WHAT KIND OF HOUSE IS YOUR HOUSE?
There are many kinds of dwellings. Of God’s people long ago, it was said, many dwelt “in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:38). Their persecutors would not allow them to live in any settled state. By contrast, when Paul and his company came up to Jerusalem, they were cared for in the house of “Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should stay” (Acts 21:16, Hugo McCord’s translation). To care well for such a group required adequate housing. But there is a special emphasis in Proverbs 3:33; “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the just.”
You will not have to visit many homes to see this text vierified, sadly or gloriously. What a pleasure to be in the dwelling of a just man! He will likely have good neighbors, for a life of justice produces effects on those among whom we live. His family will probably be respected in the community, for he communicates his manner of life to them.
My house is blessed with memories left by many godly brothres and sisters who have visited here. They leave an aroma of godliness behind them. If your dwelling place is a small apartment, a city mansion, a country villa, or a bungalow in a little town, that is of small significance. The real question is; is your habitation that of a just person? If it is not, remedy that lack by committing yourself, your possessions, your life and your habitation to the Lord. You will be one more blessed man if you do.
BUT THEY HAVE WITHDRAWN FROM US
Many sincere Christians are distressed when someone in the congregation begins to live in an ungodly fashion. This brings reproach on the church in the community. Often when this is brought to the attention of the elders, one of them will reply: “We can’t do anything about that. They have already withdrawn from us.”
Let us raise some questions here. How does it reflect on the purity of the congregation when some member of the body lives an ungodly life, yet nothing is ever said about it? Consider such instances as these:
1. A member of the congregation begins a sexual affair with the spouse of another member. When any kind of remonstrance is made, the offender simply goes across town and places membership with another congregation.
2. A brother engages in doubtful or dishonest business dealings, so that he is openly distrusted by the business community. Yet he maintains his status in the local church until some pressure for him to change is brought to bear, then he simply quits worshiping there and goes elsewhere.
3. A brother and his wife have problems; he forms an alliance with another, and divorces his wife. Then he begins to take a great interest in the soul of his new partner, teaches her about faith, repentance, and baptism so that she is baptized. Then they both request membership in the same congregation which he has disgraced. If that fails, he goes on to another congregation and says, “Yes, I have done wrong: but the grace of God covers all our sins, doesn’t it?”
These are only samples. BUT FEW ARE THE ELDERSHIPS THAT WILL DEAL FORTHRIGHTLY WITH SUCH SINFULNESS. There are a number of suggestions that might be made. This time, I’ll wait for you to make them. What does the Scripture require? What can an individual member do about getting that done? What will happen to the congregation where NOTHING IS DONE? Let me hear from you.
THE PROBLEM OF JOHN
Jesus and John had their lives intertwined by the arangement of the Holy Spirit. Their mothers visited three months before they were born. Elizabeth had greeted Mary with special words, “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me?” The song of Mary follows that greeting in Luke 1:43. Mary went home before their babies were born. We are not told if the lads ever saw each other. Then came the day when Jesus went to be baptized by John. A few days followed in which John announced Jesus as “The Lanb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” They parted, Jesus going into the wilderness for the encounter with Satan. Whether they ever saw each other again is a question.
When Herod put John is prison, John and his disciples continued to hear of Jesus’ works. John may have wondered if Jesus was the same person to whom he had borne his testimony. He sent messengers who asked Jesus, “Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another?” Jesus gave his answer, first in miracles. Then He told the messengers, “Go and tell John the things which ye have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good tidings preached to them, and blessed is he, whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me” (Luke 7:22-23).
Loneliness and trial can be dampers to faith. But the assurance of John to Jesus is a blessing to us all. If we allow problems to hinder us, but remember what Jesus did and what He taught, our faith will endure, and we too shall be blessed.
ARE THE PROUD FOLK REALLY BLESSED?
Malachi the prophet pointed out the sins of the people, including those of the priests. He said at one point, “Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord of hosts.” But in accordance with the pattern of the book, the people replied, “What have we spoken against thee?” They make it sound as if all the piercing words of God’s man are unreal – that they have no basis in fact. They show no evidence of recognizing their own evils. But the prophet persists in each case. This time he says, “Ye have said, it is vain to serve God; and, what profit is it that we have kept his charge, and that we have walked mournfully before Jehovah of hosts?” They were saying, It doesn’t do any good to follow God’s directions in worship. We are no better off. And they follow that by saying,”And now we call the proud happy (blessed); yea they that work wickedness are built up, yea, they tempt God and escape” (Mal. 4:13-15).
Sometimes I hear people saying, “I can’t tell that it makes any difference how we worship. In fact we went to Dr Razzmatazz’ church and they are doing well. And are they ever growing!” Soon such comparisons will find those folk forgetting that the Dr. doesn’t know the plan of salvation, the nature of the church, or the basic doctrines of the Bible, and adding their names to his membership roll. But are these proud folks blessed?
In Malachi’s time, the people who feared God and thought on His name didn’t subscribe to the wicked ways of their contemporaries. They feared the Lord; they spoke one with another; the Lord listened and inscribed in His book of remembrance those who feared Him and thought upon His name.
Let us not EVER think that those who question the ways of God and His worship, His church and His truth, are blessed by the Lord. It is simply not so.