BROKEN THINGS Andy Hollifield 2-4-17
My former pastor Rusty Rector posted a quote the other day by preacher Vance Havner about broken things. That brought back to mind a message I had preached several years ago about how that God uses broken things and broken people to do great things. After all, Psalms 34:18 says “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” You can’t even get saved until you are broken. Broken has several definitions including , ruptured, torn, fractured, and reduced to fragments but there is one that I like better. It is ” not functioning properly; out of working order.” That pretty much describes how we were when we came seeking salvation. Contrite means “caused by or showing sincere remorse.” It also means “filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement and penitent.” In plain language; ready to repent and turn from our sins. Already hit bottom and nowhere to go but up. Isn’t it something that when a person gets in that sad, pathetic, shape, completely broken; that is when God can do a wondrous work in our lives? Psalms 69:20 says “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” “Full” of heaviness; can’t take any more. Psalms 142:4 says “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me, no man cared for my soul.” I am glad we didn’t have to stay in that condition because like Psalms 147:3 says “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” That’s a mouthful ain’t it? When we were in that condition, God still wanted us and offered comfort and pity and also forgiveness when no one else cared.
Too many times we are way too quick to just dispose of broken things and especially broken people. It is not my place to dispose of people. God gave me a calling in my life as he did Isaiah in Chapter 61 and verse 6. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Verse 2 goes on to say that I am supposed to comfort all that mourn. In verse 3 it says that I am supposed to give unto them “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,… that he (the Lord) might be glorified.” Did you catch that? The ashes of your life when your world and your dreams have all went up in smoke and there is nothing left of value; he will take all of it and give you beauty. For your mourning he will give you joy in your life. For all the heaviness that sin and reproach has put on you, he will take it and replace it with praise. Cause he is glorified when we praise him. All the broken pieces of your life he will gladly take and replace with good things of lasting value. You may think; “He can’t do that for me, you don’t know my past.” I don’t but he does and he loves you anyway. In Mark 2:17 Jesus put it this way “…They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He came and gave his life for “broken” people. Those that think they could never be used of God are the very ones he wants to use. Some of the greatest stories in the bible are stories of God using broken things.
Twice in the book of Matthew, Jesus broke bread and blessed it and fed multitudes and then took up leftovers. That broken bread and fish went way further and fed far more than anyone thought possible. Four thousand one time and five thousand on a different occasion. That was not even counting the women and children just the men. To get right down to it, the ground had to be broken before the wheat could be planted to make the bread and the grain that was planted had to be broken in order for the wheat to produce. An oak tree comes from a broken acorn but thanks to that acorn being broken, birds and other animals can take shelter in and under that tree. None of that would be possible without a broken acorn.
In Acts 27:44 the apostle Paul and 275 other men were saved at sea by drifting to land on broken pieces of their ship after it was destroyed in a storm. In Judges 7:19 Gideon’s army prevailed when they broke their pitchers and also in Judges, Samson escaped certain death by breaking chains and ropes. At the time of his death, he broke the pillars of the temple and caused a collapse and killed more of the enemy the day of his death than he had in his life. This was how God used him in his last act even though he had sinned and told his wife the secret of his strength. God answered his prayer and gave him back his strength one last time so he could avenge the loss of his eyes because the Philistines had gouged them out. So even when you have messed up, God can still use you to do great things. God even used the broken walls of Jerusalem to burden a young slave named Nehemiah to rebuild the city and it was built in record time. Part of that time they were holding a weapon in one hand and working with the other. Had those walls not been broken, Nehemiah may have been content to remain a slave because he was working as a servant to the king. God even used broken rules in Daniel chapter 3 and 6 to bring a city away from idol worship to believing in him. In chapter 6, Daniel refused to follow a rule requiring him not to pray and after being thrown into a den of lions and surviving the entire night, King Darius declared Daniel’s God to be the one true God and required his people to worship him. King Nebuchadnezzar had already done that in chapter 3 when he required everyone to bow down to an idol he created when they heard music. After throwing three Hebrews that refused to bow, into a fiery furnace and they survived, he declared their God was to be worshipped. Not only did they survive, but when the king looked in the fire he saw Jesus in there with them. In Exodus 15 God used a broken tree to sweeten the waters for the children of Israel to drink.
The best thing he used was broken people. David had been anointed as king of Israel as a child and slew Goliath and became a great leader afterwards. In a time of bad decisions in his life, in 2 Samuel chapter 11 David committed adultery with a soldier’s wife and then had him killed after she wound up being pregnant. In the next chapter we find that God judged David for his sin and after that judgement, David was a broken man. Nevertheless, God used David greatly throughout the rest of his life and although he wouldn’t allow him to build a temple, he did allow him to help his son Solomon build it. He also used a broken man named Saul after giving him the new name of Paul, to establish churches in Asia and spread the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. Paul had wreaked havoc on Christians both killing and having them killed for following Christ which Paul considered as heresy. Paul spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel to both heathen nations, idol worshippers, common folk, and kings and eventually was beheaded. The apostle Peter was a completely broken man after denying Christ three times on the day he was crucified, but after the crucifixion Christ sent word to Peter by name, and later used him as the first apostle to the Gentiles. He also used a woman in Luke chapter 7 that was a sinner to teach his disciples and the others there with him humility. She had come in while Jesus was eating and broken a box of spikenard and annointed his head. Keep in mind that, it is believed at that time, they laid in a prone position propped up on an elbow to eat. This gave the woman access not only to Jesus head but also to his feet. Not only did she anoint his head, she also stood behind him weeping and washed his feet with her tears and kissed them and dried them with her hair and annointed them. Jesus went on to forgive her sins which he said were many. In Luke 21 he used a broke widow woman to teach his disciples about giving from the heart. He observed this widow woman cast in two mites into the temple treasury and called it to his disciples attention. He then declared that although others had cast in much more, she had cast in more than all of them. The reason he said was because they had given of their abundance and she had given of her want. She had cast in all that she had.
The point I hope that you have picked up on is this: you don’t get too broken for God to be able to use you. Whether you have a sinful and broken family life like David had or a checkered broken past like Paul had, God can forgive and use you. You may have a sinful past like the woman with the ointment or just be financially destitute like the widow in the temple, God can forgive your past and use you if you don’t have a dime. You may have even been saved and just walked away and denied him with the way you lived as Peter did, God will put all of that guilt behind you if you will repent and let him. Like I said, no matter what your condition, you can’t get too broke for God. Remember the first couple paragraphs; he will bind up your broken heart and give you good things in exchange for the ashes of your life. He came to call you to repentance. He cares for your soul. If you are sick of where you are living, bring it all to him; he specializes in broken things. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!