Departing 

Ezekiel 10:18
“Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.”

The day Solomon’s Temple was built was one of the most glorious days in the history of Israel. It marked the completion of many of the promises God had given to His people down through the centuries. From a single man with a barren wife, a mighty nation had been formed, that now occupied the land that was promised to them. Their enemies had been defeated and held at bay, the people were experiencing a prosperity they had never dreamt would be possible, and the Tabernacle that spoke of mobility, was now replaced with a glorious, permanent Temple. On the day the Temple was dedicated, something quite remarkable took place. We are told, “the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” God’s presence was so “thick” the priests had to stop their ministry. It seems all they could do was fall down before the glory of God. Ezekiel lived about 300 years later and he too saw the Temple and the glory of God. This time, however, the glory was not filling the Temple, but rather was departing from it. He watched as the same glory that once filled the Temple, began to rise from it and slowly depart.

The sin of Israel and Judah had many devastating consequences. The nation was divided, the enemies they once conquered, began to conquer them, the witness they had in the world was lost and the people began to suffer many unnecessary consequences for sin. However,  the greatest tragedy of their sin was when the glory, that once filled the temple, was removed. This happened on a personal level with King Saul. He had once been filled with the Spirit of God, in such a powerful way, that he “became another man.” He was still Saul, but there were striking changes within him that were brought about by the work of the Spirit of God. Years later, as a result of persistent sin we read that the Spirit departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). He lost the peace and presence of God, and when he needed it most, had lost the ability to hear the voice of God.

If you are a believer in Christ, then you have been filled with the Spirit of God. You do not need to fear that He will forsake you, but it is possible, through persistent sin and disobedience, to lose the benefits of fellowship with God. Sin can harden your heart and deafen your ears. Sin can make it seem as if God is far from you, and even make you feel forsaken. The remedy, however, is quite simple. All you need to do is confess your sin and return to following Christ. You may feel miles away from God, but in reality, you are only one confession away. If you turn to Him, He will forgive and restore, and you will begin to once again experience the sweetness of fellowship with God.

Perhaps praying something like this, “Jesus, I am sorry for my sin. I ask that You would forgive me, cleanse me and help me lay this aside and return to walking with you.”

Now that it is laid aside, don’t pick it back up. Instead, get plugged into reading the Bible and a healthy church.

Pastor Jim

 

Temple Of God 

2 Corinthians 6:16
“For you are the temple of the living God.”

Although this verse is tucked away in a passage not well trodden, this portion of the text is fairly well-known. It is not uncommon to hear this verse quoted, even among those who have not chosen to surrender their lives to Christ. When donuts are on the table and we are about to indulge, we might hear someone say, “You know our bodies are the temple of the living God, we should not defile the temple.” While it is true, what we eat can have an effect upon how we feel, and thus distracts from what we are capable of accomplishing, that is not the primary message of this passage. Paul is talking about the danger of establishing relationships that will lead us astray. He wrote,

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Then he went on to quote from Isaiah,

“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” Isaiah 52:11

The greatest pitfall for the children of Israel, was establishing relationships with those who did not follow the ways of God. Once those relationships were started, it was not long before the people of God were departing from the Word of God, and practicing the ways of the ungodly. While this is a danger in any type of relationship, it is especially deadly with romantic relationships. Too often, Christians who are single, will settle for someone who is not really committed to the Lord, rather than being lonely and alone.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

When it comes to relationships, this verse is especially critical. Instead of making a relationship our goal, and seeking to find someone, we should spend our energies seeking the Lord and trusting His promises to provide all that we need. I remember hearing Pastor Jon Courson sharing on the idea of trusting the Lord, when it comes to finding the right person. He used Adam and Eve as an example. When it came time for Adam to find his mate, the Lord had him go to sleep. There, as he rested, the Lord brought along the only person designed especially by God, just for him. Jon went on to say, “had Adam not rested, and ran around looking, he would have ended up with an ape.” Some are seeking a relationship, instead of seeking the Lord. Loneliness is pushing them to seek in places where they are only going to find the wrong person, and ultimately get hurt. Remember, you are the temple of the living God, and there are places where your feet should not take you, and relationships that should never start.

Paul is not suggesting Christians all huddle together and avoid contact with anyone who is not a follower of Jesus. In fact, Paul spent his life making relationships where he could share Christ with others. The difference is influence. We should establish relationships with those who don’t know Christ, and seek to win them to Christ (dating is not the way to do that.) At the same time, we should establish relationships with those who have committed themselves to Jesus, and seek to pattern our lives after them. Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Be careful!

Pastor Jim

 

Being Different

Leviticus 19:19
“You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.”

IMG_1503One of the primary purposes of the book of Leviticus is to teach us that God is holy, and requires holiness from His people. The opening verse of Chapter 19 declares, “‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Holiness carries the idea of being set apart. Something that is holy, is something set apart for the Lord’s use. In the same way, someone who is holy has set themselves apart from anything that would defile them, so they might be fit for use by the Lord. As Moses explains the details of how to live a holy life, he speaks to the people regarding their fields and their garments.

“You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.”

There are some very practical reasons behind these statutes. For example, a garment of mixed materials will wear differently. Jesus referred to putting new, unwashed cloth on an old garment. He explained that when the new cloth shrinks, it will tear away from the garment. The primary reason for this statute was to teach spiritual lessons. Israel was to learn, they were different from the world around them, and needed to live differently. In a similar passage, God explained it was unlawful to yoke different kinds of animals to the same plow. Paul, spring-boarding off of that principle, stated,

2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

As believers, we are called to be different from the world; that difference requires separation. That does not mean we are to live in isolation, but we are to seek to be the influencer, rather than those who are influenced. Relationships have proven to be the downfall of many. Too often, a Christian, out of loneliness, will lower their standard and begin to date an unbeliever. In time, they become emotionally invested in the relationship and do not see that they are being drawn away from the Lord. The same thing was true for Israel. We read, time and time again, of them establishing covenants with the unbelieving nations around them; only to find they are soon led away from the Lord and into foreign, idolatrous practices. We have been called to be the light of the world. In order to be that light, we must live committed to the Lord, and separate from the sinful practices of the world we live in.

Pastor Jim