A Gift for Our Savior

Gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is the second week we are looking at these valuable gifts presented to Jesus by the Magi. Each gift portrayed a purpose and position the little boy Jesus would grow to fulfill.

Today, we will look at the message of myrrh.

Like frankincense, myrrh is a natural gum or resin extracted from a small, thorny tree. A myrrh seed is bitter. When broken, the seed emits a sweet fragrance. Myrrh has been used as an embalming spice. When mixed with wine, it can be consumed as a drink. It symbolizes bitterness, brokenness, suffering and affliction.

Myrrh prophetically pointed to Jesus as the Savior of the world. Myrrh was an expensive gift for the Magi to purchase. However, it signified something even more costly – our salvation. It cost Jesus His life.

Jesus referred to brokenness when informing His disciples what He would face after the Passover meal. He used broken bread as a symbol.

Jesus reclined at the table with His apostles. And He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering’. . . . And He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.’(taken from Luke 22:14-20)

Then came the reality. When Jesus was flogged and beaten, His skin was torn. When the thorny crown was pressed upon His head, the prickly points penetrated His skin. While He hung upon the cross, blood flowed from His hands and feet that were pierced by nails.

Paul echoss Jesus’ words of brokenness in I Corinthians 11:23-25 and adds in verse 26, For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” We are reminded of Jesus’ brokenness every time we hear these words spoken when partaking of the sacrament of communion.

The Seven Last Words are phrases Jesus spoke from the cross. Two of these phrases are applicable to myrrh and brokenness.

John 19:28-29 records, “. . . Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ . . . so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth.” Myrrh was an ingredient of this drink.

Matthew 27:46 says, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” This verse reveals the broken relationship between Jesus and His Heavenly Father. God the Father, perfect and holy, could not look upon His Son who carried the sins of the world as He died upon the cross.

Jesus, who was holy, became broken so that we, who are broken, can be made whole. Romans 5:10 says, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Now let’s see how myrrh applies to us today.

Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.Although Christ was broken through crucifixion for us. there is still an aspect of crucifixion we must encounter. We must be broken, or separated from, our old nature to become new creations in Christ. We must be willing to crucify, or break away from, our fleshly desires. Embracing Christ as our Savior requires us to be broken from our past.

The breaking process may seem bitter but the result will be a beautiful fragrance. We will become the aroma of Christ. (II Corinthians 2:15) We embody both the bitterness and the sweetness of myrrh.

Hear the message of myrrh. Jesus tasted the bitterness and experienced its brokenness. Now the sweetness of salvation is available to us.

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A Cracked Cup


Fifty years ago, my great aunt gave me a wedding shower gift of a cup and saucer that had belonged to her. She mailed it to my cousin who was hosting the bridal party. When my cousin
got it, it was broken. Not wanting me to receive a broken gift, my cousin glued it back together. She did a good job. Although I can tell where the glue has mended the broken pieces, it is still beautiful.

We can learn several lessons from this cup.

First, the cup was broken. When the cup was mailed, it was perfect. As it traveled from California to Nebraska via the mail system, it cracked. It broke while being bounced from one location to another.

A similar thing can happen to us. God created us in His image. He is perfect. However, we are not perfect. While on life’s journey, we are bounced around and broken. Our brokenness includes our imperfections, wounds, mistakes, and shortcomings. But we must not be discouraged. Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

There is hope for us even though we may compare ourselves to a broken cup.

Secondly, the cup was repaired. My cousin repaired the cup before I received it. She glued it back together.

God is our glue! When we feel broken, the Lord is willing to heal us. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Not only is the Lord close to us in our brokenness, He also offers healing. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

In the New Testament, Jesus declares to be the healer of brokenness. While in the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2. Within the verse of Luke 4:18, Jesus declares, “The Spirit of the is Lord is upon Me,… He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.” Just as my cousin glued my cup back together, the Lord heals the brokenhearted through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Third, the cup still has the potential to leak. At first glance, my cup looks good. However, I do not drink coffee or tea from it because I am afraid that the weak spots may leak. The cup may crack more if hot liquid is poured into it.

Although the Lord is able to mend our weaknesses, we may not feel strong enough to never crack under pressure or stressful situations. We leak! We need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus assures us in John 14:16 NASB, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.The Holy Spirit will glue us back together and fill us with His presence. If we allow His presence to seep through our imperfections, He will repeatedly fill us. Acts 13:62 NASB says, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

It has been 50 years since I received the gift of this cup and saucer. Currently, it is displayed in our china cabinet. As we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, this cup still has a message for me regarding our marriage. Like the cup and saucer, our marriage has encountered a few cracks over the years. However, God has always been faithful to mend the broken pieces. My great aunt sent me more than a gift. She sent me a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” As the third cord of our marriage, the Lord has allowed us to stick together as one.

