Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11
Read the “0919 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land… My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:1 & 6)
I remember recently looking at a textbook from back at the turn of the last century. I think it was called a “primer” and it was used for teaching in public schools all over America. It is full of references to God and direct quotes from the Bible. It didn’t matter what the subject was, the writers of the curriculum made sure that while the students learned academics they also learned about God. When I was a child, we used to observe a “moment of silence”, which was our opportunity to pray at the beginning of the school day. When my dad and mom were young, the teachers in the classroom actually prayed to God aloud, and also recited the Ten Commandments, etc. in the public school. America was filled with the knowledge of God in years past. They say that the average lost man, 100 years ago, knew more Bible than a Bible college student does today. I don’t think that is far from being true. We have become a secular society with all of the humanistic principles and philosophies that go along with it. We no longer look to God for solutions: we look to the government or the prominent secular authority.
In Hosea’s day it was much the same way. The land of Israel was founded on Biblical principles, yet the people became increasingly enamored with the counsel and culture of the ungodly. God said that the people were destroyed because of this lack of knowledge. The question in my mind, though, is where to place the blame. Was it God’s fault? No. Was it the people’s fault? That is a good question. I mean, the people obviously had lost their appetite for spiritual things: they did not want to “hear it” anymore. It’s hard to deliver truth to people who don’t want to listen anymore. However, I would place the blame at the feet of God’s ministers. They seemed to have gotten tired of going against the popular trends of their day; and chose to acquiesce to it rather than preach against it. So, truth stop being delivered, and the people got worse.
This sure reminds me of the current religious climate in America. Preachers want to please the people. Who doesn’t want to be liked? The problem is that in pleasing the people they often compromise the truth. Most churches in America today are only delivering a small fraction of the truth that they once delivered. For example: how many churches have shut down their Sunday School programs; Sunday Evening services; and mid-week Prayer Meetings? How many messages have been cut back to a palatable 20 minutes; and how many of those 20 minute messages have more than a reference or two to Scripture. God commands His preachers to preach the Word “in season (when it’s popular) and out of season”. It really does not matter if the culture wants it or not, we are to flood our communities with the truth of God’s Word. Our nation is starving for the Word of God; and, unfortunately, so are many of our church members. We need to get back to preaching and teaching the truth in our schools and in our churches and in our homes. We need also to get back to flooding our communities with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that the people won’t be “destroyed for lack of knowledge”
Posted in Thoughts from Hosea by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Today’s Passage – Daniel 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15
Read the “0917 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:” (Daniel 9:4 & 5)
The three chapters that we have read today contain wonderful prophecies about what was going to lie ahead for the people of Israel; and partially they reveal what still lies ahead for us today. Daniel receives several visions in these chapters, and for the most part they are explained to him so that he (and we) can understand them. We basically learn about all of the kingdoms that would rule the earth from the time of Daniel up until the time of the return of Christ. We learn that the Kingdom of Babylon would be overtaken by the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. Following them will be the Greeks; and finally we conclude with the Roman Empire which was in power at the time of Christ. This kingdom will eventually be revived and ruled by Antichrist in the last days. These are fascinating and amazingly easy to understand passages of Scripture that leave us with the assurance of knowing that we already have the victory over any evil forces that may come our way.
However, in the midst of all of this prophecy that is given in these three chapters is a prayer to God by Daniel. The thing that captivated my attention about this prayer is that Daniel includes himself in his confession to God regarding all of the iniquity of the people of God. He doesn’t say “they”; he says “we”. Now from what we know about Daniel from what is recorded in Scripture is that he was a very good man. There is not a mark against him in the Word of God. However, we know that he was a man like every other man and was not sinless. Nevertheless, he includes himself in all of the corporate idolatry and immorality that the nation was guilty of. I don’t think that he had forsaken God as the nation had, yet he took the blame upon himself.
I have a couple of thoughts regarding this humble prayer of Daniel:
1 Daniel is a type of Christ here who, though innocent, takes the blame for the sin of others.
2 Daniel is not like most men, including myself at times, who are always trying to pass the blame on to others. Why are we so full of pride that we have to try to make ourselves look to be without flaw and without sin. We are sinners. Sinners sin: it’s what we do. When we sin, we ought to be able to admit it to the Lord, ourselves, and others. We are not God. God doesn’t sin. Remember the old saying, “to err is human”. It is. Humans err; humans make mistakes; humans get away from God. Let’s not be proud of our humanity, but let’s try to humble ourselves enough to recognize it.
