Category Archives: The Gospel

(Ezekiel 29-32) I AM The LORD

Egypt was never identified with God. They worshiped idols. They were the enemy of God. Yet the Israelites went to Egypt for help instead of going to God. Big mistake.

But here’s what spoke to me today: God repeatedly sent word to Egypt, warning them what the consequences of rejecting Him would look like. Why? Why would God continue to warn His enemies about the devastation that was ahead for them?

“Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (28:23,24,26, 29:6,9,16,21, 30:8,19,25…)

I am reminded that God doesn’t want anyone to die without Him, that whosoever believes on Him will have eternal life, that anyone who believes on the name of Jesus will be saved.

It reminds me how God continually works in the lives of every man, woman, and child to bring them to the realization that He is the Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one goes to God except through Jesus.

It reminds me that instead of praying God would take away the “plague” of COVID, I should pray that this virus will show the world that He is Lord. Simply praying that God will somehow say the word and the virus would disappear, might be praying against His will that we who have turned our backs on Him will humble ourselves, turn from our sin, so that He can heal our land.

Whether it is a virus, or war, or hurricanes and earthquakes, alcoholism, or cancer, or divided families and churches… whatever the consequences of sin might look like… may it do what God intends it to do.

May we hear Him say in the midst of it all:

I AM the LORD.

(Ezekiel 15-17) Jesus In Ezekiel

The parables Ezekiel used to convey God’s message point to Jesus in every way. Yes, the physical Old Testament nation of Israel was going to face judgment at the hands of their enemies. They were going to be punished by God because of their blatant rejection of Him. But God wove a thread of redemption throughout the narrative that has everything to do with you and me.

I read 16:62-63 as for the first time today:

I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord, so that when I make atonement for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed… (emphasis mine)

He had said in verse 60:

But I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, AND I WILL ESTABLISH A PERMANENT COVENANT with you. (emphasis mine)

Then, in the prophetic song of verses 22-24 He talks about the sprig that becomes a majestic cedar, bearing fruit and sheltering birds of every kind! It’s all about Jesus!

And it has everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross when He atoned for – paid the death penalty for – my sin and yours. It has everything to do with the New Covenant.

Rejoice! Our sins are forgiven!

If you place your faith in Jesus, His blood will be applied to you, and you will find shelter in the shade of His “branches.” Don’t squander what Jesus died to give you.

That New Covenant assures that whosoever believes will have eternal life (John 3:16), that if you call on Jesus you will be saved (Romans 10:13), that if you confess your sin you will be forgiven (I John 1:9). There is no maybe here. That’s God’s sure promise to you. That’s the permanent New Covenant.

It’s a covenant sealed with the blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Doesn’t get more permanent than that.

(Ezekiel 8-11) God Is On The Move In Your Life

The whole time God is talking to Ezekiel about the coming judgment on disobedient Israel, He is moving. My study Bible identifies ten times the Glory of God moved in chapters 9-11, in Amos 7&9, in Proverbs 21, and in Micah 6. Ten time God was on the move to show us that He actively and anxiously waits for His children to come back to Him.

He continues to do that very same thing. He continues to reveal Himself in this situation and that, in this event of nature and that, in this person and that, so that no one HAS to die in His judgment.

“Here I am,” He seems to say, “And here. And here. See me. Come to me and be saved.”

God is on the move today. He has never just sat on His throne reading the newspaper or playing checkers with angels until a few souls should straggle in. He goes before us. He directs us from behind. He stands beside us, always moving, always calling, always working in each heart and life to give us all every chance to decide to submit to Him and to be saved.

I am overwhelmed this morning by the thought of how passionate God is about saving me, a worthless sinner deserving His judgment. I am overcome with love and thankfulness at how much attention He gives to my walk, every decision I make, every minute of every day.

God is on the move in my life. And yours. Because He doesn’t want either of us to face judgment without Him.

Hear Him say, “I’m here. And here. And here.” Then run to Him and be saved.