I am reminded of the chorus of Fill My Cup, Lord  by Richard Blanchard

Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up, Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting in my soul.
Bread of Heaven feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

A Fragile Word

All was quiet around me. I was in bed but not asleep. My mind was still drifting over thoughts of the evening’s experiences of the retreat I was attending. Then my spiritual ears heard the following words from the Lord. “I have entrusted My child, Adam, to you. He is fragile. Just love him. I am working. Walk with Me.” I felt like I was the boy Samuel fulfilling Eli’s instructions of I Samuel 3:9,”Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” I was listening! In what I share in the following paragraphs, I have changed the name of this individual to Adam representing the first human being God created. Adam can be any one of us. I am not referring to a male or female person, but I have chosen to use the masculine pronoun. Although this was a very personal word, I think many of my readers will be able to insert the name of their own Adam into these brief statements. My Reader, search your life and see if you are called to apply these statements to a special someone in your life as I expand upon the insights I discovered.

fragile-birdsI have entrusted My child, Adam, to you.

The first word that caught my attention was entrusted. It was humbling to think that God was investing me with responsibility for someone’s life. Then I remembered Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I praised the Lord that He desired me to partner with Him for the fulfillment of His plans and purposes for this individual.

fragile-roseHe is fragile.

Since the Lord chose “fragile” to describe this particular child that belonged to Him, I pondered the meaning of the word. Two characteristics came to mind: vulnerability and the ability to be broken.

If a person is vulnerable, he is susceptible to being wounded physically, emotionally and spiritually. There is most likely a weakness within the character and personality of this person. I want Adam to know that according to II Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” My husband and I often watch Antique Roadshow on TV. There is a commercial of an active boy running back and forth in front of a table where an expensive vase is placed. Hands come and grasp the vase to keep it from falling and being broken. To me, this depicts the vulnerability of the object to be broken. I apply this to Adam. Paul says in II Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” As I think about a person being breakable, I sense both the negative and the positive possibilities. When something is broken, its original condition is lost. The specific vase in the TV commercial could never have been replaced if it had broken. However, when thinking about a person being broken, it can be a good thing. The Lord is able to take the vulnerability and weakness of a person and repair him to be better than he was previously. David says in Psalm 34:18 NLT, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Also Psalm 51:17 NLT says, “You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

loveJust love him.

When I first heard the Lord’s words regarding Adam’s life, I was overwhelmed. However, then the Lord gave me guidance as to what He wanted me to do. Love is a simple four letter word but it not necessarily an easy task to fulfill. I turn to the love chapter of the Bible for guidance. I highlight words from I Corinthians 13:4, 7,8, and 13, “Love is patient, love is kind….It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails….And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I am particularly assured and strengthened by the fact that love never fails. I have heard it said that love is wanting what is best for the other person. Yes Lord, help me love my Adam!

handI am working.

The Lord has entrusted me with a responsibility for this Adam but I am not alone. God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” For me, I AM is one of the greatest names of God. In my particular present situation, I AM is working with me. I rely upon Psalm 147:3 that says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God is doing the work – not me. All God asks of me is to love my Adam. I can say to Adam the same words Moses spoke to the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you.”

footprints-in-sandWalk with Me.

The the last words the Lord spoke to me that evening were words for my personal guidance. I was assured of His presence and help as I accepted the call He spoke to me. With the writer of Psalm 86:11 NKJV I say, “Teach me your ways, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to Your name.” May I fulfill the directive of Galatians 5:16, “Walk by the Spirit.”

I have embraced the words God spoke into my spirit that evening. I am now in the process of partnering with the Lord for His work in Adam’s fragile life. As God entrusts me to walk along side Adam, I strive to “Trust in the LORD with all my heart And do not lean on my own understanding. In all my ways I acknowledge Him, And He will make my paths straight.” according to Proverbs 3:5-6. (italics are pronouns personalized by author)

My Reader, do you sense the Lord calling you to love someone who is fragile? Remember, the Lord will walk with you wherever He leads you.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Fragrance of Humility

 

humility-2perfume-bottle-1And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned
that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an
alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she
began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her
head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Luke 7:37-38

humility-2Last week I shared this scripture from Luke 7 focusing upon the brokenness of the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus. This week we will continue to look at the same scripture while thinking about the humility of the once sinful woman. In order for the woman to be able to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair, she had to have her head near His feet. She had to bow down with her face to the ground. To me, this woman’s actions and lowly position reflect humility.

Wikipedia describes humility as an act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others. Humility involves having a clear perspective and respect for one‘s situation or relationship. Specifically in a spiritual context, this can mean a recognition of self in relation to God. The woman in Luke 7 certainly emulates this description. She experienced brokenness because of her former lifestyle and then she humbly accepted forgiveness for her sins and desired a new relationship with Jesus. James 4:6 states, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  I believe that Jesus found pleasure in both the presence and the actions of this woman at His feet. He experienced the fragrance of humility exuding from her.

perfume-bottle-1With the fragrance of humility in mind, I want to think about the perfume with which the woman anointed Jesus’ feet. The costly perfume poured out from the vile represented the woman’s life savings. She was willing to give her all in gratitude to the Man who had forgiven her sins. At one point in her life she may have been proud, but now she was humble because she had been broken free from her former sinful life. Most likely the fragrance of this scented oil was myrrh. It is interesting to note that the myrrh seed has a hard shell that must be crushed before its pleasing aroma can be emitted. The existence of the perfume used by this woman was evident by its aroma. The reality of the brokenness of this woman was manifested by her humility. The fragrance of the oil would have been noticed not only by Jesus but by everyone in the room. However, I believe that the humbleness of this woman was more pleasing to the Lord than the aroma of the perfume. There is a sacred fragrance to humbleness that is transmitted through a person’s life in a unique way. C. S. Lewis has said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Lewis’ quote describes the character of this woman and it is a character trait I want to assimilate in my life!

