Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 19 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 37:1 – “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.”
– Don’t just go out – be led out in the Spirit of the Lord. Even in a proverbial valley of dry bones, you can expect amazing things if the Spirit has led you there.
– God’s servants are led by the Holy Spirit.
2. Ezekiel 37:4 — “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” God calls us to prophesize, not to question the receptivity of the audience. Ezekiel faithfully obeyed in a seemingly fruitless environment.
3. Ezekiel 37:6 – “And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” God brings the spiritually dead to life for His glory.
4. Ezekiel 37:10 – “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.” God allows His servants play a critical role in His work, though He is not dependent on them.
5. Ezekiel 37:14 – “And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live.”
– It is the Holy Spirit within us that gives us spiritual life.
– Dry bones cannot breathe life into themselves and bring themselves alive. Neither can a spiritually dead person bring themselves to life. God provides His Spirit to enable people to surrender to Him and follow Him. The Spirit, however, does not prevent a person from rejecting or disobeying Jesus if they want.
6. Ezekiel 37:23 – “They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” When you turn to the Lord for cleansing, He will forgive you but also change your heart so you won’t desire to sin as you once did; rather you will desire to closer to Him day by day, hating the sin that separates.
7. Ezekiel 37:24 — “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.” The name ‘David’ here likely refers to the Messiah in the line of David, Jesus. When Jesus is truly your Shepherd, you are careful to obey Him.
8. Ezekiel 37:26, 27 – “And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” God does not reside in a building. God’s sanctuary is within His people. You are the Temple of God.
9. Ezekiel 38:23 – “So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” How many times does God’s word remind us that His purpose for our lives is to bring glory to Him, not to us?
10. Proverbs 19:2 – “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Make rational decisions rather than emotional decisions; make spirit led decisions rather than decisions based merely upon your limited knowledge, but don’t mistake feelings and emotion for the Spirit’s counsel. The Bible says to test your perceptions of the spirit against the word of God. God will never ask you to go against His written word. If you sense selfishness in your decision, it is not from the spirit.
11. Proverbs 19:3 – “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” Human nature incites us to blames God for our buffoonery and disloyalty.
12. Proverbs 19:4 – “Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.” The vast majority of relationships are motivated by selfishness – selfish friends like the way you make them feel or what you do for them. Often people approach God the same way, seeking His blessings rather than Him. What is the motivation behind your relationships with God and others – genuine love is selfless.
13. Proverbs 19:6 – “Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.” Many are in love with a concept of a god who always blesses them – a conditional, self-centered religion. This was Satan’s test of Job: “Take away the blessings, and Job will stop loving God, trusting, and obeying God.” Will you love, trust, and obey God no matter what happens to you?
14. Proverbs 19:22 – “What is desired in a man is steadfast love.” Any questions?
15. John 14:1, 21, 24, 30 — “If you love me, you will obey what I command…. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him…. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching…. the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”
– Obedience to God reveals the truth of our love for God. We cannot disobey from a position of love. To claim love and godliness in disobedience is blasphemous.
16. John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
– Do you believe Jesus enough to proclaim this eternal message to everyone you know?
– From Henry T. Blackaby — If you are walking daily with the Lord, you will not have to find God’s will—you will already be in it. If you are walking with Him in obedience day by day, you will always be in the will of God. The Holy Spirit’s role is to guide you step by step to do God’s will. Walking closely with God each day guarantees that you will be exactly where He wants you to be. You would have to reject all of the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life in order to get out of the will of God. The disciples never had to ask Jesus where they should go next. They simply looked to see where Jesus was going and stayed close to Him! Jesus was their “way.” They didn’t need a map as long as they had Jesus. Too often, we would prefer a road map of our future rather than a relationship with the Way. It often seems easier to follow a plan than to cultivate a relationship. We can become more concerned with our future than we are with walking intimately with God today. Jesus will never give you a substitute for Himself. He is the only way to the Father. That’s why it is critical that you clearly know when God is speaking to you (Isa. 30:21). If you are disoriented to how God speaks, you will not understand when He is giving you a new revelation about what He is doing. If you want to know God’s will, take time to cultivate your relationship with Jesus and learn to identify His voice. He is more than willing to show you the way.
