Monthly Archives: August 2019

August 31; Every Day

Ezekiel 44-46

I can’t read about the rules God gave Israel for worship and sacrifices for sin without thinking about all that blood. Especially when I understand none of that blood could do what Jesus did when He shed His own blood on the cross. I hope I never read passages like these in Ezekiel without stopping to thank God for His Son.

But God laid something else on my heart this morning. The sacrifices I read about here in Ezekiel occurred every day. Every day bulls and goats and lambs were laid on the altar of sacrifice. Every day.

There are things I do every day. Shower, eat, brush teeth, get dressed, read my Bible. But then I pretty much spend the rest of the day doing what I want to do – or not doing what I don’t want to do. I’m retired. What can I say?

This morning God is asking me what kinds of sacrifices I make in my worship of and service to Him. Not sacrifices to gain His forgiveness or approval, but sacrifices in response to the sacrifice Jesus paid for me.

Maybe I should get in the habit of laying my day on the altar, and let God have it. Maybe I should give my day to God, then be sensitive and obedient when He nudges me toward serving Him. Maybe I shouldn’t spend my day doing what I want to do, but doing what He wants me to do.

Every day.

August 30; The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Ezekiel 40:28-43:27

There is so much symbolism in the description of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision. This temple that represents worship, the church, you and me, and reveals God’s grace is intricate and beautiful. But today the thing that stood out to me is Ezekiel’s description of God.

Ezekiel heard the voice like the roar of rushing water, saw a radiance that lit up the whole land. I love that our Savior Jesus, during His earthly ministry, described Himself as the Living Water, and the Light of the World. Coincidence? I think not!

God’s glory filled the temple and He told Ezekiel, “This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.” Doesn’t that thrill your soul? We, as God’s children here in 2019, are God’s address on this earth. I am overwhelmed!

The Triune God is in these verses. God, who speaks from within the temple, the Spirit who lifted up Ezekiel, and Jesus who stood beside Ezekiel tell me that God lives in me, directs me, and stands with me as I am obedient to Him. I praise Him.

Today I want to just meditate on the fact that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are here right now in this room where I sit. I want to enjoy His Presence, to be in this moment, to worship Him like He deserves to be worshiped . I want to love Him, and tell Him so.

August 29; Saving Grace

Ezekiel 31:1-33:20, 40:1-27

God tells us, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys…” (33:12) That’s an important truth. It would be like getting stopped for speeding. The officer walks up to your car window and asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No, sir, I don’t.”

“Well, Ma’am, you were going 60 in a posted 35 MPH zone.”

“My bad,” you reply. “But last year I made dinner three times for people in my church who had surgeries.”

What are the chances the policeman would ignore your offense just because you did some good things in the past? Not likely.

Verse 12 goes on to say, “and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it.” In fact, God later says this:

None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live. (verse 16)

Sometimes I think we need to be reminded of both these truths. First, we need to know and understand that no amount of good deeds will ever earn us a free pass when we disobey God. Our past righteousness is unable to save us.

But neither is our past sin able to condemn us once we’ve asked God to forgive us. I think that’s often the harder of the two truths to grasp. God will never use the sins washed by Jesus’ blood against us at any time. Ever.

We remember our past – but God forgets our past when we repent, when we turn from our sin. That promise is straight out of God’s mouth. Those sins are buried in the deepest sea as far as God is concerned. Gone. Forgiven. It cost Jesus a lot to make that happen. But He did make it happen.

God is reminding me today that Satan is a master at throwing up our past sins, to keep us chained to the past, ineffective in service to God when we let our past paralyze us. Guilt over a sin God has forgiven is a feeling that doesn’t come from God.

Our past has shaped us into the people we are today. Even our past sins have contributed to who we are, and can be instrumental in how we are used by God to reach others. But I believe God would have us consider our past forgiven, our lives redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

I believe God would have us repent, allow Him to forgive our sins, then have us move on from there to serve Him without guilt, without apology, without hesitation as people who can’t do enough for the One who has saved them.

Have you sinned? Ask God to forgive you. He will. Then move on and be the man or woman God can use to lead others to His saving grace.

 

 

August 28; Spiritually Speaking

Ezekiel 37-38

God is speaking to Gog, an enemy of Israel. He tells the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal that He is going to bless His children. The Jews will live in peace, have riches livestock and goods – and Gog won’t be able to handle it.

In fact, God who sees the future, sees Gog look at the blessings that are Israel’s and an evil thought will come to his mind. His jealousy will reveal itself in an attack on the Jews. God tells the enemy prince that will cost him his own life.

It’s true that when some people see others prosper, jealousy and anger rear their ugly heads. The blessed become a target, “If I can’t have those things, neither can they.”

Now as often happens, God diverts my attention from the material to the spiritual when I read His Word. Spiritually speaking, God blesses His obedient children with peace and joy the world cannot understand. Our genuine smiles are like salt in wounds to people who are holding onto their sin, and are under the convicting hand of God.

Their attempt to drag us down to their level might start out as name calling: “Goody Two-Shoes,” or “Holier Than Thou.” It might progress to slander when they call us bigots, racists, homophobes. It can escalate to lies, law suits, discrimination, even bodily harm because unhappy people resent happiness in others.

Jesus said we can expect to be hated because people hated Him, too. Hated. Not ignored or disliked. Hate is a powerful, active emotion that leads to trouble. Expect it.

