Ezekiel 25

Vs. 1, “The word of the Lord came to me…”  Since we’ve been reading Ezekiel, we have been focused on God’s people.  But now we see consequences for the pagan nations surrounding God’s people.  Justice is being served.  In this chapter we read of four of the nations, Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia…but as we continue on, there will be a total of sixteen nations listed.  The Ammonites were rejoicing at Judah’s downfall, the Moabites basically confirmed with Judah’s downfall that they were not special, the Edomites and Philistines helped the Babylonians and took pleasure in Judah’s consequences.

Regarding application…God will Judge.   Vs. 7, “I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord.”  Question: Why do the evil seem to get all the breaks?  The rich keep getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  Where’s the justice in the world today?  I’m sure for God’s people, they felt like God was against them.  But while the other nations were laughing, God would bring vengeance upon them.  The application I see here is that don’t get all up in arms about the injustices of this world.  God is in control.  Let’s just do our part in being genuine in our walk and faith.

QT – Hebrews 5

Vs. 7, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” We are now reminded that Jesus is greater than any of the high priests inculding Aaron. Jesus played different roles for us…he was a prophet, a priest and a king. For the direct audience, they could relate better than we can to this illustration. Not only was he above Aaron, Jesus was a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Gen. 14)….this was a greater priesthood than Aaron…one that had no beginning or end. But I think we all begin to understand that this was not a role Jesus selfishly took upon himself. Our Father in Heaven chose this role for His Son. 

Regarding application…Solid Food. Vs. 14, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” One of the measures of maturity in Christ is our intake of God’s Word (Food). We had previously discussed from the earlier chapters the drifting away from God’s Word and doubting the Word. A couple of years ago I had a some stomach issues that got so severe I had to go to the emergency room. It turned out I had a milder form of Ileusus (sp?). One of the remedies the Doctor prescribed was that I was to not intake many solid foods. My stomach was so weak that any solid foods would cause very unpleasant reactions. So far a whole week, I followed the Doctor’s orders and lo and behold…my stomach began to feel better. I had lost alot of weight, but my desire after that full week of weakness was to get healthy again. I was craving foods like crazy (especially Korean B.B.Q.)…and now eating solid foods has gotten me back to being fully healthy again. Likewise, we cannot gain spiritually when we are not eating solid bilblical foods (Word of God, prayer, fasting, accountability, etc.)

QT – Hebrews 2

Vs. 17, “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” The writer of Hebrews continues to put Jesus as the focal point and remind us that He is higher than angels in authority. Jesus is better than the first Adam (& Eve)…he is the perfect Adam. The first Adam brought death and sin…the perfect Adam (Jesus) brought life and delivered death to the enemy. While we know that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us…I think we should take a bit more time to appreciate Jesus’ humility. I love how we are reminded that Jesus can help us when tempted because he was tempted too (Vs. 18).

Regarding application…Drifting Away. Vs. 1, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” How do we drift away spiritually? By neglecting the power of the Gospel and His Living Word…basically doing nothing with the salvation that was given to us. The people at the time were unwilling to hear…essentially they were became lost. A very long time ago when I was probably 4 years old…my family had gone tubing down a river (like rafting but with a inner tube of a truck instead.) One of my siblings at the time, Joelle, who must have been around 10-12 years old somehow got away from the crowd and before we knew it, we didn’t see her anywhere. She had drifted away so far without realizing it. Fortunately, she is here today…so someone must have ran down the side of the river to find her. She wasn’t paying attention and drifted so far…there could have been a giant waterfall down the river. We must be careful not to drift spiritually. I think we underestimate the power of the spiritual currents (evil) that can send us drifting from God.

QT – Hebrews 1

Vs. 3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”  While scholars may debate who the author is, or what message the author wanted to convey…there is one undeniable fact: this is all about Jesus!  The prophets were mere men…Jesus was the Son of God.  All the prophets message would point to the final fulfillment…they just needed to open the eyes of their heart.  We are reminded that Jesus is higher than Angels…and just like back then…Angels have been misunderstood.  Angels worshiped Jesus…if angels did…then we must also. 
Regarding Application…Word of God Speak.  Vs. 1, “In the past God spoke”  God Spoke.  It is a tremendous responsibility each of us have when God speaks to us.  God spoke through the prophets and His final words would be through His Son Jesus.  In Christ, we have the full revelation of God. Question: What do you do when you hear God speak?  You may be thinking…”But I have never heard the voice of God.”  But remember…our walk of faith relies on what we do not see or hear.  Of course, we know God speaks through the Bible, God speaks through Sermons, God speaks through circumstances, God speaks through encouragement, etc…
God’s voice speaks to us each day…we must make a conscience effort to drown out all the noise of the world and put on our God headphones.  I always say, “Put on your thinking caps”…well…perhaps I should say, “Let’s put on our God Caps”.  When I was a kid…my best friend growing up was Matt Moore (he was the one who died in a car wreck a many years ago).  When I was playing with him at this house…everytime we heard his mom cry out, “John Matthew Moore!”  We both knew something was wrong or he was going to get a lecture.  As much as we listen to our own parents or others in our life…we have to remember that we must respectfully listen when God speaks.  If you are in a courtroom and the judge is trying to speak and you are talking to your friend….you could be put in jail for contempt of court by simply disrespecting the honorable judge when he speaks.  Question: How much more should we stand at attention and listen when God speaks!

