Guest Post from The Father’s Heart

Today’s Daily Devotional from Roarke over at The Father’s Heart is simply stunning, and I wanted to share it with you here. Read and be blessed.

In the neighborhood there was an immoral woman of the streets, known to all to be a prostitute. When she heard about Jesus being in Simon’s house, she took an exquisite flask made from alabaster, filled it with the most expensive perfume, went right into the home of the Jewish religious leader, and knelt at the feet of Jesus in front of all the guests. Broken and weeping, she covered his feet with the tears that fell from her face. She kept crying and drying his feet with her long hair. Over and over she kissed Jesus’ feet. Then she opened her flask and anointed his feet with her costly perfume as an act of worship. Luke 7:37-38

Over the last few days we have been looking at this incident from the viewpoint of Simon, the Pharisee and Jesus’ host for the evening. Today I would like to look at it from the viewpoint of the prostitute.

We are going to touch on a theme or an idea that we have touched on several times before. Namely, going all in. Let’s just look at what is happening here, it is amazing. The Holy Spirit was at this event. When ever I read the Bible I ask Him to show me what it was like. Ask Him to help me ‘run a movie’ in my mind so I can watch what happened, so I can see it unfold in real time.

Just as a by the by, this is my number one tip for reading the Bible! Imagine you were there. Watch the events. Get involved. The Holy Spirit will guide you through it all because, as I say, He was already there. In effect you are simply asking Him to remember in your mind what happened. So on to the events…

For Jesus the night was pretty much like any other night. He had been invited round to a meal by Simon, one of the local leaders. The food would be good. The company hard and any message He had the opportunity to share picked upon and picked apart. But He was going, but tonight might just throw up a surprise. They often did.

Simon was besides himself with excitement. Tonight he was in the biggest of big leagues. Jesus was coming to his place and that meant that all the head honchos were coming. There would be more important people in his front room than there would be anywhere else tonight. It had to be just right. Now, why is the table not set? Where is that wretched servant?…

The lowest of the low. She knew it and this is what she keeps telling herself as she gets ready for another night of serving everyone else with nothing for herself. She had dreams. Once. Not anymore. She laughs bitterly, “My only dream is to make it through the night without incident” she mutters to herself as she combs her hair, applies her perfume and gets ready to lose a little bit more of herself and her future.

She can’t remember where it all went wrong, she just knows it has. Little things at first, just snowballing into bigger things. Choices that she had made, choices that others had made on her behalf. Well, on their behalf. They just affected her, negatively. Lower and lower she had gone, until this was all that was left. And it wasn’t much.

It is as she is going out her front door that she meets her friend coming home. “Where have you been?” she asks. “You look worn out”
“Oh, Master Simon has that man Jesus coming to his house tonight” replies her friend. “It’s manic in there. He’s doing his nut! Everything has to be perfect. They’re all going to be there tonight. He’s like a dog with two tails. I’m going to bed!” her friend says as she disappears round the corner.

“Jesus” whispers the prostitute under her breath. She has heard the name, she knows the stories. “Jesus” she whispers again as she heads back inside.

An hour or so later, the evening is in full swing. Simon like the cat who got all the cream is sitting at the head of the table. Next to him, in fact all round the table recline the great and the good. “What a night” he thinks to himself in smug satisfaction. “What can possibly go wrong?”

Suddenly there is a slight commotion outside and appearing in the doorway is a young prostitute. This could be rather embarrassing. Most of the men in the room have met her, if you know what I mean. “Why is she here? Why tonight? Why my house?”

She doesn’t cause a scene. She just lowers her eyes and makes her way towards where Jesus is sitting. People are sitting forward a little now. How is this going to play out? She knows what she must do, she has heard the stories. This is it.

As she stands before Him, the power that radiates from Him convicts her. The love and compassion that He moves in overwhelms her and in that moment she knows. She knows. It isn’t hopeless. She isn’t done for. She has a future, she has a purpose. She is not an object to be lusted, she is a child of God to be loved.

She simply crumples to the floor. Her tears of sadness, pity, and grief giving way to tears of joy, hope and gratitude. She washes Jesus’ feet, wiping the dust from the soles of His feet. She dries them with her hair, and yet, the tears keep flowing so she keeps rubbing. Eventually when all her past hurt has flowed out of her, dropping onto Jesus through her tears, she stops.

He doesn’t stop her. He waits. He allows every tear of remorse, regret and repentance to fall upon Him. He waits. Time stands still. It is her and Him. A divine exchange. All her sorrow, all her despair, all of her hurt, washing over Him. He is perfectly still. His love, His power radiating out of Him into every fibre of her bruised being.

What did Isaiah promise? A bruised reed He will not break. When she is finished she takes her jar of expensive perfume, the tool of her trade and she anoints His feet. She has nothing to give Him. This is all she has. Rather than use it to further weaken herself and her future she chooses to pour it out on His feet.

And He takes it. He lets her minister to Him. He patiently waits whilst she finishes her act of service. Then He looks at her. He holds her gaze. Oh, to be looked at by those piercing eyes. He holds her in His gaze. Love, looking at her. Loving entering her. A look that she can never forget. As she closes her eyes at night she knows that she will always see that life changing look.

