Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 2 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 1:12 — “And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.” Four different creatures had complete unity in purpose and action because they followed the Holy Spirit without turning to the left or to the right. Unity is only found in the Spirit. The words universe and university combine the words unity and diversity — many different things working together as one. God created the universe, and God created the church. The Church should be united in their diversity through their collective union with Jesus. Where there is disunity, there is a relational problem with Jesus somewhere.
2. Ezekiel 2:3 – “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day.’” When God calls a servant, God reveals where He is at work and where He wants the servant to work.
3. Ezekiel 2:5 — “And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Your duty to God is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Whether they hear or refuse to hear is up to them, but their choice is not the measure of your success, your obedience is.
4. Ezekiel 2:6 — “And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” Rebellious people have always treated God’s ambassadors poorly, and God knows it. You should expect it, but God commands you not to be afraid of it.
5. Ezekiel 2:6 – “And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions.” God knows His messengers will get persecuted, and God warns His messengers, reminding them that many will reject the Gospel violently.
6. Ezekiel 2:8 — “But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
– To be ready to preach God’s word, you must digest Gods word. It must be your daily sustenance, and like food, it should slowly build you into a new person.
– God holds His servants accountable for calling the sinful to repentance; God does not hold the messenger accountable for how the message is received.
7. Proverbs 2:1 – “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you….” God’s people avoid being led astray by Christian-like false teachings by storing God’s commands from the written word within their hearts. All acceptable teaching is merely an application of God’s word. The only acceptable teacher is the one who points to Christ, given Him all the attention and credit.
8. John 3:1-15 — “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” Only the Holy Spirit, received by those saved through Jesus, can bring enlightenment. You MUST be born again. Spiritual birth comes through faith in Jesus, not through anyone or anything else. Schools can inform, by only Jesus can transform. You cannot understand what the Bible says intellectually, but you can never really understand the wisdom of the word apart from the Spirit. You either have it or you don’t. Debating about the Bible with the unspiritual is like trying to teach a fish to play piano.
9. John 3:8 – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
– We cannot know who the Spirit is convicting and drawing to Jesus. We are called to serve as Christ’s Ambassadors to all people. The Holy Spirit will convict as the Spirit wills.
– If you have boldly proclaimed the Gospel to others, you have undoubtedly been made fun of for being a “born again Christian.” Perhaps, as was the case with Jesus, you were mocked by someone who claimed to worship God. Jesus explained that this was inevitable. However, as is clear in both our Old Testament and New Testament readings today, we are called to proclaim the Gospel to all, whether or not they choose to hear it and despite the abuse we will inevitably receive by the rebellious. God’s charge to us is much like what God commanded of Ezekiel: “Son of man, I send you… to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you [the word of God is our bread].”
— Matthew 28:19 — Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
10. John 3:13 – “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” Compare John 3:13 to Proverbs 30:4 – “Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!”
11. John 3:14 – “…who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil….” The cross was always God’s plan.
12. John 3:17-18 — “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
– God wants everyone to be saved and offers salvation freely, but people must take the free gift in order to possess it. Those who go to hell choose to.
– Those who reject Jesus are condemned because they condemn themselves.
13. John 3:19 — “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” It isn’t that people don’t have enough evidence to believe in Jesus, they just don’t want to believe. It isn’t a knowledge problem, it is a heart problem.
14. John 3:21 — “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” You come to the light through obedience, and obedience demonstrates unity with God, being one in purpose with God, or being “in God.”
15. John 3:27 — “John answered, ‘A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.'”
– You cannot save yourself, and no one else can save you. Your salvation can only come through Jesus.
– God is the Creator and Source of everything. We cannot produce wisdom, love, or anything else; it must come from God. We will either use what God has created in a good way through obedience or pervert God’s good creation through sinfulness.
16. John 3:30 — “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The saved Christian desires to become nothing that Jesus would become their whole life and that all that they are would be a testimony of Jesus to the world. Don’t let anyone look to you. Always point to Jesus.
17. John 3:31 — “He who comes from above is above all.” Never forget that!
18. John 3:36 – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Again, eternal life comes only through Jesus. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…. unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God…. You must be born again….whoever believes in him may have eternal life…. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life…. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:3, 5, 7, 15, 16, 18, 19)
— Matthew 18:14 — So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
— 2 Peter 3:9 — The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 Nov 18: Walk with God today, in oneness with Him by obeying Him completely. Perhaps the hardest place to learn obedience is in relationships with others. To follow Jesus, you must deny self in relationships and take up your cross in relationships. The first command is love, and love must be willing to suffer injustice for the sake of reconciliation. (John 3:21)