony.  Our back story begins with who we were before Christ- lost, blinded, desperate, needy, and dying. Added to that is the defining and life changing moment in time when we experienced merciful and gracious intervention. The day the Healer of our souls opened our eyes and heart  to our desperate need of a Savior. Our back story is the moment He allowed us to see we stood wanton and condemned before the awful and awesome Holy God of Eternity. Our back story was when Glory intervened among depraved humanity, revealing. condemning, ransoming, delivering, and Saving us so we could be who we were created, called, and  destined to become.

 

Unlike fictional work, our back-story is unique in that it is ongoing and will never be complete until Christ returns. At the end of every day, we have actively lived and experienced countless moments that bare witness of a faithful and glorious God actively at work among us. Our back story builds and swells ever moment of our lives, paving the way for the next.

 

Lamentation 3:19-27 says:

19I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

 

What an eloquent summary of the back-story of every believer!

 

At night, when my head hits the pillow, I can and must reflect upon the back-story of the day. It is during these quiet periods of reflection that I am able to see quite possibly what my physical eyes missed during the chaotic moments of the day. For, every second I drew a breath, He was miraculously and glorious present in my life.

 

buildEvery moment of Divine intervention, grace, strength, joy, sorrow, suffering, and Victory, yet another row of “faith” bricks are laid. Each day’s faith bricks building upon the last, and not one line of my story takes place without His presence. He is there holding my life, my back-story, and my life story together. Within the Divine mortar that affirms, confirms, and establishes my life, the King and glorious Creator of the universe takes pleasure in weaving His presence and glory into my meager story, making it His own!

 

This amazing Montage of the Divine intertwined among raw, needy humanity shines more brilliant than the most beautiful of sunsets. Daily, and faithfully He builds, what human eyes can not fathom. Day by day He builds what makes the unseen heart soar and rise above circumstance and sorrow. Brick upon brick, story upon story, faithfulness that binds, grace that transforms, lives consumed by the glory of His love.

 

And from among the ash and the chaos of life His glorious church is built. The many become one. A mysterious and unified body. A million voices crying out in perfect, haunting harmony. Each back story confirming and testifying with the next. A unanimous, faithful, consistent symphony, building upon the every note that swells from hearts overflowing with Divine Grace. No one story rising above another’s, for every story proclaims equally and  gloriously the Sovereign Reign of a Holy God.  And as our voices join with those “Graced” in the past, we beckon and testify to those who struggle tomorrow that He Is, He Was and He will forever be. Those who “know” and have experienced, call out to those yet suffering among the ashes of sorrow, pain, heartache and failure. To these we cry “Lift up your head, He lives, He breathes, and He is here among you. He sits with you among the ashes, He understands your fear, He feels your pain, and He has an answer to the questions you falter to ask”  Our back-story becomes the hiding place for those so broken, battered, and weary they can’t see him though their pain.

 

What is my back-story, you might ask?

 

broken heart He loved me enough to expose the hidden sins of my heart. He cared about the things others couldn’t see, seizing the opportunity sin meant to use for my destruction and instead  used it as an opportunity to lavish upon me His glorious grace.  When I was wounded by the sinful hearts of others, He whispered I am here, I am in control, and it is your heart I will make new. Though I did not understand it then, I see now that He smote me, not to destroy, but to restore. He broke me beyond what man could repair and then He repaired my spirit, soul, and heart in a way only the God of the Universe could. He replaced ashes with Beauty, sorrow for Joy, turmoil with Peace, Anger with Gentleness. Though I was blind, now I see, and what was dead, He brought back to life. Oh look at my life and you will see Him there. Oh to be able to adequately convey what He has put to death in my heart and life.  If only you could see the ugliness and depravity His Spirit works diligently and skillfully to cut away.  He has gloriously replaced a hopeless future, with His glorious Hope!

 

This is my back-story and this is His glory!

 

What is your back-story?

Advertisements

Learning to live with a heart that is broken but a life is not.

Living with a Heart that is Broken, but a life that is not!

Beth Moore at Living Proof Ministries is hosting her women’s summer Bible study. I signed up at Women’s Bible Cafe to join over 600 women who will participate in this study via online and community small groups. We are studying the book of Nehemiah and using Kelly Minter’s book Nehemiah: A heart that can break. 

There is still time to join over 600 dear, like-minded, passionate “Siestas” in Christ. You can follow along personally, join a virtual small group (what I am doing), or hook up with a group in your area. Check out any of the above links for information.

