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Faithlife

Despite the Depths

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Despite the Depths

Romans 5:8

Introduction

The earth rotates at a speed of 1670 km/h on its axis, and as much as 108,000 km/hr around the sun, and 900,000 km/h around the galaxy.

The most famous sequoia tree, ‘General Sherman’, located in the Sequoia National Park in California, is about as high as a 27-storey building. It has been around for something like 4,000 years. To support its height, its immense trunk is so large that 17 men stretching out their arms could just about reach around it. This single tree contains enough wood to construct 100 modern houses.

The amount of information in one strand of human DNA is the same as that in 1,000 books of small print, each around 500 pages thick.

Spider silk is stronger and more elastic than Kevlar®, and “Kevlar® is the strongest man-made fibre”, according to Danish spider expert Fritz Vollrath. Dragline silk, the main support for its web, is a hundred times stronger than steel—a cable of this silk a little thicker than a garden hose could support the weight of two full Boeing 737 aircraft. It can also stretch to 40% of its length.

Ostriches have the ability to run at speeds of about 65 km/h (40 mph).

A bolt of lightning can reach temperatures approaching 28,000 Celsius (50,000 degrees Fahrenheit) in a split second. This is about five times hotter than the surface of the sun.An average bolt of lightning has enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for 2 months.

These are amazing things.  There are all kinds of things we could look at to see the awesomeness of God’s creation.

But I think that there is something far more amazing than any of the things we have looked at.  The song we were singing earlier talked about many of the “Indescribable” things that we see around us.  But there is a line at the end of the song that tells us something that is much better than any of it.

That line says “you see the depths of my heart and you love me the same”.  Forget about sunrises and sunsets.  Forget about lightening bolts and stars.  Forget about anything we can see with our eyes or hear with our ears.  Something far more amazing is that Jesus sees everything about us – the good and the bad – and He still loves us the same.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

While We Were Still Sinners

There are parts of us that everyone in the world can see.  We walk into church on Sunday, people can see us.  They can see our faces.  They can see our clothes.  They can see our hair.  They can see the way we walk.  They can hear the way we talk.  There are things that everyone can see. 

There are also things about us that only some people can see.  Many people can’t see when we cry.  There are only some who see us get upset.  Not everyone sees our bad habits.  Not everyone knows our dreams and desires.

Then there are things that we reserve for 1 or 2 people.  Maybe there are things that only your best friend knows.  There may be things that you only share with your spouse.  Maybe your parents know things about you that nobody else knows. 

As we move along this line, we seem to get deeper.  We start on the surface and we move in, getting deeper and deeper as we go along.

And then we come to the deepest parts.  There are things so deep in us that nobody knows about them.  We have secrets, behaviors, desires, attitudes, things that nobody knows. 

And we want it to stay that way.  Think about it.  When we walk into church on Sunday, many of us are afraid.  We wonder what people are going to think.  Will they like my new haircut?  Will they think I am dumb?  Will they think I am too short?  Will they laugh at my outfit?  We fear the response we will get from people, or the response they give behind our backs.  Many people are afraid when they meet others. 

And the deeper we go, the more fear there is.  As people get to know us on a deeper level, our fear rises.  If someone knew my annoying habits, they wouldn’t want to be around me.  If they knew what I did in the past, they would abandon me.

So, when it comes to the deepest part of us, we don’t want anyone to know.  We want to pretend like there is nothing wrong.  We want to hide those parts so we don’t feel rejected or unloved.  We think “If anyone knew about this part of my life, they would hate me.  If they could see this, they would despise me.  If they knew what I know, there is no way they would love me”. 

So we bury it.  We try to ignore it.  But it is still there.  I know there are those who go to sleep at night with a struggle.  They wonder if there is anyone who loves them.  You know that people love the person that they see.  But what about the real “you”?  If they could see what is under the mask, would they love you?  I know that a lot of people are tired of this struggle.  You are thirsty for love.  You are all dried up.  And you wonder if anyone could love you.

Well, let me tell you, there is someone who sees to the very deepest parts or your heart.  His name is Jesus, and He knows everything about you. 

Psalm 139:1-4 - O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O Lord.

He sees the surface.  He sees what we are wearing and what you are saying.  He sees our desires and our annoying habits.  He sees our behaviors and our attitudes.  And He sees the deepest parts that we haven’t shared with anyone. 

