Who do we judge?…and when?…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 5:1-21

 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,  you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

“…God judges those outside….” How many of us when reading this passage skipped this part and went straight to purging the evil one…?  That is what we hear from among Christian brethren,  a clamor to purge the evil from the land meaning of course the heathen, not anyone in our number.  (yes, that was meant to be sarcastic)  The question is: at what point did the Christian world begin to judge those outside the fellowship?  There is much accusation of Christian believers sharing in this guilt.  Paul holds  a believing fellowship to high standards citing the spread of anti-God actions to others in the fellowship is much like yeast that will cause the whole loaf to rise.  But it stops there.  This holding one another to the standards set forth in the Word does not extend beyond the fellowship for that is the jurisdiction of God.  The Holy Spirit convicts and judges those outside a believing fellowship.  We are not set up as God’s policemen.  We are to protect and build up one another, however.  We do not adopt the standards of the world around us; when this is done the salt has lost its flavor.  We are to encourage one another in love and when those among us cannot rise to the standards set in the Scripture(note: not set by members of the fellowship) then and only then are we to “Purge the evil person from among you.”

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Hands that do…

Ezekiel 40:44-49

Outside the inner gate were the chambers for the singers in the inner court, one facing south at the side of the northern gateway, and the other facing north at the side of the southern gateway. 45 Then he said to me, “This chamber which faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple. 46 The chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok, from the sons of Levi, who come near the LORD to minister to Him.”

47 And he measured the court, one hundred cubits long and one hundred cubits wide, foursquare. The altar was in front of the temple. 48 Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple and measured the doorposts of the vestibule, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side; and the width of the gateway was three cubits on this side and three cubits on that side. 49 The length of the vestibule was twenty cubits, and the width eleven cubits; and by the steps which led up to it there were pillars by the doorposts, one on this side and another on that side.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=40&v=1&t=NKJVP>

When you place the form of the cross upon the description here, the north and south gateways to the temple correspond to the hands of Christ out stretched upon the cross that brought us salvation.  Herein are the scars that provide for our redemption.  These are the hands that taught us to serve one another and to carry His message of salvation to the dark world.  When we stand with arms extended we find our hands in the same position.  In Ezekiel’s vision this is where the priests who cared for the temple and altar were found.  They ministered to the Lord in care of His temple and in the care of the altar of sacrifice.  The question that comes is this:  What are our hands doing?  Do they minister to our temple to keep it ready for service to Him?  Do they provide service to His temple in which we worship?  Do they provide the sacrifice of praise – uplifted hands in worship toward Him?  Do they provide the sacrifice of love and caring to our dark world, advising of the love of God who sent His Son as the supreme sacrifice for all sin?  Do they write of His love?  What are we doing to spread the message of judgment and mercy to our dark world?  Do they carry the candle of light, the Light of the world, illuminating the darkness, making it flee, lifting the Christ who said; “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me? ”

 

Lift Him up, let His light shine, let our hands be active spreading His word.

Can we…?

Ezekiel 24:

Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, write down the name of the day, this very day—the king of Babylon started his siege against Jerusalem this very day. 3 And utter a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD:

​​“Put on a pot, set it on,

​​And also pour water into it.

4 ​​Gather pieces of meat in it,

​​Every good piece,

​​The thigh and the shoulder.

​​Fill it with choice cuts;

5 ​​Take the choice of the flock.

​​Also pile fuel bones under it,

​​Make it boil well,

​​And let the cuts simmer in it.”

6 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:

​​“Woe to the bloody city,

​​To the pot whose scum is in it,

​​And whose scum is not gone from it!

​​Bring it out piece by piece,

​​On which no lot has fallen.

7 ​​For her blood is in her midst;

​​She set it on top of a rock;

​​She did not pour it on the ground,

​​To cover it with dust.

8 ​​That it may raise up fury and take vengeance,

​​I have set her blood on top of a rock,

​​That it may not be covered.”

