Ezekiel 6:9 Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations.
I don’t know why I was so surprised to find the love of God in this passage on judgment, but it shocked me. I would have expected to read of God’s indignation over their unfaithfulness. Or His anger. But His love?
This passage reminded me of the book of Hosea, where the Lord illustrated His relationship with Israel through Hosea’s relationship with his wife Gomer. God didn’t just tell Hosea to marry her, but to love her (Hosea 3:1). And just to clarify the verse from Ezekiel, many translations use the word “whorish” instead of “adulterous” to describe the heart of the people. I think the difference is significant. Adultery implies an act committed because of affection or passion. But whorish actions are done strictly for profit. This describes those who claim to be followers of God, but live in ways that are contrary to Him because it’s better for them.
All of us have experienced pain in life, and isn’t it true that those who have hurt us most deeply are those that we have loved? Our God isn’t just offended or angry with our backsliding, unfaithfulness and indifference. He is hurt by us. Broken. Crushed. Because He loves us.
I could bury my face in my hands and cry, knowing the far too frequent unfaithfulness of my own heart.
Oh God, help me to love You always with a faithful heart!
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
I had always thought of this verse as referring to the physical need the widow and orphan would be in because of not having a husband/father in the household. But the verse doesn’t tell us to give them money or even any type of physical thing. It says to visit them. Not just throw our money at them (like we can be so accustomed to doing because it’s easy) but giving some of our life to them.
Visit (Strongs #1980) means to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes in order to see how he is, i.e. to visit, go to see one; to look upon in order to help or to benefit
This verse doesn’t exclude helping in physical ways, but it involves so much more. Go see them, care for them, be with them. Give them the most valuable thing you possess – your time.
Oh brethren, I fear that we have become content with demonstrations of love that are far below that which Christ intended.
2 Samuel 14:32 And Absalom answered Joab, “Look, I sent to you, saying, ‘Come here, so that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.” ‘ Now therefore, let me see the king’s face; but if there is iniquity in me, let him execute me.”
Church is wonderful
Ministry is wonderful
Fellowship is wonderful
There are many things in the kingdom that are wonderful. But unless I encounter the King’s face in all these things, then the kingdom becomes just another way to live. The life of the kingdom is the King. The glory of the kingdom is the King. And it is the inheritance of the sons to enjoy the benefit of His face.
In a monarchy there are times that a king comes before the people. He is dressed in all His royal finery. He looks noble. He looks kingly. His subjects look upon Him with wonder. He may wave the royal hand at the crowd but no particular person can say that He waves at them. The Kings appearance is an impersonal thing for them. It is awe inspiring for a moment, and then life goes on as normal. They are excited when they happen to catch a glimpse of Him, but know they have no right to expect it. The subjects are under His rule, but the King remains an enigma to them
The sons know the King and are known by Him. He knows them by name and every detail about them. The sons share intimate time with the King and they know Him in a way that subjects never will. His eye lights upon them individually, particularly and purposefully. And they know it! For those who are sons, the kingdom isn’t a place-it’s a person. It isn’t merely an eternal future-it is a glorious now. And all the joy of being a son of the King isn’t in the power of the kingdom or the wealth of the kingdom…it is in the face of the King.
David had been through many years of struggle. Anointed as king by Samuel and then chased all over Israel by King Saul, he now lived in Philistine territory as an apparent ally to Israel’s most hated enemy. He kept his military skills sharp by going out on raids, but during the absence of David and the men of war, their city, Ziklag, was raided and burned and all the inhabitants were taken captive by the Amalekites. At the Lord’s direction, David and his men pursued the Amalekites and not only recovered all of their own people and possessions, but they got extra because the Amalekites had invaded several areas prior to Ziklag. David could have kept all the spoil for himself, but instead it pleased him to share it with others.
1 Samuel 30:26 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD”–
His victory wasn’t just for him. It was for the benefit of the people of God.
Although we don’t fight physical battles, we definitely are in a warfare and there are victories that we win and spoils of those victories that we acquire. And these spoils are not merely for us to celebrate, but they are for the help and benefit and encouragement of the people of God. The battles you have won—share the fruits of it with others. Share your story. Share your failures and share how Jesus brought you through it. Tell the testimonies of His grace and His power at work in your darkest days. And tell how He brought you out of that darkness. Somebody needs to hear it. Your victory wasn’t just for you.
1 Chronicles 26:27 Some of the spoils won in battles they dedicated to maintain the house of the LORD.
This is what your victory is for- to strengthen the people of God and to encourage them.
To tell the story of God’s victory means that you will have to tell the story of your failure. Don’t be ashamed. Everyone else has failed too. They just may be more concerned about protecting their reputation than sharing the spoils. Tell your story as often as you can and watch what God does.
