Ezekiel 20

Vs. 1, “In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and they sat down in front of me.”  This looked like a good sign, the elders seemingly coming to inquire about God’s will.  However, the questions were foolish and the intention in their hearts and how they viewed themselves were skewed.  Ezekiel gives the a nice little history lesson.  He reviews the Exodus out of Egypt (vs. 1-9), the journey through the wilderness (vs. 10-17), and sadly the rebellion and exile once in the Promised Land (vs. 18-32).  But God wasn’t finished with them yet…through Ezekiel, He would go on to share the purging and purifying process that will come.

 

Regarding application…What will God do?  Vs. 41, “I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will show myself holy among you in the sight of the nations.”  Throughout the last section of this chapter, we see many “I will” statements from God.  Sometimes, we wonder why it seems God doesn’t respond.  God’s timing is perfect.  At this moment for Ezekiel, it was not time to yet restore.  Perhaps for us, we are going through a storm because God is either disciplining us or teaching us something about faith.  But in the end, “God will” respond!  He will restore and the hope that we have because of it helps us endure the present!  Keep you faith up and eyes on the Lord this beautiful Monday!

Ezekiel 2

Vs. 1, “He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.”  I find this an interesting observation: God came to Ezekiel on His own volition.  What I mean by this, is that we are not told Ezekiel went up to a mountain and fasted for days upon days to get a vision from God.  I’m not saying that it isn’t wrong to be assertive and seek after God, but sometimes…we just can’t force it.  God will speak to us when HE chooses, not when we pray and seemingly demand for it. My heart goes out to Ezekiel because what God is asking of him is a monumental task of gargantuan proportions.  He was to speak to a group that would not listen.  Their hearts were hardened so much that, they are in exile because of it and yet…many still would not respond.  Seriously…who wants to do something that isn’t going to be easy and people won’t care about what you say?

 

Regarding application…What is Success?  Vs. 5, “And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them.”  Question: How do you measure success in the Christian sense?  When it comes to churches, we fall into the same trap of the world…we look at the numbers.  A big church is supposed to be a more successful church.  Brothers & sisters…this is a lie direct from the enemy himself.  Like Jeremiah…Ezekiel was already told that his ministry would not bring much success from a worldy vantage point.  However good or even not so good a Pastor/Youth Pastor may be in sharing the Word and presenting the Gospel…it is not a human thing…it is a Holy Spirit thing.  I have seen on numerous occassions times I have preached a wonderful message and many students look with blank faces.  There have been also times that I have spoke a very simple message and I see hearts turning to God.  But either way…it is not the speaker, but it is the hearts of those who respond.  Good preaching, teaching, doctrine all have their place…but no matter what size a church is, is not determined by successs or failure.  It’s not how much you accomplish, it’s what you do with what you have that brings glory to God!

Matthew 23

Vs. 13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites...”  Now that Jesus was in Jerusalem, he had quite a captive audience of disciples as well as Pharisee’s and teachers of the law.  Seven times Jesus would would point out the faults of the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law.  In fact, this would be the last public message before his death.  Question: Really?  A message of fire & brimstone?  Yep, it was time to rebuke the false teachers and warn the disciples as well as us the hypocrisy that surrounded their life.  Here’s a rundown of what the hypocrisy looked like: They were not practicing what they preached (vs. 3-4), They did it for recognition, not God (vs. 5-7), they put the focus on men rather than God (vs. 8-12), They tried to control the very gates of heaven (vs. 13-14), they led followers astray (vs. 15), they put their value in worldy oaths (vs. 16-22), they ignored God’s law (vs. 23-24), they put focus on the outside rather than the inside (vs. 25-26), they were empty morally on the inside (vs. 27-28), they judged their ancestors when they themselves were doing a worse action (vs. 29-32).  Not a very distinguished list, huh?

 

Regarding application…What times is it? Humble Time.  Vs. 12, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  Looking at the list of “woes”…I would like to think that I’m not guilty of any of these.  Yet, I find that I have acted just like the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law.  The more I measure myself to God’s word, the more humbled I am.  Going back to seminary is one of the most grueling and arduous things I have done.  God has a sense of humor and all those times I have not studied in the past…I’m making it up now.  As I venture down the road of Biblical & spiritual academia…I am humbled.  As you venture down reading the Bible everyday…allow His word to humble you.  Question: What good is it to read and not be moved?  Then you wasted your own time and God’s time.  As Jesus closes his message, O Jerusalem…O Jerusalem…I can’t help but think he’s saying that to us.  (Sigh~~~…Oh Youth Group…O Youth Group….how often I have longed to gather you together.”  It’s time brothers and sisters.  Turn to the Lord.

Jeremiah 32

Vs. 2, “The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.”  It was a dark time, Nebuchadnezzar had breached the walls of Jerusalem and the final seige would begin.  King Zedekiah imprisoned Jeremiah during this time for speaking such prophecies of doom and the fact that it was now becoming true.  But it was really because Zedekiah outrightly revolted against the Babyloninans that God would allow this attack and of course the people’s sins.  But a very interesting things transpires, God would instruct Jeremiah to purchase his cousin’s property in his hometown Anathoth.  If his cousin came without God forwarnig Jeremiah, he probably would have refused such a request because the land was already under the enemies control.  Question: Can you imagine buying land that you knew would not be availabe to you for seventy years? That is what God was instructing Jeremiah to do.

 

Regarding application…Practice what You Preach.  Vs. 8b-9, “I knew that this was the word of the Lord; so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver.”  There is another old saying, “Put your money where you mouth is”  It was time for Jeremiah to show his complete faith by purchasing land and thereby proving to everyone else that he believed they would one day return.  I love it.  Seventeen shekels of silver was a substancial amount of money even in our present day.  From the book of James, we are reminded If you have faith, show it by your actions.  All talk and no play.  Brothers and sisters…if you love God, then you must show it everyday in your life.  Show it to God in your QT’s.  Show it to your friends at school or your coworkers in your careers.  Show it to your family at home.  It’s time to step up to the plate DAILY!  And just like the game of baseball, you’ll have many chances even in one game to step up to the plate.