He knows our hearts.

And sometimes the things in our hearts are not good.

Matthew 5:28 – But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.    

Psalm 28:3 – do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.

Romans 1:24 – Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…

Proverbs 16:5 - The Lord detests all the proud of heart.

Jeremiah 5:23 – But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away.

Romans 1:21 – For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We are not perfect.  Even if we are serving God, and have a relationship with Him, we are not perfect.  Our hearts have stuff in them that God is not pleased with.

And so we look at our lives and evaluate them.  We see the things that nobody else sees.  We know the things that nobody else knows.  And we conclude that we are not valuable.  We conclude that we are not loved.  So many people lay their heads down at night and wonder if they will ever find love.

Christ Died For Us

I wonder if the woman caught in adultery thought such thoughts every night.  She spent so many nights in the wrong arms.  She was probably told that she was loved, but they would have been empty words.  

And so she struggles.  She puts on a mask, lives her life, and wonders if she will ever find anyone who will love her.

Everyone could see her struggles.  They could see that she lived that way.  They knew about her.  And they probably looked down on her.  So, right off the bat, she feels unloved.  But take it to the very depths of her heart, the things nobody could see, and she no doubt struggled. 

She probably struggled the day they hauled her to Jesus.  Maybe she thought she was going to be judged.  They took her there to find out what Jesus would say.  They thought she should be stoned. 

But what she found was something much different.

-          She didn’t find judgment, she found mercy.

-          She didn’t find hate, she found love.

-          She didn’t find death, she found life.

-          She found Jesus.

See, “the love of God is born from within Him, not from what He finds in us”.

                                   - Max Lucado 

What about the Pharisees?

These were the religious people.  They were seen by others as being the good guys.  They were the spiritual leaders.  They were supposed to be close to God.  But Jesus knew their hearts.  He knew that what was in their hearts did not match what was coming from their mouths.

Matthew 23:2-3 – The Teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must obey them and so everything they tell you.  But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.    

Jesus knew what they were doing.  Everyone could see it.  But only Jesus could see what they were not doing.  He could see their intentions.  He knew their thoughts.  He could see the depths of their hearts. 

And yet He loved them.  He wanted to show them the truth.  He wanted them to see the error of their ways.  He wanted them to experience Him.  He wanted them to be free.

And then there was Judas.  Judas was one of the followers.  He saw the things Jesus did.  He was there when the blind man received his sight.  He saw the lame walk and the deaf hear.  He knew the power that Jesus had.  He was seen by the people as one of the 12. 

But not everything was right in him.  There was something deep in his heart that people didn’t see.  They didn’t know that he was going to betray Jesus.  But Jesus knew. 

Which makes the story in John 13 somewhat interesting.  Here we see Jesus and His disciples having a meal together.  Verse 2 tells us that the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus.

We read from there that Jesus got up from the table and did something amazing.  He washed the disciple’s feet.  Now, this is a cool thing when you think of the 11 disciples.   Jesus was demonstrating to them the full extent of His love.  He was loving them by serving them.  But think about Judas.  I wonder what he must have been thinking.  Here he is in the middle of a demonstration of love.  He knew the power that Jesus had.  He knew that Jesus knew what was in his heart.  I wonder if he thought about what Jesus was doing.  “I wonder what Jesus will do when He gets to me.  I am going to betray Him.  He won’t wash my feet”.  I can imagine the worry built and the nervousness got more intense.  Here comes Jesus down the line.  What is He going to do when He gets to me? 

The disciples experienced the love that Jesus had for them that day.  All 12.  That’s right.  Those whose hearts were fully committed to Jesus, and the one whose heart drifted.  Those who loved Him, and the one who loved money.  The followers, and the betrayer.  They were all loved the same.

“Your goodness doesn’t enhance His love, nor does your weakness dilute it”.

                                    - Max Lucado

But this must have been painful for Jesus.  Why would He do this?  Why would He love the unlovable?  Because that is why He came.  He came to seek and save the lost.

Some may wonder why Jesus would have continued on this journey when people gave Him such a hard time.  Why go to the cross when people were beating you and hurting you?  Why follow through with your plan when people hurled their insults at you and spit on you?  Why would you want to save those who came against you and killed you?  Why not turn back and do things differently?

It is because of His love.  His deep love.

