HEART TEARS

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:37

What a picture of redemption! It shows how much our emotions are to overflow toward our Savior! When He walks into the room do we treat him as ordinary? Or even better when our brothers and sisters come for a visit! My oh my how many times did I turn my head away! Some historians say that this woman was no stranger in this Pharisees house. We of course don’t know but everyone seems to know what her occupation was! It was also indicated that she had an encounter with Jesus earlier and came to this house to give thanks. Whatever the case is, her encounter was timely and newsworthy. Her life was turned upside down and instead of using her precious oil on men, she poured out her life onto Christ. All the feelings inside of her became white as fullers soap and she knew the old ways were finished. Her repentance filled the washbowl and poured over! The same hair that she used on others she used for the Son of God. The Pharisee on the other hand showed no common courtesy to Christ because he thought he was just another fixture in the room. In fact it sounds like he didn’t show any attention to Jesus at all. But this woman begin to cry and cry and kiss his feet over and again using her hair as a towel and wiping away the oil and the tears. We will call them heart tears! What a spectacle she must have been in the room! To those that know where they have been and know where they are, they have no trouble being a spectacle all the days of their lives. The alabaster box of devotion breaks out in all of us. We give him back what was meant for him in the first place. We can never diminish the guilt of sin and the amount of grace that it took to free us from it!

Christ turns to the annoyed Pharisee and demands him to “look at the woman”! Christ chides him by saying, ‘You gave Me no water for My feet; but she has washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.'” What a changing of places there is now! The Lord has made the first to be last and the last to be first! Simon the Pharisee thought himself far more advanced than this woman. Where are your heart tears?

THE GLORIOUS BRIDE

Rev. 21:9-11 – Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

The end of the Bible seen in the closing chapters of Revelation helps us begin to glimpse God’s ultimate and glorious plan. The scriptures teach us that all of God’s creation primarily exists to display the glory of God. From the minute intricacies of the microscopic world to the grandeur and majesty seen in His universe, everything pulsates with the glory of God. The Lord saves His greatest display of His glory for the closing chapters of His word. The ultimate display of God’s glory is His glory displayed on the Bride of Christ. She is seen coming down from heaven onto the new earth radiating with the glory of God. Think about it, the bride consists of a multitude of fallen humans. Each member of this bride purchased by His blood and transformed by His Spirit. We have been joined together as one body and presented before all creation as the ultimate display of God’s glory displayed in His act of grace towards us. Unthinkable! Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on this incredible display of glory.

“That the glory of God is the highest and last end of the work of redemption, is confirmed by the song of the angels at Christ’s birth. Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men.” It must be supposed that they knew what was God’s last end in sending Christ into the world; and that in their rejoicing on the occasion, their minds would most rejoice in that which was most valuable and glorious in it, which must consist in its relation to that which was its chief and ultimate end. And we may further suppose that the thing which chiefly engaged their minds was most glorious and joyful in the affair; and would be first in that song which was to express the sentiments of their minds, and exultation of their hearts.”

So the Lord has taken liars, adulterers, thieves, and bigots and transformed them by His love. We exist to display God’s ultimate work, the redemption of a fallen race through His love.

HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW

Rom. 1:19,20 – For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Mardi Gras pretty much describes the spiritual condition of our world today. It masks itself as a religious holiday, the day before forty days of fasting and penance leading up to Easter. Our culture does its best to stay spiritual, rewriting God in their own image rather than beholding His beauty that is all around us. The Lord has chosen to hide Himself in plain view. What do I mean by that? Paul touched on it in today’s verse. The Lord has revealed Himself (to those who want to see) in creation all around us. His infinite nature can be seen in the immensity and eternal nature of the universe itself, His power is seen in the smallest particle of His creation. Splitting the atom displays a small taste of the power of God seen in nuclear explosions. His beauty is seen in the splendor of sunsets and mountain vistas. His creativity is seen in the diversity of His creatures (sloths, kangaroos, and orangutans). His wisdom is seen in the invention of sound, sight, smell and taste (not to mention ears, noses, eyes, and tastebuds).

