August 31

Ezra 10:10-12 (NIV) 10Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel's guilt. 11Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives." 12The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: "You are right! We must do as you say.

When Ezra had heard how the remnant had broken God's law by marrying the women of the land, he tore his robes and wept and fasted. The people followed his lead and were convicted of sin. It was the people who encouraged him to tell them what to do to set things right with God. Ezra replied with the verses above; confess and do God's will. Separate yourselves from the people and wives who had those horrible demonic religious practices.

We do not live in Israel and were never forbidden to marry a certain group of people, but the principle remains true. That is why the Apostle Paul told us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. That could apply to marriage or business. When we find we are with people of evil practices, we should not commit ourselves to any type of united endeavor with them. How can two walk together except they be agreed?

But there is a deeper principle. What fellowship does light have with darkness? If we are walking in the light, we will be repulsed by the sin and have a desire to show them the way to be freed from its bondage. Some Christians will play on the edge of the cliff of sin because the allurement is enticing them. Coach Bill McCartney said, "Draw a line where there is a danger of being caught by sin and stay ten yards back." Don't walk along the very edge of a cliff.

In this final chapter of Ezra, the men sent their foreign wives and children away. That seems very harsh of God, but the situation existed because of disobedience to God. It was the only remedy. Not dealing with the issue had caused the downfall of Israel in the past. We must cut off from our lives the thing that is enticing us to sin, and send it away from our lives if we are going to go on with God.

Consider: If you want God's blessing, confess the sin. Do God's will. Separate yourself from the sin.

August 31

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NIV) 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

The Christian life is about living for another out of love. I'm referring to the One who died and conquered death that He might be with you. It is an all out, 100%, way of living. In everything that is done, we seek the glory of God, even in the little menial tasks of daily life. It isn't a thing you do on Sunday morning and in the 5-minute daily devotion time. It is your whole life's focus.

In living for the glory of God, we seek to share Him with others. One thing that must grieve God deeply is when we offend someone who knows we are a Christian. As a representative of Jesus, we have pushed them away from Jesus. That usually takes place because we are selfish and demanding our own preferences. We are being completely inconsiderate of the way they see and understand life and their need to find Jesus as Savior. We please ourselves but give up the greatest privilege we could have, sharing the love of Jesus with them.

Paul is telling us part of the reason he was so fruitful in his ministry. He did his very best to not to cause anyone to stumble. That does not mean that he compromised the truth. One look at his life tells you that is not the case. But he did consider others' cultures and limited his actions so as not to unnecessarily offend them. He acted for their good and not his own, so that they might be saved.

Dear reader, remember that you are the only Jesus many will see. Do whatever you can to draw the lost to Christ, not repel them. Their salvation is worth more than any liberty that we might cling to. Take on Paul's motto of trying to please everyone in everyway in order to win them to Jesus. Seek their good over your own that they might be saved.