Broken Hearts

broken hearts 

broken hearts everywhere you go 

walking through crystal shards 

cutting again 

bloody feet 

bleeding hands 

jabbed with flashing slivers  

working deep 

rending despair   

yielding 

relentless 

 hope 

… he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound … Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. John 19:34 

Image by Peter.Lorre https://flic.kr/p/3yeriz  

Must

“We must find each other again.”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:5-6 

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:15-16 

I was a little startled lately when I noticed deep inside me a bristling response to the word “must” in the above verses. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. It is the natural response of the natural man, right? We want to do what we want to do. Being told we “have to do” anything in our current culture has become anathema. Having to suffer in particular. 

The Greek word, dei (δεῖ), means “it is necessary,” and in this context means a “necessity in reference to what is required to attain some end … necessity established by the counsel and decree of God, especially by that purpose of his which relates to the salvation of men by the intervention of Christ and which is disclosed in the O. T. prophecies.” 

Whoa. This is not just an authority figure telling us we have to do something we don’t want to do. This is what is necessary to attain God’s ultimate plan and purpose – the salvation of the world. If we call ourselves Christians there are things that we “must” do. The Lord didn’t waste time telling Saul/Paul what he must do, the works planned for him from the beginning of the world. 

Right after I read and meditated on these verses, J.D. Walt sent out an article with some “musts” for the Church today. I think the urgency with which he writes is justified: 

“We stand in the ruins of the still collapsing facade of Christendom. And all our churches are like so many blind people standing around a massive elephant each with our hand on a different part of the animal and each proffering and preferring a different diagnosis, prognosis and plan.  

So what’s the point today? The point is to say the Day of Pentecost never ended. We need not return to the first century church but to restore the 21st century church. This will come by Word and Spirit and the recovery of plain Scriptural Christianity. We must cease fiddling with forms and fads. We must find each other again, not as so many churches but as “Church.” We must cease chasing after phenomenology and begin to run after Jesus on the path of the race marked out for us.  

We must meet one another again at the level ground of the foot of the Cross and awaken to the fact the Heavens have been rended once and for all. Jesus is ascended as Lord and King.” — J.D. Walt 1 

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49 

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 

Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. Luke 22:7 (KJV) 

And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Mark 13:10 

But when they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you should make your defense or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you must say. Luke 12:11-12 (NET) 

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. John 9:4 

1Don’t Pray for the Wind. Set the Sails https://seedbed.com/dont-pray-for-wind-set-the-sails/

Image from FreeBibleimages.org  

Shadow of a Cloud

You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall and like the heat of the desert. You silence the uproar of foreigners [or enemies]; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled. Isaiah 25:4-5 

That last image in the above verse has always arrested me – as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled. It is so silent and even peaceful. No big warfare and sounding of trumpets and going into battle. Just a cloud quietly moving between those struggling on the ground in the heat of the desert and the source of the life-sucking, deadly heat.  

It is something that God does easily. The searing breath, the storm, the uproar, the mocking, the seemingly victorious song of the ruthless is stilled. It seems impossible, this situation. It appears as a huge mountain. It seems that the enemy is winning. But it is easy for God. Like a cloud moving silently to block out the sun. 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29 

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39 (NLT) 

I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27 

Image, Cloud by Peter O’Connor https://flic.kr/p/8Dupzn  

Clothe Yourselves

This is a humbling thing this being clothed.

Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. Psalm 132:9 (ESV) 

Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. Psalm 132:16 (ESV) 

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14 

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 

The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by. Zechariah 3:4-5 

This is a humbling thing this being clothed. My clothing is filthy and has to be removed. The righteousness and salvation of the Lord Jesus has to be put on me like clothing. They come from the outside of me, from God, not from within me. It’s all grace. Being an exhausted caregiver has clearly shown this to me. It’s amazing how fast a person can go from walking on water to sitting around a campfire talking trash about the one who loves you most. From blazing revelation and faith, to falling asleep and abandoning the beloved one in the agony of death.  

