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

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...