He is also hiding Himself in the mystery of redemption. The testimony of hookers, thieves, drug users and dealers as well as bank presidents, businessmen and women, not to forget the professionals from all walks of life experiencing the power of His redeeming love. He is everywhere and so casually ignored by the multitudes.

If Mardi Gras typifies the real condition of our world maybe we should not call it the day that God forgot, but rather a people who have forgotten their God. Here is a quote from my wife quoting John Calvin. I think it pretty much speaks for itself.

“Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a day “that we obscure Christ and wrap him up with our subtleties that he can never be found. For they know precisely what his name is; but we empty him of his power and so exhibit a phantom in his place. Though we profess to believe in Christ, we invent for ourselves a torn, disfigured, emptied of his power, denuded of his office, such as to be a spectacle rather than Christ himself.”

Today begins the Lenten season. I am asking to see Him more clearly in every part of my life; from the trials to the blessings, in His word and in His church. Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord.

GOD’S ART

Eph. 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

This verse has a very interesting word in it dealing with God’s work of redemption in our lives. It is the word workmanship. Here is how Dick Mills defines this beautiful Bible word.

“ poiema – From the verb poieo, “to make.” (Compare “poem” and “poetry.”) The word signifies that which is manufactured, a product, a design produced by an artisan. Poiema emphasizes God as the Master Designer, the universe as His creation (Rom. 1:20), and the redeemed believer as His new creation (Eph. 2:10). Before conversion our lives had no rhyme or reason. Conversion brought us balance, symmetry, and order. We are God’s poem, His work of art.”

I love that definition, God’s work of redemption in our lives brought us from a confused and disordered life into a spiritual life of balance and beauty. We have literally become God’s work of art. His masterpiece began in us the day we were born again and will be completed and revealed when we see Him in glory. Think about it, you are God’s work of art. I recently watched a movie about Vincent Van Gogh. I was taken back by his story and after doing some research found that he was a pastor’s son who loved to read Spurgeon and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. His spirituality in his younger days led him to an attraction to creation. He painted God’s creation and saw colors as conveyors of spiritual truth. Here is some info about Van Gogh from an article by Jacob A. Davis.

“Van Gogh’s work reflects his spirituality….Among his symbolic elements (which are quite extensive), blue represents God’s presence in his paintings, and yellow represents God’s love.  Reading Van Gogh’s most famous work, Starry Night, in this light, one notices that God and his love are present abundantly.  The sky reflects it, as does the town below.  The sky and village are both largely blue with God’s presence.  The houses are filled with the yellow light of God’s love….So what can we take from Vincent Van Gogh?  He was certainly not a perfect man, nor a perfect Christian….In the end, it is important to recognize Vincent Van Gogh’s attributes and his contribution to art as a Christian, for all of his strengths and weaknesses.”

Art, like music, can transport us and effect us spiritually. It is the Lord who created us in His image who gives us artistic talent to communicate His glory. Open your heart up to Him today, allow His brushstrokes to add beauty and depth to your life. Look for Him in creation, listen for Him in the song, gaze upon Him in a beautiful work of art. After all that’s what we are, God’s work of art.

MESSIAH CUT OFF

The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself. —Daniel 9:26

This passage gives us a little glimpse into the mystery of redemption. Messiah the prince was cut off, but not for Himself. Redemption stays a hidden secret until grace opens our eyes. The worldly man tries to comprehend these unthinkable mysteries but always comes to the wrong conclusions. His concept of God includes a worldly idea of mercy but justice never comes into view, unless this justice is for someone else. The great message of the cross includes both justice and mercy. Justice was served, my guilt was not bypassed or overlooked, it was judged at the cross. Mercy is offered to me as justice was completed in the death of Christ. Christ death was not an accident, it was the fulfillment of the Father’s plan. As Isaiah said, “It pleased the Father to bruise His Son… making His soul an offering for sin”. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s verse.