He smiles at her, gently, commandingly, “Your faith in Me has given you life” He tells her. “Now you may leave and walk in the ways of peace.”

I don’t think that I need to bring this story forward do I? I don’t need to bring it into your life and situation. You know what to do. Go ‘all in’ today. Spend some time sitting at the Master’s feet. Give Him your all and He will give you His all. A divine exchange. May God richly bless you.
Roarke

Advertisements

No Longer A Slave

The relationship between a dog and its owner is often used to exemplify devotion – to the extreme, the whipped dog that still comes back. However sitting here of a morning watching owners walking their dogs, I get a different story.

Owners walk across the sands when the tide is out, throwing a ball for their dog to catch.  Often their dog enthusiastically chases after the ball, time and time again.  But I also see the dogs that start to run off – then stop, either bored, tired or distracted by something more interesting.  I see dogs that will happily go into the waves to fetch a ball – but also others who stop at the edge, looking back at their master (who sometimes, to my amusement, end up taking off socks and shoes to wade in and retrieve the ball, watched by their dog…!)

Most often the word Scripture uses that we translate “servant” actually means slave.  The slave/master relationship is one that makes us uncomfortable in our modern lives.  But really and truly it is the right one to fit our relationship with God. We were, after all, bought with a price. Redeemed. Our debt paid for. Owned.  Representative of a relationship you can’t just walk away from.

Does that make you uncomfortable? It shouldn’t! It should make you rejoice!

“For he who is called in the Lord while a servant is the Lord’s freeman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ’s servant. You were bought at a price. Do not be the servants of men”. (1 Corinthians 7:22-23 MEV)

It doesn’t matter who we were or where we were when we found Christ. Only in Him are we truly  free.  Free from the slavery of this world.  No longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), to the vagaries of the crowd, free from the snares around us  (Psalm 124:7).

Instead we owe it all, our freedom, our life, to Christ.

Maybe if we could get our Westernised, sanitised, modern heads around this we would behave differently.  I would behave differently.  God gave me free will and I chose to give my life to Him. I volunteered to be a slave! I accepted His offer to purchase me!

Frankly it doesn’t take very long meditating on this to realise I have got a bargain.

I have known God all my life but I haven’t walked in His ways for all those years. I have sinned. I have fallen WAY short. I know what I’ve done. I know what the consequences should be.  I know what He has paid for. I know the punishment that is rightly mine.  I am very aware what I have been saved from.  Grace is the largest Truth in my life as I did not come as a repentant sinner to the cross, but, as I often put it, I did all my sinning as a Christian. Willfully, knowingly, guiltily – AFTER I had accepted His payment for my sins.

I don’t think I’d treat a slave who behaved like that as well as He treats me!

What a redeemer! He may have bought me but, even if we get past the incredible price He paid, look how He now treats me now – not as a slave but as a SON.

 “Now a slave does not remain in the house forever, but a son remains forever” (John 8:35 MEV)

“So when we were children, we were in bondage to the elements of he world. But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born from a woman, born under law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth into our hearts the Spirit of His Son, crying “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a servant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:3-7 MEV)

WOW!

So, purchased and a bond servant – my debt paid, my life His, owned, bought, indebted. But wait, even now my free will remains! More so, because I am now living free from the debt, free from penalty, but now I am no longer a slave in any sense because He now adopts me.

That is a whole new relationship. In His House, part of His family, not treated as a slave but as a son.

Wait – there’s more:  I’m now an heir!  Not only in this life do I enjoy the benefits of being in His family (all the promises to Abraham being mine) but eternally – I inherit His kingdom. A co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).  Not like Biblical earthly families where only the firstborn inherited, not like our modern families where a Will can leave the inheritance to anyone (or anything) on a whim, disowning blood relatives.  No, we are equal heirs with Christ (may I encourage you to take the time to read this excellent sermon from C H Spurgeon on this specific point – the “will and testament” of God as it were).

You see as Christians we all “know” this, but it is only when you approach it right, when you start from the position of a relationship  where we were as slaves to this world (and by default, to the ruler of this age, the devil) that you can feel the real impact of the Truth of our redemption and adoption.

[It is something I’m pondering much at the moment – how our modern view dulls us to the riches and truths of Scripture. We spend so much time bringing the Word “up to date” that we are in danger of missing the point. Yes of course the analogies of the day are historical, yes we need that context, but I fear we most often throw the baby out with the bath water as it were and in our pursuit of modern translations and interpretations, we lose the impact of many of the Scriptures.  For every Scripture I read in “The Message” or Passion translation that opens my eyes in a new way, there are verses that I miss the depths of precisely because I don’t read the original, historical analogies.]

Ponder today with me, on your relationship with God.

Dog and master?  Servant and master? Slave and owner? Adopted? Family?

I encourage you to think on those various analogies, to truly seek to grasp the depths and breadth of what He has done for us, and to celebrate the freedom and riches that we now have as heirs with Christ.

