What is the price of your praise?

As I read Amanda’s blog 1 Chronicles 21:24 came to mind.  King David wants to buy a threshing floor and an animal to bring an offering to God, but Ornan won’t accept the money and insists on giving it to David for free.   “But King David said to Ornan, “No, I will certainly pay the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.” AMP

As you read, you will see the connection.  Be blessed.  Nicky

What is the price of your praise?

37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”  40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”  “Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.  41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, cancelling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”  43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”  “That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.  47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”                                              Luke 7:37-47 NLT

The word sinner (Greek) is Ham-ar-to-los, meaning: Devoted to sin, in other words, someone that was not free from sin.

The woman in these verses had an alabaster box of ointment.  Alabaster is a type of stone, used to make a vessel to store up oil or perfume.  The word perfume here refers to myrrh oil.  Myrrh means bitter.

While I read these verses and meditated on it, as few ideas came to mind.  I realized that we don’t use alabaster boxes to store up oil or perfume anymore and I was thinking how awesome it would have been to have the opportunity (in the physical) to wash our Savior, Jesus Christ’s feet and anoint it with oil. Although physically it is not possible, through Jesus overcoming the grave, it is possible spiritually.

I thought about our hearts being hardened like an alabaster box, how it becomes stone as we take all the “bitter” of life and store it up. We build these walls around our hearts to keep us from feeling pain, but instead of escaping, we take the “bitter oil” of life, hoard it and seal the pain in.

The oil, which the woman we read about in Luke 7, stored up, was a costly oil.  It cost her years of saving before she had a whole alabaster box full of “bitter” oil.

Let me share an interesting fact about myrrh oil.  It comes from a tree, but it is not harvested in the form of oil. The harvesters make incisions into the tree and the tree heals the “wound” by pushing a glue-like substance out of the wound like tears.  This glue is then cut from the tree and stored in a dry place until the glue becomes rock hard.  It is then ground and made into an oil. This process takes time, from the first incision to the end product…oil.  It is a costly process.

Let’s relate that to our own journeys.  What incisions have been made on your life that has produced a “bitter oil”?  How much “bitter” have you accumulated through the years? What “bitter” is stored up in your heart, that needs to be poured out?

When will you walk through the crowd? When will you break open your alabaster heart and pour out everything that has been stored up at the feet of Jesus?

This woman pushed her way through to Jesus, and then she sat down at HIS feet and she started to weep…

The word weep is klah-yo (Greek) meaning she was mourning, weeping, sobbing, weeping aloud, lamenting.

The wailing was part of her praise. It was not pretty…have you seen and heard a person wail before? Aloud, without being ashamed? The pain is audible in their cries and their bodies exhibit the pain.  It looks like something is being ripped from their body, a physical pain. It will affect you… you could be feeling compassion, the way Jesus felt, or judgement, the way the men did towards her, but it will not leave you indifferent.

The point I want to make is that we should never judge a person’s praise and worship experience, because we don’t understand the cost of their praise.

Take time to imagine, to picture this…

Imagine the cost for that sinful woman, to accumulate that amount of oil and then to walk past the glazes, the whispers… to fall to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably, soaking Jesus’ feet with her tears. Imagine the dirt on His feet from all the walking, imagine how many tears were necessary to “wash” Jesus’ feet.

Can you imagine the pain and shame she was pouring out on HIS feet at that very moment, knowing that everyone was looking at her? Knowing they are judging her…?

Still she continued and did not care about what they were thinking or whispering to each other.  Then following it up by drying His feet with her hair. Her hair? The Word of God tells us that the hair of woman is her glory (one translation says it is “her pride and joy”), because it is given to us as a covering. (1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.)

So she used her covering, her pride and joy, to dry the feet of Jesus. Would you use something that is your pride and joy to dry feet? I don’t have long hair, but I imagine using something that is very dear to me, like my tallit (prayer shawl). I cannot begin to think that I would use that to dry someone’s feet.

Then she took the oil, the very costly oil…everything she had, and she poured it over Jesus’ feet, not just rubbing a little bit on Him, but pouring out all of it. She broke the alabaster box and she poured out all the “bitter oil” onto His feet.

As she poured it out, the whole house started to smell good. (Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3) She released the fragrance that was held captive inside the jar.

Spiritually we can pour our costly oil over the feet of Jesus.  Every pain and bitter situation that was accumulated in our hearts we can pour out on Jesus’ feet as an offering.

What is the cost of your oil?  How much pain and suffering did you go through to accumulate the “bitter” in your heart?  What is the cost of your praise?  What would it cost you to come and break it open before the King of kings, to pour out every ounce of “bitter” in your heart to HIM and allow it to become a worthy fragrance?

What “bitter” has been stored up and needs to be released? What is the cost of YOUR praise? Isn’t it time to release the “bitter oil” from the hardened heart and allow it to become a sweet smelling aroma of freedom and revelation?

Let go.  Praise as if it has cost you everything…Jesus wants to set you free from sin. He is waiting to say to you “your sins are forgiven”.

Here’s a link to a song that really inspired me.  Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4UxNj8KTP0

He Knows

A personal testimony – the story of pain, despair, anger and a Hero to the rescue

“He Knows”

All the bitter weary ways
Endless striving day by day
You barely have the strength to pray
In the valley low

And how hard your fight has been
How deep the pain within
Wounds that no one else has seen
Hurts too much to show

All the doubt you’re standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees

He knows, He knows
Every hurt and every sting
He has walked the suffering
He knows, He knows
Let your burdens come undone
Lift your eyes up to the one
Who knows
He knows, He knows

We may faint and we may sink
Feel the pain and near the brink
But the dark begins to shrink
When you find the one who knows
The chains of doubt that held you in between
one by one are starting to break free

Every time you feel forsaken
Every time that you feel alone
He is near to the broken-hearted
Every tear
He knows, He knows

There are some stories that are ready to be told in its entirety…this isn’t one of them.  This isn’t a pretty story or a witty story, but it’s a true story and it belongs to more than one of us, if we care to admit it.  I give this disclaimer, begging your forgiveness and patience as I speak in code at times, but one day, when the time is right, it will be told.

