Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Walls


At last week's quarterly ladies book club meeting, Margie Austin delivered the devotional below. Along with her words of wisdom, Margie brought several artifacts gathered during her husband's archaeological digs in the Holy Lands. I appreciate Margie for sharing her words of wisdom with us.
 

Walls
by Margie Austin

In ancient times, walls were a distinction between a city and a town. Cities had walls; towns were un-walled villages. Walls were strategically placed protection for the cities. They were used to keep people safe inside and to keep enemies out.
 
The Bible references walls many times. The first use is in Genesis 49. In verse 22, Joseph is said to be a “fruitful bough whose branches run over a wall.” Walls are not always stone or brick. In Exodus 14:21-22, God created a “wall of water” for the Israelites to be able to cross the Red Sea.
 
Israelites encountered many walled cities — probably the most famous would be those at Jericho that fell when the Israelites obeyed God and Joshua. You can read about this in Joshua 6.
 
Upon the return of the Israelites from Babylonian captivity in the time of Nehemiah, their first priority was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:17). The task was accomplished in 52 days because Nehemiah 6:15 tells us they had a “mind to work.”
 
Then there was King Belshazzar who saw fingers of a man’s hand writing on a wall. Daniel, of course, was the only one who could interpret its meaning (Daniel 5).
 
Even the sacrifice of Christ involved a wall. It is said that He broke down the “middle wall of partition” between the Israelites and the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14).
 

But what about walls that we face?
 
The Wall of Injustice. Our world has injustices — some real, some imagined. David in the book The Master’s Wall by Sandi Rog should not have been a slave. Alethea should not have had to see her father dragged to his death for becoming a Christian.
 
But God never promised we would have an easy life. Proverbs 16:8 says, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” Life is not always fair, but we do serve a just God. Romans 9:14 says, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!”
 
Wall of Sacrifice. Alethea’s choices in The Master’s Wall caused real physical pain to David. Yet he was willing to take a beating for something he didn’t do. Later David shared his family’s treasured scrolls with others, and he ultimately gave them away to benefit more people. Finally, he gave up a chance for freedom to save Alethea.
 
As Christians, we are called to make sacrifices. Romans 12:1-2 instructs, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
 
But our sacrifices bring joy. Paul said in Philippians 2:17, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”
 
We can give because our Father has given to us. First John 4:10 tells us, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” This passage shows us that the Christian life is not about self.
 
Wall of Forgiveness. David was ultimately able to forgive Alethea, but the greater challenge was for Alethea to forgive herself. Ephesians 1:7 tells us that God has given us a priceless gift: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” We are unworthy, yet God gives us His grace. In turn, He expects us to forgive others. Ephesians 4:32 urges, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Romans 4:7 reminds us, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
 
 
This brings us to The Master’s Wall.

As described in our book club selection, the master's wall represented freedom and imprisonment. David saw the wall as freedom from slavery; he longed to go back to the city and find his sister. Alethea saw the wall as freedom from her grandfather. She had convictions but was impulsive. She made mistakes that were costly to others — she caused real pain. Both characters felt imprisoned by the master’s wall.
 
Several biblical passages address freedom and imprisonment.
 
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19).

“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9).

So does the master’s wall that you face represent freedom or imprisonment? It all depends on who your Master is.


Margie Austin is an elder's wife and active member of the University Church of Christ in Montgomery, Ala., where she is a beloved Bible class teacher. Margie is a mother and grandmother who is widely respected for her Bible knowledge and servant's heart.



Still to come, favorite recipes from this quarter's book club meeting.

 

1 comment:

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

Those "walls of forgiveness" can be a real challenge.

Aren't you fortunate to have such a good book club? Blessings to you.

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