Now let’s relate a couple more scriptures with the story in Luke 7 as we continue our study about humility. Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Another scripture in II Corinthians 2:15 says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Is humility an attitude we simply choose to put on when we get dressed in the morning? Is it a scented oil we dab behind our ears like a spritz of perfume? Definitely not! Philippians 2:3 exhorts, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” If we are to emit the fragrance of humility to those around us, we must not only follow the example of the woman in Luke 7 but we must also follow the example of Christ described in Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Specifically in verse 7, we notice Jesus being in the humble position of a servant. The New American Standard Bible uses the words, “He emptied himself.” This reminds me of the woman emptying, or pouring out, the perfume from her alabaster vial upon the feet of Jesus in Luke 7. It also reminds me that I need to be emptied, or forgiven, of my sins. All these efforts reflect humility in action and they have a pleasing aroma to Christ

My Reader, humility is costly but it is worth the price. James 4:8 exhorts us to “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” This is what transpired for the woman who was forgiven of her sins. Proverbs 27:9 says, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad.” Join me in discovering the joy of the Lord by humbly approaching the throne of grace and experiencing a fragrant fellowship that can only be found at the feet of Jesus. There is a special fragrance found only in humility.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Broken for a Purpose

 

humility-2perfume-bottle-1And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned
that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an
alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she
began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her
head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Luke 7:37-38

broken-alabaster-jarbroken-heartBefore this woman could anoint Jesus’ feet with her perfume, the vial or jar that contained the perfume had to be broken. However, the alabaster jar was not the only thing that was broken in this scriptural story. This woman experienced a broken heart when she realized her sinfulness. Then in gratitude for the forgiveness offered to her by Jesus, she chose to break the vile of perfume and anoint the feet of Jesus. The cost most likely was her life’s savings, yet it saved her life for eternity. In a sense, she may have been prophetically and symbolically preparing Jesus’ body for burial. She may have been one of only a few people who truly understood that the total cost of forgiveness was Jesus’ life. Not only did she anoint Jesus feet with perfume, but she also washed His feet with her tears. I believe her tears came from her broken heart. These tears exuded a fragrance as pleasing to Jesus as the aroma of the perfume from the broken bottle. Listen to a couple of scriptures. First, Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Then Paul begins II Corinthians 2:15 saying, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ… We, and the sinful woman, become as fragrant perfume when we are broken of our sinful past.

perfume-bottle-2tears-3The woman’s tears reveal brokenness in two unique ways. First, she was broken because of the remorse she felt for her former life of sin; so she shed tears of sorrow. Next, she cried tears of joy. Although still experiencing brokenness, the woman wept these tears because she realized that she had obtained something she did not deserve. Her tears were mingled with sorrow and gratitude. Psalm 30:5 says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” I have heard it said that we can only be as happy as we have been sad. The height of our joy is determined by the depth of our sorrow. Psalm 56:8 NLT says, “You have collected all my tears in your bottle.” This is amazing to me! The Lord keeps all my tears in a bottle similar to the perfume vial. Personal tears are just as precious to the Lord as costly perfume. May we be aware of the progression of tears beginning as tears of sorrow followed by tears of joy. While one is not possible before the other, both are kept in a bottle by the Lord.

towel-6IMGP4739The woman’s brokenness is further revealed by her wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair. First, she washed His feet with her tears and then she dried them with her hair, not a towel. She gave of herself; she did not just use something handed to her by someone else. She served Jesus by giving of herself. In a sense, her actions were a prophetic portrayal of how Jesus would later wash the feet of His disciples. John 13:4-5 states, “so He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had wrapped around Him.” After washing their feet, Jesus explained why He had done this by saying in John 13:15-17, I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Whether it be through actions by the woman or by Jesus, the message is clear that we are to be servants. Again there a progression that is significant for this woman. Restating, first she had to express tears of remorse before she could experience tears of joy. Then her tears of joy led to her desire to serve others. After she had experienced the love of Christ, she wanted to share that love with others around her.

My Reader, we are still called to apply God’s Word to our lives.
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Broken hearts and broken vials of perfume
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Tears of sorrow and tears of joy retained in God’s blessed bottle
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Towels as tokens of ourselves expressing our willingness to be servants
All of these are significant scriptural symbols of our willingness to be broken for a purpose – for God’s purpose. Each of us must have a broken heart before we can serve with our whole heart.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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