Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Do you have an influence over another person or group of people? Are you a parent, grandparent, teacher, or maybe a supervisor at work? If so, then Ezekial 34 is for you.
God is prophecing against the shepherds of Israel, but He is also speaking to anyone who has influence over others. Note that the shepherds of Israel were selfish. Note that the Lord clearly states what their purpose as shepherds should be. They should strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, look for the lost. Now that sounds pretty difficult so let's break it down.

1. Strengthen the Weak - to encourage the fainthearted.
2. Heal the Sick - to care for the sick like a nurse.
3. Bind up the injured - to treat one's wound like a mother caring for her child.
4. Look for the Lost - to find those alone and bring them into the fold.

Look around you. Does anyone need to be strengthen, or treated, or bound up, or find? Your assignment as a shepherd (one of influence over others) is to follow the pattern laid out in Ezekiel.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

God called prophets to speak to the people and call them to repentance. He also call the prophets to speak to the nations. Ezekiel 25-30 is one prophecy after another against several nations (Ammon, Moab, Seir, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt). The main section of this chapters focus on Tyre and Egypt.

The Tyre prophecy is divded into three large segments by the concluding refrain at 26:21; 27:36; and 28:19. This lengthy collection surpassed only by the Egygt prophecy raises the question - Why? Tyre and Egypt were the only two nations that had the power to withstand the Babylonian army. Egypt had the military power and Tyre had the economic power. To Egypt and Tyre, Ezekiel pronounces destruction.

It is interesting to look back at history. Tyre and Egypt will fall to the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire. It will be Alexander the Great and his Greek army that completely destroys Tyre. Also, after the Romans conquered Egypt, Egypt will exist even today, but with little power and influence in the world.

Once again we see the Lord God directing the affairs of nations. What is God up to in America today? What is His message to us? Most likely it is to repent or face judgment.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Have you ever learned something from past history? The prophet Ezekiel in chapter 20 gives a unique and inspired look at Israel's exodus experience from God's vantage point. It is designed to remind Israel of their past. It is worth reading again to understand God's perspective. It also gives us a perspective on how God responds to us. As always, He conclude chapter 20 on a positive note. Stating He will restore Israel one day, but for now He is drawing His sword.

The story of Oholah (Samaria) and Oholibah (Jerusalem) depicts how unfaithful these two nations have become. Their sins both politically and religiously break the very heart of God.
It is important for us to think about our unfaithfulness to God and how it affects Him. Have you broken the heart of God? If so, repent. He is always willing to forgive.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 3, 2011

Philippians 3 & 4

In our reading for today, the Apostle Paul continued to discuss the joy of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. From chapters 1 & 2, the letter to the Philippian church exemplified God’s sovereignty (1:12-13), Jesus’s faithfulness (2:6-8) and how Christians are supposed to respond (2:14-18) when faced with adverse situations. Paul also, in chapter 2:12-17, gave an outline of four ways for believers to be obedient to God during trials.
1) Do everything without complaining or arguing.
2) Live clean innocent lives.
3) Hold firm to God’s word.
4) Faithfully serve (make a sacrifice) as an offering to God.

In our reading today, Paul brings up elements that prevent believers from being obedient and thus causing a break in the joy of fellowship with Christ. The apostle gives an example of how our past accomplishments and pride are often the biggest and most frequent barriers (3:1-6). Paul writes about how his past success and even his heritage is not worthy or comparable to knowing Jesus. He emphasized that it is only through faith in Christ that we are made righteous. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, The Lord tells us not to boast about our own wisdom, power and riches but to boast about understanding and knowing him.

But Paul does not leave us with identifying a barrier but gives three suggestions towards pressing on to establish a joyous relationship with Christ:
1) Focus on Jesus Christ
2) Forget about past accomplishments
3) Mimic the actions of Jesus

We however, cannot leave Philippians without stating the key verse of the letter, 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. These simple words carry the weight of this letter as they emphasize how joy and security is found when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Repent! That is the final verse in this section of Ezekiel 13-18. However, it is a call to repent on every person. Jerusalem was destroyed for not repenting as a nation, but this call is to individuals. Every person is to repent and take responsiblity for their moral lives. Thus the appeal is to make yourselves a new heart and spirit.

The appeal is true today for us. We need to take responsiblity for our moral lives. However, many today want to blame someone else for their sins. "It was my parents fault." "My surroundings made me this way." "I would have been different if I had lived in a better place."
You hear the blame everyday. However, God says it is our choices that determine who we are.

I encourage you today to take an inventory of your moral life. Do you have a new heart and spirit? Are you making good moral choices? Are you blaming others for your failings? Just as your parents or surroundings can not save you, neither can your parents sin be held against you. We must take responsiblity for our moral lives.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday June 26, 2011

Philippians 1 & 2

“I got JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY down in my heart”, a song often sung by our kids but lost as they grow older. So often in our day we are bombarded by problems, stressors and crisis. Some are more credible than the others but often we make our own mole hills into mountains. In starting our reading of Philippians, we find the Apostle Paul in a serious situation as he has been imprisoned and is awaiting trial. He is aware that he could be waiting for his execution. So why this letter of being joyful in a time of peril?

The letter to the Philippians is a response to the believers providing aid and encouragement to Paul while incarcerated. Through the letter, the apostle desired to exemplify God’s sovereignty (1:12-13), Jesus’s faithfulness (2:6-8) and how Christians are supposed to respond to adversity (2:14-18).
So often we face the challenges in life as reasons to quit or complain about not accomplishing goals or dreams. So frequently we forget that in facing our problems in a particular way, we are actually building our relationship with God. In James, chap 1:3-4, we are told that when faith is tested through adversity it is an opportunity to grow endurance. But it’s not just about lasting through the trial; rather it’s about how we handle ourselves through the period. As stated, Paul wanted the Philippians to understand true joy even when a crisis arose. He pointed out actions and attitudes that would not only strengthen your faith but also display to others how Christians handle trouble.

In chapter 2:12-17, Paul outlines four ways for believers to be obedient to God during trials.
1) Do everything without complaining or arguing.
2) Live clean innocent lives.
3) Hold firm to God’s word.
4) Faithfully serve (make a sacrifice) as an offering to God.

Consider what joy really means to you. Tangible items and placing your happiness in earthly things will fail. True joy comes from knowing God and growing a relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s sovereignty and Jesus’s faithfulness is everlasting.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today we begin our read of the prophet Ezekiel. This is one of my favorite books of prophecy.
Ezekiel begins with the famous inaugural vision. This opening sequence is the most elaborate and complex of the prophetic call narratives in the Old Testament, and also one of the most carefully structured. It begins with a vision in which Ezekiel witnesses the awesome approach of the glory of God (1:1-28). Ezekiel receives his prophetic commission through swallowing the scroll God offers (2:1-3:11). After the glory of God withdraws, his role is further refined by his appointment as a "watchman" (3:16-21). This sequence concludes with a further encounter with God's glory (3:22-27).

The next three chapters begin the chronological ordering of the downfall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel is commisssioned, equipped, and positioned to state God's judgment on Jerusalem.

As we begin the study of Ezekiel, I hope you will hand in there as move from past to future prophetic truths found in this book. The big question is always before us. "How is my relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus?"