QT – Philemon

Vs. 7, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”  This letter is almost like peering over Philemon’s shoulder as we read his letter from Paul.  Paul was a very wise & tactful man!  Instead of demanding or asking upfront for Onesimus’s life…Paul expressed sincere appreciation for Philemon.  In Paul’s compliments, it’s obvious to see Philemon was a Godly man.  Paul appeals to Philemon to consider saving Onesimus’s life and see what God has done for his slave.  It was obvious that Paul valued Onesimus and saw what kind of man he was.  In fact, Paul is willing to pay for any loss that Philemon might have occurred because of this.

Regarding application…Willing To Pay The Price.  Vs. 18, If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”  Paul was willing to take this disobedient slave and pay the price so that Onesimus would not endure shame or even death.  As great of a picture as this is…the letter to Philemon addresses a far bigger concept & application…We see in this a picture of Christ!  Christ came to save sinners & forgive them.  Philemon was a slave to sin and then was saved.  Philemon’s servant Onesimus was his slave and he too was saved.  Now Philemon had the choice to either punish & kill or save & accept.  While Philemon had the right…he could choose to forgive.  Jesus had the right to destroy all of us…but thankfully by His grace he too forgave.
Just as we were paid for and forgiven…this letter reminds us that we too must forgive!  Question: How can we hold grudges when God did not hold grudges against us?  We received a precious gift, now we must give that forgiveness to others!  It’s not just about witnessing…it’s also about forgiving.  Think of Jonah, he witnessed to the Ninevites, but did he really forgive them for what they did to his people?  That’s the position that Philemon found himself in.  This is the position that we too find ourselves in.  Think of the people right now in your life….Family, church family, friends…who in your life right now can you extend the hand of forgiveness?  We’ve been doing a four week study on “Dealing with Conflict” in the Youth group and we talked about forgiveness last night.  Let’s choose to pay the price and forgive!

QT – Isaiah 66

Vs. 1, “This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?”  How vast and mighty is our Lord that the earth would simply be His footstool!  Isaiah is pointing towards the “resting place” as the rebuilding of God’s temple in Jerusalem.  The people were far away in their hearts towards Him, that is why God accuses their sacrifices as murders.  It was a matter of the heart and their hearts were hard.  God will one day restore Israel and bring peace to her land (vs. 7-13)  Any of you see President Obama’s controversial new stance with Israel?  As the chapter ends the book of Isaiah, many scholars believe Isaiah is giving us events that will transpire after the tribulation and during the 1000 year reign of Christ.

Regarding application…Fearing God.  Vs. 2, “Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”  Question: How many of you are scared about tomorrow’s prophecy?  As Christians, we are not scared because it won’t happen (99.9999%).  However, there are many people who mock this (false) prophecy and have no fear of God.  I’m sure everyday until rapture, people will predict this day…and at some point, someone will happen to be right by chance.  As Christians, we just need to always have a healthy fear of God and do our best to use these types of situations to let people know that this will one day happen!  If we have a healthy biblical fear of God, then we can help this world turn back to Jesus with a fear instead of mocking and scoffing!

QT – Isaiah 65

Vs. 2, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations.”  God gives us more chances than we could possibly imagine.  God had first offered this salvation to the Israelites and many had turned away from the gift of God.  But regardless of their response, God always intended that the Gentiles too would receive His grace.  It’s hard to fathom why people would so outright reject the Lord.  Yet, we see it so often in our schools and workplaces.  We are also reminded that God will use the nations and even enemies to administer his Wrath as He did with the Babylonians.    But the end result is the best to come for God’s kindness and mercy is upon us in the last days (vs. 17-25).  In this ending, we see a picture of the 1000 year reign of Christ after tribulation!  We do not know the hour or the day, yet there is well known Pastor on the radio proclaiming a huge earthquake that will bring about the rapture and the end days.  His name is David Allen and he is proclaiming it will transpire this Saturday, May 21st.  I suppose there is always someone proclaiming rapture or the End Times that will happen to coincidently get it on the same date, but I find it a foolish thing to focus on such things.  Because we don’t know the hour, let us do our best to treat everyday with a sense of urgency and being an example of Christ!  Jesus would remind us that we would not know the hour only God would (Matthew 24:36).