 

Faith and Works

So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17 MEV

As a believer in the Gospel of Grace, having lived a life that means I *know* that nothing *I* can do will save me, a life that has shown me day in and day out that I need a Saviour, I have never had any trouble understanding that works without faith is of no use.  But the understanding of “faith without works” is harder.

James outlines in this passage just how faith without works is dead – just praying a blessing over the hungry and the naked doesn’t feed or cloth them – however I think that whilst many of us would confidently assert that we don’t do that (we are actively involved in any social outreach program at church, give to charity etc) I still don’t think we grasp the depths of this warning.

An analogy came to me this morning during my quiet times (which on a Sunday take place at home as I don’t have the luxury of time to spend at my sea side spot – not unless I’m willing to get up very early!).

Man digs a well but he doesn’t fill it.  It is filled from the top down, as it were, by the rain.  Without that intervention which he can do nothing to bring about, it would just remain a hole in the ground. Dangerous instead of provisional.

Works without faith.

You build your church programs, you have all your procedures, have all your rituals, it all seems very industrious for the Kingdom.  But your well is dry.  Nothing about what you are doing is nurturing you, offering you abundance.

If the man doesn’t dig the well, then when the rain comes it soaks but soon dries up. He has no means to store it. No means to draw from it in times of drought.

Faith without works.

All the floodgates of heaven could open in your time with God today but if you haven’t invested, haven’t put in any work (Bible study, submitting to the discipleship process by learning from brothers and sisters in Christ, working on your heart, standing firm in the battle for your mind) then all that blessing has no where to go.  It will slip through your fingers.

Moving in to a new house, with an unkempt garden, you can spend hours and hours weeding, taming, clearing, leveling, digging, sieving, planting and sowing. But if it doesn’t rain, and the sun doesn’t shine too – those processes totally outside yourself and your control – then you will be left with a bare patch of earth where sooner or later the weeds will grow again.

Works without faith.

All the Bible study in the world, listening to every podcast, following every “megachurch” on Twitter, “liking” every Facebook page for every Christian celebrity, attending every church service and activity…. without the infilling of the Holy Spirit, without relationship with Him… is just activity. Just busy-ness.  Sooner or later the weeds of the devil, the cares of the world, will take over your tended plot.

If I do no work on my garden, never weed, never prune, never tend, then sooner or later it just becomes a wild patch. Filled with seeds from whatever plants, weeds or nearby trees that happen upon it.  The rain and the sun will come but it won’t help the precious plants that I planted as they will get choked by the weeds, by the “thorns” that grow.

Faith without works.

It is no good singing praise in my car every day on the way to work, no good having this faith, without putting any work in to it. I need to read the Word daily.  I need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.  I need to take captive every thought.  I need to be open to the examining of the Holy Spirit who only convicts of righteousness.  I need to set a guard upon my lips.  I need to be aware of this great cloud of witnesses before me and set on to run the race before me.  I need to be conscious of the armour of God that I have and work to keep it in good order.

Otherwise the slings and arrows, the fiery darts of the enemy, will penetrate.  The weeds of his lies will choke out the Truth in my heart and my mind.  The cares of the world will choke out any abundance that I walk in.  I will take my mind off of Jesus and instead see only the mess – the weeds – in my life.

Holy Spirit, help me to daily be aware of the necessary balance between faith and works.  May I never work for my own righteousness, never focus only on the things that I do or feel I *should* be doing.  May I never think carelessly of the security of Your Grace Lord but strive to work to deepen my understanding of Your Truths, stand firmer in Your strength, taking effort to share that Grace with all around me in every situation, seeking always to go deeper and further, never cheapening that Grace by casual disregard of how You call me to live.

Totally Covered

I was meditating afresh this morning about the mind-blowing truth that when God looks at me, He doesn’t see my sin.  How?! How can that be?

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12 MEV)

As I was thinking about this, I was in my usual quiet time spot looking out to sea.  When the tide is out there is a wide area of exposed rocks where seagulls feed, children go rock pooling, and foodies harvest seaweed.

IMG_2175 When the tide is in, the water comes right up to the promenade. You would never know those rocks are there.

When you look at the surface of the sea, or look at flood water (think of those images of flooded towns) you can’t see anything other than the surface.  However when you are in it, your experience is different.  You know how shallow it is, the bumps and the lumps underneath.

In the shallows, the swirling water catches up the sand and makes the water muddy.

Praise God that His sea of grace covers all our sin – totally and absolutely! He sees only that surface of grace.  Everything else is hidden.  We need to grasp His perspective of us, rather than our I-know-what’s-under-here attitude because until we do, we are effectively cheapening and dismissing His mighty work of grace – the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

There is a song that has grabbed my heart at the moment – “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music – the lyrics speaking to the recent change in me and where I am now with Him.  The words speak of the waves of God’s love – great music to have on when watching the sea!

There is a line in there that is my closing prayer on today’s meditation:

“So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore into Your Grace”

Holy Spirit, help us to go deeper into You so we can experience life lived  in line with the Truth that You see – no sin, no unrighteousness, but sanctified by Grace.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 MEV)