January 2016, as most people’s spoken New Year’s resolutions were still hanging heavy in the air, my world fell apart.  In one fell swoop, everything that I believed to be true about a huge part of my life, was revealed as being one big lie.  Excruciating emotional pain became a very close friend…some days so close that it squeezed the air from my lungs.  I learned that when overwhelming pain is this close, God seems very, very far away.

I stopped eating, with prescription medication I could not sleep for more than 4 or 5 broken hours every night and I suffered panic attacks. I was now one of a rapidly expanding club (in the body of Christ) – clinically depressed. Eventually a counsellor confirmed that I was suffering from PTSD and that set in motion the discovery of the Complex PTSD I lived with since childhood – a direct result of trauma suffered in my formative years.  Like someone with one short leg, I learned to compensate, limping along all my life, oblivious of how many deep wounds I learned to live with.

So here I am, spiritually mature, an ordained pastor, ministry founder, the one “everyone” calls when they need prayer or they have a problem to discuss and all I can manage (the few times that I managed to pray) was “Help me!!”  or sadly “Why won’t You help me?!”.  I used to be the one people would go to for answers, for wisdom, for encouragement and now I was running on empty.  What a humbling experience…one I wouldn’t like to repeat anytime soon, if ever.

It’s in times like these where we begin to sound like Job (yes, I read Job, trying to encourage myself that it could have been worse), ranting and venting and weeping in our despair, looking for some relief from the agony within, only to find yourself clamming up and becoming silent, morose and wallowing in self-pity, or maybe that’s just me.  I felt like I had become invisible to the Father.  I could not see Him, feel Him or hear Him.  I struggled to pray and my brain became Swiss cheese, so reading the Word became an impossible task.  I gave up.  I was caught in a rip and struggling to fight my way out of it was going to get me drowned, so I gave up fighting it and I allowed myself to be swept out to sea.

Before the bomb dropped on my head, I was planning my birthday present…I was going to order prophetic worship flags from a ministry in America.  I wanted to give up on that plan, after all, I didn’t think I would ever be able to raise a flag in worship ever again (I was wallowing, I know) but my husband insisted I go ahead.  It took months to arrive.

I missed Sunday morning services, stopped taking most calls, stopped blogging (you noticed, haven’t you), stopped responding to messages on social media and eventually didn’t bother getting out of bed, just having a quick shower before my husband was due home from work, trying to hide how bad things had gotten.  He knew and he was fighting a spiritual battle against depression and the spirit of suicide on my behalf.   I felt like my life and the ministry was over and I acted like it too.

(When we tell our stories, we tend to minimize or spiritualize the battle, but I am sharing the gory details for a reason.  Unless you know how deep I sank into the dark pit of despair, what I am going to tell you next won’t seem as profound, so thanks for bearing with me.)

Then it arrived – my flags – and with it, an A4 sheet of paper, informing me of the prophetic meaning of my flags, the colors used and the oil it was anointed with. You have to bear in mind, these were produced in America and the only information I shared was my name and address.

It read:  “The name of your flags is Bursting Forth With Joy.  The colors of your flags are white, representing joy, chartreuse green representing hope, turquoise (my FAVORITE color) representing life-giving flow of the Holy Spirit and royal blue, representing the Truth of God’s Word.

The verses that go with these flags are Malachi 4:2, But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.  And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

Romans 7:22 TPT Now may God, the inspiration and foundation of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in Him.

That wasn’t all.  It came with the following instruction:  “Choose joy.  Choose it over self-pity.  Choose it over depression and sadness.  Refuse melancholy.  Step into the fullness of Father God’s joy.  It is your strength.  A gift from Him.  Walk in it.”

Finally, I read “It’s been prayed over and anointed with an oil called Everlasting Joy, which is used as a reminder your joy is not dependent on your circumstances, it is a gift from God”.  That was me told!  I checked, there’s a verse associated with the oil too – Isaiah 61:7.  Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
  (NLT)   Incidentally, the only book managed to read throughout the preceding months was Isaiah 61!

I realized that He knew…all along, He saw me, He heard me and He knew.  When I was ready to hear, He spoke and what He says is true.  You see, sometimes people sin against you, you don’t get to choose the consequence – they chose on your behalf.  You don’t always sign up for the trails, the test and the tribulation that come your way, you just get caught up in a rip and you get pulled along.  You do, however get to choose your response to it.  You get to choose whether you will allow the enemy to have his way or whether you will trust the Father to do what only He can do.

Just last night, I read Psalm 50 in the Passion Translation.  Verse 1 reads:  “The God of gods, the might Lord himself, has spoken!  He shouts out over all the people of the earth, in every brilliant sunrise and every beautiful sunset, saying, “Listen to Me!” and verse 15:  Honour Me by trusting in Me in your day of trouble.  Cry aloud to me, and I will be there to rescue you.  That is what I desire from you!

I want to leave you with these two thoughts:

He knows and He cares, He sees and He is able to restore to you everything that seems lost forever.

You choose.  You decide and by His spirit, He will give you the grace to act on your decision, should you choose right. Storms will come, but you choose whether you sit out in the rain or whether you run into the safety and shelter of His everlasting arms.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!                                                         Deut. 30:19 NLT