Brokenness isn’t an activity your normal human being would sign up to experience. Everything about the word screams run, but when we are straining to “see the unseen”, and to live for the “Eternal” versus the temporal, brokenness should become our hearts desire and aim.

Over the next few weeks I will post thoughts and insights gleaned from this study. My heart has all ready been blessed as I have joined in prayer with women I have never met, yet feel great love and compassion for. What a powerful image six-hundred women, on their faces before the Lord, crying out for brokenness, evokes!

To ask the Lord to break my heart with the things that break His, is a daring prayer. It is not a self-seeking desire to suffer for the purpose of winning the praise and accolades of man, nor is it an attempt to obtain righteousness through works. The desire to have a heart, broken by God, is a desire to see and feel as He sees and feels. It is a prayer to have myself moved out-of-the-way so I can see and be moved by the pain, suffering, need, and hopelessness of man. A heart, broken by the Spirit of the Living God, is to posses a heart that mourns over the destruction that sin is wreaking in the hearts of fallen man.

 

Today, as we studied the prayer and heart of Nehemiah found in chapter 1:1-5, A verse kept coming to mind:

Psalm 17:15

15 As for me,

I will behold thy face in righteousness:

I shall be satisfied,

when I awake, with thy likeness.

I believe this desire should be the heart and sum of all we strive to do and be as children of God. A broken and contrite heart He will not turn away! Would you be daring enough to embrace the cry, “Lord break my heart?” Can you utter with me. in Your brokenness, let me become Your likeness, and in Your likeness there let me dwell satisfied?

The truth and reality of the fallen world we live in is  that everyone we will be broken.  The question we must ask ourselves is what will we allow to break us, sin or a Savior?

 

Matthew 21:44

And whosoever shall fall on this stone

shall be broken:

but on whomsoever it shall fall,

it will grind him to powder.

The world will crush and break us ruthlessly, our Heavenly Father breaks us with love, compassion and a divine, God glorifying purpose.

Only One can promise fulfillment with abandonment, and bring beauty from ashes. Only one Master can satisfy and fulfill the desires and yearning of the yielded and broken heart.

Lord God Almighty, posses and reign my heart and life. Make is soft so that it weeps when you weep, delights when you
delight, and breaks at what breaks yours. O Father, I shall be satisfied only when I awake with your likeness, when there is less of me for the world to see. Amen

The Priceless Gift

The Priceless Gift
Psalm 50:7-15
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you:
I am God, even thy God.
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds,
for every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beast of the field are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell thee, for the world is mine, and the fullness there of.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

A few days ago David and I were reading a Psalm written by King David, and my husband made a comment about him I had never considered before. In a time where the religion of the Jew’s revolved around customs and traditions, law and “doing/works”, David was ahead of his time when he wrote Psalms like chapter 51. Somehow this scraggly backward shepherd boy become king, realized that one could slaughter an entire heard of cows and have a heart still separated from God because of sin. He fully grasped the key to a right and proper relationship with Christ, something the Pharisees and “Doctors of the Law” still hadn’t figured out hundreds of years later earning them the open rebuke and scorn of Jesus Christ himself.

As a parent with three kids, my hearts desire and prayer is they they come to know and love Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, serving him faithfully all their lives. I feel woefully inadequate as one of their spiritual God given teachers, and fear I will fail them, so David’s story interest me greatly. As I mulled over this thought, I asked my husband, how he thought a lowly, last born, adolescent boy, who spent solitary hours and days in a field with nothing but sheep and a musical instrument as his companion, discover this secret? How did he figure out in the midst of sheep and grass, what men who studied the law all their life in the “house of God” missed? What did David discover in the fields alone with the sheep that the pharisees and scribes missed, that being what the Lord truly wants from us and the precious truth of what keeps us in a right relationship with Christ. What did Jesse his father, teach him? What kind of worship with Christ did he experience in the solitary fields that illuminated his spirit with the truth- It is not at all about the “sacrifice”, but “rather about the heart of the sacrificer.” Perhaps in the fields, with nothing to distract, and nothing to offer but his heartfelt love, adoration, and worship David experienced what men spend years trying to discover, a true and living relationship with Christ.