17. John 14:6, 7 – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.’” Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus is the Way God has provided for people to know Him – there is no other way, no other truth, no other life. We can’t approach God on our own terms.
18. John 14:10 – “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” Jesus only spoke the words of God through the power of God and in the authority of God. We should do the same.
19. John 14:12-14 — “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
– Jesus operated under the authority and power of the Father, and was solely obedient to His will. He modeled how we are to live our lives. If we truly believe, we will surrender entirely to His authority, will, and power.
– Do you believe that Jesus expects us to do greater things than He did because of the power, authority and support we have in Him? Do you understand that asking “in” His name is asking within His will for His will to be accomplished? When your prayers are for what God wants rather than merely what you want, your prayers will be answered with “Yes.” Our prayers must be God-centered, not self-centered, asking that God’s will be done, not our will.
20. John 14:15 — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Obedience is the proof of our love.
21. John 14:15, 16, 21, 23, 24 — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me…. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
– Obedience opens the door for the Spirit’s work in the believer’s life.
– When something is repeated in the Bible it is for emphasis; the highest degree of emphasis is when something is repeated three times. Three times in John 14, Jesus reiterates that love and obedience go hand-in-hand. Many people believe in God, but James reminds us that even the demons believe in God. To love God, however, is to obey Him with contentment from the heart – “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6) Jesus points out that love inspired obedience will be VERY powerful in the life of a true Christian – “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it…. the Spirit of Truth… will be in you…. I will love him and manifest myself to him…. The Helper… will teach you all things… Peace I leave with you.” The powerless Christian has a love problem. The loving Christian will be evident to all by the power of the Spirit flowing through him or her. How is your spiritual love life?
22. John 14:21-24 – “…and I will love him and manifest myself to him….”
– Do you want to see Jesus? Do you want Him to be truly manifested in your life? Then, keep His commandments and His words. Love inspired, selfless obedience is the path to knowing Jesus more and more.
– From Henry T. Blackaby on John 14:21 — Obedience to God’s commands comes from your heart. When you begin struggling to obey God, that is a clear indication that your heart has shifted away from Him. Some claim: “I love God, but I’m having difficulty obeying Him in certain areas of my life.” That is a spiritual impossibility. If I were to ask you, “Do you love God?” you might easily respond, “Yes!” However, if I were to ask you, “Are you obeying God?” would you answer yes as quickly? Yet I would be asking you the same question! Genuine love for God leads to wholehearted obedience. If you told your spouse that you loved her at certain times but that you struggled to love her at others, your relationship would be in jeopardy. Yet we assume that God is satisfied with occasional love or partial obedience. He is not. Obedience without love is legalism. Obedience for its own sake can be nothing more than perfectionism, which leads to pride. Many conscientious Christians seek to cultivate discipline in their lives to be more obedient to Christ. As helpful as spiritual disciplines can be, they never can replace your love for God. Love is the discipline. God looks beyond your godly habits, beyond your moral lifestyle, and beyond your church involvement and focuses His penetrating gaze upon your heart. Has your worship become empty and routine? Have you lost your motivation to read God’s Word? Are you experiencing spiritual lethargy? Is your prayer life reduced to a ritual? These are symptoms of a heart that has shifted away from God. Return to your first love. Love is the greatest motivation for a relationship with God and for serving Him.
23. John 14:26 — “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit is your teacher, not any person. Listen to wise counsel from others, but test all teachings by God’s word and the teaching of the Holy Spirit. No person has more potential access to the Spirit than any other person, though many are more receptive to the Spirit than others due to the condition of their hearts and their level of obedience. Develop your own relationship with the Spirit, and be guided by Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 19 Nov 18: Focus on obedience to Jesus today, but not an obedience motivated by fear, pride, or even duty, rather motivated by selfless love that is not seeking personal blessings but rather a more intimate relationship with Jesus. Seek that Jesus would be manifested in your life, not that you would have a more comfortable existence apart from Him. Seek not more knowledge ‘about’ Jesus, seek knowledge of Jesus, personal knowledge that comes from walking with Him in obedience. (John 14)