Do you remember when Gideon was called to lead the army of Israel against the mighty Midianites?  Gideon and his outnumbered troops surrounded the massive army and blew trumpets, broke pitchers and cried out, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!"  God put fear in the hearts of the Midianite army and they killed each other and fled until Gideon could summon more troops to track them down to complete the victory.  God had given them that victory.  However, Gideon had some part in it as God's servant...and the people would not let him forget it.  And, he didn't.  Neither did his children.  Pretty soon it was hard to tell if Israel had remembered who had really won the battle.

Fast forward now to the future.  Magog (Russia) is coming down with a massive army and Israel awaits.  As Russia is coming to the land an earthquake hits, hail stones and fire come down from the sky, mountains and cliff fall, and the invading army is so bewildered and scared they begin to fight each other just as the Midianites had.  The difference is, this earthquake is worldwide, and there is no Gideon figure at the site of the battlefield.  There will be no man to praise, to rob God of His rightful place.  All the people who are on the face of the earth will quake at His presence.  God will vindicate His holiness before their eyes.

This same God who can shake the whole earth and remove entire armies to protect His people has commanded us to cast our cares/anxieties upon Him, because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)  
Let's put our trust in our omnipotent (all-powerful) God who loves us and desires for us to find rest in Him!
 
The nation of Israel is continually seeking peace.  God has promised peace for them when He sets up His 1000 year kingdom.

1.  One in worship - reverence
2.  One in placement of land - real estate
3.  One in spirit - rest

God promises peace to me.

1.  Peace with God - Romans 5:1
2.  Peace of God - Philippians 4:6,7
3.  Peace from God - John 14:27

Walk with the Lord and be at peace!!!
 
Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life...".  Apart from God there is no life.  God called Israel to "life", He gave them existence.  He promised them abundant life and eternal life.  Israel, however chose death through sin and idolatry.  God promises through Ezekiel to bring them back to life.  Israel, though scattered in death will come together and have physical life as a regathered people and abundant life and eternal life as a redeemed people.

1.  Physical life - My every breath comes from God
2.  Abundant life - The only way to peace, joy, love and hope is in Jesus
3.  Eternal life - Continual existence and relationship with God

I must realize my dependence upon God for any and all life!  Resist the temptation to choose sin and death!  Share the way of life that is only found in Jesus!

Walk with the Lord and love life!!!


 
Israel is the benefactor of a great promise in Ezekiel 36.  The LORD is going to return them from their exile back to their land.  But the latter half of the chapter gives us a different perspective than we might initially think about when considering why this return would be a good thing.

At least five times Israel is told that this return is for the sake of the name of the LORD.  God was going to do this because the reputation that He had acquired as a result of the testimony of the nation of Israel and their subsequent discipline was unacceptable.  

This reminds us about our purpose.  God does not exist simply for our benefit.  We exist for His glory.  God is not just a powerful being who gets people into heaven.  He is almighty God...He deserves all praise and honor and worship.  His name and reputation is to be honored and magnified for all to see.  Those of us who have put our faith in Christ are now ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) just as Israel was supposed to be.  We are the Body of Christ, the visible representation of the invisible God.

Is your life proclaiming the name of the LORD?  Is your testimony bringing praise to Jesus Christ?
Let's live for the greatest purpose we could ever imagine...to spread the fame of the name of the LORD!
 
God has made certain promises to Israel as a nation.  One of those promises concerns land and was made to Abraham.  In this passage God reaffirms this promise by reiterating it to the land itself through Ezekiel.

1.  No more residence of the heathen
2.  No more rebellion of the heathen
3.  No more reproach of the heathen

Just as God promised Abraham there will be a restoration of the land to God's people for God's purposes, God has made promises to me and He always keeps His promises!

1.  Eternal life - John 3:16
2.  Forgiveness - 1 John 1:9
3.  Never leave me - Matthew 28:20
4.  No irresistible temptation - 1 Corinthians 10:13
5.  All things work for good - Romans 8:28
6.  Answers to prayer - Jeremiah 33:3
7.  Grace in need - James 4:6
8.  Victory over satan - James 4:7
9.  Peace  - John 14:27
10. Reward - 2 Corinthians 5:10
11. Second Coming - John 14:1-3
12. Reunion with saved loved ones - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

          and many more. . .

I can rest in God's promises with my cares and burdens.  I will look for others that I can share God's promises with today.

Walk with Lord and claim His promises!!!

 
In today's passage, Ezekiel is commissioned to be a prophet to the nation of Israel.  He is told that he is not going to a foreign people with a foreign tongue.  Instead he is going to his own.  Ironically, the people who speak different languages would be more likely to listen than those who could readily hear and understand what Ezekiel would preach to them.  He is told that the people of Israel are stubborn and will not listen...but at least they will know that a prophet of God has been in their midst.

