July 18, 2017
Ezekiel 14:12-23 - This week we continue our study in Ezekiel 14. Last week we learned about the hidden idols of the hearts of the leaders of Israel and how those cherished idols were continually causing them to sin.
As the chapter continues we find a statement made by God in verse 13, that “when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it.” God is going to send, “four severe judgments on Jerusalem---the sword, and famine and wild beasts and pestilence”, verse 21.
What’s really interesting in the latter part of this chapter is that God very clearly wants us to understand that when His judgments are poured out nobody is going to be saved by somebody else’s faith. Three times (verses 14, 18, and 20) God mentions that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job are in the land they will only deliver themselves, nobody else. The same is true in the final judgments that are soon to come upon our world. Only your faith in Christ will save you. Not your parents, your spouse, your spiritual mentor, your pastor, or even some great world-renowned evangelist, only your faith. Do you have an experiential faith in Christ? Do I?
Thankfully, the chapter doesn’t end there. It ends on a good note, on a wonderful promise. In verses 22 and 23 we’re told that there will be a remnant “who will come out”, and that Ezekiel will see by “their ways and doings” that God did nothing in vein. His judgments would bring about great results by refining His remnant people. May we all allow the trials and challenges God allows in our lives to bring about the beautiful fruits of righteousness in our characters that God intends them to. May we, by God’s grace, have others look at us and say, praise the Lord when they see our ways and doings.
July 11, 2017
Ezekiel 14:1-11 - Here we find the elder’s of Israel are coming to Ezekiel (the prophet) for advice. However, God is tired of their hypocrisy. In verses 3 and 4 we find God calling them out because they have set up their idols in their hearts. These idols they have set up are continually causing them to stumble and fall into sin. Yet, they continue to come and seek advice from the prophets. To put it another way, they are using the prophet as a safety net. Saying in their hearts, “ we will continue to do what we desire in secret because we can always go to the prophets of God to help us out of our undesirable situations, they will safe us”. You see these were people who looked righteous. They were continually coming to the temple to give sacrifices and to say they’re prayers.
God tells Ezekiel He’s had enough. He calls for them to repent in verse 6 and to turn from their evil ways. Then in verse 7 He tells them that whoever continues in their secret, hypocritical sins will receive the punishment that they deserve. God takes it a step further in verse 9 proclaiming that any prophet who gives advice to these hypocrites will face the same punishment as the evildoer.
Do we do the same thing today as God’s people? Are we setting up idols of the heart and fulfilling those idolatrous desires throughout the week and then coming in to the church on Sabbath expecting God to bless us anyways? Are we using God, His church, and the Sabbath as a safety net? What are our idolatries of the heart, which are causing us to stumble? God is calling us to repentance just as He called the Israelites to repentance in Ezekiel’s day. He wants to cleanse and purify us and He pleads with us to put away any idolatry hidden within our hearts.
July 5, 2017
With another Independence Day celebrated I think of how fortunate I am to live in this country. The country has changed a lot just in my short lifetime, especially since 9/11. However, it still remains true that we bask in freedoms that most of the world can only dream of. I pray that I never take it for granted. It’s kind of like good health, often times we don’t consider our health and how wonderful it is until sickness, injury, or disease comes on and steals it away. We are truly blessed to have the freedoms to worship openly, own multiple Bibles and spiritual books, and so many other freedoms. I for one, need to take greater advantage of these freedoms while they’re so accessible to me.
Even more then these freedoms though, I’m thankful for the freedoms that can be found in a life in Christ. Being set free from sin as is mentioned in Rom. 6:18. Then Paul reminds us that we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death in Rom. 8:2. Ponder that for a minute. You’re no longer destined for death. You no longer are a slave to sin as you used to be. The gift of Christ is so far reaching and so supremely sublime. Because of everything He has done for me, I again today purpose in my heart to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do (will) not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1) Of course all of this, can only be accomplished by and through His amazing, unfailing grace.
