Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ezekiel 22

Ezekiel 22:26, 31 ESV

Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.

Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God."

God's name has been profaned by the actions of his own people. There are three basic issues addressed in this chapter. First, God's people have gone after idols. We often hear an idol defined as anything that we put above or before God. I prefer to think of an idol as anything we look to to provide us with that which only God can provide. Only God can provide Israel with true security, yet they are looking to idols, and listening to false prophets for their security. Idolatry is still an issue. We may not bow before images of wood and stone, but idolatry is a big deal today as well. We have bought into the idea that government, money and good credit will provide us with the security, significance and satisfaction we need, but only God can truly provide those things.

The second issue Israel fell into was sexual immorality. We fall for all sorts of lies in order to justify our immorality. We say that what we do in private is no one's business. We claim that we must be true to ourselves by pursuing the sexual passions and perversions that we feel? We claim that we aren't hurting anyone, or that we're only looking, or that ... Well, we've heard them all, and they are all lies designed to excuse sin and explain away God's standards of morality. Upon closer scrutiny they all fall apart. Sexual immorality as defined by God defiles those who practice it and profanes the name of the God we claim to serve.

The third issue Israel faced was that they were taking advantage of the poor and not caring for one another. Again, we have all sorts of excuses for this one as well. We don't have the time. We don't have the resources. They are someone else's responsibility. They don't care for themselves; why should I care for them? The excuses go on and on. Meanwhile the hurting go on hurting and the name of the God we call a God of love is profaned by our actions.

Father forgive us. Forgive me. Too often I find myself practicing the very same profane activities that Israel was guilty of. May my life honor you, glorify your name and reflect you to the world in which I live.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ezekiel 21

Ezekiel 21:12, 26 ESV

Cry out and wail, son of man, for it is against my people. It is against all the princes of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword with my people. Strike therefore upon your thigh.

thus says the Lord God: Remove the turban and take off the crown. Things shall not remain as they are. Exalt that which is low, and bring low that which is exalted.

This chapter is another pronouncement of coming judgment. That the judgment is coming is sure. That it is from God is sure. That it will come from the Babylonians is sure. But the thing that caught my eye is that it will surely affect every level of society.

America today is a land of elitism and celebrities. If you are a celebrity then you somehow have the ability to speak authoritatively to anything. They speak about Iraq and Afghanistan, gun control and climate change, world hunger and poverty as though they know what they are talking about, and because they are celebrities people believe them. A celebrity walks by and we all whisper. A celebrity signs their name to something and its value doubles. We even have people today that are famous for no other reason than that they are famous.

When God judges a people, elitism and celebrity privilege go out the window. In this passage God says that he will judge everyone. Prince and pauper alike will face his wrath. There will come a day when every person, small or great, will stand before God. When that day comes our bank accounts, our movie appearances, our brushes with greatness will all mean nothing. The only thing that will matter in that day is whether we know, and are known by, Christ.

It is time we worship the one who created this world. We have too long worshipped the creation itself. One day the Creator will become the destroyer because of what we have done to his creation, and because we have "worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator." (Romans 1:25)

Our greatest brush with greatness is not found when we are in the same room with a celebrity but when we kneel before the King of kings. Father, today may my life be one of true worship.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ezekiel 20

Ezekiel 20:25-26 ESV

Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life, and I defiled them through their very gifts in their offering up all their firstborn, that I might devastate them. I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.

God's yearning desire is for people to know him. Because of our fallen nature it seems that the only way we will do that is when we first come to the end ourselves. That was the purpose of the Law. It was never to produce righteousness. External rules are impotent to do that. The rules were intended to expose sin, bring people to the end of themselves and move them to humble, brokenness leading to faith. That is the path to knowing God.

Creator God will do whatever it takes to bring us to that point for the sake of his own name. What he will not do is allow us to continue in hypocritical self-righteousness. That brings discredit to his name, and is destructive to those who practice it and to those who see them. The problem is that often those practicing the self-righteousness of legalism cannot see past their own imagined holiness. Thus God acts to bring them to the end of themselves. If the Law fails to reveal their own neediness then discipline will. Thus God rebukes and disciplines those he loves.

Father, thank you for your relentless, unfailing love. Today may those around me see Jesus in me.

By His grace,
Rick weinert

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ezekiel 19

Ezekiel 19:12, 14 ESV

But the vine was plucked up in fury,
cast down to the ground;
the east wind dried up its fruit;
they were stripped off and withered.
As for its strong stem,
fire consumed it.

And fire has gone out from the stem of its shoots,
has consumed its fruit,
so that there remains in it no strong stem,
no scepter for ruling.
This is a lamentation and has become a lamentation.

Ezekiel 19 is a lament over the fallen condition of God's people. I understand anger and judgment against those who claim to be God's people but live otherwise. It's easy to claim "righteous indignation" and rejoice over the fall of those we believe should be judged, especially if they show no remorse over their sin. It is another thing entirely to grieve over them. This is the heart of God, however. He takes no pleasure in the fall, pain and judgment of anyone. How would it change us if we grieved over the sin of others rather than claiming righteous indignation against those who ought to "get what's coming to them?"

Father, I confess that it is sometimes easier to pray for your judgment to come against someone than it is to pray for those being judged. Today may your heart and your love for sinners grip my soul.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ezekiel 18

Ezekiel 18:23 ESV

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

This chapter has three underlying principles. It is written in the context of the Mosaic Covenant that promised Israel blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. Because God has been slow to send judgment a parable has become popular: "The father eats grapes and the son's teach are set on edge." God has given the people time to repent. They have mistaken his mercy for slowness. Assuming that they would not have to pay for their own sin they have continued on in sin. They seem to care little that future generations will pay for their misconduct. But God has other plans.

God warns Ezekiel that from that point on each person will give account to God for their own sin. He will no longer hold off judgment. But the underlying principle goes further than that. The truth is that every person will one day stand before the judge to answer for their own sins. We can't blame others. We can't blame the system. We can't blame God. God takes no pleasure in our sin and he takes no pleasure in our judgment, but neither will he look the other way and ignore our sin. Each person will give answer to God for their own actions.

The good news is that each person has the option of turning from their sin. Avoiding judgment is not a matter of living a perfect life. We've all failed at that. No, it is a matter of turning from your sin to accept God's forgiveness. Anyone who turns from their sin, no matter how bad they have been, can find God's life. The offer is there, "should he not turn from his sin and live?"

Why would God offer forgiveness?  That doesn't sound fair. The truth is that if God were fair then we would all be judged, but God takes no pleasure in judging sin. "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" God takes pleasure in offering forgiveness, but he cannot deny his justice.

Three underlying principles in this chapter call us to faith in Christ. Each person will personally answer to God for their sin. Each person has the opportunity to turn from their sin. God offers forgiveness. It is through him that we are able to turn from our sin. It is because of him that God offers forgiveness. It is in him that we find life. Each of us will answer to God for what we have done with our lives. Will you turn to Christ today?

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ezekiel 17

Ezekiel 17:15 ESV

But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and a large army. Will he thrive? Can one escape who does such things? Can he break the covenant and yet escape?

God uses a parable in this chapter to express his disappointment with Israel. The point of the parable is that in his judgment against his people he was also using the Babylonians to preserve his people. Rather than recognizing the judgment as coming from God, they looked to Egypt to bail them out. God's assessment is that Egypt will not help them at all, but that God will ultimately preserve and restore Israel at some point in the future.

It makes me wonder how often I have sought to avoid God's discipline in my life only to dig a deeper hole for myself. How often do we look to the world for solutions to events God has orchestrated in our lives to get our attention and direct us back to him? Israel had clearly been told that judgment was coming through Babylon. They had been told not to resist, and not to look to Egypt for help. They preferred false prophecies and false hope over truth.

Father forgive me for the times I have chosen false hope over truth. Today may I listen carefully, follow closely and not look to the world for that which only you can offer.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ezekiel 16

Ezekiel 16:8, 43, 62 ESV

"When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.

Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord God. Have you not committed lewdness in addition to all your abominations?

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord,

God uses a graphic vision to express his truth to his people. He likens them to a baby born and thrown out that he rescued and gave life to. Twice he emphatically says, "Live!" She lives, and when she grows up he marries her and clothes her with expensive clothes and beautiful jewelry. How does she respond? She actively pursues prostitution. In fact he says that, unlike other prostitutes, she doesn't take money for her services. She pays her customers to come to her. She becomes far more wicked than those around her who have already experienced God's judgment.

Here is an incredible truth. God says that he will reestablish his covenant with her despite her sin. First will come judgment, then will come blessing. But, why did she act like this in the first place? You would think that after all he had done for her she would have lived in gratitude rather than rebellion. Verse 43 contains the key: "Because you have not remembered the days of your youth," he says.

She had forgotten what God had done for her. That's why Jesus calls us to take the Lord's Supper "in remembrance" of him. That's why the Apostle Paul continually reminds the Romans and the Galatians, and every other group to whom he writes, that they are "in Christ." When we forget who we are we live like the world.

Father, thank you for your glorious grace and mercy. Today may I live in full remembrance of all you have done for me. May I never forget the cradle, the cross and the empty tomb.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ezekiel 15

Ezekiel 15:5, 8 ESV

Behold, when it was whole, it was used for nothing. How much less, when the fire has consumed it and it is charred, can it ever be used for anything!

And I will make the land desolate, because they have acted faithlessly, declares the Lord God."

In this chapter God's People are compared to a useless vine. Elsewhere in Scripture they are compared to a strong, tall tree, but here they are a useless vine. The vine, he explains, is worthless. You can't even use it to make a good peg. You just cut it out of the forest and burn it. Israel became like that vine because of her sin. She forgot who she was.

It makes me wonder about my life, the lives of others, and about churches. How often do we allow ourselves to become worthless to the purposes of God because of sin, apathy or lack of faith? "They have acted faithlessly," God said of Israel. Too often that has been true of us as well. It is time we acted out of faith, not faithlessness.

Father, today let me see what you are doing around me. By faith may I step up and be a part of your mission and purpose. Forgive me for the times I have allowed sin, apathy and faithlessness to stand in the way.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ezekiel 14

Ezekiel 14:3, 21-22 ESV

"Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? "

For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast! But behold, some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; behold, when they come out to you, and you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it.

This chapter is an expression of mercy in the midst of judgment. The men coming to inquire of the Lord have no right to approach him. They have no right to be heard by him nor to expect any answer from him. "They have taken their idols into their hearts." God has no obligation to respond to their inquiry, yet he will.

He goes on to explain that their sin is such that even the presence of Noah, Daniel and Job would not keep God's judgment from falling. They would be able to save no one but themselves. That is particularly significant when we remember that God promised Abraham that he would even spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were only ten righteous people in there. Sodom was not a part of the covenant people of God and yet they would be spared by the presence of any ten righteous individuals. Here we have the covenant people of God and they are told that they would not be spared even by the presence of these three great men of God.

Noah's righteousness spared seven other people when God sent judgment against the world, but because of the sin of God's people his presence this time would save only himself.  Yet, here we find a most incredible expression of God's mercy. Though the presence of these great men would not protect anyone but themselves in the face of God's judgment, God will actually spare people out of mercy.

God's discipline is never simply an expression of anger, or a desire to destroy. It is so that we might actually recognise who he is. His discipline is for our good. God's discipline is an expression of his love. The fact that God would hear the prayers of those who do not deserve to be heard, the fact that God would spare those who do not deserve to be spared is an amazing expression of his mercy and grace.

Father thank you for dealing with me according to your grace and because of your Son rather than giving me what I deserve.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ezekiel 13

Ezekiel 13:3, 6, 18 ESV

Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, 'Declares the Lord,' when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.

and say, Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls! Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive?

There appear to be two groups of false teachers influencing the people of God in this chapter. God is opposed to them both. The first group are those who claim to speak for God. They have been seeing visions, or at least claim that they have. They have been proclaiming these false visions as the word of the Lord. They believe their own lies, fully expecting God to do what they claim he has said. The other group are women apparently practicing occultism and magic. This is clearly forbidden by the law, yet here they are. 

Both groups are dangerous. Both groups are opposed by God. Both groups have embraced certain lies. It is not clear whether there is any collusion between these two groups. Because of the differences between them it is likely that they have no connection. But, therein lies the problem. Just because two liars disagree does not mean that one of them is right. Spiritually it is just as dangerous listening to a false prophet as it is listening to a false religion.

How can we tell if someone is a false prophet? Some lies are more difficult to discern than others. The Old Testament gave several tests for a prophet. Two significant tests were these: Do their prophecies come true? Is what they are teaching consistent with God's previous revelation. That second one is particularly significant. The Apostle Paul commended the Bereans for testing his teaching against the Word of God. That is what we need to be doing.

When a teacher or preacher expounds his teachings the question is not whether he has authority to teach. The question ultimately is whether his teachings are consistent with the Word of God. That is where any teaching authority comes from. Authority does not come from a degree or a positional title. It comes from the Word of God.

Father as I teach, may I always remain true to your Word. As I listen to others, may I not have a critical spirit, yet may I be careful to test everything against your Word. Keep me from the lies that so easily infiltrate, divide and destroy.

By His grace,
Rick weinert

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ezekiel 12

Ezekiel 12:3, 6 ESV

As for you, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile's baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight. You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.

In their sight you shall lift the baggage upon your shoulder and carry it out at dusk. You shall cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel."

In this chapter God calls Ezekiel to use drama to convey the Lord's message to his people. Ezekiel's life becomes the message. When the people of God can't, or won't hear God's word as it is preached, another form of communication is used.

God has a message of judgment for his people. It's not a popular message. It's not a feel good message. It's not a message they want to hear. But, when they see Ezekiel acting out this strange drama, they have to ask. When they ask what it means, Ezekiel is ready with the message.

Perhaps that's what the scripture means when it instructs us to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1Peter 3:15). Perhaps that's why Jesus said that the world would be convinced that we are his disciples when they see that we have love for one another. In a sense, our lives, not our preaching and teaching, are our real message to the world. That raises the question: What do they actually see?

Father, today my my life reflect Jesus to my wife, my friends and my world.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ezekiel 11

Ezekiel 11:15, 19 ESV

"Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, 'Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.'

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

In this chapter we find leaders, "princes of the people," involved in false worship. In response God promises two things. First, he promises that his people will be judged for their wickedness. Second, he promises that he has not abandoned his people, but will restore them and give them a new heart and a new spirit. This tells us something about the character of God. He is just, but he is also merciful. He will not allow us to get away with sin, but he also offers the solution to our sin. That is the essence of the gospel. In Romans we are told that he is both just and justifier.

For me, as I read this chapter, the question that haunts me is: What kind of leader have I been? We are all leaders in some context. Whether we are leading a ministry, leading a Sunday School class, leading our family, or just being an influence in the life of a friend, acquaintance, or child. We are all leaders in some role, and we will answer to God for how our lives have influenced those we have been given the privilege of leading.

Father, that's scary business. I don't want to be like the leaders in Ezekiel 11 that are involved in that which dishonours you. I want my life always to point people toward you, not away from you. Today may that be true of me.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ezekiel 10

Ezekiel 10:4, 18 ESV

And the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the Lord.

Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.

In this chapter Ezekiel records another vision similar to what he saw in chapter 1. It was there described as "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." Here it is described as Cherubim above which is a throne and the Glory of the Lord.

The Glory of the Lord fills the court of the temple much as it did when the temple was first dedicated by Solomon. The difference is that at the dedication the cloud was an indication that the presence of God was coming to the temple. Here God is preparing to leave the temple. The Glory of the Lord lifts from the threshold of the temple, rests above the Cherubim and will leave the city. God is no longer in the house.

