Luke 10: 27
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
The Greatest Commandment Deuteronomy 6:5
…4“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
6“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.…
|April 10, 2017
Dear God, Give Me Your Heart
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes.’” Luke 19:41-42 (NIV)
In a dimly lit hotel room, woman after woman went around the circle sharing prayer requests. The intimacy of a women’s retreat had softened all of our hearts to a tender vulnerability.
One woman shared about the healing her child desperately needed. Another confided her heartbreak over a rift in her family. Several others asked us to pray for them to be able to forgive someone.
Finally, we came to a woman with tears streaming down her face. “I need you to pray for me to stop crying,” she explained. “My heart is so broken for those around me who don’t know Jesus. I’m overcome. I can barely function through the sorrow.”
The room seemed to fade as my mind wandered to an event that happened thousands of years ago — Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem before the Passover.
The beginning of the story found in Luke 19 is joyful. Jesus had sent two disciples ahead to get a colt for Him, fulfilling yet one more prophecy of the Messiah found in the Old Testament book of Zechariah. As Jesus rode along, the people lined the roads spreading their cloaks before Him.
On what we now call Palm Sunday, the crowd of disciples cried out:
“‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
“‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:38, NIV)
Yet in the midst of it all, Jesus wasn’t basking in this extravagant praise. Instead, He was overcome with sorrow:
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’” (Luke 19:41-44, NIV)
Jesus was heartbroken, but not over the comparatively minor subjects that can dominate my emotions. His lament was over the fact that He was the long-awaited Savior, and the people had missed Him.
God had extended His hand of mercy and grace through Jesus, and the world turned away.
You and I live in the same kind of world today. It’s a world turning away from what Jesus offers — and what we so desperately need.
While He still extends peace, grace and forgiveness, sometimes I struggle to see my need for it. Or maybe somehow, I think I can earn goodness on my own. So I end up choosing sin over saving, self over a Savior. Jesus didn’t shed just a few tears over this rejection. The strong word “wept” expresses His deep grief for a lost world. I want more of that.
The woman’s soft crying brought me fully back into our prayer circle, and she repeated, “Please pray for me to stop crying.”
“I can’t,” I whispered. “Please pray for me to start crying. Pray for me to have a heart that’s tender and weeps over the lost like yours … and like Jesus’.”
This is the beginning of our Holy Week, just days from Easter, when we rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and life. But before we rejoice, I want to pause for a moment to weep for this lost world, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Let’s sob and mourn and wail. Let’s convert our grief into pleas to God for people to wake up and feel their need for an intimate relationship with a living God. He’s still in the business of bringing dead things to life.
Dear Jesus, I plead for You to give me Your grief over the people who have missed You and rejected You. This Easter, remind me just how much I need You. Help me see Your grace. Grant me that divine combination of sorrow and tenderness that points people to the cross and to new Life. Dear God, give me Your heart for my world, to see the desperate need for salvation we all have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The best of masters
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” John 14:27
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
It is the same with the world at this day. Everyone greets us in writing with a “Dear sir,” or a “My dear sir,” and concludes with “Yours very truly,” and “Yours sincerely.” We call all “friends,” and if we meet but casually we express the utmost anxiety with regard to one another’s health, and we carefully enquire after each other’s families; when perhaps we shall no sooner have passed by the person than we shall forget his existence, and certainly shall entertain no anxious thoughts with regard to his welfare, nor any loving remembrance of him. The world gives very largely when it gives compliments. Oh, what blessings would descend upon all our heads, if the blessings uttered could be blessings bestowed. Even when the “Good bye” is given, which translated means, “God be with you”—if that could be but true, and if God could be with us, in answer to that prayer, so little understood, how rich might we be! But alas! the way of the world is, “Be ye warmed and filled;” but it has not that which should warm, nor that which should fill. It is a world of words; high-sounding, empty, all-deceiving words. Now this is not so with Christ. If he says “Peace be with you,” his benediction is most true and full of sweet sincerity. He left his own peace in heaven, that he might give the peace which he enjoyed with his Father, to us in this world of sorrow, for thus he puts it, “My peace I give unto you.” Christ, when he blesses, blesses not in word only, but in deed. The lips of truth cannot promise more than the hands of love will surely give. He gives not in compliment. Furthermore, even when the world’s wishes of peace are sincere, what are they but mere wishes?
For meditation: Greetings and best wishes from the lips of a Christian should be modeled on Christ, not the world. Do you go in for the “polite lie” or are your concerns for others genuine (Philippians 2:20; 3 John 2)?
Complete and Effective Decision About Sin
Co-Crucifixion. Have you made the following decision about sin—that it must be completely killed in you? It takes a long time to come to the point of making this complete and effective decision about sin. It is, however, the greatest moment in your life once you decide that sin must die in you– not simply be restrained, suppressed, or counteracted, but crucified— just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be mentally and spiritually convinced, but what we need to do is actually make the decision that Paul urged us to do in this passage.
Pull yourself up, take some time alone with God, and make this important decision, saying, “Lord, identify me with Your death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.
This was not some divine future expectation on the part of Paul, but was a very radical and definite experience in his life. Are you prepared to let the Spirit of God search you until you know what the level and nature of sin is in your life— to see the very things that struggle against God’s Spirit in you? If so, will you then agree with God’s verdict on the nature of sin— that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? You cannot “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Romans 6:11) unless you have radically dealt with the issue of your will before God.
Have you entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ, until all that remains in your flesh and blood is His life? “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20).