“Blessed be His name, there was no cause of death in Him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled Him, and therefore death had no claim upon Him. No man could have taken His life from Him justly, for He had done no man wrong, and no man could even have lain Him by force unless He had been pleased to yield Himself to die. But lo, one sins and another suffers. Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in Him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bullocks, and hills of frankincense, could not have availed for the removal of sin; but Jesus was cut off for us, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away for ever. Herein is wisdom, whereby substitution, the sure and speedy way of atonement, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns, and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to lay down His life for His enemies!”

What a plan! God Himself would become part of the human race. The creator would enter creation; not only would He enter creation He would become one of us, a human. What was the purpose? He came to suffer the consequences of our rebellion against Him. His whole life embodied by His prayer on the cross, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

CROWNED WITH MERCY

Ps.103:4 – who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.

Redemption is not the end of the story, it is where everything begins. God’s plan for you is not just to fix you so you can be a better version of you in this life. His plans are far more aggressive. His plan includes crowns and glory and other such things. He lifts us out of our hopeless condition and loads us with His benefits. Mercy crowns our life and our story brings glory to the Lord. Whatever pit you were wallowing in just becomes a crown of mercy on your head. Your life is filled with the fruit of mercy, the joy of the Lord. Your story declares and displays the glory of the Lord. Here is how Spurgeon describes it.

“Redemption will ever constitute one of the sweetest notes in the believer’s grateful song…. Our Lord does nothing by halves, he will not stay his hand till he has gone to the uttermost with his people. Cleansing, healing, redemption, are not enough, he must needs make them kings and crown them, and the crown must be far more precious than if it were made of corruptible things, such as silver and gold; it is studded with gems of grace and lined with the velvet of lovingkindness; it is decked with the jewels of mercy, but made soft for the head to wear by a lining of tenderness. Who is like unto thee, O Lord! God himself crowns the princes of his family, for their best things come from him directly and distinctly; they do not earn the crown, for it is of mercy not of merit; they feel their own unworthiness of it, therefore he deals with tenderness; but he is resolved to bless them, and, therefore, he is ever crowning them, always surrounding their brows with coronets of mercy and compassion. He always crowns the edifice which he commences, and where he gives pardon he gives acceptance too.”

We started in a pit, we end up on a throne. Paul said we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. What started as a nightmare ends up in a fairy tale. I had no hope, Christ found me, extended His hand of mercy, He then crowned my life with His endless love. Everyone who sees what happened to me is struck by the magnificence of His glory on display in my life.

WHAT A DEAL !!!

Rom.8:4 – so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

I

Paul goes to great depths in the book of Romans to help us see the implications of the fall of man and the redemption available to us in Christ. Our old life, our fallen nature, had no ability to follow God or live a righteous life. As Paul shared in the first chapters of Romans, all of us were born helplessly ensnared in sin. It effects every part of our lives. Our sins were in need of forgiveness but much more than that. Forgiveness alone never changes us. We find ourselves hopelessly trapped in the cycle of returning to our sinful ways. That’s why the gospel is so necessary and so powerful. Salvation includes the whole man. Christ Himself enters inside of us and liberates our will. He begins to work in us and through us in the power of this new life. All the requirements of living a holy life are no longer a burden. We joyfully yield to Jesus and His blessed new life. WE live a righteous life now empowered by His Spirit. Here is how Jonathan Edwards explains this.

“In the Romans 8:4, it is implied that if we walk after the flesh, justification and the reward of righteousness can’t “be fulfilled in us,” but if we walked after the Spirit it would be. The substance and drift of each of these things is the same. If we walk after the flesh, we shall surely come to condemnation. But, on the contrary, if we walk after the Spirit it will surely bring us to life. If we are after the flesh, we shall mind the things of the flesh. The nature of our souls will be carnal, and that will necessarily bring us to death, because to be carnally minded is “enmity against God”, and is not, nor can, be subject to the law of God, can’t please God, and therefore must bring us to condemnation. But, on the contrary, “they that are after the Spirit” do mind “the things of the Spirit”. The Spirit is become a principle of nature in them. The nature of their souls is spiritual, but this naturally and necessarily tends to life.”