Here is the significant thing, only Ezekiel sees it. The elders worshipping abominations in secret do not see the Glory of the Lord leave the temple. The men worshipping the sun with their backs to the temple do not see the Glory of the Lord depart. Sin has a way of doing that. It blinds us to the truth. It callouses us to what God is doing. It deafens us to the voice of the Lord.

One person can see beauty around them and see God in it. Another person just sees rocks and trees. Sin blinds us to the truth. One person sees pain and cries out to God. Another person sees pain and curses God. Sin callouses us to what God is doing. One person reads the bible and finds soothing for their soul. Another person reads it and finds nothing. Sin deafens us to the voice of God.

Father thank you that you have promised never to forsake me. May I listen well, see clearly and be sensitive to what you are doing. May I keep in step with your Spirit and your Word.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ezekiel 9

Ezekiel 9:9-10 ESV

Then he said to me, "The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, 'The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.' As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads."

In this chapter Ezekiel sees what the people of Jerusalem cannot see. He sees God's judgment which is coming. Three things are true about this judgment. First of all, it is absolutely certain that it is coming, and it is coming from God. Judah and Israel have sinned enough. God has drawn a line in the sand and said, "No more." God has sent warning after warning, but they have failed to listen. God, in his justice, will pour out his wrath against his people. Just because they had a temple in their city did not exempt them from God's judgment. Just because we are America will not exempt us either when God says, "Enough is enough."

Secondly though, God first marks out those who have been grieving over the sin of their people. They will come under his protection. That raises the question of our own attitude toward the sin around us. It is not our responsibility to carry out God's justice. Some have taken that upon themselves by killing abortion providers, bombing clinics or bullying an beating gays. That is wrong. Judgment is for God to carry out in his time, not for us. But certainly we should be grieved by the sin that we see around us, and we should be praying.

That brings us to the third issue found in this chapter. God's judgment began at the temple. He struck the 70 elders of Judah first. As believers we have been tasked with speaking the truth and wisdom of God much like those 70 elders should have done. When they failed to worship and serve God, they were struck first by God's sword of judgment The New Testament refers to the Old Testament by saying "judgement begins at the House of God. The truth is, believers are the house of God. It is easy in our self righteousness to believe that we are safe. The real issue is not whether we feel self righteous and superior, but whether we have truly been faithful to God, his Word and his mission.

Father, forgive me for how often I feel self righteous, when in fact I am perhaps worse than those unbelievers around me, because I should know better. Today may my life reflect your righteousness, not my hypocritical self righteousness that I too often take pleasure in.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ezekiel 8

Ezekiel 8:6 ESV

And he said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations."

In this chapter the Spirit of God takes Ezekiel on a tour of abomination. He starts at the north gate of Jerusalem and moves inward to the entrance of the temple. There he finds 25 men worshipping the sun with their backs turned to the temple of God. At the very place where they should be turned toward the temple worshipping God they have their backs turned to him. The deeper Ezekiel went, the darker things were spiritually.

Rarely is wickedness as shallow as it appears. Jesus said that it comes out of our inner most parts. Transformed lives then are not just about being forgiven. Romans 12 tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. 2Corinthians 3 talks about transformation as a process that happens as we "with unveiled face" behold "the glory of the Lord." The verse goes on to explain that the transformation comes from "the Lord who is the spirit."

As believers we are not just called to be forgiven sinners doing the best we can. We are called to be transformed believers reflecting more and more of the glory, character and truth of Jesus. May it never be said of us that the deeper you go the darker you get. May the love, light and truth of Christ shine from the core of our being.

Father, I recognize that this is a process, not just an event. Thank you for never giving up on me. May my life reflect you more today than it did yesterday.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ezekiel 7

Ezekiel 7:26 ESV

Disaster comes upon disaster; rumor follows rumor. They seek a vision from the prophet, while the law perishes from the priest and counsel from the elders.

This chapter is filled with repetitions . "Disaster upon disaster" is proclaimed. "The end has come, the end has come" the prophet says. God declares, "My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity." Repetitions like that are used in scripture to indicate the certainty of something. This chapter is filled with repetitions indicating that God's judgement is sure and certain.

Why? There are several reasons, but behind them all is the truth of verse 26. They seek a vision from God while they ignore his law. This is a people under covenant relationship with God. He has promised them blessing for obedience and judgment for disobedience. They desperately want to hear from God. The problem is that they want to hear good things from God, about protection and deliverance, while ignoring what they already ought to know from God's law.

We are not much different. We want God's blessing, protection and provision. We don't want to take God's demands on our lives seriously. How can we expect God to speak to us, guide us and bless us while we are  ignoring what he has clearly revealed to us in His word?

Father, forgive me for how often I cry out to you for help while consciously ignoring what you have already revealed to me. Today may I walk in humble submission. May I listen well to all you say. May my life reflect Jesus rather than Judah of Ezekiel's day.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ezekiel 6

Ezekiel 6:13 KJV

Then shall ye know that I am the Lord, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.

There are parts of this chapter that sound awfully cruel. Verse 5 for example:

Ezekiel 6:5 KJV

And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.

But the truth is, this is what the Israelis were already doing. They were carrying out bizarre rituals before cruel idols, even sacrificing their own children. God is just giving them what they have been so passionately pursuing already. What is really sad in this chapter is not only the fact that they are getting what they have been practicing, but that they are still clinging to theses idols even as they die.

Verse 13 says, "their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars..." At least in their death you would hope that they would turn back to their God but, no. They will be found among their idols. Sin has a way of deceiving us. It has a way of clouding our minds, hardening our hearts and keeping us from seeing or believing the truth. It causes us to cling to our lies even when the lies have been exposed and all hope is gone.

I watched a TV show recently where shoplifters were being caught. Even when they watched people slip merchandise into their clothing, their handbag, or some other place of concealment, even when they could tell them what they took, how they took it and where they hid it, people would still claim innocence. One lady slipped a pair of sunglasses into her milkshake. When she was confronted she claimed she didn't know what they were talking about. When they looked into her milkshake and revealed the glasses, and told her that they had video of her putting them in there, she claimed that the clerk must have put them in there. She didn't know what they were talking about.

That's what sin does to us. We lie. We pad the truth. We believe our own deceit. We die clinging to truth that is no truth at all. All the while the one who is Truth is simply waiting for us to turn to him.

Father, forgive me for the times I have allowed sin to blind me to the truth. Thank you for your grace in my life. Today I pray that you will open the eyes and the hearts of people around me to your truth.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ezekiel 5

Ezekiel 5:5-6, 13a ESV

"Thus says the Lord God: This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. And she has rebelled against my rules by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries all around her; for they have rejected my rules and have not walked in my statutes.

"Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. And they shall know that I am the Lord

Jerusalem was intended to be a "light on a hill." She was to be the center of worship to the true God. From her the truth of God was to go out into all the world. Instead, she became more wicked than the nations around her. The light became darkness. Those called a "people of God" became instead a people walking in darkness.

It makes me wonder whether the church has become that as well. Jesus said that the world would know that we are his disciples when we have love for one another. Instead we "bite and devour one another" to use the words of Galatians 5:15. Drinking buddies and community action groups get along better than the church does and they have no expectation of unity for the sake of their message. Our message, according to Jesus, is validated or disqualified based on our unity or disunity as a body.

The result of Jerusalem's sin is that God will judge her. His judgement isn't just the flashing anger of a god fed up with his followers. This chapter almost reads that way at first glance, but when we read verse 13 we realize that God is not just angry. He truly cares about his people. People you don't care about you either ignore or you destroy. People you care about you discipline. That is what God is doing here. His desire is that they would know him and that they would actually be the light they were called and designed to be.

To communicate that message to Jerusalem God calls Ezekiel to shave his head and beard and act out the judgment that is coming. When God calls us to be his messengers we cannot divorce our personal lives from the message. Just as Jerusalem was to be a light to the nations, now God calls Ezekiel to be a light to Jerusalem.