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 (ESV) 

No there is nothing good in me. I can’t do it on my own. I can’t even have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience1 in my own strength, rather I have to put them on as part of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is always and only Jesus loving and being kind and patient in me and through me. I don’t have “the ability to carry it out.” 

I have written about putting on Jesus before, but it’s one thing to get the revelation and understanding and write about it, and another to live it out. To take the test and fail. That makes it real. That makes it sink down deep and, I hope, effects change. 

Lord, take off my filthy clothes of self-righteousness, of trusting in self, of forgetting to cry out to you for your strength and love and help. Only you can do it. Thank you for your patience and love and amazing grace towards me! 

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) 

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 

1 Colossians 3:12 

Image, Struggling with her jacket, by Jinterwas https://flic.kr/p/bEJUEW  

The Presence is Here

Yes, God is with us. And the relationship He wants with me is way simpler than I have made it.

Enoch walked with God … Genesis 5:24 

One of the coolest things I have ever done lately was sitting in the big stuffed rocker beside my granddaughter, eating crackers and listening to music. We didn’t have to say anything, just being there together, savoring each other. I get that feeling about Enoch in the above verse. I don’t think Enoch did anything special. I think he and God just liked being together. Derek Prince put it this way: 

“Enoch just ‘walked with God’ (see Genesis 5:22, 24). As we go on further in the Bible, we meet the great father of faith, Abraham, with his most honorable title, which was ‘friend of God’ (James 2:23). He and God simply enjoyed one another’s company. I sometimes long to get away from all the theology and all the religious formalities and just have a relationship of being God’s friend—walking with Him and enjoying His company. I really believe God loves to be enjoyed by His people.” — Derek Prince 

I got a deeper revelation about this yesterday – maybe a deeper healing too as someone raised in a conditional love-based-on-performance home – as God sent my way this Prince quote and several other verses and messages from fellow bloggers. I love when He does that! Yes, God is with us. I just have to purposely remain aware of that. And the relationship He wants with me is way simpler than I have made it. He just wants me to know that he is sitting there in the rocking chair beside me, enjoying my company, walking along beside me on my dark path, loving me. 

“Just get down on your knees. There is an awful lot you do not need to know to find God. The light shineth, the voice calleth and the Presence is here.” — A.W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us 

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7 

“As the years advanced I learned to rely upon His presence and lovingkindness regardless of any trials; He assured me in the dark times, and I was able to sing His praises regardless of circumstances. Yet in the darkest times, when I had no voice to sing I silently lifted my hands in surrender to Him. I remember them even today, the overwhelming comfort of His presence reassured me beyond any words I could write for you. It was the presence of His Spirit beyond any doubt.” — Alan Kearns https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2022/06/21/singing-in-the-dark/  

Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him for the saving help of his presence. Psalm 42:5 

Image free download from Pixabay

Patches of Joy

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog called Grace Recognized. That is the definition of the Greek word translated “joy” in the New Testament – just recognizing God’s working around us. And many times, just as His voice is not a loud shout, but a still, small voice, His works of grace are found in what C.S. Lewis called “patches of Godlight.” I hope these quotes will bless you and help you recognize these patches of joy. 

“We – or at least I – shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have ‘tasted and seen.’ Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of experience.” – C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, San Diego: Mariner, 2002. 

I have a friend who is so deeply connected with God that he can see joy where I expect only sadness. He travels much and meets countless people. When he returns home, I always expect him to tell me about the difficult economic situation of the countries he visited, about the great injustices he heard about, and the pain he has seen. But even though he is very aware of the great upheaval of the world, he seldom speaks of it. When he shares his experiences, he tells about the hidden joys he has discovered. He tells about a man, a woman, or a child who brought him hope and peace. He tells about little groups of people who are faithful to each other in the midst of all the turmoil. He tells about the small wonders of God. At times I realize that I am disappointed because I want to hear “newspaper news,” exciting and exhilarating stories that can be talked about among friends. But he never responds to my need for sensationalism. He keeps saying: “I saw something very small and very beautiful, something that gave me much joy.”  