9 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:

​​“Woe to the bloody city!

​​I too will make the pyre great.

10 ​​Heap on the wood,

​​Kindle the fire;

​​Cook the meat well,

​​Mix in the spices,

​​And let the cuts be burned up.

11 ​​“Then set the pot empty on the coals,

​​That it may become hot and its bronze may burn,

​​That its filthiness may be melted in it,

​​That its scum may be consumed.

12 ​​She has grown weary with lies,

​​And her great scum has not gone from her.

​​Let her scum be in the fire!

13 ​​In your filthiness is lewdness.

​​Because I have cleansed you, and you were not cleansed,

​​You will not be cleansed of your filthiness anymore,

​​Till I have caused My fury to rest upon you.

14 ​​I, the LORD, have spoken it;

​​It shall come to pass, and I will do it;

​​I will not hold back,

​​Nor will I spare,

​​Nor will I relent;

​​According to your ways

​​And according to your deeds

​​They [fn1] will judge you,”

​​Says the Lord GOD.’ ”

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=24&v=1&t=NKJVP>

Can we  imagine what Ezekiel felt with never a good message to deliver?  Can we imagine the burden in his soul for his people?  Can we imagine the opportunity for depression and despair to hear what is coming  and only have wrath to share with his people?  Can we sense the anger, wrath, disgust at the actions of his people?  Can we see the continual rejection of his message?  Can we imagine what  his people had to say about him?  Can we rejoice that it doesn’t end here?  Can we see the same darkness descend on the cross only to be lifted three days later with light and life?  Can we walk in the light; share the light, rejoice in forgiveness; live the message for the dark world to see?

Regrets, deep mourning…?

Ezekiel 19

“Moreover take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, 2 and say:

​‘​What is your mother? A lioness:

​​She lay down among the lions;

​​Among the young lions she nourished her cubs.

3 ​​She brought up one of her cubs,

​​And he became a young lion;

​​He learned to catch prey,

​​And he devoured men.

4 ​​The nations also heard of him;

​​He was trapped in their pit,

​​And they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt.

5 ​‘​When she saw that she waited, that her hope was lost,

​​She took another of her cubs and made him a young lion.

6 ​​He roved among the lions,

​​And became a young lion;

​​He learned to catch prey;

​​He devoured men.

7 ​​He knew their desolate places, [fn1]

​​And laid waste their cities;

​​The land with its fullness was desolated

​​By the noise of his roaring.

8 ​​Then the nations set against him from the provinces on every side,

​​And spread their net over him;

​​He was trapped in their pit.

9 ​​They put him in a cage with chains,

​​And brought him to the king of Babylon;

​​They brought him in nets,

​​That his voice should no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel.

10 ​‘​Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline, [fn2]

​​Planted by the waters,

​​Fruitful and full of branches

​​Because of many waters.

11 ​​She had strong branches for scepters of rulers.

​​She towered in stature above the thick branches,

​​And was seen in her height amid the dense foliage.

12 ​​But she was plucked up in fury,

​​She was cast down to the ground,

​​And the east wind dried her fruit.

​​Her strong branches were broken and withered;

​​The fire consumed them.

13 ​​And now she is planted in the wilderness,

​​In a dry and thirsty land.

14 ​​Fire has come out from a rod of her branches

​​And devoured her fruit,

​​So that she has no strong branch— a scepter for ruling.’ ”

This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=19&v=1&t=NKJVP>

Several points are made in the lament.  One, the lions (leaders) did no good.  Their fruit was destruction.