Christian, let me encourage you to not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. You ought always to be willing to accept blame for your actions; and even accept some blame for the actions of those you may be associated with. Daniel took full responsibility for the actions of his nation. We ought to have enough humility to come before God the same way. It really is kind of strange the way we behave. We try to present ourselves as perfect: we want to be seen as some kind of God; but God, who is perfect, took upon Himself the blame of everyone else.
Posted in Thoughts from Daniel by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6
Read the “0916 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earthare reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:34 & 35)
But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: (Daniel 5:23)
I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. (Daniel 6:26)
In the three chapters that we have read today, we have the accounts of three different kings: Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; Belshazzar of Babylon; and Darius of Persia. Each of these kings came to know that the God of Heaven was the only God of the universe. Each of these kings came to know this under different circumstances. The first king we saw (Daniel 4) was Nebuchadnezzar. He had already seen the power and supremacy of our God in the events that are recorded in the first three chapters of Daniel. Somehow, however, he forgot that it was God who buttered his bread; and began to think that it was he who was the source of his own success. The last straw was in v 30, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”. God had to greatly humble him. It is a principle of God that he humbles those who exalt themselves. Praise God, though, that He gave Nebuchadnezzar another chance, and He allowed him to be restored. Nebuchadnezzar did not make the same mistake twice: he gave God the glory for all that he was able to accomplish in the kingdom.
The second king we saw (in chapter 5) was Nebuchadnezzar’s “son” who appears to have never come to the place where he voluntarily submitted himself to the God of Heaven. He actually got so bad that he drank from the cups that were taken from the Temple of God: cups that were reserved only for the priests in the service of God. God revealed Himself to Belshazzar by writing his doom upon the wall. Shortly thereafter the the prophecy from the writing was fulfilled when the Persian empire came in and conquered the city of Babylon.
The last king that we read about (in chapter 6) was Darius from Persia. It seems that Darius had a great respect at least for God, though it did not appear that he worshipped him. Because of a mistake that he made, Daniel ended up in the den of lions; but somehow Darius knew that God would deliver him. He actually ended up making it official in the kingdom that everyone was to worship God.
The common denominator for all of these kings, however, is Daniel. Daniel was a steady witness; a powerful, uncompromising voice in all three of these kingdoms. He never wavered and he never yielded to the worldly influences around him. Even though he was in captivity, he was always blessed of God, and favored by each of these kings. His story is similar to Joseph’s in many ways. Let’s learn from the example of men like Daniel and Joseph, and let’s live for God; even in times when the whole world is going in the wrong direction. There will be opportunities to demonstrate the love and power of God before a lost world. When they need God, they will look for someone who they know has consistently walked with Him, like Daniel.
“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” (Proverbs 22:29)
Posted in Thoughts from Daniel by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121
Read the “0915 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliverus out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:17 & 18)
I enjoy reading every part of the Bible, but I have really been looking forward to getting into the Book of Daniel. These first three chapters, and the stories of Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) were a great source of strength and encouragement to me today. I may not be facing trials and burdens that could be compared to what these young men faced, but I figure if they had faith enough to stay true to the Lord during their big ordeals, then I certainly should be able to muster enough faith to handle the little tests and problems that have come my way. These were great young men of faith, whose strength and trust in the Lord caused them to stay true to the Lord when all others compromised; and it also allowed them to stay cool when faced with the trials of their life.
In chapter one, we see the four men having a good attitude in a very bad situation. They were taken captive into the strange land of Babylon. We have no idea what happened to the rest of their families; but they may have been left behind, or possibly even put to death. These men were the cream of the crop from Israel: they were smart and well favored physically; but these gifts were not the traits that caused them to stand out from the crowd: it was their faith in God that distinguished them from everybody else. They were given a diet of the best meat and wine from the king, however the meat that the king gave them was most likely sacrificed to some pagan God. Daniel and his companions requested pulse (vegetables) and water as they did not want to compromise their faith in God by eating that which was sacrificed to an idol. The prince reluctantly agreed to accommodate them but only as long as they gave no appearance of being weak and thin. God prospered them with their vegetarian diet and they grew stronger than those that ate the meat.
In chapter two, we see them face an even greater test. The king had a dream and he wanted somebody to tell him what it meant. He made it really hard for the “wise men” in that he would not even reveal the dream: they not only had to give the meaning, but they also had to tell the king the events of the dream. This put most of the kings soothsayers out of business, and got the king mad enough to give all of the “wise men” including the four Hebrew boys a death sentence. Daniel did not panic; he prayed, and God gave him the answer to the king’s dilemma which saved his life and the lives of his three companions. It also gave them great favor in the sight of the king, and elevated them in position above all of the rest.