June 28, 2017
Last week we discussed Ezekiel 8 and the abominations that were taking place in the temple. As a result of these abominations God was having to turn away and leave. This week we find a continuation of the story in chapters 9 & 10.
In chapter 9 God sends out a “man clothed with linen, who had a writer’s inkhorn” (V.3), to “put a mark on the foreheads of those who sigh and cry over all the abominations that were done” (V.4). Then he is sent out to kill and destroy all who do not have the mark, or in other words those who are not sighing and crying over the abominations happening among God’s people. In verse 6 God tells him to start the slaying in the temple. Strangely, God Himself is ordering for the temple to be defiled (the temple would be defiled by the killings within it). The man clothed in linen follows through with the Lord’s command.
The result is described in chapter 10. The temple is completely defiled both through the abominations and now through the killings. Therefore, God leaves the temple. The worst thing that can happen to God’s people has happened, the Glory has departed. May we always be seeking discernment to sigh and cry against the abominations amongst God’s people so that it may never be said about us individually or corporately “the Glory has departed”. Amen!
June 21, 2017
Ezekiel 8 is a revelation of the abominations of the children of Israel and the effect that those abominations have on God. In verse 6 God mentions the abominations happening within the temple and says because of those abominations they, “make Me go far away from My sanctuary?” The same remains true today, “19…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Cor. 6:19 & 20. When we willingly commit sin or abominations we push God, in the form of the Holy Spirit away from us, just as the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day did.
We find in verse 12 of Ezekiel 8 that the abominations first revealed were “in the dark… in the room of his idols”. In other words in your home, when you are alone in privacy. Do you have hidden abominations that take place in a room of idols that are hidden from all others? Do you say as they did in this same verse “The Lord does not see us…”?
We find as we read on in the chapter (verses 14-16) that the abominations start at home, as we have discussed, then they spread to the temple itself pushing God out of the place He belongs. We must be ever vigilant to keep sin and abominations out of our personal lives and in effect keep them from tainting the larger body of Christ.
June 13, 2017
We’ve been enjoying the flowers at our house for the last several weeks. We’ve got a good amount of roses, some ground cover flowers, some flowering bushes, as well as some hanging baskets. The bright colors some how bring life and energy to the soul. Then you add some of the fragrances along with it and receive even more refreshment.
Every flower starts out as a bud. Buds tend to be somewhat colorless and boring. Then the sun connects with them and they open up in beauty releasing their invigorating fragrance. I’ve been blessed to witness this happening spiritually in the life of a young lady who is going into the 8th grade. A few weeks ago she approached me after church with a big smile on her face and told me she had made the decision to be baptized. Then Sunday morning I saw her at the ABC so I talked with her and her mother about a time to start studying in preparation for baptism. Again she had a bright smile on her face as we discussed her baptism. At the end of our discussion I invited them to come to attend the Wildfire series at the Greeley Church. Well, they’ve attended both nights and each night she has excitedly come and shown me the notes that she had taken during the message.. Last night’s message was about the Sabbath so I asked her if she’d ever heard these things before. She told me she had heard a couple of things but had never heard most of it. Then she proceeded to tell me that she was going to go home and study the notes and Scriptures she had written down some more.
What a blessing it is to watch a bud transform into a bright bloom releasing sweet fragrance in glory to God. She has turned toward Jesus the son of righteousness causing her spiritual life to bloom just as the flowers bloom when they receive the rays of the sun. Philippians 1:6
June 7, 2017
We’re living in a time when we are going to have to stand up for truth and for what’s right on a more consistent basis. This is the case within our country and unfortunately sometimes within our church as well. How can we boldly stand if we don’t first know what we ourselves stand for?