God has called us, believers in Jesus Christ, to be lights in a dark world. That is not something that is done on Sunday mornings during a planned "service." It must be the whole of our lives. We cannot separate our private world from our public world. We cannot expect our influence for Christ to be effective when our private walk with him is nonexistent. Ultimately our lives become our message.

Father, forgive me for the times I have fallen into dysfunction in my relationship with you, with my family and with those close to me. May my life, my relationships and my personal choices continually reflect your truth and your glory.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ezekiel 4

Ezekiel 4:13 ESV

And the Lord said, "Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations where I will drive them."

We pride ourselves in our accomplishments. We glory in the "beautiful people" of society. We tell everyone we know if we happen to meet an a-list individual. Even the fact that there is an a-list says something about the phoniness of our society. In all of our "greatness" we neglect to realize that people are one invasion or one natural disaster away from humiliation and scrounging for scraps.

In this chapter Ezekiel is required by God to physically represent a siege that will be laid to Israel and Judah. He draws a picture or map of Jerusalem and places a cooking pan on its edge. Then he is to lie on his side for a certain number of days. This symbolizes the number of years  Israel and Judah will be judged. While he is lying there he is only allowed to eat the equivalent of less than half a slice of poor quality bread along with about 2 1/2 glasses of water each day. This is to indicate how bad things will get for Israel.

Originally God instructs him to bake his bread over human excrement. Not wanting to defile himself, he appeals to God. He is then allowed to bake his bread over animal dung rather than human dung. Israel is no different than any other society. They have their poor and they have their social elite. They have their own a-list. What they don't seem to understand is that all that will go away with one invasion. A-listers won't have any more to eat than the poor. Everyone will be scrounging for food. Everyone will become "unclean" in the process.

When disaster falls all the artificial social differences disappear. When God's judgement comes we all stand on level ground. There will not be different standards of judgment for the "beautiful people." We stand or fall before God on the basis of one truth alone. Do we stand before him in Christ? When that time comes there is only one beautiful person. That is Jesus. What we have done with Jesus is the only thing that matters.

Father, forgive me for how often and how easily I fall into the whole social status nonsense. Thank you that I don't have to be somebody special in society in order to be special in your eyes. Even if disaster or invasion comes, may I find my all in you.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ezekiel 3

Ezekiel 3:7 ESV

But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.

God has told Ezekiel, in this chapter, that he is to go to the House of Israel and warn them. He then tells him, "Oh, and by the way, they won't listen." I struggle with that. Why would God call someone to a ministry that he knows will be ineffective? Why would he call him to preach to people that he knows will not listen? Is it possible that we have been evaluating ministries by the wrong criteria?  Maybe the success of a ministry is not based on how big it is or how many people it reaches, but on how faithful the minister has been.

That beings up another question. What is the basis of ministry and how do we evaluate faithfulness? There are three truths here for Ezekiel. First, his message to the people must first come from his hearing God. He is instructed to eat the scroll God gives him. It is sweet to the taste. He is then told to give God's words to the people. The words he just ate are the words he is to communicate. If we are to effectively and faithfully minister God's truth to a lost generation then we need to make sure that his words are going deep into our own belly first. The depth our being needs to be filled and affected by God's truth. Ministry flows out of that. We need to be careful that we never fall into the place of thinking that we know it all and that we no longer need to spend quality time in God's word.

Second, Ezekiel needed to embrace a new definition of success. For Ezekiel, success was not measured by numbers of converts. Success was not measured by transformed lives or transformed communities. Success was measured solely by faithfulness. That runs cross grain to American thinking where we are always evaluating success by numbers. Where is the most effective place to invest my money? Who is the person with the most potential to invest my time and energy in? What is the most successful ministry to put our money and energy into? Certainly there is a stewardship aspect to this that we need to consider. We only have so much money, so much energy and so much time. Yet, the idea of  listening to the Spirit and faithfully following somehow gets lost in the discussion. Ezekiel is simply called to faithfulness.

That leads to the third truth Ezekiel needed to understand. While he was to faithfully proclaim the truth of God's words to a people that would not listen, he was only to speak when the Spirit moved him to speak. We are really good at strategic planning, goal setting, and organizational structure. What we're not so good at is listening to the Spirit. True faithfulness necessarily flows out of a heart saturated with the word of God and sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God.

Father, forgive me for the times I have failed to listen well either to your word or your Spirit. Today may I listen well to both.

By His grace,
Rick weinert

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ezekiel 2

Ezekiel 2:1, 6b, 8 ESV

And he said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you."

Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.

"But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you."

Three thoughts stand out to me from this chapter. First is the idea that God wants to speak to Ezekiel. That is incredible. The God who revealed himself in such an overwhelming vision in chapter 1 now wants to speak to Ezekiel. In chapter 1 Ezekiel didn't see God. He didn't see the glory of God. He saw the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God and was overwhelmed., yet here is God wanting to speak to him. We must never lose the awe in the truth that the unapproachable God speaks to us and invites us to approach.

The second thought that caught my eye in this chapter is the truth that Ezekiel is being asked to deliver a very unpopular message to a very rebellious people. This is not good news. Who likes an assignment that virtually guarantees that you will be rejected, laughed at and possibly even killed? Yet that is exactly what Ezekiel is being asked to do. What does God tell him? Don't be "afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks." They are a rebellious people, but don't be afraid of them. It's easy to preach to a people that want to listen. It's easy to challenge a people that want to be challenged. Delivering an unpopular message to a people who don't want to listen or be challenged is a whole other story. God says, "Don't be afraid."

In the end we find the one thing that Ezekiel does need to be afraid of. God warns Ezekiel, "Be not rebellious like that rebellious house." The danger of taking a message to rebellious people is that the messenger is tempted to become rebellious as well. There is always the possibility of falling into the very temptation we are warning others about. Ezekiel is warned to be more fearful of falling into sin than of the anger of his audience.

There is a huge warning here for us as believers. We have a message of truth from God that is increasing unpopular in our world. It is very easy for us to fall into the same attitudes and lifestyle as those we have been called to reach with the Gospel. It is easy to become cautious and fearful when there is a need for boldness in humility. We need to go back and remember the overwhelming greatness of the God who has tasked us with proclaiming this message. We need to find our security in him and boldly proclaim the truth of God to a people who desperately need to hear it.

Father, forgive me for the fear that I often allow to paralyze me. May I live and speak in boldness with humility, knowing that I have heard you speak. May I forever stand in awe of your glory. May I faithfully proclaim  your truth.

By his grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ezekiel 1

Ezekiel 1:26, 28b ESV

And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Ezekiel starts out with a strange and overwhelming vision that includes a storm, four-faced creatures and flying wheels full of eyes. Above all of this is not a throne, but the "likeness of a throne." Seated on the "likeness of a throne" is not a person, the the "likeness" of a person. All of this is described not as the glory of God, nor even the likeness of the glory of God, but as the "appearance of the likeness of the glory" of God.

This vision is so bizarre that many times we either just rush right past it, or try to make it say and mean all sorts of "deep" truths. Perhaps the deepest truth is that God is greater, more fear and awe inspiring, more overwhelming than we often think. I think that sometimes we make God far smaller and safer than he really is. God becomes like a giant Santa Clause winking at our indiscretions and giving us whatever we want. Or, he is a distant, angry God that we try to avoid by keeping a "low profile."

We tend to characterize God in one dimensional images much like a character in a television show. God is much more complex than that. He is far more glorious than we can imagine. Yet, he is loving, approachable and personable as well. We cannot put God in a box and say we have defined him and that he must always do this or that.

Perhaps the power of this vision of Ezekiel is that it serves to remind us of this truth. Father, forgive me for the times I have made you, in my mind, less than you are. Today may I walk in the overwhelming glory of your greatness. With Ezekiel may I fall on my face before you and hear you speak.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jude

Jude 1:24-25 ESV

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude writes to encourage, even demand, that believers, "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." This short, little, one chapter book is a powerful polemic against false teachers and a warning against falling into error. Yet, after warning that not all the Israelis who came out of Egypt were saved, and a reminder that fallen angels and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were judged, he ends with words of hope.

