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

 

It’s Not Free

2 Samuel 19:4
“But the king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’”

I recently watched a news segment which focused on two teenagers who decided to rob a local business. One of the boys was reluctant to get involved, while the other boasted confidently that “no one would get hurt.” Sadly, as the story unfolded, one man lay dead and two young men were sent to prison for life. Sin is just like that. It promises to bring us happiness, and ensuring us that no one will get hurt. Regrettably, David found this out the hard way. One night, while allowing his passion to be distracted from the Lord, David made the choice to pursue his lust and begin a relationship with another woman. What he thought would bring him pleasure, continued to cost him over and over again. This chapter reveals some of those costs.

After what must have been the worst battle of David’s life, his son Absalom lay dead in the street. Because of David’s inability to deal with the pain, the nation was confused and susceptible. It did not take long for someone to seize the opportunity and take advantage of Israel’s vulnerability; the nation was divided, turning the cities into a battle field.

We must be clear, even though sin is confessed, repented of, and will always be forgiven, it never comes without cost. No man is an island, and we never sin only unto ourselves. When a man walks away from his family, his children and unborn grandchildren will be impacted. This will become a great mountain they will struggle to clim, for the rest of their lives.

If you are toying with sin because you have such a difficult life, believing you deserve the pleasure you think it will bring, remember the consequences of sin are far greater than you want to pay. You don’t want to observe all that you have built being ripped apart, as you weep at the loss of that which matters most to you.

Pastor Jim

 

Loss

2 Samuel 12:22-23

“And he said, ‘While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, “Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?” But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.'”


David and Bathsheba found themselves face to face with a parent’s worse nightmare. Their child was diagnosed with a terminal illness for which modern medicine had no answer. Like any of us, David was devastated, he would not eat or sleep, and those closest to him began to worry about what he might do to himself. When the sickness reached the end, and the child passed, David’s behaviors changed dramatically; he showered, ate, and worshipped. When questioned about the sudden change, he declared, 


“While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”


David explained that comfort came in knowing his child was with the Lord, and he would one day be reunited with him. This truth would not take away the pain or sorrow, but would ease it by providing hope. Those who have lost a child know that you don’t “get over it,” but you can receive strength and comfort from the Lord to carry on. Part of the comfort comes from the truth of knowing we will be reunited in eternity. I heard a man who lost his daughter explain, he wanted to live for eternity because he already had so much invested there. 


If you are dealing with the pain of loss, be comforted in knowing God understands your sorrow and there is a day coming when every tear will be wiped away. 


Pastor Jim 

  

For Me Or Against Me

Genesis 42:36
“And Jacob their father said to them, ‘You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.’”

2015/01/img_1356.jpgSometimes perspective is reality. How we see things will determine how we act. Jacob had experienced a series of very difficult trials. He lost his sons, Joseph and Simeon, and now he was in danger of losing his youngest son, Benjamin. As these things built up around him, he cried out in despair, “All these things are against me.” What Jacob failed to realize is, the things that seemed to be working against him, were the very things God was using to work out the salvation of his family. All he could see was loss, but God was at work, behind the scenes, preparing a much greater reward than he could ever imagine.

Life is like that. We see things through the lens of our limited experience and knowledge. When something goes against what we perceive as “the plan”, we become discouraged, upset, heartbroken or even angry. Sometimes, like Jacob, we will forget God’s promises, and raise our voice to accuse Him of wrong-doing. If only Jacob could look beyond the walls of his limited vantage point, and see what God was actually accomplishing, then instead of despair, his voice would be filled with praise. God has a different way, He wants us to look beyond our experiences, and into His promises. He wants us to believe Him when He said, “ALL things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Regardless of what difficulties you are facing today, keep in mind that you cannot see the whole story. You are somewhere in the middle of what God is doing, and He promises not to leave you, but to work things out for His ultimate purposes.

Pastor Jim