Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 3 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 3:1 — “Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” As Ambassadors, we are to consume God’s word and communicate it to the world.
2. Ezekiel 3:7-11 — “’But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.’ Moreover, he said to me, ‘Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.”
– God often sends His messengers to people He knows won’t listen. God strengthens His servants to endure opposition. Are you ready to preach the Gospel regardless of how it might be received?
– God calls his ‘Ambassadors’ to faithfully proclaim God’s word while walking in obedience; the messenger’s success is measured in faithfulness, not by how the rebellious respond to the message. In fact, God warns Ezekiel that, “[they] will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because [they] have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart…. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” The fact that God knows that the rebellious will not receive His word does not relieve the ‘Ambassador’ of the responsibility to proclaim the message. Today, Christians are very careful not to say anything to the rebellious that they would not receive well or that might be considered offensive to them. Christians have also become very casual with sin and carelessly disobedient. Rather than becoming peacemakers (reconciling man with God), the church has become more concerned with becoming more peaceable and peace loving (avoiding conflict at all costs), to the expense of holiness and evangelism. Too often the mega-seeker-sensitive churches’ answer to rebellion and rejection is better marketing, packaging, and presentation rather than greater movement of the Holy Spirit emanating from holy congregations. Pray for revival within the church. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
– “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears….” You must know the word of God in order to share the word of God. We must diligently study God’s word and only speak God’s word. Don’t substitute ‘good ideas’ or popular opinion for God’s word. We represent Jesus, not the current version of morality.
3. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.” (Ezekiel 3:17-21)
– As Christians we have been given a great responsibility. We have been appointed as “Christ’s Ambassadors” charged to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19) This charge is often referred to as the “Great Commission;” but the “teaching them to obey” part has often been called the “Great Omission” because people don’t want to hear that our HOLY GOD demands obedience and hates sin. All believers are to live and serve as Priests within the world, proclaiming the Gospel to all of mankind. This IS our purpose on earth, and we were created to glorify and serve God. Jesus began his earthly ministry by commanding, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2) Likewise, as Christ’s Ambassadors, we are called to warn the of the consequences of sin and of their need for repentance. This is not a popular message (John the Baptist lost his head for calling out the sexual sins of Herod), but God holds us accountable for delivering the message, not for how others respond to the message. God also holds us accountable for the way we proclaim the truth – “yet do it with gentleness and respect…. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…. peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (1 Peter 3:15; Ephesians 4:2; James 3:17) Proclaim the truth so that when you meet the Lord you will hear Him say, “Well done, my good servant!” (Luke 19:17)
— 1 Peter 2:9 — But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
— Revelation 1:6 – [Jesus] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
— Revelation 5:10 — You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.
— Revelation 20:6 — Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
— 2 Timothy 4:2 — Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
– You cannot escape or abrogate your responsibility to communicate God’s truth. God will hold you accountable.
4. Ezekiel 3:22-27 – “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there. And he said to me, ‘Arise, go…. the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself within your house. And you, O son of man, behold, cords will be placed upon you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people. And I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.” God’s true servant is led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, not by human wisdom or ability.
5. Proverbs 3:33-35 — “The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.”
– Some receive judgment while others, also guilty, receive forgiveness, mercy, and grace. The notable difference between those who receive forgiveness and those who receive punishment is that the forgiven are humble, contrite, repentant and fear the Lord. Humility involves seeing ourselves from God’s perspective, seeing the truth of ourselves, and lowering ourselves in relation to others (the greatest shall be the least), having the heart of a servant to God and mankind. St. Bernard (not the dog) defines humility as, “A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself.” Proverbs says that “humility is the fear of the Lord.” Humility is closely related to meekness and selflessness. It is impossible to have wisdom or honor without humility. A humble person cannot look down on others while he seeks to help them draw closer to God — a beggar showing another beggar where to find bread. Part of being humble is being continually self-aware, always considering the motives behind our behavior. Most importantly it is being receptive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (impossible prior to salvation). Humility is the key to judging sin without being judgmental.
6. Psalm 128:1, 2 — “Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”
– Believing in God is not the same as fearing God, trusting Him and obeying Him. Blessings come from obedience.
– Biblical living involves fearing The Lord and working with your hands to provide for yourself and others.
7. Psalm 128:6 – “May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!” A full and peaceful family is one of God’s primary blessings for those who follow Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 Nov 18: Recommit to diligently studying and obeying God’s word so you can effectively share God’s word and glorify God. Let the peace of God be apparent in your life. (See today’s readings)