(Jeremiah 46-49) Doing The Lord’s Business

God’s not a fool. And we are foolish if we think He is. We might go to church, teach a Sunday School class, visit the sick, give generously. But if we have not confessed sin, if we do those things with any other motive than to be obedient to our King, God says this to us:

The one who does the Lord’s business deceitfully is cursed. The one who withholds his sword from bloodshed is cursed. (48:10)

Bloodshed? Surely not!

Actually, Jeremiah was speaking of war, of destroying God’s flesh and blood enemies. But thankfully, after the cross, we are not told to kill anyone! We’re told to love our enemies.

Yet what Jeremiah said can and does apply to us. We need to destroy sin in our lives, cut it out, without mercy. Satan is the enemy that applies here. And we cannot withhold bloodshed against him by ignoring sin in our lives.

We can do all the right things and be first in line to volunteer for a ministry. But if we haven’t dealt with our sin at the foot of the cross, we do God’s business deceitfully. And we are cursed.

Jesus Himself addressed this in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?” Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!

The lesson for us here in Jeremiah and in Jesus’ own word in Matthew is: Deal with the enemy of your soul first by confessing your sin and accepting God’s grace through Jesus’ blood…

THEN get busy doing the Lord’s business! For His sake and His glory!

(Jeremiah 38-41) Just Because

Sometimes I think we Christians get a bit too comfortable in our association with God. We begin to believe that just because we wear His Name, bad things shouldn’t happen to us. We find ourselves asking “why?” when we get COVID, or a loved one dies, or hurricanes and fires and floods and terrorists devastate people in the world. We think God will protect us just because we believe in Him.

Like the Jews in Jerusalem under King Zedekiah. God warned them the city would be captured by the Babylonians, that they should surrender to them and go willingly or they would be killed or taken by force. The city will fall one way or the other, God told them through Jeremiah.

But Zedekiah and many of the Jews stayed put. They doubted Jeremiah’s message because, after all, God’s temple was in Jerusalem. He wouldn’t let anything happen to His temple – right?

Gedaliah was warned that someone was out to assassinate him. Gedaliah replied, “that ain’t gonna happen.” After all, the prophet Jeremiah was living with him. God in the house ought to keep him safe – right?

Wrong on both accounts.

God warns Christians today that trouble and persecution is to be expected. We will be hated because the world hates Jesus. But we Christians say, “God loves us. God will protect us. He wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. I’m His child. He works things for the good for people who love Him. And I love Him!”

We forget Jesus said, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commands.”

“Oh, you mean I have a responsibility here? Your protection is connected to my obedience? Darn!”

Just because you call yourself a Christian, just because you feel a special kind of connection to Jesus, doesn’t mean you won’t face consequences for your disobedience. Hear God’s warning.

Are you going to ignore it like the Jews we read about in Jeremiah? Or are you going to turn from your wickedness and surrender to God? I think you know how I’m praying for you.

(Jeremiah 29) No Hope

29:11 is a precious verse. I’ve even used it to encourage friends going through hard times, for High School and College graduates, and in cards celebrating a birth of a child. But I realize today I may have been wrong to do so.

Verses 12-13 got my attention:

You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

The promise in verse 11 isn’t for just anyone. It is reserved for people who go to God in prayer, people who seek God, who search for Him with all their hearts.

God doesn’t promise a future and a hope for people who reject Him. God’s plan for people who don’t accept Him is disaster.

I am convicted today. Let’s not give people false hope. Because there is no hope for people who aren’t right with God through Jesus.

No hope.

(Jeremiah 17-19) God Doesn’t Do Useless

We who have met Jesus at the foot of the cross, and accepted His death as a substitute for our own, want to serve Him. We want to obey. We want to live lives that bring Him joy and show how much we appreciate what He’s done on our behalf. We want to be the clay jar; clean, emptied, ready and eager to be filled and poured out for His purposes.

We want to.

But we convince ourselves a little smudge here and there can’t do harm. A tiny crack is no big deal. The pot can be used for a lot of things, even if it doesn’t hold water, right?

Wrong.

God says He will take that corrupted clay jar and shatter it. 19:11 tells us He shatters the potter’s jar that can never again be mended. Shatters it.