In chapter three, we see the stakes are raised even higher. The king has passed a new law that states everybody needs to bow to the new statue that he has made. Of course the boys refuse to bow to anything but their God. Once again the king is furious. (Kings don’t like it when the people listen to any other power but theirs) Their sentence this time is to be thrown into the fiery furnace. They trust that their God is well able to deliver them, so they continue refusing to bow to the image. The king throws them in, but miraculously God saves them, not from the fire, but in the fire. Sometimes God allows us to go through the trial: He doesn’t always deliver us from them; but His grace is always sufficient.
These are amazing, encouraging, motivating accounts of great faith. I want to have the strength of faith that these boys had. How about you? Is your faith strong or weak today? Well, did you spend time today in the Word of God? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17) There is a direct correlation between the time spent in the Word of God, and your strength in trials. Why not allow God to strengthen you today through His Word?
Posted in Thoughts from Daniel by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 18:3 & 46
Read the “0914 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” (Ezekiel 47:9)
“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” (Ezekiel 48:35)
These concluding chapters of Ezekiel paint a marvelous picture of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, which He will establish here on the earth after the Great Tribulation. The Bible tells us of a river that flows from the throne of God in the Temple that eventually empties into the Dead Sea. The River begins as just a trickle but deepens and widens as it flows, eventually becoming a great river that one could swim in. I believe this is a marvelous picture of the presence and grace of God. We, as His children, often begin our journey only entering in ankle deep, but as we grow in our relationship with Him, we go ever deeper into those living waters of life that He spoke of also in John 4. It is interesting also that Ezekiel tells us that the waters will heal anything that they come in contact with. Even the Dead Sea, which is virtually devoid of all life today because of its salt concentration, will be healed and will be full of all sorts of fish and other living creatures. God told us in John’s gospel that He came to give us an abundant life, and at this time, all the world will experience the abundant life that only can come through a deepening relationship with Christ.
I love the last verse of Ezekiel’s prophecy. It says that the name of the city shall be, “The Lord is there”. I got to thinking about that statement and how it should apply to many things today. The presence of God indwells me today, so I can say about my life that the Lord is there. But I wonder how often my life is not a good representation of that reality. How often do I quench the Holy Spirit of God as He seeks to flow through me in order to reach the people around me who may not know Him. My family ought to be a picture of “the Lord is there”, as well as our church. In this Millennial Kingdom that Ezekiel speaks of everybody will see it: there will be no obstructions, no impairments that will hinder the people from clearly experiencing the presence of God. I want the obstructions to be removed from my life so that others will clearly see Christ in me. I want people to be able to say about me that God is with me; but my flesh often puts a bushel over the candlestick of God working in my life. How about you? Can people clearly see and be refreshed by the presence of God in your life? Won’t it be wonderful when this time comes that Ezekiel writes about to never have to be hindered by our flesh again: the sin nature that plaques us will be removed for good. But for now, we have to battle with our flesh; we have to surrender to the Spirit of God, and allow His abundant life to flow through us.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105
Read the “0913 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.” (Ezekiel 44:10 & 11)
In the passage above we see that some of the Levites were guilty of falling away from God and chasing after idols. God tells them here that they will have to face the consequences for their actions (“bear their iniquity”), but He does not cast them away altogether. He still gives them a place to serve in the temple. There were some things that they could no longer do, but they could still participate in the worship.
As I mused on this passage I had two contrasting thoughts. First, I considered how awful it must have been to be removed from a high position of service because of sin. But next, I thought about how wonderful God is to give us a second chance to serve Him. We may not be able to do the same things we used to do, but we can still participate; still serve God.
These thoughts lead me to give two challenges. The first is to those who are serving God today with no blemish on their record. They are blameless in the eyes of the community, and have not disqualified themselves from being a pastor or deacon. Stay pure, stay away from sin. Put up some fences and boundaries in your life that will keep you inside the will of God. Don’t lose what God has given you.