Regarding application…Good in the Bad.  Vs. 8, “This is what the Lord says: “As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is yet some good in it,’ so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all.”  There has always been a good remnant (remaining people) who have lived in this sin-filled world for God.  It is because of this cluster of good grapes that we have found much favor in the Lord.  Even today, there is a remnant of people which would be us who continue this life of faithfulness in a world that is spiraling down.  It is never easy to be a minority in a world that is the majority.  And for us, we are a spiritual minority that must endure the good fight!  God will carefully look for those who are good even in the midst of a bad cluster.  Question: What state does God find you today?

QT – Isaiah 64

Vs. 1, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!”  Isaiah is calling upon the name of the Lord, because the people need to see God!  It is a prayer for a demonstration of power and revival in the hearts of God’s people!  As was before and will be in the time of tribulation, nations will no longer seek after God (vs. 4).  We are reminded once again of the power of prayer and intercession for situations in our lives (vs. 8-12).

Regarding application…Being Molded.  Vs. 8, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  A wonderful picture of God’s hand molding us to His perfect creation.  Question: Are you able to be molded by God?  Whether in my own life or the observance of others, it’s quite obvious when you take a moment to see if a person is being a jar of clay that ready for God to mold them.  Some sit at church with a frown on their face with doubt filled in their life.  They do not see God (vs. 4) nor seek after him (vs. 7).  It is sin that separates their hearts/our hearts from God.  That is why we must not even go a day without prayer and QT’s.  If we do…we walk the danger of turning our hearts away from God and others.  Let us be molded into beautiful jars of clay revealing the master’s craftsmanship and His glory!

QT – Isaiah 63

Vs. 4, “For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come.”  A vivid and even disturbing picture of the reality of those who rebel against the Lord.  In this scene, many scholars believe Isaiah is prophesying of the results of the War of Armageddon (Rev. 16:16, 19:13).  Edom in verse one represents those who are against Israel…and Edom came from Esau, Jacob’s older brother.  Even now, there are Palestinian uprisings that have escalated in the last couple of days towards Israel.  Brothers & sisters don’t ever forget that God is “Just”.  He has given these nations and people every opportunity to turn to Him, but they have hardened hearts and now are thirsty to kill God’s children.  It makes sense that Isaiah would turn back and recall the loving kindness of the Lord throughout the generations (vs. 7-19).  God would protect Isaiah’s people then and He will protect those in the near future.

Regarding application…Prayer for God’s People.  Isaiah sets the example for us as He would pray for His people and those who are yet to come.  Isaiah loved the Lord and he loved the people.  He prayed that the people’s hearts would be turned back to the Lord wholeheartedly.  What a wonderful reminder for each of us as we live this life.  Prayer is not just used to illicit our own selfish wants.  Prayer is used to help others and show our love to them!  Prayer is one of those mysteries that we cannot understand completely.  But, we know by faith it can move the hand of God!  Pray for your family, pray for the church, pray for Israel, pray for your country!

QT – Isaiah 62

Vs. 4, “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married.”  God is not yet done with His purpose in Jerusalem.  We live in a time of unrest and violence in Jerusalem to this very day.  But God’s will is that there will be peace in Jerusalem once again.  And as we see here, there is significance in giving a new name.  When I married Hyojin, she took on my name…likewise, when Israel is restored to God, she too will receive a new name.  Hephzibah means “delight is in her” and Beulah means “married” from verse 4.  Question: When will this happen?  When Jesus comes the second time!

Regarding application…Jesus is Coming!  Vs. 11, “The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.”  What a joy for Jerusalem and what a joy for all of us!  When there is peace in Jerusalem, there will be peace in the world.  We as Christians can do our part in praying for the restoration of Jerusalem as Isaiah prophesied about it (vs. 6-7).  I like how we are reminded that a banner was raised for the nations (vs. 10).  All nations are to hear and know who Jesus Christ is!  Yesterday, I reminded the youth group one of the reasons Jesus has not yet returned is because the Gospel still needs to be shared to all nations.  Let’s get ready for Jesus’ return by doing our part in sharing the Gospel!  Whether in your cities you live in now or missions trips you can go on in the future, you can help in preparing the return of the King!