Monday’s Breaking Bread
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Today, Anna is sharing about a crucial lie of the accuser that helped press her away from Jesus and His saving grace for more than twenty years. A lie that she not only still sees pervading the church and saddling God’s people in condemnation, but also a lie that the accuser still tries to ensnare her in whenever hurt is inflicted on her.
The Zachaeus Jesus Invites Come
The past few weeks I have given much thought to the gift Christ has given us in the story of Zachaeus. This year has been a year in which my heart has been gravely wounded by the enemy through God’s own people, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Knowing the grace my LORD has lavished on me throughout my life of sin and fleeing His love, I am quick to speak forgiveness out over others. But God is teaching me that for forgiveness to truly root into a heart of loving Holy Spirit prayer for those who have hurt me, I need to learn how to live the words of forgiveness I have spoken. I need to cast out fear and come before my Savior in complete confidence, laying my very real emotions and the lies wrapped around them at His feet. It is this that stops the accuser from ensnaring me and others through the hurt that has been directed at me, as I begin to weep and sow in tears of truth:
For if I don’t do so, I begin to be enslaved by the very yeast I was sent to slice, clothed in the might of the Spirit and Word of God:
Isaiah 50: 10 – 11 (NLT)
Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys his servant?
If you are walking in darkness,
without a ray of light,
trust in the LORD
and rely on your God.
But watch out, you who live in your
and warm yourselves by your own fires.
This is the reward you will receive from me:
you will soon fall down in great torment.
You see, my human heart was born in and continues to lean into warming itself in its own fires of deceit. A deceit that would have me believe I am capable of being “good” by doing what is “good”: a lie that led me to become a Prodigal child for more than twenty years. I realized as a teenager that I could no longer live in the hypocrisy of speaking and doing good, while my human heart hid sinful desires directly opposite to my deeds and words.
Isaiah 29: 13 (NIV)
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Jeremiah 17: 9 – 10 (ESV)
9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
But what I didn’t realize then, was that God was only too aware that I couldn’t “be good” because He saw the deceit living in my heart. A deceit leading to a holding on: of anger, and embittered grief, pretending on the outside that I’m fine. And to a denial that the words spoken over me and those I love have the power to steal, kill and destroy.
Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)
Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
A deceit that encourages me to be like those who frowned upon Jesus as he sought out Zachaeus and loved him as he was, in his sin and all. To be a Pharisee who speaks love and forgiveness, but lives as one filled with unacceptance and anger. To be one who longs for a punishing judgement, rather than the mercy my Lord has showered upon me again and again. To be one who allows the enemy to begin to steal, kill and destroy.
But praise be to God for the Holy Spirit in me – the One who returned and continues to return my Prodigal heart to His. Praise Him for the One who raises what I press assunder. The One who leads me to grieve deeply, to speak of the struggle in my heart – the struggle to love, when my heart is broken in pain, rejected and hurting. The One who speaks truth into my heart, pressing it to warm and bleed, rather than cool and harden.
Lately, He has done this through sending friends to speak to me about the hurt. After my initial tears, I had kept a closed lid on it, but these friends made me realize how remaining silent had done more harm than good.
After a week of God sending friends to share openly and honestly of the hurt done to them by the same people, my hardened heart began to break open and as the tears started flowing I realized just how much I’d kept bottled up inside.
It is then, alone in prayer, that the Holy Spirit pressed me into my Father’s arms and the unfathomable began to unfold- the hurt lodged in my soul released and transformed into waves of grief, no longer for myself, but for the one the enemy had used to hurt me and my friends so deeply. It is then the Lord opened my eyes to the longing, the pain and the grief that lay dormant in this person’s heart, a person just like me, waiting to be released into the arms of His Savior – a Zachaeus in the tree longing to meet the heart of His Lord. And then I heard my lips begin to move in fervent prayers for mercy, for compassion, for love, for the arms of our Lord to embrace the very one who the enemy had used to injure me.
Psalm 73: 21 – 26 (NLT)
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
And it is only now, in looking back, I realize that opening my heart as I did with these friends wasn’t gossiping, as my accuser had me believe. Opening my heart as they encouraged me to do, also by sharing the hurt done to them by the same people, was speaking the truth about wrong that has been done. Wrong they and I had already taken care and time to share about with those who had committed it. And thanks be to God for stopping me in my tracks where I did begin to share that which I had not spoken up about previously and for helping me to confess this as sin.
We are all works in progress and still walking into a place of full healing in Christ, which will not be completed until heaven. I know that by allowing me to walk through all of this hurt this year, God is teaching me to stop worshipping myself and others and rest in my belonging in Christ and my purpose to please HIM alone.
1 Thessalonians 2: 4 (NLT)
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
One day, I know that my heart will no longer cower and grieve as it still does at times now, when I am ignored or turned away harshly for what God asks me to speak in love. For I know God is teaching my heart to rejoice in this communion of suffering brought on not by man, but the spiritual powers of darkness, who recognize the love of Christ in me. He is teaching my heart to live what my lips profess, to truly love and forgive those the enemy turns against me, to crush the accuser’s ploy to steal, kill and destroy from us all.
I share this for those of us who are yearning to go deeper and willing to admit that we are not yet fully unwrapped, but need our Savior to do the unwrapping of His righteousness in us, piece by piece. I want you to know that God loves you and accepts you JUST as you are. He will not reject you in your heart struggles, but just as He is doing with me, guide you into more and more of His truth until one day, in heaven, He reveals His masterpiece: the true, complete, healed and whole you He has always seen before Him.
Thank You, Father, for the gift of Your Word, Your Holy Spirit and Your Body. We know You are truly the only One who can lead our aching, hardening hearts to break open wide. Father, keep leading us to Your arms. Keep breaking our hearts for that which breaks Yours.
Help us be honest with You and with each other. Help us not to deny any pain we feel or excuse any wrong that has been done. But help us instead to cast out fear and pour out our hearts. Help us to remember that we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). Thank You for giving us Jesus, who is stronger than our deceitful hearts and is able to take our hurt, our anger and grief and transform it into true loving prayer for those who have injured us. Help us to lean on Jesus, our righteousness, rather than on our pride. Help us to still to hear Your Voice and keep surrounding us by those who press us into You. Help us to shine Your Light to the Prodigals we meet inside and outside the walls of the church, by returning our own Prodigal hearts to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Proverbs 4: 18 (NIV)
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.