Archive for September, 2014

What Are You Watching? (Ezekiel 33; Psalm 81-82)

September 30, 2014

“So you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel.  Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.”  Ezekiel 33:7

Last week many of the national TV networks (In the United States) began their fall line up of new episodes of programing.  Many people were anxiously awaiting the new season of their favorite TV programs.  Recently I encountered someone from another city who said they had favorite shows to watch every night of the week.  I thought, “This could not be good.”

Question:  “What are you and I watching?”

Believe it or not, what we watch plays a big role in how we carry out our lives.

Think it through:

Ezekiel has been called of God to be a prophet for God’s people during their exile.  His job was simple.  He was to share with God’s people what God was sharing with him.

God’s describes this calling in the form of a metaphor.  The metaphor being that of a guard who is responsible to stand at his post, most likely on a spot on top of the wall by the gate of the city.  He was to watch for the enemy and he was to warn his people if an enemy would come.

This was his job.  If he warned the people and they did not heed the warning, he was in the clear.  But if he did not warn the people, then he was guilty of not doing his job.  So the question that we would ask the watchman each night was this, “What are you watching?”

Let’s dig deeper:

1.  Is God speaking to us today?  If so, what is He saying?

2.  What is our response to what He is saying?

Now let’s dig even deeper:

1.  Are we setting aside time each day to comprehend what He is saying?

2.  How much time are we setting aside to communicate with others what He is saying?

Our response:

It is so true, “What we give ourselves too is really what we are passionate about!!!”  This day I know there is both eternal and personal implications to what I have read.  Listen to what the Lord says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked would turn from his way and live.”  The Apostle Peter shares this same message in II Peter 3:9.  The question is, “What are we watching?”

The Right Hook Up (Psalm 80; Ezekiel 32)

September 29, 2014

“You brought out a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.  You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.”  Psalm 80:8-9

Recently I asked someone about purchasing tickets to a particular sporting event.  Here was their response, “I can hook you up.”  Immediately I knew that this meant, “I have the connections that are required to accomplish the task you are asking me to do.”

Question, “In life, do you have the right hook up?”

Think it through:

In Psalm 80 we see the Psalmist crying out to God.  In particular he desires for God to restore his people to their land.  In the Psalmist mind, “God is the right hook up.”

At this point the obvious question comes:  “Why is God the right hook up?”

1.  He is the one who is on the throne, Vs:2

2.  He is the only one who can help, Vs: 3

3.  He is the one who created us, Vs: 10

Yes, these were his people.  But they were in a world of hurt because of their disobedience to the one on the throne.  However things could change and would change.

Notice the amazing prophecy in Vs 17, ” But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself.”

God’s answer for man’s disconnect from him was in sending his Son (Jesus Christ).  We see this clearly fulfilled in John 15:1-18. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

This is the right hook up!!!

Our response:

How do we know if we have the right hook up?  “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  John 15:7

When we are hooked up to Jesus, we will be asking for fruit bearing in our walk with Christ.  Our prayers will be focused on loving Him and loving others. We will find success as we pray that God would position us to bear fruit among the nations.

This day I challenge you to consider your hook ups in life.  Are there any hook ups you need to disconnect from?  Are there any hook ups that you need to strengthen?  Finally, how hooked up are you to Jesus?

What Are You Thinking? (Psalm 77; Ezekiel 28)

September 25, 2014

“You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”  Psalm 77:4

I often see them as they make their way into the sanctuary each Sunday.  They are putting on their best smiles, but the eyes do not lie.  I can see the worry and the hurt that so many carry because of all that is troubling them.  Certainly, you see them as well?  Maybe, you are also facing worry and hurt?

This morning the Psalmist is facing some extreme trouble.  His thoughts however bring joy to his mind simply because he thinks correctly.