Reading through this letter one begins to get the feeling that we are walking through a spiritual mine field ready to be blown up because of false teaching and/or immoral behavior. The danger almost cannot be avoided. It will be a miracle if we get through. Then comes the miracle. He "is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless." Therein lies our hope.

Yes, we need to heed the warnings about false teachers and immorality. Yes, in some ways I suppose we are walking in a spiritual mine field. The good news is that we're not walking alone. We are walking with the one who knows where every mine lies buried. He is able to keep us. He is able to present us faultless. We don't live in hopelessness. We live in hope.

Father, thank you that my eternal destiny rests on your faithfulness rather than mine. Give me eyes to see the dangers, a heart willing to stand for truth, and in the midst of the battle, your peace that passes all understanding, because all glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, belong to you,

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Philippians 4

Philippians 4:13-14 ESV

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

In this chapter we discover that which we already know, but are often hesitant to admit. Christians sometimes argue and disagree. Christians sometimes worry and fret. Christians sometimes experience suffering and lack. This is a reality.

But it is also a reality that we ought not to fight when we disagree. Unfortunately when we disagree with someone we often color them as less spiritual, sometimes even rebellious or wicked. Euodia and Syntyche are "outed" with each other, as an old friend used to say. They were both good, godly women who had faithfully served the Lord. Somehow they got crossways with each other. Paul urges the church to help them patch things up.

It is a reality that Christians sometimes worry and fret. But it is also a reality that they don't need to. Paul says to rejoice, be reasonable, pray,give thanks, and think on good and honorable things. Let God's peace therefore reign in you.

It is a reality that Christians sometimes suffer and experience lack. But it is also a reality that God calls us to serve and minister to one another. It is a reality that whether we are experiencing want or excess, God is always there. It is a reality that whatever we truly need, God will provide. Unlike Paul, we often have not figured out what we truly need and what we can do without.

Christians are not perfect, but God is. We have the privilege and opportunity to be the hands and feet of God by serving one another. We have the privilege and opportunity to experience God's peace when circumstances would dictate otherwise. We have the privilege and opportunity to love those with whom we disagree. It's not perfection that makes Christians unique. It is the perfect God that we serve. He is the one who said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Father, thank you for your constant and unfailing presence in my life. May my relationships, my thought life, my attitudes and my actions reflect you.

By His grace,
Rick weinert

Friday, November 9, 2012

Philippians 3

Philippians 3:2-3, 18-19 ESV

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

There is a fine line between legalism and licentiousness. At first glance they may seem to be polar opposites, but the truth is they both focus on the earthly. They both put glory in the flesh. For many, legalism seems safe. The endless establishment of rules for life appear to protect us against sin. They appear to hedge up our way to keep us from the pollution of society around us. But that's where the lie hides.

Do we really believe that Puritans didn't struggle with lust because they didn't have television, and there were no young women running around in bikinis or skimpy clothing? Legalism allows for double standards because it focuses on external rules rather than the condition of the heart and the focus of our thoughts. Legalism sets us up for failure because it provides a false sense of safety.

In verse 8 of this chapter Paul writes of his legalistic background and his outstanding accomplishments therein, "I count it rubbish." Knowing Christ, not keeping rules, is the new goal of his life. Paul understood that his righteousness was in Christ, not in his lifestyle, his commitment, nor his accomplishments.

It makes me wonder how much of my own energy has been directed toward human accomplishment rather than simply knowing Jesus. My degrees are nothing. My accolades are meaningless. What matters is knowing Jesus. And so the Apostle challenges us with these words:

Philippians 3:17 ESV

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Because it is our "Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." (Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)

Father, forgive me for the amount of time and energy I have too often given to things that don't matter. Today my I rest in your grace, fix my eyes on Jesus and passionately follow him by faith.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Philippians 2

Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

In this chapter the Apostle Paul challenges us to humility of service for two primary reasons. First is  Jesus' model of humble service. He set aside his due glory in order to serve us by dying on our behalf. That is our model for living in community. Second is the power of unity as a light to the truth of Christ in a dark world. Reading this chapter we are left with the nagging question in our minds: Will we die for one another?

Paul finishes this chapter by modeling this truth of humble service. He is imprisoned but his concern is for the Philippians. He sends Timothy because he knows that Timothy will truly care for the people of Philippi. He sends Epaphroditus. Even though he has been a real help and encouragement to Paul, he knows that the Philippians have been worried about Epaphroditus. Paul demonstrates more concern for the Philippians than for himself.

In the first century, the power of the Christian witness was in the unity, love and service of the community of believers. That was in fulfillment of Jesus prayer in John 17. I wonder if we have placed so much attention and focus on "personal" evangelism that we have forgotten the power of corporate evangelism. I think we have forgotten that being a Christian is not just about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a personal and corporate relationship with Jesus Christ and his people. We cannot separate those two. Every instruction for the church is written in that context.

Father, forgive me for how private, selfish and self-focused I tend to get. Today may I live out your humble servant life. May the world see Jesus not just in m, but in us.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, November 2, 2012

Philippians 1

Philippians 1:14, 29 ESV

And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

Three contrasts impressed me in this chapter: hope -vs- despair, boldness -vs- fear, and unity -vs- divisiveness. Hope, boldness and unity despite the truth that it was "granted" to them that they should "suffer for his sake. Hope, boldness and unity despite the fact that Paul is imprisoned for his faith. Hope, boldness and unity despite the fact that some people are actually preaching the gospel from impure and improper motives, hoping to make things harder for Paul in prison.

I have a difficult time comprehending how the imprisonment of Paul caused them to be more bold in their witness. Yet, that is exactly what has happened. That is the very thing that fills Paul with joy. That is the thing that has caused their reputation to spread. That confidence is not from their flesh, but from the Spirit.

It is amazing how a little discomfort, a little inconvenience causes us to despair, fear and divide, whereas this major " inconvenience" in the lives of the Philippians has resulted in hope and boldness. Paul's challenge to them then is not to lose their unity. Often difficulties either unite those going through them together, or divide over petty differences. That disunity will then work to destroy the hope and boldness as well.

Father, whatever suffering, difficulty or inconvenience you choose to being into our lives, may it result in hope, boldness and unity, to your glory.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lamentations 5

Lamentations 5:21 ESV

Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!
Renew our days as of old—

This chapter is an expression of grief, despair and confession. Jeremiah not only expresses his grief at the conditions of his people, he also acknowledges that they are in this condition because of their sin and the sins of their fathers. The verse above is right at the heart of the matter. He writes, "Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!"

Too often when we are in dire straits we cry out, "Restore us." But that misses the point. Jeremiah knows that there is no restoration until there is first restoration to God. Restoration from God depends on restoration to him first. Blessing from God depends first on relationship with him. Israel is experiencing God's discipline in this chapter precisely because they have moved away from relationship with him.

Father, forgive me for the many times I have been more interested in my own comfort than in you. Forgive me for crying out for relief but rarely crying out to know you more. Today, whatever comes, may I seek you with all my heart. You promised that if we seek you, we will find you.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lamentations 4

Lamentations 4:11-13 ESV

The Lord gave full vent to his wrath;
he poured out his hot anger,
and he kindled a fire in Zion
that consumed its foundations.
The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.
This was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed in the midst of her
the blood of the righteous.

Three thoughts occur to me as I think through this chapter. First, their confidence was in the wrong thing. Nobody believed that "foe or enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem." Whether their confidence was in the superiority of their defences, or in the mistaken assumption that God would protect them despite their sin and disobedience, they were wrong. No gate, no defence, no contingency plan can protect you when God says that it is time for justice. No misplaced faith can save us or protect us. The world says, "Just believe." God says, "Believe the truth." There is a big difference between those two ideas. Our strength and security is not in our faith, but in the object of our faith. We need to make sure that we are listening closely to him.