The second challenge is to those who may have fallen. Get back up, and do whatever God will allow you to do. You may not minister in the same capacity as you used to, but you can still serve. You can still win people to Christ. You can still be a prayer warrior. You can still minister to people. You can still be a blessing to a church by serving in a variety of ways. You can still give so that others can minister “full-time”. There is still a lot for you to do. Don’t lay down. Get back up and find God’s plan B for your life. Allow God’s grace to humble you and restore you. Who knows, God may just use you in a greater way than He did before; but just praise God that He is still using you.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4
Read the “0912 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.” – (Ezekiel 43:1-5)
“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.” – (2 Chronicles 7:1)
I enjoyed reading this morning the continued description of the Millennial Temple and the worship that will take place during the Millennial Kingdom. I find it interesting that it appears that some of the sacrifices (like the Passover) will be re-instituted during this time. I often wondered why there would be sacrifices at this time. Then it dawned on me that there was never a “need” for the sacrifices. What I mean is that they never took away sin; they just served as a symbol or a picture of Christ’s coming sacrifice on Calvary. However, during the Millennium, they will no longer point forward to Christ; they will serve as a reminder, a memorial of Christ: much like the Lord’s Supper does for us today.
However, the thing that really excited me this morning was the thought of the glory of God passing through the eastern gate. You may recall that Christ came through the eastern gate when he rode in Triumphal Entry. That was certainly glorious, however, at that time Christ was veiled in humanity, and His glory was not evident to many who saw Him; but at the end of the Tribulation when Christ begins His Millennial reign (after putting down all opposition), He will bust through these gates and set up His Kingdom on earth. Imagine what that will be like. I want to see it up close. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of a world that spits in the face of God. I am tired of mosques being built where the temple should be. Don’t misunderstand, I am not advocating violence; but I long for the day when Christ puts an end to all of this nonsense. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.
A practical application for today from this passage surrounds that phrase in v 5, “the glory of the Lord filled the house”. The glory of the Lord comes with His presence. I want to experience the presence of God in our local church every time I come to worship. Isn’t it a wonderful thing when the Lord shows up while we’re at church. It is His house isn’t it? Unfortunately, there are many times that we come together for worship and the Lord’s glory isn’t as evident as it should be. I suppose there are many reasons why that is: it could be because their is bitterness and division within the church; it may be that there is too much carnality among the members; and it could be that the people are just not looking to meet with God. Whatever the reasons, it is a shame that God does not feel welcome in His own house. I want to experience the presence of God in my life, my home, and my church.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 35 – 37 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89:1
Read the “ 0910 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” (Ezekiel 37:3)
In chapter 37, God shows Ezekiel a vision of a valley full of old, dry bones; and he is commanded by God to prophesy to the bones that God will put flesh upon them once again and put breath into them so they might live. Once Ezekiel begins to do this, he sees the bones begin to shake and gather together, and after God puts His breath back into them, they get up and become an “exceeding great army”. The correct meaning of this vision is explained by God Himself: the scattered bones represent the whole house of Israel. They had been divided, and they had long since died spiritually by turning away from the God who gave them life. However, through this vision, God explains that Israel will once again be united and will also once again be revived, walking in the commandments of the Lord.
Though, it is not supported by the immediate context, I would like to suggest an application of this vision on two more levels. Could we say that God can give life again to the Christian that is spiritually dead? And, could we say that God can give life again to the church that is spiritually dead? This passage is a wonderful picture of spiritual renewal and revival. Christians and churches tend to gradually slip away from the Lord: they get apathetic and lazy in their devotion. They then begin to move away from soul winning and service; and before they realize what has happened they become dry bones with no spiritual life or fruit. When these times come, we need God to breathe new life into us and cause our dry bones to live.
Notice also that a sign of the deadness of the bones was that they were scattered. God had to first gather the bones together in order to bring life back to them. Division in the church is a definite sign of deadness. The churches of the New Testament that were mightily used of God in winning souls were “in one accord” and “had all things common”. Churches that lose sight of their focus of fulfilling the Great Commission will soon become divided and die.
Let’s make this practical for you as an individual. Are you spiritually dead or alive? When was the last time you picked up your Bible outside of a church service just to spend time alone with God? How is your prayer life? When was the last time that you were concerned enough about a lost man’s soul that you spoke to him about it? Do you view life from a Christ-centered, Biblical perspective, or do you place self at the very center of the universe? Do you look forward to being with God’s people in the church services or has it become a chore for you; something you endure? Do you “have to” or do you “get to”? Be honest with your answers. Now make a diagnosis. Are you breathing, or are you dead? If you are dead or dying, why not ask God to breathe new life into you. Your dead bones can live again as you surrender your life to the will of God.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3
Read the “ 0909 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” – (Ezekiel 33:7)
“And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” – (Ezekiel 33:32)
Today’s reading contained a lot of very convicting truth regarding those of us who are called to preach and teach the Word of God. There are three different terms used to describe God’s ministers in these chapters. In chapter 33:7 we see the title, “watchman” used again. The watchmen were the men that were expected to warn the people of a danger that is approaching. God expects his watchmen to stay alert, and faithfully warn the people. He will hold the preachers accountable who fail to preach the whole counsel of the Word of God. God says that if the watchman does his job and faithfully warns the people, then he will not be held accountable when the people go astray; but if he fails to warn them, their blood will be on his hands. This is a very sobering truth for those of us who are called to preach and teach the Word of God. We must tell them, even if they don’t want to hear it. Notice verse 11:
“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
God does not enjoy judging people. We must warn them.
