11 August 2016

Beautiful Scars

Fanny Crosby was probably the most prolific hymn­ist in history. Though blinded by an incompetent doctor at six weeks of age, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said: It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.
In her lifetime, Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the United States. To this day, the vast majority of American hymnals contain her work.
When Fanny died, her tombstone carried the words, “Aunt Fanny” and “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.”

One of those hymns written in circa 1885; Tell me the story of Jesus. Write on my heart every word.  Who is Jesus? …  I read somewhere that
He is the Star of astronomy. He is the rock of Geology. He is the Lion and the Lamb of Zoology. He's the Harmonizer of all discords and the Healer of all diseases. Great men have come and gone, but He lives on. Herod and Pilate could not kill Him. Satan could not seduce Him. Death could not destroy Him and the grave could not hold Him. He was human and divine. He was God and He was man. He was just as much God as though never man and just as much man as though never God. He was so human that he got lonely and longed for human companionship, but He was so divine that He said, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."  He was so human that He prayed, but was so divine that in all of His prayers He never had to make one confession of sin. He was so human that He became thirsty, but He was so divine that He could say, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." He was so human that He became hungry, but He was so divine that He took a lad's lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fishes and fed a multitude. He was so human that a ship carried Him, but He was so divine that He walked on the waves. He was so human that He fell asleep on board ship during a storm, but He was so divine that He awoke and rebuked the wind and the waves as calm as a babe asleep on her mother's bosom. He was so human that His enemies threw slurs at Him insinuating that He was the son of illegitimate birth, but He was so divine that He could look His tormentors in the eyes and say, "Before Abraham was I AM! He was so human that He wept at a graveside, but He was so divine that with the voice of authority He cried, "Lazarus, come forth." His purpose was stupendous and was purposed in the mind of God before the foundations of the world and before the mudsills of the earth were laid. Before He had stretched out the heavens like a scroll, or scooped out the valleys, or piled up the mountains or carpeted the earth with verdant green, or laced it with running brooks and flowing rivers. Before He had set the furnace of the sun on fire or called the queen of the night into her orbit, or set the stars to dancing in the heavens, or the sons of God to shouting for joy, Redemption was accomplished. OH, WHAT A SAVIOR!

Tell me the story most precious sweetest that ever was heard.  Sweet … makes you think of something real nice … some even say that the story is so sweet that Jesus was weak, that to be a Christian doesn’t take much … However, He took the lashing, He carried the cross afterwards and then for six hours He hung there. Besides the nails in His hands and feet being excruciatingly painful, he was slowly suffocating. In this dying state, He interceded for His transgressors. He redeemed the lost thief. Darkness rolled in. He Who knew no sin was about to be made sin and about to be separated from the Father as a result. This was the hardest thing. It made Him cry out, “Eli, Eli, lama savakthanee.” The beloved Son is forsaken and the Father must pour out His wrath on Him – because of our sin.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

Last verse of the hymn written by Fanny Crosby
Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in 
anguish and pain.
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see.
Stay, let me weep while you 
Love paid the 
ransom for me.

This story of Jesus is filled with hate and love, a story filled with death and life, a story filled with sadness and joy, a story filled with disappointment and hope, a story filled with tears and laughter... it’s the story of Jesus.

This morning I want to tell you a story ... about a Savior perfect in every way, Jesus what a wonderful Name … what a wonderful Savior.  Who is Jesus … well perhaps many of us already know this Jesus; this Man that has been The Difference in our lives. We know Him as Savior, Friend, Deliverer, King, Lord; But for those of you who don’t or maybe we just need to be reminded who Jesus is or maybe you just aren’t sure … don’t worry because the ones who walked with Him nearly every day of their lives after meeting Him didn’t quite know Him as well as perhaps they should have …
Matthew 8:23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

We have no problem talking about the birth of the Savior … pretty significant event … the whole world knew what had happened that day whether they want to admit it or not.  Romans tells us 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 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.  We have no problem talking about the crucifixion … pretty significant event, that yet again the whole world knew what had happened that day whether they want to admit it or not. Luke 23:44It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

But there’s something that we perhaps don’t speak so much about … that is this Savior, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world; He has scars.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of us carry scars from different injuries … whether it is from an operation, a vehicle incident  or from shooting yourself in the finger with a BB gun we could go around and tell stories about these scars.  And yet there are some of us who have scars that others can’t see … broken relationships, broken dreams, unrealized potential … some of these scars are a result from our own bad choices; others have been forced upon us by someone else … these scars constantly remind us that we’ve been hurt, marked and forever changed. 

Our scars remind us constantly that we have been injured, marked, and forever changed. Behind the scars lie the most horrific events in our lives. The scar is the outward-facing result of pain we wish had never happened.  We try to hide those scars, but a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt won’t do the trick. So we decide that we’ll never be hurt again and we put on a mask to hide the scar, thinking nobody will notice. But they don’t go away, do they? We begin to look at the scars not as battle wounds we can be proud of, but as a mark of disgrace that goes deeper than anyone can ever touch and are a reflection of the story God has thrust upon us. A constant reminder that life’s not fair, not easy, and that even our own stories are broken.

Jesus has those types of scars … They are scars that He didn’t deserve, scars that shouldn’t be His, yet scars none the less.  These scars caused by our actions, by our sin, by our choices and decisions in life But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 ...

There's another side to the story of scars encapsulated with a word; Healed … healing that’s what scars really represent.  They are a display that an injury is gone. You’re forever marked, but not plagued by a constantly open wound. The wound scabbed over, then scarred. It leaves you looking different, but healed.

Look at your scar as a disgrace if you’d like. In fact that’s exactly where the enemy would like you to remain. As an ugly part of you that everybody stares at, questions, and judges you for.    But what about this … BUT GOD … what about embracing that as part of your story.  As part of your healing and restoration. As a unique piece of your journey that God intends to use to heal others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

WHAT DO YOUR SCARS REPRESENT TO YOU? Do they remind you of tough times, broken dreams, altered plans? Or of endurance, strength, overcoming …

For Jesus His scars represent love … love that can never be erased.

A love that hung Him on a cross, a love that buried Him in a tomb, a love that caused Him to rise from the grave, a love that says I did this for you.  All we need to do is receive His love; it costs you nothing except your life and your will and while many of us can say well that’s everything? You are right … but you gain everything when you lose it all to follow Christ.