Prepared for Life

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 47:1-Daniel 1:21

My selection:

And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king.  And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.  

Daniel 1:19-20 (ESV)

Unexpected Trials

The account of Daniel and his three friends, held in captivity by the Babylonian emperor, illustrates why knowledge of and commitment to the Word of God is essential for life. These men found themselves in a foreign land ruled by pagan law, but they knew God’s law and Daniel graciously appealed to the king’s representative to allow them to continue to obey the dietary laws of their religion.  Their appeal was granted and the results proved successful.

Thorough Preparation

We do not know what lies ahead in our lives.  We do not know what challenges and trials we may face.  What can we do to prepare?  Know the Bible.  Read carefully and pray for wisdom.  You will be equipped for whatever comes.  You will be prepared for life.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.                             2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Weekend Readings

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Reading: Ezekiel 40:38-43:27

My selection:   As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.  Ezekiel 43:4-5

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reading: Ezekiel 44:1-46:24

My selection:  Then he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, to the north row of the holy chambers for the priests, and behold, a place was there at the extreme western end of them.  And he said to me, “This is the place where the priests shall boil the guilt offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, in order not to bring them out into the outer court and so transmit holiness to the people.”   Ezekiel 46:19-20

See you again on Monday.

[For reflections on these passages, see the corresponding readings in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God’s Purpose for Judgment

As we come to Ezekiel 38:1-40:37 today, we get an answer to the question “why does God allow His people to go through severe trials and judgment?”  [See Ezekiel 39:21-23].   You might think that if God chose Israel to be His special people that He would be sure they were protected from all kinds of difficulties.  In reality, God’s people are chosen to glorify Him and they could not do that without being disciplined and corrected.

One of my high school teachers was extremely stern, always demanding the best of her students.  She perceived that I was not doing my best and called me in to make me an offer I could not refuse.  If I would come to her classroom during lunch, she said, do the work she would assign, then for each day that I did this, she would add one point to my average for the grading period.  I spent many lunch hours under her watchful eye that year, but I benefited from the extra work and the extra credit.

God chose His people and He demanded that they give Him their best.  He did not let them get by with worshiping other gods or being negligent in obeying His word.  When their sin reached a tipping point, God sent other nations to defeat them and take them into captivity.  The bystander nations saw what God was doing and understood the power and glory of the God of Judah.

Has God disciplined you?  Be sure you are a diligent learner.  The watching world knows.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Death to Life

In today’s reading (Ezekiel 35:1-37:26) God shows us two important truths.  First, the condition of lost people is one of utter hopelessness.  They are not merely weak or sick.  They are dead.  Furthermore, their bones are bleached out.  Second, God’s Spirit has power to bring life to such corpses.

Anytime an unbeliever is born again that miracle of transformation of death to life reoccurs.  [See Ephesians 2:1-10].  Have you experienced that transformation?  God promises that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10: 13).  Praise God for His power.  He is glorified by saving the dead.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Biblical Irony

In Ezekiel 32:1-34:31 we find a case of biblical irony.  Irony according to my Google search is “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.”  In the Scriptures we find statements like “So the last will be first, and the first last” Matthew 20:16 ESV.  That is biblical irony.

How does this work?

The prophet says that the righteous (or those who think they are) may be condemned while those who are wicked may be saved. [See Ezekiel 33:12-13].  Why are these ironic statements true?  We discover throughout the Bible that only by repentance and faith in the Perfect Son of God can we be saved.  Those who attain a certain level of righteousness are tempted to rely on themselves and not on God’s offering for sin.

Meanwhile, the wicked who realize they are hopeless are the ones who in desperation may call out to God for mercy.  And they find it.  There is hope for the wicked and a warning to the presumptuous righteous.

What should we do?

Be sure you are trusting in Christ, not your own good works, for salvation.  In the day of judgment, it will be ironic that the wicked are saved but it will not be amusing that the self-righteous are lost.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

A Warning against Pride

In our reading (Ezekiel 28:1-31:18), the prophet sounds a warning against nations that have ignored the God of creation and in pride have set themselves up as gods.  Their doom is sure.

Pride seems to be present if not central in every kind of sin.  Pride fuels our fear, our anger, and our deceptions.  We desire to rule our world, to answer to no one.

Today, let Ezekiel’s warnings motivate your humble submission to God.  Fear Him alone knowing that His mercy and grace lift up the lowly, those who repent and believe in the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Weekend Readings

God’s uncompromising holiness and sovereignty are clearly lifted up by the prophet Ezekiel for all mankind to see.  But who’s paying attention?