 

Second, the vine came from within and had fruit, but was high-minded, lifting itself above the rest of the foliage (pride).  Both were brought down.

taken from Creative Jewish Mom

taken from Creative Jewish Mom

taken from Creative Jewish Mom

And finally, the agent of defeat came from within.  A rod from the vine spread the fire that consumed it and there was no fruit left, no branches for a scepter for ruling(no more leaders).  This was a people who had once followed the Lord’s commands.  This was a people who had once expressed their love for him in song and dancing.  This was a people who placed their faith and trust in the Sovereign Lord and were blessed abundantly for it.  These same ones became a people who began to place their trust in themselves because of their blessings.  The deception of the enemy of the soul is clearly presented.  When we are blessed we need to be sure to continue to thank the one who blesses us.  We cannot give in to the temptation to begin to believe that our blessings are our own doing.  Ezekiel gives us a warning and quite the picture of what happens when a people take their prosperity and blessings sent through their relationship with the Creator and turn it around saying it is their own doing, their own strength, their own intellect.  All things come from the Lord.  He is worthy of our praise.

The Lord says:

“…Why will you die…for I take no pleasure in the death of anyone.  Repent and Live! …”

But when the voice of God is ignored or rejected he laments:

“…This is a lament and will be used as a lament. …”

The lament gives reason for and result of consequences that come when the Sovereign Lord is rejected.

Faith pleases God.  Faith that says: “I believe God.”  When we take him at his word and see the coming judgment placed alongside the life and freedom in Christ, the decision is not difficult.  When we see…

“Seeing is believing…”

In the lament we see the penalty for sin administered.  There is death, destruction, and imprisonment.  Darkness mingled with sorrow.  When the light of faith shines bright, we see the darkness  dispelled; what was destroyed  rebuilt, and what was in bondage  set free.

 “Repent and live!”  Words of the Sovereign Lord.

rejoice and not weep

Ezekiel 12:1-20

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.

“Therefore, son of man, prepare your belongings for captivity, and go into captivity by day in their sight. You shall go from your place into captivity to another place in their sight. It may be that they will consider, though they are a rebellious house. By day you shall bring out your belongings in their sight, as though going into captivity; and at evening you shall go in their sight, like those who go into captivity. Dig through the wall in their sight, and carry your belongings out through it. In their sight you shall bear them on your shoulders and carry them out at twilight; you shall cover your face, so that you cannot see the ground, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.”

So I did as I was commanded. I brought out my belongings by day, as though going into captivity, and at evening I dug through the wall with my hand. I brought them out at twilight, and I bore them on my shoulder in their sight.

And in the morning the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are among them.” ’ Say, ‘I am a sign to you. As I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall be carried away into captivity.’  And the prince who is among them shall bear his belongings on his shoulder at twilight and go out. They shall dig through the wall to carry them out through it. He shall cover his face, so that he cannot see the ground with his eyes.  I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there.  I will scatter to every wind all who are around him to help him, and all his troops; and I will draw out the sword after them.

“Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I scatter them among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries.  But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, eat your bread with quaking, and drink your water with trembling and anxiety. And say to the people of the land, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the land of Israel: “They shall eat their bread with anxiety, and drink their water with dread, so that her land may be emptied of all who are in it, because of the violence of all those who dwell in it. Then the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall become desolate; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=12&t=nkjvp>

An object lesson on consequences for sin in the land is described in this passage.  Object lessons are not new, hmm?  The purpose is to attempt to reach those who are no longer following the commands of the Lord.  It is an attempt to extend mercy and reach out through the pain of rejected love.  The Lord tells Ezekiel:

“…It may be that they will consider, though they are a rebellious house.…”

He states:

“… you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, …” 

Not much different today.  How long will the Lord be patient with this nation?  As long as there are those who follow his word and his teaching?  The phrase:

“…has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear;…”

is repeatedly emphasized in scripture.  Jesus used this same phrase often.  True is it not?  We see, often it is in plain sight but we miss it; whatever the ‘it’ is. Another similarity with today is the violence in the land.  The Lord tells Ezekiel to:

“…eat your bread with quaking, and drink your water with trembling and anxiety. …”

and

“…“They shall eat their bread with anxiety, and drink their water with dread, …”

Be sure there are many today who eat in anxiety and drink in despair for the towns are laid waste, not only in other areas of the world but also right here in our country.  Visit any inner city to see this truth, or many downtown areas of our nation. He says:

“…the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste,…” and

“… because of the violence of all those who dwell in it….”