Just this week a dear friend posted a picture on FaceBook of two coffee mugs, filled with dirt and a few plants, she’d set on her window sill. Those mugs had been her husband’s favorite mugs, mugs he used every day for years until his death 18 months ago. It’s a sweet picture, a tender memory of this man she misses so much. She re-purposed those mugs in a creative and even useful way.

God doesn’t do that.

God doesn’t place a useless pot on the shelf to admire, or to remember how useful it used to be. He shatters it, destroy it, gets rid of it.

Now that’s not to say that God can’t perform a miracle and restore that useless pot to it’s original state. That’s a lesson on repentance, and that’s not the lesson God is speaking to me about today.

I hear God telling me not to entertain sin in any form – not in thought, not in a careless word, not in action. Because each smudge, every crack has the potential of rendering the pot useless.

And God doesn’t do useless.

(Jeremiah 5-9) His Heart Is Breaking

People who have the audacity to question God’s love on the basis of evil in the world and judgment for those who deny Him, haven’t allowed themselves to hear God’s heart in Scripture. Reading these chapters today, I cannot help but recognize His pain as He watches His children make choices that will end up destroying them.

Yes, that destruction will come from His hand. Yes, that judgment is inevitable. But our Holy God – who can’t NOT be holy – wants us to know He will only go so far before judgment comes. He loves us enough to warn us about the dangers.

He’ll send people to speak the Truth. He’ll show Himself in nature, His power in circumstances of life. He’s given us His Word. But He won’t make you love Him. He won’t force you to obey Him.

He’s very clear to tell us if you don’t choose Him, He won’t relent and simply suspend your death sentence. You will pay severely for your rejection, and your rejection will (and does) break His heart.

If you listen, you can hear His heart breaking in the pages of the Bible.

(Jeremiah 4) You’d Be Foolish

God’s judgment is real – and without mercy. He doesn’t want to sentence anyone for crimes committed against Him. In fact, we know He Himself paid our penalty, took on Himself the sentence our sins deserve. But He will judge those who reject Him, and they will be found guilty.

As devastating as impending judgment will be, God is anxious and willing to forgive anyone at any time – if they surrender to Him. Obedience, a repentant heart, putting on the righteousness of Jesus renders my guilty sentence paid in full. Someone paid my debt!

Chapter 4 likens surrendering to God by five actions. It’s like plowing the ground to receive the seeds, like performing heart surgery, joining the army, taking a bath, like growing up. In each instance, the person is changed. And God demands we change. (from Warren Wiersbe’s With The Word, Chapter by Chapter Bible Handbook; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 499)

God wants to be very clear – judgment is inevitable. It’s coming for you. The question is – are you going to take it on your own, or are you going to surrender to the Judge and allow His Son to take your death sentence for you? That is a decision you need to make BEFORE you meet the judge. Standing before Him after you are dead will be too late.

Don’t be foolish. You don’t want to take your own punishment. You don’t want to serve your own death sentence. That is one sentence from which there is no parole. And there is no need to serve it, if you only surrender to God and accept Jesus’ death on the cross as your own.

He’s willing to make that happen. Choose Jesus! You’d be foolish not to.

(Isaiah 61-64) A Loving God

How can a loving God send anyone to hell? If God really loved us, why is there so much evil in the world? Isaiah seems to get what so many of us don’t.

Would it have been more loving if God had created you without the ability to make choices? Would it be love if we HAD to love Him, if we were incapable of not loving Him?

When I was a child I loved playing with my Barbie dolls. Barbie didn’t move without me. She only spoke the words I said. I loved playing Barbie dolls. But that love was not returned. Barbie was not created with the ability to choose love.

We are not Barbie dolls.

God is much more loving that He’s given credit for. Without Him there would be no love. God expresses His love to good people as well as to bad people, and really no one deserves His love considering the way we treat Him. Yet God loves us enough to want us with Him. And He loves us enough to let us choose to be with Him. He won’t make us love Him.

Read Isaiah and hear what rejecting Him costs. Read Isaiah and hear what obedience gains. God, in His love, has spelled it all out. There are no hidden rules. No secret punishments. Choose God and live forever. Choose anything else and suffer the consequences. He won’t send anyone to hell who doesn’t reject Him.

It’s a loving God who lets us choose.