Category Archives: Ezekiel

Getting wisdom elsewhere

I’ve been around for a while.  I know quite a bit.

BUT, am I wise?

The Bible is counter-intuitive when it comes to wisdom.

“Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.”  Ezekiel 28:17

“How can men be wise?  The only way to begin is by reverence for God.  For growth in wisdom comes from obeying His laws.  Praise His name forever.”  Psalm 111:10

What I consider wise and what the world considers wise, often isn’t.

A commentary on Psalm 111:10 uses the example of a well-known painter to make a point.  The painter attracts the praise of many as he sketches the passing landscape on the way down the Niagara River to, and over, Niagara Falls.  What was important to him and to those who admired him?  Obviously not the MOST important thing.

God gives us every good thing we have, yet too often we are deceived into thinking we deserve it.  We have made it possible.  God gets relegated to Sunday morning.  We know best without His involvement.

We miss who God is!  We lose our respect and admiration.  Our wisdom becomes “corrupted.”

Reverence for God is a full-time activity.  God is special.  He’s the best.  He’s been there, done it.

Shouldn’t I have a passion to want to know Him better?

Photography interests me.  When I find an expert in an area of photography that interests me, I actively chase after him/her.  I read.  I watch.  I chase.  Why?  They are the expert.  I want to get from them what I have a passion for.

If I claim to love God, I will have a passion to know Him.

The second part of verse 10 above gives instruction in this area: I need to obey His laws.  Surely, this requires knowing what His laws are.  What He wants from me.

I pour over articles in camera magazines chasing knowledge of something that interests me.  I must approach the Bible similarly.  Therein are instructions on how to be wise in God’s eyes.

Will I chase wisdom in the Bible as I do in other areas?

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Where are the Godly?

“For the Lord says: ‘I am against you, Israel.  I will unsheathe my sword and destroy your people, good and bad alike – I will not spare even the righteous.”  Ezekiel 21:3-4

“Who but God can give me strength to conquer these fortified cities?  Who else can lead me into Edom?  Lord, have you thrown us away?  Have you deserted our army?  Oh, help us fight against our enemies, for men are useless allies.”  Psalm 108:10-12

“The One Year Bible” have put Ezekiel 21-22 together with Psalm 108.  They are good fit.

If you want to get discouraged, read Ezekiel 21 & 22!  Things are bad and going to get worse.

Take note that even the so-called “righteous” will not be spared.

I wonder if these folks were “righteous” in their own eyes or were they righteous but not doing what God wanted?  I don’t know.  I do know that God is including them in the punishments to come.

Maybe “righteous” refers to the priests because God goes after them in Ezekiel 22:26: “Your priests have violated my laws and defiled my Temple and my holiness.  To them the things of God are no more important than any daily task.”

At the end of Ezekiel 22, God admits that He has looked for someone (anyone) who actually lives righteously and has the Godly sense to ask Him for help.  Sadly, no one is found!

BUT along comes prayerful David in Psalm 108.  He is well aware of the size of the enemy but He is also aware that God is not overwhelmed by any enemy.  Men are overwhelmed but God isn’t.  David sees that relying on men, and not God, is useless.

What a lesson!  Evil is formidable for sure.  God is more formidable.  My trust must be in Him not in other things such as the police, the government, my health insurance etc…

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We’re not fooling God

“O Israel, the Lord God says: If you insist on worshiping your idols, go right ahead, but then don’t bring your gifts to me as well!  Such desecration of my holy name must stop!” Ezekiel 20:39

We worship whatever we want all week and then we show up in church on Sunday to worship God.

In today’s verse, God mocks our behavior.

He understands what is going on; our commitment to God is a joke.

He deserves total worship, yet we give Him partial.

Every good gift is from Him.  He provided a way for me to spend my after-life with Him.

Do I need to be sitting in a Sunday service to realize what He has done for me?

Anything that is more important to me than God is an idol.  This doesn’t mean that I become part of a monastery.  It does mean, however, that God must be invited into every part of my life.  This will keep me from chasing a “god” of my own choosing.

Notice that God allows me free will.  He doesn’t force me to worship Him.

I must not share the worship He deserves with anyone else.

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He is not preaching to the choir

“As I live,” says the Lord God, “you will not use this proverb any more in Israel, for all souls are mine to judge – fathers and sons alike – and my rule is this : It is for a man’s own sins that he will die.”  Ezekiel 18:2-4

We will not appear on Judgment Day collectively.

There won’t be talk of; “We attend the same church and/or go to the same Bible study.”

We are on our own.

No one will give references for us and try and put in a good word for us.

I stand before Him alone.  There will be no “choir” of us.  Just me.

Good news?  I won’t carry the baggage of my associates with me.

Bad news?  There will be no coattails to cling to.