The second thought to occurs to me is the devastation of the people. Royalty are living in squalor. Those who had plenty are starving. Those who were known for their compassion are extremely cruel and selfish. When all the props are kicked out from under us then our true character is revealed. It's easy to be nice when everything is going our way. Difficulty reveals who we really are. When all the artificial pretences and social hierarchies of society come tumbling down we find out who is truly great and who were posers.

The third thought that struck to me in this chapter is the statement, "This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests." It reminds me of the vital and weighty responsibility we have as a priesthood of believers to be speaking the truth. The prophets and priests of Jeremiah's day had gotten into the pattern of telling people what they wanted to hear. At some point the seem to have lost the ability to speak God's truth despite the consequences.

Father, you have called us to be salt and light in our world. May we truly be that. May our eyes be set on you. May our lips speak your truth. May our lives truly reflect your character no matter what circumstances we face.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lamentations 3

Lamentations 3:18, 21-22 ESV

so I say, "My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord."

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;

Reading this third chapter of Lamentations three thoughts come to mind. First is the steadfast love of God. In the middle of a five chapter lament over the destruction of Jerusalem we find these words, "his mercies never come to an end." In the midst of drama and trauma there is peace because God's love never ceases.

Second is the fact that in the midst of God's judgment against his people for their sin we find Jeremiah, the author of Lamentations, suffering at the hands of God's people who refuse to listen to his warnings. Remembering that at one point they threw him in a well, these words become even more meaningful:

Lamentations 3:53-55, 57 ESV

they flung me alive into the pit
and cast stones on me;
water closed over my head;
I said, 'I am lost.'
"I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;

You came near when I called on you;
you said, 'Do not fear!'

It is unfortunately true that the most painful abuse often comes from the very people who claim to be God's people. That brings me to the third thought. Jeremiah loved these people. It grieved him deeply to see the people and the city destroyed. That raises the question for me: Do I really love those around me who are living under the displeasure and even judgment of God?

It is hard to love the unlovely. It is even harder to love those who reject you, mistreat you and cover up their own sin. Father, forgive me for my lack of love and my lack of tears over their fate. Forgive me for my lack of pray and concern on their behalf. Today may I look beyond my own experience to see through your eyes of love and compassion.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lamentations 2

Lamentations 2:13-14 ESV

What can I say for you, to what compare you,
O daughter of Jerusalem?
What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you,
O virgin daughter of Zion?
For your ruin is vast as the sea;
who can heal you?
Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
that are false and misleading.

This chapter is primarily a description of the horrific destruction of  Jerusalem. In the middle of this destruction we find verse 14, " Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions..." I wonder how things might have been different if the "prophets" of Judah had spoken the true word of God rather than their "feel good" messages that led to this destruction. I wonder how much of the moral slide of my own country is the result of that same thing. I wonder how many of my own lessons and sermons have fallen into the feel good category rather than the truth category.

Truth isn't always comfortable. We don't always welcome truth. We like to live in our deception. We prefer our illusions of wellness. Messages that question our presuppositions, challenge our methods and motives, and expose our selfish inward looking approach to life are not fun to listen to. They rock us to our core and expose really nasty stuff that we prefer to ignore. But, a man with pneumonia doesn't get well because he sits at home pretending he's not sick. A woman with breast cancer isn't told by her physician, "Go home. Pretend that you're well and you'll live a long and healthy life." Doctors regularly are required to speak hard truth in order to save lives. What would have happened if the "prophets" of Judah had done the same?

Father, may I always preach truth. May I never shy away from the hard truths of your Word. May I speak with gentleness, grace and mercy, but may I always speak truth.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lamentations 1

Lamentations 1:8, 22 ESV

Jerusalem sinned grievously;
therefore she became filthy;
all who honored her despise her,
for they have seen her nakedness;
she herself groans
and turns her face away.

"Let all their evil doing come before you,
and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my transgressions;
for my groans are many,
and my heart is faint."

This is the beginning of Jeremiah's lamentation over the fall of Jerusalem. Three things strike me in this chapter. First is the deep pain and sorrow over her fall. Second is the honesty of Jeremiah regarding the reason for her fall and the justice of it. Third is his call for her enemies to also experience God's justice.

Even when we know that consequences are deserved, judgement is due and the failure experienced is just, it is still painful to watch and to experience. We should never rejoice over the pain of our brother no matter how well deserved it is. The truth still remains that we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

That brings me to the second thought, however. Too often, rather than admit guilt and the truth that we deserve God's judgment and justice, we try to excuse own sin and our bad behavior. Our pain is always someone else's fault. Our failure was always caused by God, circumstances or other people. We are way too slow to admit guilt and culpability, and way too quick to point fingers. In this lamentation Jeremiah minces no words. "Jerusalem sinned grievously; therefore she became filthy," he writes. It is difficult to weep with one who is experiencing God's discipline in their life when they are blaming, pointing fingers and refusing to admit responsibility.

Finally, Jeremiah calls for Jerusalem's enemies to experience the same justice she has experienced. Too often we are calling for the demise of our enemies before acknowledging our own guilt. It is one thing to call for the justice of God to be carried out. It is a very different thing to call for God's judgment on others when we are refusing to admit our own guilt. Jeremiah's call for justice among the nations flows directly from his confession that God is just in judging his own city.

Justice and judgement will one day come to the whole earth. It will not be a good day, but it will be well deserved. Every person will stand before God's judgement throne to face the consequences of their own actions and choices. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Today we have the opportunity to be honest with God because in that day there will be no more secrets.

Father, forgive me for the times I try to excuse or cover up bad behavior. Thank you for your grace, mercy and forgiveness. By your grace, may I always be honest with you and with those around me.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hebrews 13

Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

This final chapter of Hebrews begins with some general teaching about Christian living. It includes directives about strangers and prisoners and marriage and money. The chapter then reminds us again of the gospel and its superiority over law. The author of Hebrews then asks for prayer, writes the verses quoted above and wraps up with some personal words abut Timothy and the hope of visiting soon.

At the heart of the matter are the verses quoted above. "Now may the God of peace ... equip you..." Therein lies the heart not only of this chapter, but of the entire letter to the Hebrews. The Christian life is about God equipping us through Christ in a manner that the law could only hint at. The Christian life is not a series of repeated requests for forgiveness like the law. The Christian life is not a set of rules that can't change the heart. The Christian life is not bondage. It is rest. It is hope and expectation. It is faith in a God who once for all dealt with our sins and who equips us "with everything good that [we] may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight." The Christian life is not about people trying to please God. It is about God working in people that which pleases him.

Father, I find it so easy to slide back into law. Thank you for your forgiveness, cleansing and empowerment. Today may I rest in you.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12:3-4, 7 ESV

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

"You have not yet resisted to the point of blood." Hebrews 12 flows directly our of chapter 11? There is a whole "cloud of witnesses" that have gone before us. They believed God even when they did not receive the promise. Some of them believed God even when it meant losing their lives for their faith. This chapter is a call to follow in their footsteps.

God's discipline comes to those he loves. His discipline is for our good. Bad things happening in our lives are not a sign of God's displeasure, but of his love for us. We can endure because these "witnesses" who went before us endured. We can endure because Jesus endured for us. We can endure because God loves us. We can endure because our faith is rooted and grounded in something bigger and better than a mountain in the wilderness and a set of laws carved in stone.

Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Because of Jesus we can endure. We no longer need to default to our old sinful escapes. We don't need to default to anger, bitterness, immorality and unholiness. We have a higher calling, therefore:

Hebrews 12:1b-2 ESV

... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Father, thank you for the example of those who have gone before me, and for the founder and perfecter of my faith, Jesus. Forgive me for my petty selfishness that often acts more like the world owes me something than like a son of the King. Today may I walk in faithfulness no matter what my circumstances. I rest in your sovereign love.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11:32-33, 35-36 ESV

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

This chapter starts out with those who by faith did mighty exploits for God. But as I think back over the chapter and especially as I see how the chapter ends, I realize that this chapter on faith is just that. It's about faith, not about mighty exploits. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not receive the promised land. Not every fallen believer was raised up. Not every danger was lifted. Not every bad thing was removed. God had a bigger plan. The power of this chapter is not in the truth that God did great things through people of faith. Rather, it is that ordinary people held firmly to their faith no matter what the circumstances. That's the example to which God is calling us.