Saturday, September 3 The Futility of Using God

Reading:  Ezekiel 20:1-21:32

My selection:  “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and go whoring after their detestable things?  When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you.

“What is in your mind shall never happen—the thought, ‘Let us be like the nations, like the tribes of the countries, and worship wood and stone.’”  Ezekiel 20:30-32

Sunday, September 4 The Ugliness of Sin

Reading: Ezekiel 22:1-23:49

My selection: “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate, into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust, and they shall deal with you in hatred and take away all the fruit of your labor and leave you naked and bare, and the nakedness of your whoring shall be uncovered. Your lewdness and your whoring have brought this upon you, because you played the whore with the nations and defiled yourself with their idols.   Ezekiel 23:28-30

Monday, September 5 Illustrating Your Message

Reading: Ezekiel 24:1-27:36

My selection:   “As for you, son of man, surely on the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and glory, the delight of their eyes and their soul’s desire, and also their sons and daughters,  on that day a fugitive will come to you to report to you the news.  On that day your mouth will be opened to the fugitive, and you shall speak and be no longer mute. So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 24:25-27

Have a great weekend. See you on Tuesday.

For more on these passages see Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 Days available on Amazon in either Kindle ($4.99) or print format ($12.99).

 

 

Reassurance and Responsibility

In today’s reading, Ezekiel 17:1-19:14, the prophet lays out an important truth: each person is responsible for himself before God (Ezekiel 18:20).  We do not bear the weight of our parents’ sin, but we do bear the weight of our own.  On the other hand, parents are responsible for modeling grace and patience as they raise their children with a knowledge of biblical truth.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4 ESV

But there are limits to this responsibility, if we take into account what Ezekiel says.  Parents are dependent on the Lord to call their children to Him and are not responsible for the sins of their children who may go astray from the teaching they have received.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 ESV

This certainly does not alleviate the pain that parents of unbelieving children feel, but it does assure them that each one will stand before God and answer for himself.  Meanwhile, those parents pray for their children and trust God that all who are His will come to Him.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  John 6:37 ESV

That’s the promise Jesus Christ makes to us who still wait on Him to save our loved ones.  Count on it. Keep praying.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Depth of Mercy

I hope you have progressed in your trip through the Bible in 365 days.  Taking off the month of August has allowed me to focus on a study of the Minor Prophets in preparation for a Sunday school class I will be teaching this fall.

Today we come to Ezekiel 14:12-16:63, a passage which describes the depth of sin of God’s covenant people.  Once again, the perverseness of evil is only overcome by the vastness of God’s mercy and grace.  Their sin is deplorable, but so is mine.  Israel could never cleanse their sin.  Nor can I.  And God knows it all.  I cannot hide it.  I cannot disguise it.

But God who is rich in mercy could and did pay the full price for it.  In Christ, God took my sins upon Himself.  He bore my punishment.  He took my sentence.

Is that your belief too?  If so, you know the peace and joy of facing your sin in the light of the gospel, the good news of life in Jesus Christ. Rejoice!

[For more reflections on this passage, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Fellowship with God

Whatever else we may say about salvation and the eternal state of believers, it centers around fellowship with God.

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 47-48; 1 John 1

And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.” Ezekiel 48:35b

3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3

Ezekiel concludes the long description of the temple, the city, and the land with redistributed territories for the twelve tribes with the simple words, “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.” What more can anyone desire than that the Lord should be there? Knowing that God is with us gives confidence in the face of huge danger and the threat of death itself (Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Joshua 1:4-6; Psalm 23). Several Old Testament figures learned the devastating impact of being abandoned by God (Exodus 33:3, 15; 1 Samuel 4:21-22; Judges 16:20). Not that they could actually ever be totally away from His presence, but they could be, and sometimes were, under His wrath and judgment and without His blessing and favor (Psalm 139:7-12).

The Apostle John also refers to the blessing of fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. God came to dwell among us, he says, and we saw Him. We touched Him. He came to give us eternal life and fellowship with the Father and the Son.[See also John 1:14-17;17:3].

To know Him in truth and to be forgiven and accepted, that is what eternal life is about. The city which Ezekiel described points to that heavenly city, the New Jerusalem where God dwells and where His people live with Him. As John would write later:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3).

So whatever else we may say about the eternal state of believers, it will be unclouded, undiminished fellowship with God. Be faithful as you wait for His coming.