Perspective

Ezekiel 24:18
“So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.”

It is very common for tragedy to become an excuse to misbehave. We complain, doubt, or even sin, believing we are justified in doing so because of the difficulties we are enduring. Perhaps it would do us good to examine the actions of Ezekiel, when he faced the greatest trial of his life.

Ezekiel was no stranger to hardship. Years before the events of chapter twenty-four, he was taken captive by Babylonian forces and led as a prisoner of war from his home to a distant land. Living in what amounted to a refugee camp, Ezekiel became a prophet to a group of people who refused to listen to his message. God told him the only way he would be successful was to be more stubborn for the cause of God, than the people were for their sins. During his years of ministry, he experienced ridicule, sleeplessness, rejection, and hunger, but the trial he was about to face was more difficult than all of this things combined. Ezekiel’s wife would die suddenly.

We know how hard this was for him, because after all the years of marriage, she is described as, “The desire of your eyes.” What a beautiful picture of the relationship between the prophet and his bride. It is likely they had walked hand-in-hand through whatever life threw at them, until suddenly, almost without warning, she was taken from him. Rather than blaming God or even stumbling in his walk, we read,

“So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.”

In the midst of the most difficult time in life, Ezekiel chose to remain obedient to the Lord. I think this is possible because of the years he spent faithfully sowing into his relationship with God. As a result, he had something to draw from when his world collapsed.

We cannot avoid the difficulties of life. The longer we live, the more likely we are to be struck by them. We can, however, control how we respond to them. We can either allow hardship to bring us to the Lord, or to put a wedge in our relationship with Him.

Choose to allow the difficulties to bring you closer into the presence of God and see His faithfulness.

Pastor Jim

 

Renewable Energy

Lamentations 3:22-23
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Life is filled with things that run out. Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of running out of gas and being left stranded. Others have felt the embarrassment of running out of money and having to ask someone for help. All of us have had those times when we “ran out of steam” and could not complete the task at hand. We could go on and on with examples, like empty milk cartons in the fridge, or time expiring during a comeback effort in the big game. All these things remind us, there is a limit to our resources. How wonderful to be reminded that the resources of God are without limit. His mercies will endure forever.

This is much more than a beautiful sentiment. It is a practical truth which enables us to carry on in our walk with God. As Jeremiah penned these words, the city of Jerusalem sat in rubble caused by their disobedience to God. Rather than declaring the judgments of God were final, he reminds us, that even in the worse conditions of life, His mercies remain.

Whatever guilt you may be carrying, from whatever sins you may have committed, there is a fresh flow of the mercy of God waiting for you. All you need to do is cry out to Him,  ask for His forgiveness, and watch as He is able to restore your relationship with Him. He will begin to make something beautiful out of the ashes of your life.

Psalms 6:2“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak. O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.”

Psalms 25:16“Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted.”

Psalms 31:9“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!”

Pastor Jim

 

So Far So Good 

2 Samuel 7:18
“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?’”

Reflecting upon the Lord, and what He has done for you, is a valuable asset to your walk with God. David thought back to the time when he was the forgotten son of Jesse, caring for a few sheep in the outskirts of Bethlehem. His memory was flooded with the call God placed upon his life, and the amazing way he climbed from shepherd to king. His story is one filled with times of tremendous faith, as well as bouts of weakness and yielding to the flesh. Through all of his experience, David would say “. . . O Lord, You have brought me this far.”

Take some time this morning to reflect upon the Lord, and where He has taken you. Think back to the time when you first heard the Gospel, and made the decision to surrender all to Christ. Recall the early victories He gave you over sin and temptation. Reflect on the first time worship meant something more to you than singing. Recollect the first time you shared Christ with someone else. Think upon His grace and mercy, as He has continued with you, even when you drifted, wandered or fell. Consider the mercy He extends every morning, and the grace He provides to help in times of need.

There is no doubt, if you have received Christ and walked with Him, your heart must burst forth as David’s did, crying, “ . . . Lord, You have brought me this far.”

Pastor Jim

 

A Love Story

Ruth 2:11

“And Boaz answered and said to her, ‘It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.'”


The book of Ruth is one if the most beautiful love stories ever written. In it, we read of a wealthy landowner who falls in love with a young servant girl, and goes to great lengths to earn her hand in marriage. His story is so fascinating that, until recently, it was part of the mandatory reading in public high schools, and as a result, was the first Bible story I ever read. While the assumption is that Ruth must have been physically attractive, that is not what caught the attention of Boaz. He was drawn to her for her character and her commitment to the Lord. 


Ruth  2:11

“And Boaz answered and said to her, ‘It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.'”


Ruth made a decision to lay her life down, first for the God of Naomi, and then for Naomi, herself. She left her culture, her religion, and homeland, to remain with her mother-in-law, even if it meant she would never have a husband, children, or life of her own. This act of self-sacrifice was driven by her commitment to God and became a testimony that spread throughout Bethlehem. 


Ruth 1:16-17

“For wherever you go, I will go;

And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;

Your people shall be my people,

And your God, my God. 

Where you die, I will die,

And there will I be buried.

The Lord do so to me, and more also,

If anything but death parts you and me.”


Relationships are key to successfully following Christ, and no relationship is more important than the person we choose to marry. Boaz is a good example of a man who waited until he met someone who was as committed to God as he was. His wealth and status in the community would have afforded him the opportunity to pursue the woman of his choice, but he chose to wait. It was not until he met Ruth, who not only spoke of being a follower of God, but demonstrated it with her lifestyle. 


Pastor Jim