Father, forgive me for my little faith. Forgive me for being more concerned about my own safety and comfort than about you, your plans and your purpose. Today may I follow in the example of those who went before me by standing firm in my faith whether you lift darkness or allow me to remain in it, whether you remove difficulty and pain or ask me to persevere through it, whether you use me to do mighty exploits in your name or simply call me to faithfulness.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hebrews 10

Hebrews 10:10, 14 ESV

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

For believers, the motivation to holiness is the truth that we are holy. There is no ongoing sacrifice for sin because there is no need for an ongoing sacrifice once covered by the blood of Jesus. The life of the believer is not one of believing, falling away, repentance and sacrifice, then believing again.

Hebrews 10:14 ESV

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Because of Jesus we have full access to the Father. Because of Jesus we have been made holy and are being made holy. Because of Jesus we live in full assurance of God's acceptance and empowering. His motivation for holiness is not fear, but the reality that we are holy. Therefore, let us rest in him and move on toward holiness.

Father, thank you for the full assurance of faith we have in Christ. May we never take that for granted nor trample it under foot in disbelief. In you we rest.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hebrews 9

Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

This is the hope we have in Christ. His is not a sacrifice offered repeatedly, but a sacrifice once for all. We do not get saved again every week. We are saved once for all. We do not bring sacrifices and offerings every week. He is the once for all sacrifice. Our rest is found in him for that very reason. Jesus entered into the eternal tabernacle, the eternal Holy Place, into the very presence of the Father, providing acceptance and access to the Father for us.

I have heard people refer to a church building as a temple, a tabernacle, or the house of God. That is not biblically  accurate. We, God's people, are his temple. The building is just a building. It may be dedicated to God. It may be used for his glory. But it is only the temple of God when the temple, i.e. the Body of Christ, meets there. It only contains the presence of God in any unique sense when those who are indwelt by the Spirit of God gather there. We have access to God because of Jesus, not because of a building or a ceremony. In him everything changed.

Father, thank you for your grace and mercy. Thank you that I do not have to come back to you every week or every year seeking fresh forgiveness. Thank you that in Jesus I am saved once for all time.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hebrews 8

Hebrews 8:10 ESV

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Three thoughts run through this chapter. First, the new covenant involves a new heart. Obedience is no longer imposed from the outside in, but flows from the inside out. Second, the new covenant makes the old covenant obsolete. When hearts are changed law is not needed. Third, the new covenant is founded upon a new high priest, Jesus. The result of this is that one day there will be no need of evangelism. 

Hebrews 8:13 ESV

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The old covenant is "growing old" and "is ready to vanish away." The need for evangelism is still here, but obedience flows out of changed hearts. It is not imposed upon hard hearts. As a parent and grandparent, it is one thing to impose obedience upon my children or grandchildren. By way of training we might ask, "What do you say?" when we are trying to get them to say, "Thank you." We make rules and enforce them. We impose obedience upon them. It is a very different thing when they voluntarily serve us, use good manners, or in some other way willingly and voluntarily demonstrate the good behavior we've been trying to teach them.

That's the difference between the old covenant and the new. Under the Law obedience was imposed. Under grace obedience flows out of changed hearts. Under the Law priests had access to God for us. Under grace we have direct access to God. Under Law there was punishment for disobedience. Under grace there is the discipline of a God who loves us and is in relationship with us. "In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete."

Father, thank you for your grace, and for the new covenant in Christ. Today, by your grace may I walk in holiness, peace and truth.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7:22, 27 ESV

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

A better covenant; so why is it that we constantly insist on going back to some form of law? Jesus "once for all ... offered up himself." The law has changed. We have a better system now. No longer is there a need for daily sacrifices. No longer is there a need for priests who are as sinful as the people they serve. We have a high priest that allows every believer direct access to God. We have a high priest who is faithful, sinless and eternal. We have a high priest who has fulfilled the law and offered us the gift of rest, and yet we so often continue to strive thinking that somehow we must earn God's favor, approval or blessing.

It seems to me that many believers today would fight for the gospel that says we do not earn God's favor. It is a gift from God based on the death and resurrection of Jesus. In that we are correct, but then we turn around and teach that it is through obedience that we fight our way to an acceptable lifestyle; it is through submission that we gain God's blessing on our life; it is through dedicated living according to some set standard (law) that we arrive at a level of holiness. We totally miss the truth that in Christ we are holy. In Christ we are blessed. In Christ we are acceptable to God. Holiness of life is not a matter of disciplined, painful obedience so that God will not only save us, but so that he will also like us. It is about rest in the indestructible high priest, Jesus Christ.

Father, thank you for the life you have given in Jesus. Thank you for the free access we have to you through him. Thank you for the acceptance and blessing in which we live. Today may we live in the rest you have freely given.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6:18-19 ESV

so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

God calls us to hold fast. The motivation for holding fast is not loss of salvation. It is not God's anger or disappointment. It is not fear or uncertainty. The motivation for holding fast is the unchangeable, faithful promise of God. I hold fast to him because I am secure in him. I hold fast to him because he gave me his word and he cannot lie. I hold fast to him because he is faithful. My faithfulness depends wholly on his faithfulness.

Father, thank you that my salvation rests in the sure and certain truth of Christ's work on my behalf. He died for me and rose again. He has entered into the most holy place of your presence and is waiting there for me. May my life imitate the the faith and patience of those who have gone before me, not to gain your favor, but because I stand in your favor because of Jesus.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5:11, 14 NIV

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Jesus is a high priest who knows our weaknesses. As any good High Priest, he did not seek the glory of the position, but was appointed to it by His Father. He personally experienced the pain and struggle of obedience. He knows our frailty.

The problem lies not with our high priest, but with ourselves. Failing to practice distinguishing between good and evil, we have lost the ability to understand God's word and God's ways. We have settled for either legalism that never has to actually discern, only blindly stay in the box defined by whatever law we're taught, or by licentiousness that justifies bad behavior and excuses sin.

What is interesting is that both groups pride themselves in their position. Legalism revels in the thought that they are obeying God, without giving any thought to whether God actually set the standards they passionately defend. Licentiousness revels arrogantly in their "freedom," assuming that God, in his grace, approves of whatever they decide to do. Somewhere in the middle is a living, active relationship with God that has learned to rest in Christ, listen to him, and discern by his leading what is actually good or evil.

Because we have failed to practice discernment, we have lost our ability to understand God's word and God's ways. How many of our churches are filled with people satisfied with milk, unable to appreciate, or even accept the meat of God's word? How many of us in that condition actually believe we are eating meat? Father, forgive me for my own hard heart. Strip away the arrogance of my own ignorance and give me a heart capable of meat.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4:9-10, 16 NIV

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

There remains a rest for the people of God. That is one of my favorite verses in scripture. Believing God, walking with God, trusting God is about rest. It seems that we so often make it a striving, working, guilt driven faith. God says it is a faith of rest. The power of God's word and the assurance of access to God's throne is directly related to this rest. "Anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their own work."

That doesn't mean that commitment is meaningless. It doesn't mean that obedience is unimportant. But commitment and obedience flow out of rest, not the other way around. Israel failed to enter God's rest, not because they disobeyed, but because they failed to believe. Their disobedience resulted from their unbelief. Commitment and obedience result from what we choose to believe. Rest is foundational to the Faith. If we are not walking in rest then we do not understand the faith we claim to embrace.

