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Posted: July 24, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Grace notes: God’s grace to get you to speak up!

You see a family member mistreating their spouse. You have a co-worker that's probably an alcoholic. There's a brother or sister in Christ who's spending less and less time in God's word and his house. Someone should say something, right? Of course, what they are doing is harmful to themselves, to those they love, even to their relationship with God. But do you want to be the one to have to speak up?

It's just that it's so hard, isn't it? We've all fallen down at times God has wanted us to stand up for the truth. That's why we need grace - that love of God that we didn't deserve. And that's what our text from Ezekiel shows - God's grace.

It might not seem like it at first when God is giving Ezekiel his job: "Go, speak my word to a rebellious nation that won't want to hear it. They'll be like briars, thorns and scorpions to you." Sounds like Satan would have plenty of fodder to keep Ezekiel quiet just like he tries to keep us quiet.

Satan will do everything he can to silence you. But, if you look at Ezekiel 1-3, silence was not an option for Ezekiel. Neither is it an option for us. Now, don't misunderstand - God's word for you today is not just some pep talk to speak up. When God tells us to speak like he told Ezekiel - he does far more than command, he empowers us to do the difficult, to speak up even when you might think you'll be shouted down.

God started this empowering by showing Ezekiel something special. Ezekiel Chapter One records God letting Ezekiel see his glory, which is why Ezekiel Two starts with the prophet flat on his face. Then, God gives Ezekiel his brutal job of speaking when no one wanted to listen. But in the middle of that, God gave him the power.

God told him to "Eat the scroll." Think about that. Just like food goes into us and becomes part of our body nourishing us, God showed Ezekiel that the word - the Bible, complete with all its law and condemnation for sin and the things we might not want to say - the Bible is the nourishment that, when it's all said and done, is so sweet to the taste.

Because, you see, this scroll - the Bible - tells us about one who, in our place, perfectly spoke the truth, even when it hurt him. Jesus confessed to the Jewish leaders that he was God, giving them their charge against him. Before Pontius Pilate, Jesus didn't beg for his life but told that leader the truth about who was really the king in the room. He knew God's word. He had eaten the scroll - read, studied and inwardly digested it. And now he followed his father's will. He followed it to the cross where he felt the pains of all of our failures to speak, where he was punished for our weaknesses. He offered his life so that we could live ours forever. And now, we are nothing but loved by our God because he sees his perfect son in us.

So you realize what that means, don't you? Like Ezekiel, we've seen the glory of God. We've seen his glory in the depth of love he shows us in Jesus, the fullness of forgiveness he shares in his word. Now, right here, right now, and every day when we open up this word - we are given the scroll of the truth to eat. Truth be told, no matter how bitter it might seem, it is sweet as honey for those who realize that we are hearing our loving father talk to us.

So, no matter what difficult situation is facing you, you can do what God told Ezekiel to do. You can see his glory. You can eat the scroll. And built up by that, you will speak the truth. It's my prayer that this column will help you do just that.

Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.


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