At the end of chapter 33, God uses the title, “prophet”. Ezekiel was preaching to a people who seemed to enjoy listening to him, but they didn’t heed what he said. As a pastor, I often feel as if I am wasting my time. Though the church is full on Sunday morning with people who seem to enjoy the messages, I see very little change in their lives. It gets frustrating sometimes. But then I remember how I often disobey my own preaching. I guess that gets very frustrating to God. Things aren’t always the way they appear to be, however. I have often been fooled by people. I have known people who, on the surface, appeared to be bearing no fruit in their lives; and discovered that their lives were, in fact, being transformed and they were actually making an impact on the people around them. I remember one time there was a guy at a former church that had long hair and a scraggly beard. He smoked like a chimney. He would come in on Sunday mornings, and I remember wondering to myself if the guy was even saved. One day, he invited the pastor to come to his house to help him talk to some of his friends about the Lord. The pastor arrived to a dozen or more people who all looked as rough as the guy who invited them; but, a bunch of those folks got saved. I was fooled by what I saw on the outside. I have also been fooled by people who I thought were walking with God because they looked good on the outside. Again, things aren’t always as they seem. I guess my job is just to faithfully deliver the truth from the Word of God, and pray that someone (including myself) will listen. But, ultimately the results are up to God and the listeners.
The title used in chapter 34:1 – 10 is “shepherds”. The shepherds were supposed to feed and protect the flock. God rebukes these shepherds of Ezekiel’s day because they were more concerned with feeding themselves. I wonder what God would say to me about my concern for the sheep that He has entrusted to me. These are very sobering passages, especially for the preachers and teachers. I will someday face God and will be judged regarding the ministry that He has given me. It is an awesome and very difficult responsibility. I have already failed on numerous occasions, but my desire is to learn and grow so that I can do better in the future. Pray for me and for all who proclaim the Truth of God that we will boldly, but compassionately deliver both the Truth of God and the love of God to those we are called to minister to.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 28 – 31 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 55:17
Read the “0908 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.” (Ezekiel 28:17)
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13 & 14)
Ezekiel 28 begins with a pronounced judgement against the “prince of Tyrus” who is the earthly ruler of the land of Tyre, which is just to the northwest of Israel. We read that he was very wise and because of his wisdom he became very prosperous. However, his success caused his heart to be lifted up in pride to the extent that he considered himself to be a god.
Later in the chapter there is a description of the “king of Tyrus”. At first, we wonder who this description is referring to, but soon it becomes evident that this is not the description of a man. This “king” is none other than old slewfoot – Satan. He also had a problem with pride. However, we read in verses 13 – 15 that it was God who created Him with all of his beauty and brightness. Why is it that created beings boast about things that they had nothing to do with?
We need to really be careful about pride in our own lives. Pride goes far beyond just haughtiness about our abilities, looks, or possessions, etc. Pride’s real danger is the elevation of self to the point that we humanize God and deify self. We get to the point that we become a god in our own eyes. This leads to the gradual abandonment of God’s principles, and the complete reliance upon self. We are now in control of our lives and destinies: doing our thing, our way. We can see that the society that we live in has corporately done the same thing. We have taken God off of the throne, and have placed man on it. How stupid we are that we do not see this cycle that has repeated itself over and over since the beginning of human history? God creates man; then man begins to think that he is responsible for his own abilities; then man forgets God, which eventually forces His judgment.
How can I as an individual put a stop to this? First, I need to understand that it is God who has given me all that I have. I next need to remember Him by thanking Him and praising Him for all of the individual blessings. It’s probably a good idea to record all of these tangible things in a prayer journal. Finally, I need to keep trusting Him for every area of my life. Ask Him about everything; trust Him for every decision, and wholly follow His wisdom from the Word of God. This is a great plan in concept, but a difficult one to implement. Why? because deep down inside of me is a nature that wants to kick God out and take over; and that fleshly old man of mine often does. I agree with the Apostle when he said:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. … O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:18 & 24)
I thank God for passages like this that remind me of the truth: I am nothing, God is everything.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.