Posts Tagged ‘Luke 15’

Ezekiel 18: A New Heart and a New Spirit

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Written on December 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Jacob Willemsz de Wet: Workers in the Vineyard

The prophet Ezekiel foreshadows the story Jesus tells us in Matthew 20 about the vineyard owner who pays the same wage to the worker who has worked for but an hour as he does to the one who has worked all day.  We are cautioned by both prophet and Messiah not to complain about God’s generosity – we may one day hope to benefit from this abundance.

The prophet also foretells the story Jesus describes in Luke 15 who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to go in search of the one that is lost.  We are told by both prophet and Savior that we are as precious to God as that one sheep.  This story is told as an illustration of God’s determination to call us – we may one day have need of this persistence.

Ezekiel tells the people in exile that they must move beyond these old proverbs and customs of believing that the sins of one generation are visited upon another.  He foresees what Jesus tells, that there will be a Messianic Age when we are released from the old and given a new heart and a new spirit – this spirit is forgiveness – this heart is love.

This is wonderful news!  Yet, it brings with it a reality that we may not want to hear.   With this newness comes the responsibility to return and repent.  We cannot expect that the good we have done will somehow outweigh the bad; yet we have the certain knowledge that all Ezekiel has foretold is true.  God will persist in calling out to us as we wander lost and alone.  And God has a heart large enough to repair any damage that has been done either by us or to us – for we have this promise from the prophet Ezekiel that we see fulfilled in our brother the Christ.  Jesus has died yet lives.  Jesus returns for us . . . so that we might live.  The Spirit abides with us . . . and brings us this new heart . . . this new spirit . . . as a gift from God.  All we need do is reach out our hands, and open our hearts.

 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord God.  Return and live!

A re-post from December 16, 2011. 

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/jacobwillemszdewetdasm11.jpg and http://www.ideachampions.com/heart/archives/quotes/index.shtml

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Romans 11Broken Branches

Sunday, November 4, 2018

God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew . . .

Paul puts the issue to us quite simply.  We cannot justify abandoning God by saying that God has first abandoned us.  Paul reminds the Romans – and us – that God is incapable of abandoning any part of creation, even when we turn away in separation.  God waits for us infinitely and perfectly because – as we know – God is love . . . and love does not abandon, love does not disappear.

There may be times when we must separate ourselves from those we love for any number of reasons – I am thinking of addictions or other toxic behaviors – but in these cases we must always maintain an openness to the possibility that God’s love supersedes any dark force we humans can muster against the overpowering presence of God’s love.  Paul explains how even a wild shoot may be grafted onto the living vine to become one in unity with the goodness that God is.  Each of us is a broken branch of one sort or another.  And each of us is subject to “God’s irrevocable call”.   Even those – and we may say especially those – who disobey and misbehave are welcomed home always.  This is the lesson of the Lost Son in Luke 15; and it is remembering this lesson that may save us and call us back when we have wandered off into the wasteland of darkness.

Perhaps we think of abandoning God because God does not do as we like; yet this week we have been hearing the message that despite the pain, the change of our daily pruning is good for us.  This is how much God loves us – that he looks for the best in us and waits wisely and patiently while we thrash through our lives wondering all the while where God is . . . when God has been abiding all the time.

We are broken branches but God, the ever faithful gardener, goes about seeking, picking up small limbs from the ground where we have been trampled, cleaning, trimming . . . and grafting us back on to the vine to draw strength from the root . . . so that we might rise up in praise of this constant, loving God.

We may feel as though God has hidden himself when in fact . . . it is we who have hidden.  And it is we who are the remnant grafted back into place for our own good and for the good of the Kingdom where we are needed and awaited.  Each of us reaches a point of low resources when we feel as though we must give up . . . and so we might.  But God never gives up on us.

Here is the bookmark that fell out of my Bible today.  I had written down these words some time ago from Isaiah 30:20-21: The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears, “This is the way; walk in it”, when you would turn to the right or to the left.  This Teacher is the Christ who shows us always which way to go when we are lost.

From that same chapter, verse 18: The Lord is waiting to show you favor, and he rises to show you compassion; for the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all who wait for him!  This God is the God who walks behind us as a protector, beside us as a brother, before as a leader and with us as his Spirit; and this God is with us even when we have forgotten him.  This is how much we are loved.

We are broken branches, fallen from the main vine with no recourse but to die.  This God who protects us, heals us, saves us and loves us, comes to us always.  Even when we do not know that we may need him.  Even when we may not have had the strength or will to call out to him.  Even when we have forgotten that he is always there . . . gathering us in as remnant . . . with the rest of the broken branches.

A re-post from October 2, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.my-grape-vine.com/ and http://www.zeng-han.com/cs_southmountain/index.html

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