What an amazing deal! The Lord makes claims and expectations of how we should live our lives. He then begins to live this new life inside of us. What is the outcome? He receives the glory for my changed life and I receive the joy that comes from this intimacy of having Christ living in and through my life.

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE ROOM

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream”

Ps. 126:1

August is so historical for Frank and I, it sweeps us up every year because that is the month when everything changed for us. Now some forty five years ago at the sweet age of 16, Christ found me at the bottom of the heap and put a new song into my mouth. That old song had done run its course! Thank God! Frank and I were married soon and swept up into a course of redemption that has never let us go. We have lived a somewhat unbelievable life. If there were ever two losers never to go anywhere in life, we would have been the poster children. When Christ walks into the room everything changes.

Bryon and Katie Torwalt sing it this way-

“When you walk into the room

Everything changes

Darkness starts to tremble

At the light that You bring

And when You walk into the room

Every heart starts burning

And nothing matters more

Than just to sit here at Your feet”

Then 1994 God just outdid himself by bringing us a fresh touch from heaven. He got tired of our dry, sorrowful services and came down with holy ghost power! Jonathan Edwards writes about the Surprising work of God that happen to his city in North Hampton. He puts it this way.

“The daily conversation of virtually everyone was the revival – “Other discourse than of the things of religion would scarcely be tolerated in any company. The minds of people were wonderfully taken off from the world, it was treated amongst us as a thing of very little consequence. They seemed to follow their worldly business, more as a part of their duty, than from any disposition they had to it; the temptation now seemed to lie on that hand, to neglect worldly affairs too much, and to spend too much time in the immediate exercise of religion. The only thing in their view was to get the kingdom of heaven, and every one appeared pressing into it. The engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be hid, it appeared in their very countenances. There was scarcely a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world.”

Will you allow Christ to invade your lives like never before? Your worship will change, your outlook will be transformed, even your dog will love you! Your focus will shift from the natural world to Christ world-his eternal world, the world of love.

MERCY

Lk. 15:20 – So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

One of the great parables of Jesus is the Prodigal Son, a great display of the Father’s love of fallen man. I remember looking at some pencil sketches a number of years ago from the famous artist Rembrandt. He had painted his own face as the face of the prodigal in his depiction of this parable. This pretty much tells the story, we are all the prodigal son in need of the Father’s mercy and love. In the story we see the mercy of the Father displayed in His actions. First we see the eyes of mercy, The Father is looking down the road on purpose, gazing the horizon hoping to see His son’s familiar gate. When He saw him, he was moved with compassion. The original greek for ‘felt compassion’ describes your intestines being moved with emotion. You could describe this as bowels of mercy, the Father being moved with compassion for you. Suddenly the Father could not keep still, His feet of compassion began to run, who could ever forget this picture that Jesus painted, God running toward you. Matthew Henry speaks about the arms and the lips of mercy. Here are his thoughts.

“Here were arms of mercy, and those arms stretched out to embrace him: He fell on his neck. Though guilty and deserving to be beaten, though dirty and newly come from feeding swine, so that any one who had not the strongest and tenderest compassions of a father would have loathed to touch him, yet he thus takes him in his arms, and lays him in his bosom. Thus dear are true penitents to God, thus welcome to the Lord Jesus. Here were lips of mercy, and those lips dropping as a honey-comb: He kissed him. This kiss not only assured him of his welcome, but sealed his pardon; his former follies shall be all forgiven, and not mentioned against him, nor is one word said by way of upbraiding.”

What a picture Jesus painted of our Heavenly Father. He loves us, He loved us when we were away, He welcomed us with joy when we returned. Maybe its time to bring out the fatted calf and let the party begin.