Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.
These days you can pick from all kinds of security systems - ADT, SimpliSafe, Vivint, and even more. For 12+ years, the security system in the Mitteis household was furry and had four legs. We called her Holly. Holly's work was multi-faceted. We especially relied upon her to guard the house when we were away. Holly took her job quite seriously; this we knew for sure. It was proved to us each and every time we came home. Upon hearing the key in the lock, she would sit up and bark loudly; sounding warning to no one in particular that the owners were trying to get into the house. We were pretty sure she barked at strangers too. Anyway, we hoped she did.
It just so happens that I'm writing this newsletter on 9/11/2020. Nineteen years ago, 9/11/2001, what warning did we have? Why weren't we more prepared? In the months and years that followed, questions like these have been pondered. The bottom line was that Americans expected our government to protect us, to at least warn us of danger. But none was given.
It has become a thing we take for granted, we take comfort in security systems. In the days following 9/11 the Homeland Security was created for this very reason. The world in which we live is evil, there is much danger, enemies (all kinds of them) attack without warning. But what do you do when the enemy threating to intrude . . . is God? God called Ezekiel to be a watchman for Israel, to warn His people of their sin. But the warning was not of some distant enemy, God was the one for whom they had to watch out. He was the one whose holy demands they violated by their rebellion and sin. Bottom line for Israel, no barking dogs, no ADT, no Homeland Security, not even their greatest vigilance could prevent the Lord's judgment against them. God told Ezekiel,
Speak and give them warning from me.
A pastor's job is to speak the Word of the Lord. Like the prophets in the Old Testament, God will hold pastors accountable for the words they speak and for the words that they do not speak, but should! Sometimes we speak His word of comfort, sometimes His word of warning. It is not always easy to know which one of these is appropriate. That's the challenge of dividing law and gospel - for which your pastor needs your prayer. Yes, let the people of God offers prayers on behalf of our entire congregation, especially as we initiate the ministry of reconciliation.
Beginning this month, we are blessed to have Mr. Jeff Fick from the Southern Illinois District facilitate the ministry of reconciliation; the heart and core of which is Christ Jesus. Beginning with the church and school staff and then branching out, let us pray for our Lord's blessing . . . that the Word of the Lord, like seed in good soil will bear fruit of repentance, renewal, unity, and joy in the hearts of His people.
Seek the LORD while He may be found: call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. Isaiah 55.6-7 There it is; both warning and comfort, and an invitation for you. Bottom line for Israel, God is not only holy and just, He is also MERCIFUL. Because of His great and amazing mercy God planned a rescue for His sinful children. We have a merciful and gracious God who forgives the penitent sinner for the sake of His own sacrifice in His own Son our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result (the great therefore) we are all to be Ambassadors of reconciliation. Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5.18-20) and be reconciled to one another (Matthew 5.23-24).
PRAYER: Grant, we ask You, merciful Lord, to Your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins and serve You with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ Pastor Kelly G. Mitteis