Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 7 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 11:5 — “For I know the things that come into your mind.” The Greatest Commandment in the Bible is to love God with all your mind. God knows your thoughts and what you care about most. God knows whether or not you really place Him first.
2. Ezekiel 11:8 — “You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God.” Those who disobey God out of fear or turn to something other to God for security will be turned over to their fears and see those fears come to fruition.
3. Ezekiel 11:12 — “For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.” Today, Christians are deciding whose rules they will follow, God’s rules or the rules of secular society and secular government. Choose wisely.
4. Ezekiel 11:16 – “…though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them….”
– It’s not national security you need to worry about but rather obedience to, and unity with, the One True Protector.
– Even in discipline, God protects His children with the goal of seeing them through the discipline to ultimately bring them closer to Him in accordance with His will.
5. Ezekiel 11:19-21 – “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
– The Spirit of God brings God’s people closer to Him and closer to each other. A godly people have unity in Christ. Many people are calling for unity today, but unity around the wrong thing means everyone is wrong together and collectively doomed. The only unity that benefits is unity around Jesus. Often, even Christians will mistakenly attempt to make “unity” the goal rather than Christ, and they will attempt to unify around and organization, a charity, a political party, a business, an ideology, etc. Also, many Christians will water down or disregard God’s commands in order to maintain unity within a church or parachurch organization. This too is idolatry and ultimately doomed. Unity must be around the unchanging Truth, Jesus Christ. Until people seek Christ first, disunity is guaranteed. Where you see disunity, someone (or everyone) is putting self before Jesus.
– God’s people walk together, with Jesus, in God’s commands. The ungodly will suffer the consequences of going their own way.
6. Ezekiel 12:2 — “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.” It’s not that we can’t understand God’s commands, we just choose not to obey them.
7. Ezekiel 12:3 — “You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.” God delays in judgment and continues to send His messengers that some might still repent and surrender to Him. People, though they have sinned greatly, have a choice to repent, but the choice is theirs and the opportunity to choose has a deadline.
8. Ezekiel 12:25, 28 — “I am the Lord; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed…. the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord God.” Regardless of what visionaries might say, God will do what He has promised, and His will stands as a definite. Your vision matters not at all if it is not aligned with God’s will. The prayers of God’s people are answered when they are praying for what God intends.
9. Proverbs 7 – As stated earlier, God describes sin against Him as adultery. Read Proverbs 7 with this perspective.
10. John 6:5, 6 — “Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.” Jesus will put you in impossible situations to test your faith. You may have heard it said, “God will not ask you to do anything you are not capable of doing.” This is not true. God will always ask you to do what you can’t do so that you can see what He can do through you, building your faith in Him and revealing Himself to the world around you as others see the power of God in your life. It doesn’t take faith to do what you know you can do. It takes faith to obey God when you know you can’t. This is where you experience God.
11. John 6:15 – “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” The people thought they needed a political leader; Jesus knew they needed a Savior. The same is true today. Jesus was not seeking political power but to glorify the Father on earth. The people wanted a king who would give them what they wanted on earth. Jesus came as King to call people to seek God’s will rather than their own will, not to build for themselves kingdoms on earth but to serve the Kingdom of God.
12. John 6:19-20 – “When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’” Jesus’ presence should bring peace, not fear.
13. John 6:27 — “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”
– For what are you working? Many people are defined by their careers, their personal goals, or their accomplishments. You should be defined by Jesus.
– Observe how much Christian conversation to unbelievers is about how to receive the blessings of God on earth (security, prosperity, comfort, success, happiness, etc) rather than how to become one with Jesus Christ.
14. John 6:35, 36 — “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”
– It is spiritual nourishment that people need which comes only through Jesus. Obesity is a problem in America, though there is a spiritual famine in the land. We feed the hungry by giving them Jesus, the only Bread that brings life. Are we telling the starving about Jesus Christ, or are we pointing to other ways to get fed – religion, philosophy, self-help, politics, ethics, morals, values, positive mental attitude, personal finances, counseling, etc? Do we think that just because we call ourselves Christians that our “self-help” advice to others is any less offensive to the Father who has offered His Son as the only answer?