The father of the prodigal son gives himself totally to the joy that his returning son brings him. I have to learn from that. I have to learn to “steal” all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see. Yes, I know that not everybody has been converted yet, that there is not yet peace everywhere, that all pain has not yet been taken away, but still, I see people turning and returning home; I hear voices that pray; I notice moments of forgiveness, and I witness many signs of hope. I don’t have to wait until all is well, but I can celebrate every little hint of the Kingdom that is at hand.  

This is a real discipline. It requires choosing for the light even when there is much darkness to frighten me, choosing for life even when the forces of death are so visible, and choosing for the truth even when I am surrounded with lies. – Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son (full quote here https://generositymonk.com/2020/01/27/henri-nouwen-learn-to-steal-and-lift-up-real-joy/

Lord, make me see thy glory in every place. — Michelangelo 

You Loved Me Back

It seems He is always loving my soul back either from the edge of the pit, or pulling me out if I’m already down there stuck in the muck.

Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. Isaiah 38:17 

The word translated bitterness above is the Hebrew adjective mar or marah. It means angry, bitterly chafed, discontented, great (as in greatly or bitterly distressed), heavy (as in have a heavy or bitter heart).1 It comes from the same root as the name Mara, or bitter, which Naomi called herself after her sons and husband died, leaving her bereft in a foreign land. 

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” Ruth 1:20 

We have all, or I’m betting at least many of us, have felt like Naomi. Life has not turned out as expected. We have been dealt a bitter blow. We have lost loved ones. We have been left alone. It can be easy to become angry at God, bitter, discontented.  

In the verse above from Isaiah, Hezekiah is recounting how very bitter he was when he was told that he had a terminal disease. He even repeats the word twice for emphasis in the Hebrew. He literally says “it was bitter, was bitter unto me,” or “I had such bitterness, such bitterness.”  

But then he declares the most wonderful thing: but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. 

Do you know what that says, literally, in the original Hebrew? “Thou hast loved me out of the pit of corruption,”2 or “thou hast loved my soul back from the pit of destruction – as if God’s love, beaming on the monarch’s soul, had drawn it back from the edge of the pit.3 

You have loved my soul back! Oh, yes! What amazing grace! How many times has He done that for me? It seems He is always loving my soul back either from the edge of the pit, or pulling me out if I’m already down there stuck in the muck. Loving me back from anger and discontent and bitterness. Pulling me up out of depression, fear, despair and hopelessness. He has loved my soul back. 

But the most wonderful thing is: for you have cast all my sins behind your back. Picture that – God throwing my sins behind His back “Where they could be no more seen, and therefore would be no more remembered.”3  

And what does Hezekiah say about why all this happened to him? It was for my welfare. Literally, it was for my shalom: my completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 

It was for my completeness, soundness, welfare, peace that I had such bitterness, such bitterness. But you have loved me back from the brink – from the pit of destruction, corruption, failure, nothingness. For you have cast away, thrown, flung, hurled all my sins behind your back.  

“The worst-case scenario is that all the very worst things happen, and I am still loved.” — Ann Voskamp, excerpt from the WayMaker Study Guide 

Yes, we are still, always, loved, even when the worst-case scenario happens. And He is drawing us – me and you – always loving us back. Back to Him. Praise for His amazing grace! 

I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. Hosea 11:4 (ESV) 

I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:1-2 

“Salvation means rescue from the pit of destruction, from the miry clay of ourselves.” — Elisabeth Elliot, A Path Through Suffering 

1Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance 

2Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers 

3Pulpit Commentary 

Image, Killer Cliffs! by Martin Cathrae https://flic.kr/p/jqrf5

Who is This?

Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him …? Exodus 5:2 

Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.” Isaiah 63:1 

“Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:25 

“Who is this who even forgives sins?” Luke 7:49 

Who is this King of glory? Psalm 24:10 (ESV) 

“Who are you, Lord?” Acts 9:5 

I AM WHO I AM … The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob … This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.  Exodus 3:14-15 

I, the LORD—with the first of them and with the last—I am he.” Isaiah 41:4 

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! Revelation 1:18 

I AM WHO I AM

I am the bread of life. John 6:35 

I am the light of the world. John 8:12 

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9 

I am the good shepherd. John 10:11 

I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25 

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 

I am the true vine. John 15:1 

Who is the LORD, that I should obey him? 