The next day I read Psalm 50, and when I got to the verses 7-15, the Lord spoke to my heart and humbled me with a truth I had never thought of. This chapter begins with the musician author speaking about the might and glory of God, and then the Psalm shifts to the Lord making a very profound statement about his relationship to us and all of creation. His statement is basically this, your sacrifices mean nothing to me because everything you take and offer up to me is mine all ready. I created the animals you offer to me, I control their movements, they obey me, they belong to me. He proclaims in Psalm 50 If I were hungry or wanted one of them, I would not come to you nor would I ask you to go get me one-THEY ARE MINE!!! The value or power of a sacrifice is not found in the quality, quantity or price of the sacrifice, the value of the sacrifice comes from something else and David realized this and he knew he could offer one-thousand of the choicest bulls from a heard and it could mean nothing to God, yet a poor peasant could offer a turtledove and obtain the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of the Lord.

This then is what brought me to my knees……The Lord God created this universe with the power and breath of his voice. All creation bows in obeisance to him, and he wields the power and the authority and the ability to control it all….. all that is BUT one thing. The Lord created the earth, the land, seas, animals, and heavens, and then he created within man something he prized and valued above all else, his heart. It is here the Lord then chose to limit himself. He could have demanded our love, required we worship him. He could have created us like the animals of the field forcing our obedience and service but he did not do this. Instead he created a gift, priceless and desperately sought after in his eyes and he relinquished his right to it. Limiting himself, he gave us the ability to give him something precious and treasured that he could not get for himself. This is what made our heart and our fellowship so precious to him. Then to establish how greatly he yearned for the right to possess that treasure, he offered in exchange the greatest gift he could, and the only sacrifice that could redeem that which had been tainted and made unworthy of him through sin. Thus he offered the unspeakable gift of his only son Jesus Christ. He offered up glory and majesty for the corrupted and sinful heart of man. The God of Creation, the One and true Gift became the seeker and the the corrupted and destitute became both the gift and the giver.

How humbling it is to recall every day that there is nothing I can acquire here on earth that is of true value and worthy to Christ. I can not achieve a salary, worldly goods, or any thing else of value here on earth that measure in any degree to his goodness, righteousness and holiness. I can not attain any measure of success that is of any value or worth to Christ, it is paltry and worthless compared to him.

All I can give him is my heart, but to him my heart is all he wants. For those who have accepted him as Lord and Savior, accepting the blood of his son Jesus Christ as payment for our sins, allowing him to wash our hearts clean that we can give it back to him holy complete is just the first part. Once this is done, the giving is not over, and this is what David understood. A bullock burnt on an alter by a man who does it to be seen of man is of no value to the Lord, but a bull given by a man with a heart broken and remorseful of his sin is priceless. Tithing 50% of my salary, proudly dropped in the offering is of no value to the Lord, but pennies from a teens allowance given with joy and out of love for God’s provision is worth more than mountains of gold. Staying up late so I can deliver a message in Sunday school motivated by pride and the desire to receive praise of man is worthless, but seeing a sister or brother in need and laying aside what I am doing to extend encouragement or support is priceless and sweet smelling to the Lord. The Pharisees of the OT strove to “practice” the law but they never understood the reason for the law nor did they discover the secret of true love that could empower them to truly live the law thus becoming a sweet smelling sacrifice to God.

I have been challenged by the Lord to make sure that my heart is in a right relationship with him and to make that relationship and love for him the driving force of all I do, say, and aspire to accomplish. What an amazing thought it is to think I posses something God truly wants, seeks, and esteems. “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” This weekend we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior and Lord. The ultimate sacrifice made by the King and Creator of the Universe. Does it boggle your mind as much as it does mine, that is was a wretched and sinful heart he sought to redeem? What amazing love would compel Christ to send his blameless son here to earth, alloim to be tempted in every manner we are, to suffer as we suffer, tire as we tire, to sorrow, bleed, and die that he might obtain the one thing of value that we posses, our heart, our devotion, our love.

Fernando Ortega’s Song “Sing To Jesus” is a wonderful story of this sacrifice and the mystery of the love of Christ.

“Sing To Jesus”

Come and see, look on this mystery
The Lord of the universe, nailed to a tree
Christ our God, spilling His Holy blood
Bowing in anguish, His sacred head

Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts, He is our great redeemer
Sing to Jesus, honor his name
Sing of his faithfulness, pouring his life out unto death

Come you weary and he will give you rest
Come you who mourn, lay on His breast
Christ who dies, risen in Paradise
Giver of mercy, Giver of life

Sing to Jesus this is the throne
Now and forever He is the King of Heaven
Sing to Jesus, we are his own
Now and forever, sing for the love our God has shown

Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts
He is our great redeemer
Sing to Jesus, honor His name

Sing to Jesus this is the throne
Now and forever He is the King of Heaven
Sing to Jesus, we are his own
Now and forever, sing for the love our God has shown