God sees me perfectly.  There is nothing hidden.  My thoughts, plans, and actions are common knowledge to Him.

It behooves me to approach Him as an individual.  To know that I alone am accountable.

There will be a time when my life will be seen by me as it really is.  I will know that I am unworthy of an after life with a perfect God BUT it is then that I will truly realize the mercy/grace of God.

I will not be given a place in heaven because of my earthly associations.  That placement happens because of my association with God.

I accept His provision for me when He sent Jesus to die for my sins.  Jesus died for that which should separate me from an after life with God.

What a Savior!

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Are you an Old Testament worshiper?

“On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of the Lord at the entrance of that gateway.”  Ezekiel 46:3.

Worship is now so different.

I read of the procedures followed in the Old Testament and marvel at the changes.

In the Old Testament, God was in a place.  Then Jesus came, and God was on the move.  Now Jesus has left, and we have the omnipresent Holy Spirit.

The way we worship is indicative of which of those three stages we are at.  I suspect that many go to Israel because they believe that this is where God is.  Some attend a certain church or connect to a certain denomination because they believe that God is there.

Are those two groups missing out on what really is?  I suspect so.

When I go to a place, I don’t go because God is there (and not someplace else) but because there are others there who feel the same way I do about God.  Similarly, I go to a Boston Celtics’ game because I want to celebrate that team with others who like the team.

God is with me now and He is with you at the same time.  He’s everywhere at once……try to grasp that!

I do not have to go someplace to be with Him.  He’s in my office as I write this.  When I leave to go fishing this afternoon, He’ll be with me there.

I need to be mindful of His presence wherever I am located.  I need to act accordingly.

I recall reading of folks who leave an empty chair at the dinner table to remind them of God’s presence.  Not a bad idea.

Conclusion: God is at hand.  I must celebrate His presence by behaving accordingly.

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Warning: Florence is coming!

“When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.”  Ezekiel 33:8.

I know people who are separated from God.  I have some certainty that, as things are now, their eternity will be one of separation from God.

I have read today’s verse before.  Every time I do, it haunts me.

I have a responsibility and there are consequences to be considered.

Later in Ezekiel (33:20) is this verse: “But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.”

I am not going to be able to pull off a Greg Laurie rally.  I can dismiss my involvement by saying that I’m not him.  But can I?  What can I do regarding the lost?  I will be judged on what I have done with what I have been given.

My search is not for how I can put together an evangelistic gathering of Greg Laurie size.  Instead, I need to hear from God regarding what, with my abilities, I CAN do.  God knows what I can do.  I am a steward of His gifts to me.

That thinking may be even more discomforting!

Do I spend any time considering what I can do?  Praying is a given.  I can pray without ceasing if I will pray for someone whenever they come to mind.  That would sure mean praying a lot for those in my household.

There has been plenty of warning about tropical storm Florence.  We all know about it and those who claim ignorance have a problem.

Those who keep delivering the warnings are worried about the safety of those in harm’s way.  The spiritual segue is way too obvious.

If the weather folks (?) knew of Florence yet declined to warn us in some way, they would be considered despicable.

I don’t have access to the latest weather equipment, yet I could call a relative in North Carolina and advise them to get to safety.  I would, thereby, warn them in the way I could.  That’s what God is looking for from me: be prepared to warn the lost in the best way you can.

Conclusion: I am obligated to care enough for the lost that I will be willing and prepared to help them as best I can.

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Misplaced trust

“Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Israel but will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”  Ezekiel 29:16.

I am having trouble with my camera.

Israel was having trouble with a neighbor.

What do we do when the going gets tough?  Look for help.

If you asked me about God, I would tell You that He is Almighty.  Not a thing He can’t do.  Can handle everything.  Just need to trust Him.

But then reality comes along.  My camera isn’t working right.  Israel has a big threatening neighbor.

How many hours of frustration do I have to go through (over my camera) before I stop and recognize that God hasn’t been considered?

Israel feared Babylon. But did they turn to God for help?  Nope.  They turned to Egypt, their neighbor to the south.

God isn’t pleased with me and He wasn’t pleased with Israel.

When I “turn” to God it suggests that I am looking away from Him to begin with!  That isn’t right.

Egypt was a godless place.  Today’s verse tells us that God is going to so reduce Egypt that Israel can see that trusting them for help was foolish.

This is God being God.  He cares so much for Israel that He lessens their counterfeit gods.  As I thrash about looking for answers, I discover that my counterfeit gods are limited.

The answers to my camera problems exist somewhere in the maze of photography information.  I need God to show (enlighten) me what I need to do to fix things.  That search for solutions (on my own) hasn’t been pretty!  You know that you need help when a Google search isn’t helpful.

I believe if I commit my dilemma to God, I can live with what happens next.  Frustration comes when I trust counterfeit gods.  They might help me this time but eventually they’ll be terminal.  “Lord, I need help.  Direct/Send it to me, I pray.”