Think it through:

1.  He looks at the big picture of who God is in regard to the ages.

“Then I said, I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

2. He gains strength for the moment as he process the big picture.

“I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.  Your way is holy.  What god is great like our God?” Psalm 77:12-13

3.  He moves forward because the God of Moses is his God.

“You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Psalm 77:20

If I could just get my brothers and sisters to think this way as they come to the sanctuary, then their burden would be lightened and their load lifted.  Consider Jesus, “Come unto me all you who are burned down and I will give you rest,” Matt. 11:28

Our response:

1.  We must decide to look about the moment (The trial) and look to the bigger picture of what God is doing.  Check out Romans 8:28-31 and James 1:1-5

2.  We must trust in the God who is at work in the moment.  Check out Philippians 1 and Proverbs 3:5-6

3. We must face each new day as a victor and not a victim.  Check out I John 4

Do Not Forget (Psalm 74; Ezekiel 26)

September 23, 2014

“Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.”  Psalm 74:19

Question:  “Do you ever forget?”  Answer, “What are you talking about?  What have I forgotten?”  This was the conversation between a mother and her child as the mother was trying to get her child to own up to forgetting what he was supposed to do.

In life, especially as we get older, it is easy to forget things.  Question;  “Do you ever think God forgets?”  This question is front and center in Psalm 74.  The people of Israel have lost their nation, their homes, their temple, and their joy.  The first 11 verses of Psalm 74 describe these devastations.

Think it through:

It would seem as if God were doing nothing about the problems before His people.  But the opposite is the case, God has not forgotten His people.  Every second of every day God knows what is happening with His people.  The fact is, the people were facing the judgment of God against the sinful lifestyle they were living.  It was also the same for the world as well.  Ezekiel 26 gives us a prime example of this.

There are moments when it seems as if God has forgotten, at least it seems this way when we forget to think about God correctly.

Beginning in Vs: 12, the writer brings us back to right thinking.  Two things stand out:

1.  God’s power is never shortened, Vs: 12-18

We serve a God who created everything, rules over everything, and work’s mightily as He choses.

2.  God’s promised are never side-stepped, Vs: 19-20

God never forgets His covenant promises.  He never fails to care for the poor.  He never fails to move on behalf of those who love Him.

Yes, there are moments when it seems as if God has forgotten.  But be assured He is an on-time God.  Paul helps us to see this in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Our response:

I believe God never forgets.  When I am tempted to believe otherwise, the cross stands as a reminder that God never forgets.  This very day I challenge you to believe in both the power and promises of the cross!!!  The cross will help you to never forget.

What’s In The Cup? (Psalm 75-76; Ezekiel 27)

September 23, 2014

“For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with a foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.”  Psalm 75:8

For the sake of illustration I placed some dirty water in a cup and I offered the cup to John as we began our devotions last Wednesday morning.  He took the cup and asked, “What is in the cup?”  I responded, “Don’t you trust me to just drink without checking out what is in the cup?”  His response, “No Sir!”

John was right in his response.  Anyone with a clear mind will not drink without checking out the contents first.

However, this is exactly what the world is figuratively doing every day when they live without regard to God.

Think it through:

In both Psalm 75 and Psalm 76 the topic is the wrath of God.  In both Psalm’s the author is praising God for His glorious wrath that is carried out against humanity.  We see this pictured in Psalm 75:7-8 as a cup in which is contained God’s judgment.  We see God pouring out this cup on all of the rebellious world.

Two things stand out to me:

1.  The drink will be served at the appropriate point, 75:2

There is coming a day when all who have rejected God will realize what they have been drinking.

2.  The drink will be served to the appropriate people, 76:6

All who have rejected God:  Good, bad, and the ugly will all stand before the Lord to be judged.  Revelation 19:11-21 gives us this scene in clarity.

However there is another way we can live.  We can drink from another cup, John 4:11-12; 7:36-38.  This cup is the cup of blessing in Jesus Christ.  This cup is offered by the one who drank the bitter cup for up.  Jesus took the cup with my name on it and drank it on the cross, John 18-20. This day I am drinking from the fountain of life.

Our response:

For those who know Christ, we can drink from the cup of blessing fully trusting in the one who offers the cup.  We can give praise to Jesus for the cup.  We can tell others of the cup they are drinking from and how they may drink from a different cup.

