Jan 28, 2011
Open our hearts,
To see the things
That make Your heart cry,
To be the church
The You would desire.
Light to be seen.
Break down our pride,
And all the walls
We’ve built up inside,
Our earthly crowns
And all our desires,
We lay at Your feet.
So let hope rise,
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light,
And every eye will see
Jesus, our God,
Great and mighty to be praised.
God of all days,
Glorious in all of Your ways.
Your majesty, the wonder and grace,
In the light of Your name.
We will shout for your glory.
We will shout forth your praise.
Our hearts will cry
Be lifted high,
Above all names.
For You our King,
We will shout forth your praise.
She has done what she could. Mark 14:8a
Wess Stafford wrote about a teacher assigned to work with a hospitalized schoolchild on nouns and adverbs. Arriving at the hospital, she was taken to the burn unit. She had to scrub and put on sterile attire, and she found the schoolboy in pain. The teacher felt apprehensive, but she told the boy, “I’m the special visiting hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with your nouns and adverbs.” She went through the material with him and then left, feeling little had been accomplished.
The next morning when she returned, the nurses met her and said, “Since you were here yesterday his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment…it’s as though he’s decided to live.”
What had happened? The boy himself later explained: “They wouldn’t send a special teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, now, would they?”1
Sometimes we impart hope to others by just showing up with compassion and doing what we can in the name of Christ. When we do what we can, He will bless what we do and all we do.
There is something fundamentally wrong with claiming to love God without a passion to love people. Wess Stafford
Brokenness hurts, and most of us would rather live without any seasons of pain. Yet during such times, God often does His greatest work in our lives, reshaping and realigning us for His divine purposes.
Jesus beautifully explains the principle of brokenness in today’s passage, where He compares our life to a single grain of wheat. If we hold a kernel in our hands, nothing will happen. If we carefully place it in a jar or on a shelf for safekeeping, it will just sit there indefinitely. In its safety, the grain will essentially be useless.
However, if that kernel is placed in the soil where its protective layer is stripped away, something amazing happens. Before long, a little sprout will emerge from the earth and start to grow into something different, useful, and beautiful. Moreover, that new stalk will produce more grains that can be planted, and the stalks they produce will do the same. It’s an amazing cycle of life, wherein a single kernel can lead to countless stalks of wheat. But it has to start with the brokenness of one grain.
Jesus did not just speak this example; He lived it. By sacrificing Himself, He was broken and placed in the ground. From that brokenness came new life for us all. From that one “grain,” countless new believers, each with a new life, have sprung forth.
Are you feeling broken today? If so, remember the principle of the broken grain. God has certainly not abandoned you; instead, He may be leading you into a season of new growth.
“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)
The blindness mentioned in our text is the same word used to describe a kind of stone. In verb form, this word indicates a process and means “to make hard or to petrify.” Often the word is translated as “hardness.”
The people of Israel developed a hard heart and mind toward God and the things of God (2 Corinthians 3:13-15), which continually brought grief and anger to the Lord Jesus (Mark 3:5). Even the disciples suffered from this hardness (Mark 6:52; 8:17).
Our text is directed toward New Testament believers who are challenged not to become blinded or petrified as are unbelievers. This petrification in the moral realm can be compared to the loss of sensation in the physical realm—a kind of spiritual paralysis as when sensor and motor nerves no longer respond. “Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:19).
Petrification of once-living tissue usually takes place over the course of many years, as each organic molecule decays and is removed, with the space it occupied refilled with stony material dissolved in groundwater percolating through the host material. Or, it may take place as material is injected into the living tissue, thus stopping all life processes. In just such a way, the hardening of the heart can take place slowly, but finally petrification is complete. Petrification of wood can be stopped by removing it from the decay-and-replacement process, but natural processes cannot return it to its former state. Praise God that we can “put on the new man” (v. 24) with a renewed (new) mind and spirit (v. 23), no longer hardened toward the things of God. JDM
Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort. —Psalm 71:2-3
David did well to seek God’s help in his troubles. When he faced confusion, he prayed, “Deliver me… and cause me to escape” (Psalm 71:2). God can deliver from confusion by establishing moral order within the life. When the eye becomes single, when the life becomes all one piece, inward antagonisms are abolished and internal harmony is restored.
It is not a wonder that there is so little of true joy among the sons of men. With the will at a perpetual stalemate, with the heart’s purposes constantly at an irritating impasse, with the mind at wit’s end and the whole life in a state of almost constant frustration, how can joy abide?
There is no way out of the woods except through full and quick surrender to the will of God. When such a surrender is made, God will soon bring order out of confusion. Peace is God’s word, and it follows faith and obedience as the harvest follows the seed. But the whole will of God is necessary to peace; half measures will only increase the confusion.
In the midst of a confusing world, help me to find peace, Father, in full surrender to Your whole will. Amen.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:11)
Much of Christianity overlooks the fact that if we are led by the Spirit of God and if we show forth the love of God this world needs, we become the “winsome saints.”
The strange and wonderful thing about it is that truly winsome and loving saints do not even know about their attractiveness. The great saints of the past did not know they were great saints. If someone had told them, they would not have believed it, but those around then knew that Jesus was living His life in them.
I think we join the winsome saints when God’s purposes in Christ become clear to us. We join them when we begin to worship God because He is who He is! Brethren, God is not a charity case—He is not some frustrated foreman who cannot find enough help.
Let us remember that God has never actually needed any of us—not one! But we pretend that He does and we make a big thing of it when someone agrees “to work for the Lord.”
God is trying to call us back to that for which He created us—to worship and to enjoy Him forever!
He has been good to me in all my needs, trials, struggles, and sorrows. Never could there be a better Master, for his service is freedom, his rule is love. The ancient saints proved him to be a good Master, and each of them rejoiced to sing,
“I am thy servant, O Lord!” I will bear this witness before my friends and neighbors, for possibly they may be led by my testimony to seek my Lord Jesus as their Master. Oh that they would do so! They would never repent so wise a deed. If they would but take his easy yoke, they would find themselves in so royal a service that they would enlist in it forever.