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah Psalm 24:10 (ESV) 

Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Psalm 24:9 

Photo by Ivan Radic, Close-up of a massive cemetery gate locked with a chain https://flic.kr/p/2kPco5i

Fix the Value

I can only set his value as precious beyond anything in the heavens and earth, if I know, know, know what he has done for me.

Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. John 5:22-23 

Jesus uses the word “honor” four times in this passage. The last time I read it the thought popped into my head: what does it really mean to honor? What does Jesus mean by “honor”? 

The word in the Greek is timaó (τιμάω), and the definition was surprising to me. It means “to fix the value or price of something.” It means properly to “assign value (give honor), as it reflects the personal esteem (value, preciousness) attached to it by the beholder.”1

The value and preciousness! Think of that and replace the word “honor” above. “… that all may value the preciousness of the Son just as they value the preciousness of the Father.”  

Now think about this. This is the same word used in Matthew 27 about the Pharisees giving Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus to them, and then using it to buy the potter’s field when Judas returned it: 

Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price (timaó) of him on whom a price (timaó) had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” Matthew 27:9-10 (ESV) 

Zechariah also prophesied about this fixing of a value, saying: 

And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD. Zechariah 11:13 (NLT) 

Zechariah sarcastically called it a “magnificent sum” because thirty silver coins was the price or value of a slave set in Exodus 21:32. 

So, the value or preciousness of Jesus Messiah was set by the Pharisees as the price of a slave. The ironic thing, of course, is that Jesus agreed with their valuation, at least partly. He called himself a servant or slave. 

“… whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:44-45 

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he [Jesus] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant (doulos = slave), being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:6-7 

Jesus said that he honored (timaó) his Father and that in doing that he was seeking to bring glory to the Father. 

“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory (doxa) for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. John 8:49-50 

Interestingly, the Greek word doxa, translated here “glory,” also has a meaning of valuation. Doxa means having a good opinion in the New Testament. It means “exercising personal opinion which determines value.” According to Joseph Thayer2, it literally means “what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth.” 

Inherent, intrinsic worth. Jesus honored, valued as precious, his Father – and pointed us to that same good opinion – because of the Father’s inherent, intrinsic worth. Just because of who He is. Because He is our enduring-loving forever, faithful and unfailing Father. Always and forever through all generations. And Jesus came as a slave that we might know the precious heart of God – a heart that is for us and loves us – and in knowing, have life. 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10b 

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 

This all made me think: what is his value to me? Is he precious to me? Does his value to me rest on his intrinsic worth, who he is? Or does it rest on what he can do for me? Like an insurance policy? A ticket to riches and success? A slave to fill my needs and obey my wishes and whims? A life preserver to be thrown out in case I get into trouble?  

For many, his value is less than even that. To them he is a well-meaning person who can be a good role model in some situations. Or he is of no value at all, like he was to those of his day who despised and scorned and rejected Him, walking by the cross shaking their heads. 

I can only set his value as precious beyond anything in the heavens and earth, if I know, know, know what he has done for me. If I have really understood and acknowledged and owned my sin and the ongoing, infectious horror of it. If I have fully comprehended from what dark pit his death on the cross has delivered me. Then I know his worth. Then I know he is worthy of all my honor, all my praise and gratitude, all my life. 

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19 

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor (value, esteem of the highest degree, preciousness, price) and glory (because of inherent and intrinsic worth) and praise! Revelation 5:12  

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound 
That saved a wretch like me 
I once was lost, but now am found 
Was blind but now I see 

Was Grace that taught my heart to fear 
And Grace, my fears relieved 
How precious did that Grace appear 
The hour I first believed 

— John Newton 

1definitions from HELPS Word-studies by Discovery Bible, 2021 

2Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament 

Image in the Public Domain, Judas Returning the Thirty Silver Pieces by Rembrandt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Repentant,_Returning_the_Pieces_of_Silver#/media/File:Judas_Returning_the_Thirty_Silver_Pieces_-_Rembrandt.jpg  

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