I have a friend whose best friend was murdered this week.She was only 48. My friend’s sorrow is compounded by the feeling that she left things unsaid and undone.I’ve been thinking about that and I’m sure that if I happened to lose someone close to me unexpectedly, I would have the same response.It makes me want to do things differently.I was reminded about something I shared on here a few years ago.It seems applicable now:
Several years ago I met a homeless man named Ricky. I see him almost every weekend on Third Street and he always comes over to chat. He has come to church with me several times and whenever he meets somebody that he thinks I can help, he will call me. It has been an unexpected friendship. One Friday night a couple of months ago I saw Ricky on Third Street and as usual he came over to visit for a while. And just out of the blue he began to share some kind words about how our friendship had affected his life. I didn’t really know what to say in response so I just stood there for a few moments in silence. He said “when people die, their friends and family will have flowers sent to the funeral home. The flowers will be laid on top of their grave but that person will never experience any enjoyment from those flowers. I wanted to give you a flower now.”
I think about these words often….and about how easy it is to leave things unsaid, sometimes until it is too late to say them. Don’t wait…..give out some flowers today.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God. (1 John 4:7)
Returning sons are rarely a pretty sight. Often they’ve made a mess of things and our first inclination can be, at least in our heart, an “I told you so” or maybe “you should have known better”. However, let’s remember that it is not honorable nor spiritual to usurp the role of accuser of the brethren. We may commend ourselves for our “ministry” to them if we pray a nice prayer or buy them a hamburger. But the returning sons need the faithful sons to walk with them, encourage them, and remind them of the Father’s heart for them. They don’t need our things….they need our life, our time and our love. How many returning sons never made it all the way back home because of the disapproving looks of those who couldn’t forget the shame they brought to their Father’s house.
Don’t be ashamed to love them even if others disapprove. The Father isn’t ashamed of them and neither is Jesus. They are His brothers and He rejoices in that.
If necessary, bear the reproach of those that don’t understand and let God sort it all out in that day. It’s okay to be misunderstood. It’s okay to be wrongly judged. But it is not okay for your love to fail. Love them all the way home.
Luke 15: 25-32 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”‘
Much has been written about this other son. We despise him sufficiently, but let us make sure that his error does not become our own. At the bottom of it all, this older son is angry that the younger son is getting the benefits of sonship that he feels like he never received. And it makes him angry. I don’t blame him for being angry, but he was angry at the wrong person. The father made it clear that everything was his, but he was so busy working, working, working, that he never enjoyed the things that the father has already made available to him. If he had been a son that availed himself of all the benefits given by the father, his heart would have been so full that he would have rejoiced that his brother had returned because it made the father happy. What sweet fellowship could have been had if the older brother had joined him in watching for his brother’s return?
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of getting angry and jealous over what somebody else is receiving from God. Go bury your face in the face of God until you are filled with every good thing He has for you…then join the Father in those things that rejoice His heart.
The Father is ever watching for the returning sons while we are busy with life. Maybe it would please His heart more if we skipped that religious activity we do out of obligation (whatever that might be in your life) and went out to meet some prodigal on his return trip home….shielding him from shame as he makes his way home to the Father. Assuring him that he is accepted, beloved and forgiven.
Luke 15:20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”
This is such a beautiful picture of the Father’s heart for every prodigal….he never stopped longing for the son that had left him. He had been humiliated by this son, his goodness had been exploited, his love had been trampled on. But his heart yearned for him. I wonder if he went every day to gaze down the path his son had traveled when leaving…..scanning the horizon to see if this would be the day he would return home. How many days passed with no son returning? We aren’t told. But on the day the son returned, the father was watching. Intently watching. So much so that he saw him a great way off.
The world had been harsh to the boy and he was returning with his tail between his legs….broken by the life he had chosen. The son who had humiliated the Father now returned humiliated. How many neighbors must have seen him on the road as he traveled home? Their glaring disapproval must have disheartened him all the more. Shame is piled upon shame and humiliation upon humiliation. But the father saw the beloved son approaching, and unwilling for the boy to be humiliated any further he did the unthinkable….he picked up the skirt of his robe….and RAN. No respectable man runs. That is the activity of children. So the disapproving eyes are turned away from the son, now onto the father…as he ran to his son and embraced him, hiding him in his arms away from every condemning stare. The boy finished the rest of his journey home accompanied by the father, that very presence announcing to all who saw him – ACCEPTED! BELOVED! FORGIVEN!
Song of Songs 1:2 [The Shulamite] Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–For your love is better than wine.
The root of the word “kiss” has this meaning: to kindle a fire, to burn
This is not just a peck on the cheek or the kind of kiss you give your grandmother. This is a kiss of passionate desire….the kind of kiss you feel all over your body…that awakes you to love
The kisses of the mouth of Christ are His words and they are spoken to us by His Spirit. Not just the reading of a book, but the work of the Holy Spirit whereby He makes those words live in us. What fires are kindled by such kisses! What desires are stirred for intimacy! Better than wine that makes the heart glad are the kisses of Christ that make the soul glad.
Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth that I might burn for You! Kindle a fire in this soul that can only be satisfied in Your presence. Draw me nearer with great anticipation of what it means to really know You….