Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 18 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 35:6, 11, 15; 36:19 — “Because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you…. I will deal with you according to the anger and envy that you showed because of your hatred against them…. As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so I will deal with you; you shall be desolate…. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them.”
– God’s way is to judge people according to the way they judge others. This pattern is revealed throughout the Bible. Remember Jesus’s words — “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:36-38) Remember how He taught people to pray to the Father – “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Most are familiar with the ‘Golden Rule’ — “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) However, few truly consider the implications of not following the Golden Rule.
– We should not presume to think that we can treat others harshly while receiving nothing but mercy from God. God will reveal to you and to others His Justice, His mercy, and His Grace, by treating you the way you treat others. He will glorify Himself.
2. Ezekiel 35:13 – “And you magnified yourselves against me with your mouth, and multiplied your words against me; I heard it.” God takes offenses against His people personally, as an affront to Him, and He will deal with the offenders accordingly.
3. Ezekiel 36:13, 14 – “Thus says the Lord God: Because they say to you, ‘You devour people, and you bereave your nation of children,’ therefore you shall no longer devour people and no longer bereave your nation of children, declares the Lord God.” Ungodly nations are particularly hard on children. The nation of Israel during the time of Ezekiel had developed an international reputation as being a dangerous place to live because of the sinfulness of the people. Remember that one of the primary reasons God judged Israel was because they sacrificed their infants to Baal. This is what is being referred to in vs 18 – “I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it.” Today, the sacrifice of children to idolatry is performed in a more sophisticated way, and we call it abortion. About 60 million babies have been aborted in America since Roe vs Wade – that is the equivalent of 10 Holocausts. God will hold the nation accountable for that.
4. Ezekiel 36:20, 21 – “But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.” God is ashamed of people who claim to represent Him when they are not holy and obedient.
5. Ezekiel 36:22-23 – “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
– God’s intent is to spread the reputation of His name throughout the earth. When God works in our lives, it is ultimately not about us but rather about Him. We are on earth to accomplish His purposes, not ours. If His purposes require our demise, then praise God who has given us this incredibly honorable responsibility.
– God will glorify Himself through your life either in a positive way or a negative way, either through blessings or through discipline, depending on whether or not you choose to obey Him and display His character to the world rightly. God the Father cannot tolerate children that dishonor the family name.
6. Ezekiel 36:25-32 – “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules…. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses…. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways….”
– We cannot purify ourselves; God must purify us. We cannot fix our hearts; God must give us a new heart. We cannot follow God’s command or obey Him unless His Holy Spirit is within us. You must be born again by salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
– Only God can cleanse you, fix your heart, and give you the strength to obey Him day by day. You cannot achieve holiness through willpower.
– Man cannot fix the condition of his heart. Modern-day gurus have nothing to offer you. Our only hope is salvation through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus we receive a new heart, and a new spirit, not band aids on our old broken, corrupted heart. Then we will see clearly the foolishness and sinfulness of our old self and our new heart will desire, out of love, honor, and reverence to obey God’s commands, placing no confidence in self or the ways of the world. Only through the power and grace of God is there any hope for genuine change.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
– “Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.” The Holy Spirit drives you to humility, continual repentance, and the acknowledgment that is not for you but rather for the glory of God. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, you will be truly repentant. When you are truly repentant, you will not want to sin any longer.
7. Ezekiel 36:26 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Comments from Henry T. Blackaby – “From our hearts comes our response to God. Apart from the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, our hearts are extremely deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). David prayed that God would cleanse him from the ravages of his sin and purify his heart (Ps. 51:10). God’s greatest desire is that His people love Him with all their hearts (Deut. 6:5). Jesus said we are blessed if our hearts are pure (Matt. 5:8). Sin hardens the heart (Matt. 13:4, 19). The more sin we allow to pass over our hearts and through our lives, the more resistant we become to a word from God. The sin of unforgiveness stiffens our hearts. We cannot continue to resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit without becoming hardened against Him. Exposing ourselves to evil and ungodly influences desensitizes us to God and His word. Over time, our hearts become like stone, unreceptive to a fresh word from God. We become anesthetized to sin. Has your heart grown hard toward God? Do you feel as though nothing could soften it? God has a solution. He will separate you from the influences that are destroying you (Ezek. 36:24). He will cleanse you from all filthiness and remove everything that has taken His place in your affections (Ezek. 36:25). He will remove your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, tender toward Him and His word. If your love for God is not what it should be, ask Him to renew your heart and restore your devotion to Him.”
8. Proverbs 18:3, 5-6, 8, 19, 21, 23 —
– God wants you to appreciate the power of your careless words to hurt other people.
– God has an ongoing concern for the needy and calls you to have the same.
9. Psalm 135:1, 5 – “Praise the Lord!… For I know that the Lord is great.” The more you really understand how great God is, the more you will want to genuinely praise Him. If your worship and praise is flat, it is because you have an appreciation problem.
10. Psalm 136:1 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136 is a list recounting all the ways God demonstrated His love and faithfulness to the people. This gave them encouragement for the future. Do you have a list of all the things God has done in your life to demonstrate His love and faithfulness? Take the time today to make that list, share with your family, and give thanks to God.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 Nov 18: See number 10 above.