If this was the beginning of the book and all of chapter one had not happened (Here is a clip that might help to visualize chapter 1...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn-u1nvFbEI) we would think that Ezekiel would not be jumping at this career move.  But chapter 1 did happen.  So, Ezekiel did not have to rely on the praise of man or the response of man to his message to motivate him to ministry.  He was doing it because of his adoration and obedience to the God who sits on the throne who had specifically called him to this ministry.

Fast forward to the time of the New Covenant.  Today we are all commissioned to proclaim the message of the Gospel.  And, many times we are fearful of what people will think or what other's opinions will be.  We may even assume that people will be stubborn and obstinate like the Israelites were to Ezekiel (and so many other prophets).  But we have a different promise.  In Matthew 16:18, Jesus declared a critical truth.  He said, "I will build my church."  This reduces our responsibility in the matter to simply sharing the truth.  God is the one who convicts and brings people to repentance.  Furthermore, instead of promising that people will not listen, Jesus promises that some will!  Ezekiel was told that Israel would be stubborn.  The disciples and the church are told that people will listen, because Jesus is going to build His church.

So be encouraged.  You may not have witnessed wheels with eyes and lightning and cherubim with four faces and the presence of God's glory.  But, you have seen the Word of God and you have seen the miracle of salvation and the process of sanctification in your own life and the lives of other believers.  Are these miracles of God and His love for you enough to motivate you to please Him regardless of man's response?   Will you be a messenger of the Good News?
 
Ezekiel is called by God through a marvelous, mysterious vision.  The opening chapter of this book tells us several things about our glorious God.

1.  Our glorious God is present - Even though the Jews were captive in Babylon God had not forsaken them.
2.  Our glorious God is personal - God spoke directly to Ezekiel with an individual manifestation.
3.  Our glorious God is pure - The emphasis on fire and light shows God's holiness - set apart with no impurity.

No matter where I am as a child of God, God is with me.  He has promised to never leave me or forsake me.  God knows about me personally and He has a will for me in fulfilling His purposes.  God is holy - set apart from all others.  He calls me to pure devotion to Him and a life of holiness as I fulfill His will.

Walk with the Lord our glorious God!!!

 
Paul took time to greet and thank friends who had been a part of his life and ministry.  Good friends make a difference in our lives. Paul's friends had at least three qualities.

1.  Believe the gospel of God v.17
2.  Live by the grace of God v.20-24
3.  Live for the glory of God v.27

I need to choose friends who will encourage and challenge me to be wise concerning good and simple concerning evil.

Walk with the Lord and choose the right friends!!!

 
The emphasis beginning in chapter twelve has been on unity of deportment. Believers are to live and function as one body through:
1.  Unity of diversity of gifts - chapter 12
2.  Unity through authority - chapter 13
3.  Unity through charity - chapter 14
4.  Unity through clarity of purpose - chapter 15

Paul explains a three-fold purpose for all believers.
1.  Edification of believers v.2
2.  Exaltation of God v.6
3.  Evangelism of the Lost v.16

Look for opportunities today to encourage and strengthen other believers.  Glorify God by demonstrating His likeness in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Seek to share the gospel with at least one lost person today.  Begin fulfilling this purpose in my family, neighborhood, church to the ends of the earth.

Walk with the Lord and in unity through clarity of purpose!!!

 
Yesterday we learned not to judge or be jealous of others because of their differing convictions concerning non-essential matters.  Today, as Romans 14 continues, we are told to take the matter to another level.  
We are given two major exhortations: 1.) When we know there are other believers with us who hold a "stricter" standard than we do and that it would be offensive to them for us to participate, we should refrain.  2.) Whenever we violate our conscience, even if what we are doing is perfectly fine, we are sinning ("whatever is not of faith is sin").
Both of these truths have to do with our motivations.  Being willing to put aside our normal practices in order to not lay a stumbling block before our brothers and sisters should be done out of a motivation to love.  Also, if we thought it was sinful to where blue shirts on Tuesdays and we decided to wear a blue shirt today anyways...that would be rebellion.  If I truly believed that it was sinful, and I decided to go ahead and wear my blue shirt, I would be communicating to God that I have disregarded His will (even though I have a very poor understanding of it).  The truth is, we all may have some convictions that just are not in the Bible.  But, if I, still believing my conviction to be true and right, violate that standard, I have rebelled.  It is a matter of the heart more than a matter of the law.

The bottom line...if we are motivated by a love for God and a love for others, we are in pretty good shape;