But God also has laid on my heart this: if we are genuinely His, God will fight our battles for us and we will have the victory. He will never leave or forsake us, we will continue with His peace and joy and strength and love no matter what is thrown at us.

However, if we are hated because we are hypocritical, untouchable, unloving, then their hatred of us just might be the discipline God will use to get our attention and draw us back to Him.

Spiritually speaking, we are in a war zone. Spiritually speaking we are targets of the enemy. And spiritually speaking, we who know the Lord are on the winning side.

August 27; Kinda Christian

Ezekiel 34-36

What happens when a person becomes a Christian? God, through the prophet Ezekiel gives us a description.

  1. God cleanses us from all our sins (36:25)
  2. He gives us a new, soft, and pliable heart (vs 26)
  3. He takes up residence in us, giving us His own Spirit (vs 27)
  4. God gives us a desire to obey Him, to turn from sin (vs 27)
  5. He brings us into His family (vs 28)
  6. He blesses us with everything we need (vs 29)
  7. He gives people reason to change what they think about us (vs 30)

This got me thinking today how (or if) my life looks any different right now than it did before I was a Christian. Or have I chosen to continue to live in the wilderness of anger, jealousy, biting tongues and gossip. Do I go where I’ve always gone, sound like I’ve always sounded, do what I’ve always done?

I’m reminded Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!

But is there a Christianity that changes a person into almost new? Is there such a thing as being kinda Christian? I don’t see Scripture teaching that is the case.

I think there might be some who believe they are Christians by virtue of having had repeated a prayer at some time in their life, and by going to church every Sunday. But their choices, their actions, thoughts, and words are unchanged the other six days of the week. They might say, “Lord, Lord,” but God doesn’t really know them at all.

Friend, that is serious. They are as lost as the unrepentant soul.

My question for myself is this: Does my claim to know Jesus translate into a changed life, a life that doesn’t look like a person who doesn’t know Him? I wonder if I stand out as a person who belongs to God. If I am a new creation through Jesus’ saving grace, if I am 100% His, if His Spirit lives in me, I can’t help but look and act differently than people who are not His..

Ezekiel tells us that if we’ve allowed God to do His work in us, people can’t help but notice. And what people notice is the reason God saves us, and keeps us here in this life. He saves us for the sake of His holy Name which is dragged through the mud in this world. He saves us so:

…the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. (vs 23)

And that will result in this:

I will make their people numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offering at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord. (vv 37-38)

God is convicting me today. If my life example isn’t drawing people to the Savior, if my words and actions aren’t a result of God’s Spirit in me, if my choices are no different than a non-believer, I need to check my relationship with my Holy God.

Because there is no such thing as a kinda Christian.

August 26; Is Satan Real?

Ezekiel 27:1-28:26, 33:21-33

Here in Ezekiel we meet Satan, a beautifully perfect creation of God, given a special place in God’s heavenly realm. Satan, Ezekiel tell us, walked in the Garden of Eden and on the holy mount of God. He was blameless and anointed, a model of perfection.

And proud of it.

That pride led to Satan’s downfall. He thought he should be a god. God had different ideas about that.

Some of you might think Satan is merely a picture or symbol of evil, that the created being we call the devil doesn’t actually exist. I believe Scripture tells us something quite different. In fact, we are told this being had a conversation with Eve, then later with Jesus Himself.

It makes me sad that this beautiful angel allowed pride and jealousy to tear him away from the Presence of God, to go from being an ordained guardian angel, to the enemy of God.

I take Satan very seriously. But I don’t fear him. I take him seriously in that I know he would like nothing better than to take me down with him. I take his tactics very seriously, the temptations he throws my way.

But I don’t fear him because greater is the One whom I serve, than that old snake crawling around in this world. As long as God is living in me through the blood of Jesus, I have no reason to fear Satan or his arrows.

Satan can’t snatch me out of God’s hands as long as I’ve placed my life in those nail-pierced hands. One day, Satan will come to a horrible end, and I won’t even care because I’ll be looking into the face of my Savior. Satan, this puffed up, self-aggrandizing, wanna be god will be like an insignificant blip in the eternal scheme of things.

Please don’t waste your time on him, don’t fall for his attempts at leading you to his horrible end. Put your hand in God’s, and be the victor. Is Satan real? You bet he is.

But the devil is nothing compared to my awesome, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, loving, merciful creator God who is going to crush Satan like a bug. Oh, Satan is real all right. But he’s a loser.

August 25; Terminal Until…

Jeremiah 30-31; Ezekiel 26

Have you ever heard the frightening words, “There is nothing more we can do?” The disease has progressed too far, the heart is too badly damaged, the brain is no longer functioning, the wound is too deep. God said these words to His children:

Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you… Why do you cry over your wound, your pain that has no cure… (Jeremiah 30:12-13, 15a)

I love how often in Scripture the three letter word, “but” is followed by such wonderful truth. God tells his people they are incurably wounded, facing total annihilation…

BUT I!

Listen to how many times God assures them: I will restore you, I will restore the fortune, I will add to their numbers, I will bring them honor, I will bring him near, I will come to give rest…

Then God tells his children: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness. (31:3b)

The thing is, there is nothing more any of us can do about our sin problem. We are terminal. Our sins are a death sentence hanging over our heads.

BUT GOD.

Only God can heal us, restore us, bring us to Himself and give us rest. When we confess our sin, when we repent and ask our Holy God to forgive us, He does. And only by His grace and mercy will we ever get out of this life alive.

We are all terminal… until God.