Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"For the sake of My Name"

Ezekiel 20:44
"You will know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”

The phrase "for the sake of my name" or "for my name's sake" is used four times in Ezekiel 20. In each instance, God is showing mercy, not for the sake of the one receiving mercy but for His name's sake.
So here's my question... is God's mercy and grace not a matter of righteousness but of reputation? Do we receive mercy and grace not because of our own behavior but because of the constant revelation of His character through His name?
If God is so cautious with His name and reputation, so too must I be. Do I bear His name well? Do others think more highly of Jesus Christ because of my words, decisions, habits and demeanor? Do I consider His name before I speak... act... decide? If His name is worth setting aside His wrath, anger and justice then it must be worth setting aside my opinion, selfish indulgences, self-righteous excuses and self-centered agenda. It's not about my name, but His.

Lord - teach me to honor and revere Your name. May Your reputation and it's revelation drive me to conform to the image and nature of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"no pleasure in the death of anyone...."

Ezekiel 18:31-32
"Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! "

How often do we call unjust the justice of God? How often do we blame God for the consequences of our own behavior? How often do we accuse God of being unloving, unfair or unreasonable while living in rebellion?
Ezekiel 18 is all about the consequences of sin and each person's ownership of their own. We do not stand on the merit of our parents, a proper pedigree or an inherited faith. Each person, created in the image of God, will stand before the Creator and be judged for what is done in this life; whether righteous or unrighteous. Each individual will own his or her own sin and consequences.
The part of this passage that strikes me most is that God boldly declares, "I take no pleasure in the death of anyone." I would imagine that God is pleased with justice being executed yet the loss of even the most wicked soul does not bring God any pleasure. (This alone blows my mind.) In fact, the opposite may be understood from how the verse is delivered; God is grieved when a life is lost. God's grief over a life lost is so great that here in this passage he pleads with Israel to repent (turn around) and live! His grief over the consequences of sin is so great that He took on flesh and paid sin's penalty. He tied righteousness to His Son and sent Him to the cross so that it might be as simple as faith. No longer is righteousness and life a matter of law but of grace.
There is no accusation of injustice, no label of unloving, no reasonable argument against such a God. When we stand before our Righteous Creator we will be left speechless, defenseless, naked and vulnerable. Each person will stand alone... unless He stand with Jesus Christ.

Lord grant me your heart, that I might take no pleasure in the suffering of the wicked. Bend my heart and teach me compassion. Drive me to deeper ministry. Discipline me to sacrifice. Direct me to those who most need to repent, that they might live. Use me Lord that you might take pleasure in life granted. Amen.