Love

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

Go Get Engaged…….

Engagement, it is an event most girls dream of. A life altering moment in time when a man pledges his love, faithfulness, and life to the one he has asked to become his wife. This arrangement signifies an amazing transformation in the lives and relationship of the couple who seal the exclusive pledge between themselves through the giving and receiving of a ring. In an instant, a young woman’s status changes from single to unavailable as she is thrust into a flurry of preparation for the day her promise becomes reality and she joins heart, soul, and body with the man she loves. While the change in status from single to engaged can take mere minutes, the process of “engagement” starts long before the question is “popped” and the ring is placed onto the finger of the “Bride-to-be.”

As I think about engagement, one thing that stands out is the process two people go through to get to the point where they are willing to “forsake all others.” When a woman proudly takes up the title of “Engaged”, bestowing upon her lover exclusive future rights to every aspect of her life, she become both a servant to and master of the other. As I approached my 28th birthday, very single and very much alone, I would have given all I had to taste the joy and wonder of a love as compelling as this. If you are a young lady and find yourself in the same shoes I did at 27, I want to encourage you with the challenge to “Engage your heart” in the one and only place where you will experience the love, joy, and peace you soul truly seeks and desires. Marriage might be right around the corner for you, or it may be years away, but regardless of the “when”, “right now” there is one seeking to woe your heart and your affections.

Jeremiah 30:21b says,
“I will cause him to draw near,
and he shall approach unit me;
for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me?
Saith the Lord.
And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
I want to draw your attention to the initiator of this amazingly divine and sacred dance between the God of heaven and the one he passionately loves and pursues, you! Lord states “I will cause him to draw near.” Do you feel unlovely, alone, worthless? Stop and quiet your heart and listen! In the stillness of your aching and troubled heart, do you hear his voice? Can you feel him pursuing you driven by a passion deeper than any ocean, unfathomable, unmeasurable? He is there whispering your name. Don’t let the world’s perception of love and your desire to find earthly love drowned out the voice of one who seeks your love, affection, and devotion.
How does the Lord cause us to draw near? By revealing the source of the aching void in our heart and soul, quenchable only through his pure and holy love. He reveals this void and need through testings and trials which burn away the dross leaving very little for us to hang on to or glory in. Stripped bare and exposed by our weaknesses, with little to glory in or become proud of we become acutely mindful of our desperate need for a love relationship with him.
As you travel the path the Lord has called you to, realize that the trials and difficulties you face as a single woman are one of many ways the Lord will reveal his love and power, compelling you to draw near to him. He desires to, and is at work bringing you to a place where you not only recognize your need to “engage your heart to him”, but are also filled with a driving desire and passion to seek, find, and experience the transforming and fulfilling wonder of the love of Jesus Christ in your life.
In the next few weeks I want to focus on “engaging our hearts to draw near to God”, and how exactly God seeks to capture and win our affection and what our responses should be to our suitor, the God of Heaven.
Please read Jeremiah 30:21b and look for other verses regarding the Lord as a lover pursuing us.
I would like to leave you with a thought and some questions:
*Would you pledge your life to a man you did not know or would you inter into a relationship with someone you knew nothing about?
*Do you truly know and understand who the Lord is?
*Is he a familiar friend or a distant stranger?
*What do you know/understand of His name and nature?
*If you are finding your relationship with him distant and strained, and if so,is it because you do not truly know or understand him?
This might date me, but imagine you were on “The Married Couple”, a popular TV game show where couples are asked questions about their significant other and then given points based on their answers which reveal how well they know each other. If it was you and God on that show together, how well would you do? Would your answers be correct? Would they be lifeless and canned, based on what you read or what your pastor or parents taught you about God? Could you give answers gleaned from personal experience and an active relationship with Him? Would your answers be uttered with the love and devotion of one who had a true understanding of who your God was?
Where is your heart right now? Who has your heart?