We have ample evidence of the violence done by those who dwell in these areas and the violence is spreading.

The Lord told Ezekiel:

“…I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.”…”

and the same can be true today of all believers.  We are the sign to those unbelievers apart from God and to believers who no longer follow the commands of the Lord but have turned away even though they have knowledge of the Lord.  Jesus said we are salt and light to an unbelieving world. This passage continues to state:

“…they shall know that I am the LORD…”

We can know him through Christ and rejoice or we can know him outside of Christ and weep.  But it is oft stated that we will know that he is Lord.

Our take away is this:  These may be ancient words but they are still accurate and true for today.  Mankind has not changed.  Neither has God.  His hand of mercy is still extended to all who will ‘see’ and ‘hear’.  Let’s be sure to be an object lesson to those around us.  Let’s be sure to share Christ so that there may be more who can rejoice and not weep.

Speaking truth to another in love…

Speaking truth to another in love…

Monday, June 18, 2012

6:05 AM

This is often an area that produces a dilemma.  We are aware of something in another that is bringing harm to them and because we love them we want to fix it or make it better.  Scripture is useful for instruction and rebuke.  We are instructed however to act in love at all times.

If I see in another that which is producing harm in them, I can, in love, speak to that condition.  With the fruit of the spirit of love and kindness, I can speak.  If it is received, well and good.  If it is not, I do not take offense or feel the need to make it happen.  I do not possess that ability it is God’s doing.  What I perceive, they must also perceive to make change.  If they do not, that is their loss not mine and I am free of obligation for it never was mine.  Change is of the spirit and it is the work of God.  We are light and salt.  We show the truth, shed light on it.  The light from a lamp illuminates and that is it, no more.  Salt gives back, enhances flavor and preserves from decay.  It must be received and used to have effect.  If not, the lack of change is not the fault of the salt.

Justified by faith…

Romans 3:21-31

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,  to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.  Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

The law, the prophets were witnesses to the righteousness of God.  What set the Jewish people apart from the rest was the covenant reached between God and Abraham, with the sign of circumcision to seal it.  That covenant promised that mankind would be redeemed back to a right relationship with God.  It promised redemption from the sin that had entered our world.  It has been established that we are all sinners, regardless of whether we are from the Jew or from the Gentile and God of the Jew is God of all he has created.  In that place we all need redemption.  The law defines sin, circumcision is the sign that God has promised redemption and it would come through the Jewish people.  However, we are all still left with a need for redemption from sin until we accept, through faith, the promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  All of mankind, all of God’s creation, requires redemption to enter once again into a right relationship with Him.  He has provided that as promised through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Justified through faith is the summative statement for this passage.   We are cleansed from the curse of sin and given the righteousness of God to life eternal that begins now.  We are empowered with the ability to live the righteous life through the gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit. JustifiedJust as if we had not sinned.   All of this is based on faith, and it is the application of faith that makes it possible.  Faith began with the law and the promise in circumcision and continues with belief that Jesus is the Christ.  So with the coming of Jesus, the law and the promise were validated and now the new covenant with God is possible.  We can be justified through faith, through believing what God has said, has done, what God is saying, is doing, and what he will say and will do.  Are we thankful?  Are we exercising faith and believing?  Can that be seen in our lives?  Take away; Lets be grateful for the fulfilled promise, exercise our faith and receive the righteousness of God.  In this we cannot boast for it is not of our doing, he did it for us.  So then let’s boast in Him.  Isn’t He great?  Doesn’t He deserve our thanks and praise?  He could have just walked away and left us in our sin, in darkness.  He didn’t.  He loved us enough to redeem us and bring us to light, out of sin.  “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  but are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” and  “man is justified by faith“.