Conclusion: Counterfeit gods are limited. God isn’t.  I must entrust my problems to the Unlimited One.

 

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Why am I trying to settle scores?

“I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign Lord.”  Ezekiel 25:14.

I must not leave God out of the workings of my life.

Someone bothers me.  How do I react?  I put myself in charge of making things right.

Note today’s verse.  God is going to take care of punishment and He is going to use people to get the punishing done.

Israel is not in charge of punishing every wrong.  God is in charge and He is using them against the Edomites.

God can punish people directly and indirectly. This is an indirect example.

Note Who is in charge.  I’m not!

I am not in the punishment “business.”  Yet, in my life I am constantly “punishing” others.  I am too willing to exact a price on someone who does something I don’t like.

Why can’t I trust God to run the punishment department?  Think of the advantages He has in dealing with problems!  He knows what’s going and He knows the appropriate punishment.  I’m not exactly clear on either of those.  Yet I plunge into it!

Today’s verse led me into meditating on patience.  I must be patient with others.  Why?  A Godly person must display His Traits and He forgave my sins.

Why do I get so riled up by little things?  Forgiving someone is often an instant choice.  Something is said or done, and I am in the reacting position.  Satan is still trying to advise me, and his voice gets louder and clearer when I am out of tune with God.

My walk with God must be ceaseless.  I must be close enough to realize that He’s in on everything going on with me.  Something happens, and I can look to Him before I respond.

A right relationship to God is the bottom line.

Conclusion: I must allow God to handle punishing others.  I must be as patient with others as He is with me.

 

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How could I ever forget what’s her name?

“And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord.”  Ezekiel 22:12.

Ezekiel has just rattled off a list of sins committed by the Israelites as told to him by God.

Then the damning summary: you have forgotten me.

This is a direct hit on me.  None of the ungodly things I do would be done if I was mindful of God.

It is such a simple thought: be mindful of God.

The sad truth is that if I’m not mindful of God then I am mindful of Satan.  There’s no way I can sugar coat this.

My life has too many godless moments.  It is troubling.

How can I forget God?  It happens because I lose track of His mercy and grace to me.  These are not just “nice” things.  They are awesome things.

The thing with God is that His Goodness isn’t just last week’s news.  He is in my midst.  I am well fed.  The sun is out.  I have clothing and a loving companion.  The list goes on and on.  But do I remember Him on and on?  No.  Why?  I stop counting my blessings and forget God.

How can this change?  I must add God to the list of things I don’t forget.  Why do I remember where my cellphone is?  I use the phone regularly and there are serious consequences if I can’t find it.  Why doesn’t God fit into the same pattern with me?  He should!

Conclusion: There is no way I can forget God, but I do.  He needs to top my “list” of things that must be remembered.

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I won’t get away with it

“I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare.  I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment on him there because he was unfaithful to me.”  Ezekiel 17:20.

God’s plan was for Israel to go into exile.

It’s certainly wasn’t a popular plan, but it was what God wanted.

Those who came and told the Israelites about what was going to happen did so at their own risk.

Several chapters back in Ezekiel, the Israelites were confident that the impending disaster wouldn’t happen in their lifetimes.  “Relax, we’re okay,” they surmised.

We’re further along now.  Israel has been captured and many residents have been taken to Babylon.  Babylon kept the Israelite leader in place on the condition that he would remain loyal to Babylon.

Despite signing an agreement with Babylon, the Israelite leader conspired with Egypt.  He would get Egypt to help him.

This was not God’s plan and because of the leader’s behavior there would be a price to pay.

When I do what I (alone) want to do, I am behaving as the Israelite leader did.  I am choosing my own course of action.  I am putting myself in line to bear the consequences of such action.  God is not mocked.  He misses nothing.  I can’t hope that He won’t find out.  In fact, He knows everything I think and do.  Nothing escapes Him.

I continue to recall the point I found in  Revelation 3 about God’s Work and busywork.  If I am not working directly for God, then I am working for Satan.  That’s a harsh truth.  The Israelite leader’s behavior was extreme.  He disregarded God and then directly disobeyed Him.  I, however, do the same at my own level too many times.

I MUST attach myself and my plans to His scrutiny.  If I act without Him, I am going with Satan.  God is not pleased, and He will not bless me.

I am quite sure that the leader of Israel had trouble imagining that being in captivity was a good thing.  It was to God, however, but not to him.

When I am faced with difficult situations, I struggle to remember that if God is running my life then that struggle is for my good.  Too often I want a walk with Him that has no obstacles.  I have to realize that those “obstacles” strengthen me in a way God only knows.

Conclusion: I am not immune from struggles.  Will I remember, because I am a believer, that God is in the struggles with me and live accordingly?

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