I was encouraged recently in my reading and study of Ezekiel chapter 2. First of all, in verse 6 we find God telling us, “don’t be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, …” God is pointedly stressing here that we have nothing to be afraid of concerning those who are against us. He specifically mentions the looks they will give you and the words they’ll say to you. Our humanity often immediately becomes concerned with, “what will they say or think”, but the Lord tells us not to worry or fret about these things. Secondly, in verse 7 and 8 God tells Ezekiel, “speak My words to them” and “hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Friends we have to know what God is saying to us in order to speak on His behalf. We have to be eating the Bread of Life, so that we can share the bounty with others. The more a person knows what they believe the more boldly that individual will stand for those beliefs. However, I can’t stress enough those beliefs must be Scripturally based.
Jesus gives us some excellent council in Matt. 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” It’s all about perspective. What have we to fear when we serve One who has all power and can deliver us from any situation in the here and now, but more importantly can deliver us into eternity in the here after.
May 25, 2017
I’ve recently started going through the book of Ezekiel for my devotions. It’s a book that immediately stretches your imagination. Chapter one starts off with Ezekiel sharing a vision he was given of God. If you haven’t read it for a while, I think you’d find it very fascinating how God is described. It is definitely not the typical picture we get when we think of God and His throne room.
I marvel to think that God is eternally different and more expansive and impressive then our finite minds can go. After all He is infinite, so how does a finite mind comprehend infinity. It can almost give you a headache when you really stop to ponder these things, but yet it is so exciting to realize that there is infinitely more to God then what has already been revealed to us. Imagine with me, we will be able to constantly learn new details about God non-stop for eternity. That’s every day for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s comical that we sometimes seem to think that we have our Creator and sustainer all figured out.
I so look forward to a not to distant time when I can, face to face, learn more about my God from my God; A time when revelations of Jesus will be personally divulged to me. Oh, the wonder of it all.
May 17, 2017
My family and I have been reading through Ezra and Nehemiah for our family worships. They are both interesting books that are very applicable for our time. A people coming out of Babylon to rebuild that, which truly represents God. I was specifically struck by Nehemiah chapter 3, A seemingly uneventful chapter that lists all those who rebuilt different sections of the wall surrounding Jerusalem. It’s interesting to me that God saw it necessary to diligently recognize and include all of the names of these individuals who would otherwise never be mentioned. Individuals who weren’t known for ongoing great accomplishments for the Lord, who would have went down through history unknown. However, the task they performed faithfully for God opened the door for them to be mentioned amongst the great men and women of God in His Holy Scriptures.
There is one exception in the list in verse 5. We’re told that, "the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord”. Throughout the whole list all were mentioned in a positive light for the work they did for the Lord, but here is one group whose hearts were not in the work. I’m so thankful that God takes notice of the faithful work we do for Him and I pray that we can all faithfully put our shoulders to the work of our Lord.
May 17, 2017
Eccl. 8:11 "Because the sentence against and evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” We live in a culture today that is shifting toward the concept that there are no absolutes. "Your truth is good for you, my truth is good for me. There is no absolute truth.” With this mindset we are becoming more and more resolute in our wrongdoing. If everything is just based on what’s right for each individual then we never have the right to correct a wrong. Who am I to say that what you are doing is wrong, that is just my opinion.
This line of thinking has unfortunately been creeping it’s way in amongst God’s people as well. When people are caught in wrongdoing or sin is pointed out to them, their response is often, “stop judging me”. This is a very dangerous mind set. It emboldens us in our sinful ways. If nobody has the right to correct me, I will continue on in my sin with greater boldness just as we’re told in Ecclesiastes. My heart becomes hardened against the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
This doesn’t mean that we should all be looking for and pointing out every fault and shortcoming of our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, if we see a fellow brother or sister who is living in open sin or habitually living out dangerous tendencies, it is our responsibility to lovingly reach out to them and seek to help them through their struggles. We must take great care and in prayerful humility and love work for the salvation of our fellow believers. On another note, we also need to be willing to humbly receive a loving rebuke from our fellow believers.