“Thank you Jesus for drinking the cup that was appointed for me.”

I Get It Now (Psalm 73; Ezekiel 25)

September 22, 2014

“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discovered their end.”  Psalm 73:17

There are truths that sometimes seem to allude us.  For example, I have always struggled to understand how electricity is generated.  Even thought I have studied, had others teach me, and even experimented with the process, I still struggle to get it. Certainly no one is intended to understand everything in life.  However there are some things every follower of Christ should be able to understand.  One of those things is in our reading for this day.

The Psalmist has come to the end of an exploration in which he has gained wisdom.  His ending thesis is, “God is good to those who are pure in heart.” It is of great importance to note that the Psalmist does not claim personal perfection, but in Christ he has been brought to a place of righteousness.

There was a moment (Vs: 13) when the writer struggled to understand the value of this righteousness.  Here he was, suffering as a follower of Christ and it seemed the wicked were being blessed (Vs: 3).

Think it through:

1.  The life of the wicked, Vs: 4-11

The wicked seemed to be living lives of ease.  They seemed to be blessed in their pride and arrogance.  They were openly defying the Lord.  Their lifestyle became one that lured so-called believers to follow their path.

The Psalmist struggled for a moment in wondering how the path of righteous had more value.

2.  The end of the life of the wicked, Vs: 16-21

Suddenly, as the Psalmist sought God he understood.  The wicked were in ease sliding toward hell.  They were blind to their mortality.  In a quick moment their lives will come to an end.  Eternity will hold no joy and happiness.  The party will be over.

Now the Psalmist understands.  It has been God who has given him mercy in bringing him out of this lifestyle.  It has been God who has given him true purpose in life.  It is God who has given him eternal life.

Brothers and sisters, “these are things we need to understand!!”

Our response:

We should respond as James teaches is in James 4:7-10, “Submit yourselves to God, resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt you.”

When the News Gets To You (Ezekiel 21; Psalm 68)

September 18, 2014

“And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ You shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming, every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be as weak as water.’ Behold, it is coming, and it will be fulfilled, declares the Lord,”  Ezekiel 21:7

“It’s seems that all we ever hear on the world stage is bad news.”  These were the accurate words that came from the mouth of a wise person in who was leading our prayer meeting.  I quickly said, “Amen,” in response to his statement.  I personally had felt the weight of this earlier in the day as I had read about the taking of Christians from their homes in Saudi Arabia.  I prayed for our President who has a tremendous burden on the world stage.

Question, “How do you feel about what is happening on the world stage?”

Think it through:

Ezekiel is the prophet of God who is in exile with the people of God.  As he lives his life, God is speaking to him about the days ahead. God’s words to him are not joyous words.  The Lord has drawn his sword for battle and will not put it away.  The Lord instructs  Ezekiel to groan for the people.

As I read those words, I thought, “How broken am I for the people of this world?”

As I tried to think through my response, the words of Jesus came to mind.  “In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

This very day, what troubles us does not trouble the Lord.  This very day what bothers us does not bother the Lord.

The previous two statements may seem to be untrue to those who misinterpret what I am saying.  The fact is God is not troubled (in the belief that He can not do anything about the news of the world).  The fact is God is not bothered (in the belief that this is to big for Him).  Our God is sovereignly planted on the throne.  He is redeeming all things!!!

Our response:

I want my response to align with God’s response.  Jesus said, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” 

As the world hears more and more bad news, it magnifies the good news of the gospel.  Brothers and sisters, “There is no better time than this time to share good news with a world that has bad news all around.”

Not for the reason we think (Ezekiel 20; Psalm 66-67)

September 17, 2014

“But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt,” Ezekiel 20: 9

Sometimes it seems as if his prayer was in demanding of God instead of asking of the God who had given grace.  He was confident in his prayer and he was praying things that people would love to amen, but it was all wrong.

The previous scenario could be descriptive of many pastors and many parishioners in our world today.  Sometimes I think it could even, shamefully, be me.