– Contrary to what some might say, seeing is not believing. Many people say they simply don’t have enough evidence to believe in Jesus, but their problem is not a knowledge problem, it is a heart problem.
15. John 6:37, 44, 45, 63, 65 — “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out…. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me…. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all…. This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” God chose you before you chose God. God took the initiative in your relationship with Him. Had he not, you would not have a relationship with Him. Life comes from the Spirit not from human effort. The fact that you were Chosen by God for eternal life should drive you to true worship, surrender, obedience, and love.
16. John 6:38 — “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Jesus proclaimed that His life purpose was to do the will of the Father. This is your life purpose too. How are you doing?
17. John 6:40 — “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” The will of the Father is to reconcile people to Him through Jesus that they would have eternal life with Him. You have been given this mission of reconciliation on earth. How are you doing?
18. John 6:44 — “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Jesus proclaimed truth to the Pharisees, but they did not believe. He did not argue with them. You cannot convince someone to believe in Jesus who is not being convicted in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. Your job is to proclaim truth. You cannot control other’s response to truth, and you should not let the response of scoffers discourage you – since you have been faithful.
19. John 6:45 — “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” Again, being informed is not the same as being transformed. Not everyone who hears and sees believes.
20. John 6:61-65 — “But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this?… It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’”
– Jesus spoke of His followers consuming His body as a spiritual metaphor, but most completely missed what He was saying, took it literally, and walked away, offended by the thought of cannibalism. Jesus explained that He was speaking on spiritual things, not physical things. He then called out this misunderstanding as an example of how people who are not empowered by the spirit cannot understand spiritual things. Jesus knew that many would not accept His words, but He spoke to them anyway. Proclaim the truth and let God do the rest.
– Are you withholding the Name of Jesus Christ from your daily conversations in order to avoid some sort of professional or social rejection? Do you think that it is wise to be “subtle”? More often than not, Christians justify cowardice as tactfulness. Better to ere on the side of boldness. God, not us, determines who will accept Jesus. Do not miss your opportunity to say the Name today.
21. John 6:66-69 — “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”
– To many Jesus’ words were more than just hard to understand, they were downright offensive. However, Jesus’ true followers were willing to walk with him even when they didn’t understand; in fact, because they truly believed that Jesus is the “Holy One of God,” they understood that walking with Jesus was the only real choice. It doesn’t take faith to follow when it makes perfect practical sense to us; it does take faith to do or believe what doesn’t seem to make sense. It is hard for us to understand when Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) It is also overwhelming to contemplate the implications of Jesus’ statement, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44) You don’t have to understand the truth to believe in the truth if you know the Truth, Jesus. If you really believed that salvation only comes through Jesus, how differently would you live your life? How would that change your priorities? If this truth hasn’t given you a sense of urgency for spreading the Gospel, what does that say about what or, more importantly, Who you really believe?
— John 6:29 — Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
— John 6:40 — For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
— John 6: 47 — Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
– “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The only hope for our nation and for every individual is to turn or return to Jesus Christ; do not deceive by communicating any other message, no matter how “good” that other message might sound.
22. John 6:70 — “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.’” Few people saw more of Jesus than Judas, yet Judas still rejected Jesus. All the Bible study in the world and all the religious activity in the world can’t substitute for genuine faith that surrenders in trust and obedience to Jesus. In the end, Judas’ religion was selfishly motivated, seeking personal gain rather than to truly love and honor Jesus. Search your heart to understand what you really want from Jesus. Do you want blessings and reward or simply Him?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 Nov 18: Today, search your heart and consider why you practice your faith. Are you seeking the blessings of Jesus or Jesus Himself? Do you want comfort and security or unity with God, a truly loving relationship with Him? If you are honest, you will see that you have mixed motives. Pray earnestly for a pure heart and wholehearted desire for Jesus alone. (John 6:70)