Father, forgive me for the times I have tried to push through on my own power. Forgive me for how often I have allowed my life to be filled with anxiety, fear and tension. Jesus, you are my Sabbath rest. Today may I rest in you.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hebrews 3

Hebrews 3:6, 13, 19 NIV
But Christ is faithful as the Son over God's house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Christ is faithful. Therein lies our hope. Our hope does not lie in our faithfulness, but in his. We enter into it by faith. This does not undermine the concept of obedience, it enhances it. Why do we obey? Because we believe that he is faithful. "We are his house, if indeed we hold firmly...," but, it's not obedience to which we firmly hold. It's not holiness or godliness we are gripping. We hold firmly to "our confidence and the hope in which we glory." We rest not in our faithfulness, but in his.
Sin, on the other hand, leads to disbelief. We become "hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Sin has a way of doing that. Little compromises harden us to bigger compromises. Compromises cause us to doubt. When we stand looking in the mirror we see failure which leads to doubt, which leads to more failure. That is why this chapter begins not with a challenge to examine ourselves, but with the challenge to, "fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest." Heb 3:1
Yes, we are told to examine ourselves in 1Corinthians 11, but we are more often told to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. I sometimes wonder if we, as "believers", spend too much time examining ourselves and too little time focused on Jesus. After all, our hope is in him, not in us. Our faith is in his faithfulness, not in ours. My faithfulness depends on his faithfulness. His faithfulness does not depend on mine, and for that I'm grateful.
Father, thank you for your faithfulness and for the security I have in Christ. May I never trust my faithfulness. May I always rest in yours.
By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hebrews 2

Hebrews 2:14, 16 NIV

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.

Here is a most amazing truth. Mankind was made "a little lower than the angels," and yet "it is not angels he helps." God never sent his son to take on the form of an angel in order to redeem angels. He did send his son to take on the form of man: "... he too shared in their humanity." He did send him to "break the power of him who holds the power of death." He sent him to "make atonement for the sins of the people." (Heb 2:17) Because of that "he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb 2:18)

Why did God provide a savior for mankind, but not for angels? Why did he send a redeemer for us and not for them? Is it because of the nature of their fall, which was different from the nature of our fall? One man fell and passed on his depravity to his children. Angels fell as a group and do not procreate. Mankind fell through the influence of an outside agent, Satan. Angels apparently fell without that influence. I don't know if this is what makes the difference, or if it has to do with how we were created and why we were created. What I do know is that for some reason, in the sovereign love of God he sent us a redeemer who became like us in order to save us. For that I am grateful

Father, thank you for your incredible love and faithful redemption. Today may my life reflect that love to others.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hebrews 1

Hebrews 1:4, 14 NIV

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Angels are sent to serve those who are saved. Jesus came to save us. Angels are created beings. Jesus is God, Lord and creator. The point of this chapter is not to put down angels, but to exalt Jesus. There is a chorus with the line, "Jesus is my friend." That is true. Jesus said to his disciples, "I have called you friends." But he is not only our friend. He is also King of kings, Lord of lords, and God of all creation and so we also sing, "God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are holy, holy. The universe declares your majesty. You are holy, holy, Lord of heaven and earth.

Jesus, I fear that I am sometimes inclined to worship your creation more that to worship you. May I see you today when I look out the window or glance up at the clouds. Today may my life be characterized by worship directed toward you alone.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Isaiah 66

Isaiah 66:3, 19 NIV

But whoever sacrifices a bull
is like one who kills a person,
and whoever offers a lamb
is like one who breaks a dog's neck;
whoever makes a grain offering
is like one who presents pig's blood,
and whoever burns memorial incense
is like one who worships an idol.
They have chosen their own ways,
and they delight in their abominations;

"I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations.

Two thoughts stand out in this final chapter of Isaiah. First, worship is not worship unless it is from a pure heart. "But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person." This is strong language. How is it possible that one who offers a required sacrifice to God is like a murderer? Sacrifices are unacceptable to God unless they come from a pure heart. Evil is not imposed on us from the outside. It comes from the heart. The beauty of the gospel is the offer of a new heart. The heart of mankind is incredibly deceitful and bent on selfishness and wickedness. Only God can change that. External acts of worship cannot make us acceptable to God because they don't change the heart. Worship must start in the heart. Worship must come from a heart that is pure before God. True worship, then, begins in the humility that recognizes that we have nothing offer God except that which first comes from him.

Worship is not worship unless it is from a pure heart. Second, God will restore his people and they will carry the light of his truth to the world. "They will proclaim my glory among the nations." If the heart of mankind is incredibly deceitful, the grace of God is even more incredible. That God would choose to use those who are so bent on evil is amazing. That God would graciously change the hearts of those who are so unacceptable to him, that he would choose to use them to take the message of his glory and grace to a fallen world is beyond words.

In the mean time God has chosen to use us, the church, a  bunch of redeemed sinners to proclaim his grace and glory to our world. As those who have put our faith in Christ as our only hope, may we worship and serve from pure hearts in humble dependence on him. If you have not trusted in Jesus as your savior and only hope of acceptance by God, if you have not put your faith in God to accept you because of Jesus death and resurrection in your place, I encourage you to do so today.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Monday, September 3, 2012

Isaiah 65

Isaiah 65:1-2 NIV

"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'
All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—

God, in grace and mercy, revealed himself to a people who had not been seeking him. He called them out, set them apart and blessed them, but they failed to follow him. They consistently pursued other gods and violated his laws. Because of his love for them, however, he will not completely destroy them even though that is what they truly deserve.

When someone does something nice for another person they don't necessarily want to be paid back for their kindness, but they do appreciate a little appreciation. Sometimes just a "Thank you" is all that's needed. In this case Israel not only neglected to thank God for his blessings and protection, they actually attributed his blessings to other gods and figuratively spit in his face.

No one would blame God if he elected to respond by removing his blessing. That is essentially what he will do, and yet...

Isaiah 65:1-2, 8 NIV

This is what the Lord  says:
"As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes
and people say, 'Don't destroy it,
there is still a blessing in it,'
so will I do in behalf of my servants;
I will not destroy them all.

I don't think we truly understand the depth of the offense our sin is to God, nor do we understand the breadth of his grace and mercy. It brings to mind the old chorus, "Why should he love me so? Why should he love me so? Why would my savior to Calvary go? Why should he love me so?" The answer? He shouldn't, but he is a God of mercy and grace. His love is not earned or deserved. It is lavished upon those who do not deserve it.

Pride might keep us from accepting a love we have not earned or deserved. Humility revels in it. Which explains why the scriptures say that God resists the proud but shows favor to the humble. Father, today may I listen well. May I walk in humility before you, and may I truly revel in your grace and glory.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Isaiah 64

Isaiah 64:1, 3-4 NIV

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

My first thought, in reading the verses above, was that God making the mountains tremble didn't work out all that great in the past. When the people of Israel encountered God at Mt. Sinai, under the leadership of Moses, that is exactly what they experienced. They responded by running to Moses crying out, "You go talk to him and tell us what he said. We don't ever want to see him like that again." At least that's my loose translation.

Reading farther in this chapter of Isaiah, however, I realize that the force of this chapter is not about the lack of seeing or experiencing God. The focus of the chapter is in the fact that the people of God have not been experiencing God because of their sin. It is in this very acknowledgment and confession that the experience of God can really begin.

I read a blog the other day on myths of evangelicalism. The first myth addressed was the idea that we are not good enough for God, that we don't deserve his love. The author's take on this was that because we don't feel like we are good enough for God we therefore somehow miss how much we are loved by God. Personally I think that's sad because somehow feeling like I deserve God's love does nothing for my relationship with him. It causes me to take his love for granted. Of course God loves me. Just look at me. What's not to love. It is in recognizing that I am not good enough for God and yet he lavishly loves me that I begin to truly appreciate and enjoy his love.

In Isaiah 64 enjoying the love and power of God begins with acknowledging personal and corporate sin. Knowing and experiencing God's power and presence is contingent upon first admitting guilt. Father, forgive us for our faulty theologies that somehow make us feel like we deserve something from you. Our only hope lies in your grace. Today may we be honest enough to recognize our own guilt, acknowledge it freely to you and experience deeply your forgiveness and love.

By His grace,
Rick weinert

Isaiah 50

Isaiah 50:4-7 (ESV) The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him w...