In context, it was certainly the people of Israel who were enduring the wrath of God. In their minds, “God was unfair because they deserved to be blessed.”  Here in chapter 20 Ezekiel reviews Israel’s history.  It is clear, from the very beginning it was not for the reason they thought that God had blessed them.  They, as are we, were daily imperfect in their lives.

We clearly see, it was for God’s fame that He worked miracles on behalf of His people.  All God asked on behalf of His people was for them to obey Him (20:13), but time and time again they refused to do this.

Think it through:

Why are you and I where we are in the blessings of God?  There can be only one answer, “for His glory.”

Why are you and I often in battle in life?  Again, there can only be one answer, “God wants to be king over our lives, Vs: 33. As long we live in entitlement we will face great struggle.

Our response:

Lord, I am what I am only because of your grace.  This day I want to walk as a trophy of your grace.  You are my boss and I am your servant.  Please use me for your glory.  Help me to give you the highest praise as I walk among men (I Timothy 1:17).

“Getting Something For Nothing,” Psalm 64-65; Ezekiel 19

September 16, 2014

“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed.” Psalm 65:1

“I did it again.”  This was my first thought as I woke up this morning.  Each day, I serve a God who blesses me more than I deserve.  Each day I want to end my day by praising Him for who He is and for His abundant grace in my life.  But from time to time I blow it by going to sleep without even saying thank you for what God has done for me.

Psalm 65 is David’s praise for the abundant provision of rain.  This chapter is small in length but deep in praise.

Think it through:

1.  Do you and I have any reason’s to praise the Lord?

“Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts.”  

If you are a Christ follower, you have been given something for nothing.  Jesus went to the cross, purchased your redemption at a great cost, and rose from the dead so that we might be given eternal life.

“Yes, you and I have been given something for nothing.”

2.  Do you and I spend time considering the impact of our blessings?

David reminds us of two things:  First, we are blessed to be in fellowship with God.  Each day, we serve a God who guides, protects, gives peace, and empowers us to do great things.  Secondly, we are blessed with the favor of God.  As the world plunges deeper and deeper into darkness, you and I have the joy of walking in the light.

“We have the light of life,”  John 8:12

God’s preferred response:

Daily we should spend time with God reading His Word so we can be reminded of all we have received freely from Him.

Daily we should spend time with God reading His Word so we can make full use of all He has given us.

Each day, it should be our goal for our last words of each day to be, “I praise you for (You fill in the blank).”

The amazing joy of meditation (Psalm 62-63; Ezekiel 18)

September 15, 2014

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation,” Psalm 62:1

This morning I was confronted by both the Word of God and an illustration of what the Word teaches.  First the illustration:  “My dear missionary friend in Africa posted last week an article on his website entitled, “10 things they forgot to tell a missionary.”  As I read the article I could feel both his pain and passion for God’s work.  But I also could feel the great weight that he sometimes endures as it seems that he is all alone in the work.

Question:  “Do you ever seek for an answer to the weights that you bear in a given day?”

Now, the Word of God.

David writes about the one amazing thing he has chosen to do in the midst of his weight-bearing life.  David practices the discipline of meditation.  David knows that salvation belongs to the Lord. In this he rests as he waits for God’s deliverance.

Here David seems so clear in his thought process.  This is the by-product of meditation

Think it through:

1.  Silent meditation is the correct response to both stress and accusation.

In Vs: 2 David refused to be shaken in his present situation.  Instead he leaned on the Rock (That Rock is Christ).

In Vs: 3-5 David refused to complain about those who were attacking his life. He waited on the Lord.

2.  Strong meditation is the correct response to all circumstances.

In Vs: 6-12 David helps us to understand that no man can stand against God or God’s people.  David lay’s out everything before the Lord.  He is able to see clearly because it is God’s responses that David clings to.

This is truly what God is calling each of us to in the midst of our busy lives.

Here is how Jesus described the joy of meditation:  “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:6

Our response:

Only when we are still before the Lord (Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 30:15) can we know the true value of meditation.  Be assured we will never hear God’s viewpoint unless we are still before Him!!!