There is a firefighter named Lee who might understand this principle.  He lost his son, Jonathan, who was also a firefighter, in the 9-11 tragedy.  And Lee made it his personal mission to find his son’s body.  He searched for 3 months before finding his son.  That must have been terrible, searching through the debris and garbage, wondering if he would ever find his boy.  But he didn’t give up.  He didn’t turn back.  Why?  Because his love for his son was greater than the pain of the journey. 

Jesus could have given up.  He could have told the people to stone the woman caught in adultery.  She was doing something that didn’t please God. 

He could have condemned the Pharisees.  They gave Him all kinds of reasons why He should turn on them.

Jesus could have skipped Judas in the foot washing line.  “Why should I wash your feet?  You’re going to hand me over to the authorities”. 

What we see from these 3 examples must have ripped Jesus’ heart apart.  It must have been killing Him to see His children living this way.

But we should be thankful that His love for us is far greater than the pain we cause Him.

So, when we look at our hearts, and see the things that nobody else sees, we can take comfort.  When we lay our heads down at night, and the thoughts come back that nobody loves us, we can know that there is hope.  We can know that no matter what, Jesus loves us.  Always.

Drink Deeply          

And now the choice is ours.  We have heard the words.  We have looked at the Scriptures.  We know our hearts.  We know the deepest parts.  We know that Jesus knows the deepest parts. 

So what will you do with it?  You can go home and pretend like everything is ok.  “I’ve done this for years, why change it now”?  “I’ve been living this way for so long, I don’t know if there is any hope”.  Well, there is hope. 

You are thirsty.  You are dry.  You wonder if there is anything out there that can satisfy.  Nothing has worked so far.  You’ve tried.  And everything else has failed.  Why not come to Jesus and let Him love you? 

There is a story in Ezekiel that gives hope to those who think they are all but dead.  There was a valley with bones throughout it.  These bones were dry, very dry.  The Lord said that these bones, although they are dead, can live.  And that is what happened.  The Lord caused these bones to come together, bone to bone.  And then tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them.  But there was still no breath in them. 

Ezekiel 37:9-10 – This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.  So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.

Yes, there is hope for those who are dry.  There is hope for those who are thirsty.  There is something that can satisfy our longings.  Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.

All we have to do is drink.  Drink deeply.  You want love?  You got it.

1 John 14:6 – God is love.

John 15:9 – Abide in my love.

We are the branches, according to John 15, and Jesus is the Vine.  Our job is to remain in Him.  The Vine provides the nourishment for the branches.  All the branches have to do is stay put.  The Vine does the work.

Need nourishment?  Short on love?  Think there is nobody to love you?  Abide in Jesus.  Stay in Him.  He will pour out His love on you in such an amazing way. 

When Jesus was visiting Simon’s house, a woman came to Him.  She was a sinner.  She is the one who anointed Jesus feet with perfume.  I can imagine that she got some looks when she came in that day.  The upper crust were there.  She didn’t belong with them.  They wouldn’t have welcomed her.  But she was looking for Jesus.  She was thirsty.  And she came to receive.  She stayed at Jesus feet and received what He had to give her – love.

My friend, Tom Boland, stayed with us for awhile back in my college days.  I remember coming home one day and realizing that Tom had been crying.  It was very evident.  I asked him if he was ok, and he said that he was more than ok.  He said that he was just sitting there reading, and the Holy Spirit came onto him in an amazing way.  He said that he sat there and began to cry.  He sat there for along time, nobody else in the apartment, weeping.  Jesus was with Him, and he just sat there receiving what Jesus had for Him – love.

Jesus has that for you this morning.  He wants to give it to you. 

Why not come to Him and drink?  Drink deeply.

I want you to clear your mind this morning.  I want to tell you something.  It may be something that you have heard before, or maybe you’ve never heard it.  But I want you to hear it this morning like it is your first time.  Hear it and savor it.  Let it sink in and find a permanent home in your heart.  Let me tell you something today.  I don’t want you to miss this.  It just might change your life.  Jesus loves you.  He loves you.  He loves you so much.

He said the stars were good.  He said the trees were good.  He said the waters were good.  He said all of the creatures were good.  But we are His prized possessions.

“you see the depths of my heart, and you love me the same!!”

Revelation 22:17 – The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say “Come!”  whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Ephesians 3:17-19 – And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.

Psalm 73:25-26; 27:8 – Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me, O my people.”  And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming”.

Matthew 11:28 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

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