Category Archives: Ezekiel

Ezekiel 46-48; John 16

I have been to Ukraine 30 times in the last 27 years. It is always good to catch-up with my friends and do ministry together. They are a hearty lot those Ukrainian Christ-followers. The love the Lord and speak longingly for His return.

The first question I ask them when we greet each other is, “How are you doing?” Or, “How have you been?” They have never, and I mean never, said “good” and they have never, and I mean never, said “bad”. What the have done is quote this verse to me every time.

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John16:33 [ESV])

They have had it hard there. The country has been through a lot. A friend of mine was eight years old when a knock came on the door and the KGB came and took his parents (his father being a pastor) and they never saw them again. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine know how hard life can be, but they also know the only place that is safe and has a future for them is with their Savior. What a blessing they are to me.

Where are you today? Are you going through heartache and sorrow? Is every aspect of your life going well for you? No matter where you are this moment, be like our Ukrainian friends and take heart, because no matter what Jesus has overcome this world. Some day he will set all things straight. What a day that will be.

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Ezekiel 37-39; Psalm 87; John 13

Someone noticed that I talk a lot about God’s care and protection.  It seems like I come across these themes quite a bit, especially in my readings found in the Old Testament.

Their king will always come from the family of my servant King David and will care for them like a shepherd. The people of Israel will faithfully obey my laws. They and their descendants will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, just as their ancestors did. I solemnly promise to bless the people of Israel with unending peace. I will protect them and let them become a powerful nation. My temple will stand in Israel for all time – Ezekiel 37:24-26  CEV

I think it excites me to read these passages of scripture because they relate so freely to the love that Jesus has for me.  If He can love a group of people who reject Him so often, so fully, lacking so much gratitude for what He has done in their lives, then I know His love for me can equal such actions from me.

It was before Passover, and Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to return to the Father. He had always loved his followers in this world, and he loved them to the very end. – John 13:1  CEV

Unconditional love, a word that is known but a word rarely experienced.  I look for it in all my relationships that matter.  It is inside me to want and I believe it is in me to give, but I choose judgement over love sometimes.  Somehow I feel it gives me more power.  But love changes the world, as it has me.  If I want someone to know just how much they mean to me, how much I cherish them, how much they matter to God, then I need to let them know of Jesus love for them.  Jesus can care and protect more than anyone or anything this world has to offer. What other gift can I give to you other than Jesus and His love – what other gift would you want from me?

Father, remind me that your unconditional love is the greatest gift I can give to someone today.  No matter if they are looking for something else, like the forty year old lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate who was looking for a gift of money.  Peter and John said, we do not have money, but we have Jesus, can we give Him to you? Taking the man by the hand they said stand up and walk.  That Lord, that image of love, has not left my mind for some time.  That is the kind of love I want to give away today.  Fill me with Your Spirit and enable me to do that with those I meet.  Thank you for allowing me to be a bit of You in someone’s life. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, BG2, Ezekiel, James, John, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Zechariah

Ezekiel 34-36; Psalms 86; John 12

“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus-the man he had raised from the dead.  A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.  Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance.  But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages.  It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”  Not that he cared for the poor-he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.  Jesus replied, “Leave her alone.  She did this in preparation for my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”  John 12:1-7 NLT

Did Mary feel misunderstood?  Or was she so focused on Jesus that she didn’t worry about what anyone else thought?  She didn’t try to explain herself.  She knew that Jesus was her defender.  She was preparing for Jesus’s burial.  She knew that he wouldn’t be with them soon.  She was very purposeful about what she did.  How many times have I let the opinions of others get in the way of what He has called me to do?

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.  Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.  “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago.  You will be my people, and I will be your God.”  Ezekiel 36:25-28 NLT

God gave the Israelites a new covenant that Jesus would ultimately fulfill.

Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone.  But its death will produce many new kernels-a plentiful harvest of new lives.  Those who love their life in this world will lose it.  Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.  Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.  And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.  “Now my soul is deeply troubled.  Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” John 12: 23-27 NLT

Is my heart receptive toward him or hardened? Am I living in my old ways or new?

“Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly.  Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you.  O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.  Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry.  I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.” Psalms 86:1-7 NLT 

Thank you Father for restoring what was lost.  For dying on the cross for my sins.  For putting your spirit inside me.  I pray that I would live by that power every day. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Ezekiel 31-33; John 11

The resurrection of Lazarus. There were so many things going on when we come to John 11. Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick. He is petitioned to go quickly to heal him. Jesus waits two more days before traveling to see his friend. That’s where we come across the first character study. It’s with the disciple Thomas. Thomas later in the Gospels doubts the resurrection of Jesus, but here he is ready to die with Jesus. There were hostile territories they would be passing through and Thomas believes they may die before even reaching Lazarus. Jesus has told them that Lazarus has died, so we find Thomas stating the following:

16 So Thomas, called the Twin,2 said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 [ESV])

Thomas was willing to die with Jesus in chapter 11 and later in this passage he witnesses the resurrection of Lazarus, but later doubts that the same thing could have happened to Jesus. Here he is courageous, later he is doubtful. What happened to Thomas along the way? None of us really know, but it brings out the fact that we need to stay in touch with Jesus and His power to change lives lest we too fall into a doubtful jaded place in our spiritual lives.

Jesus and the disciples get to Mary and Martha and see how distraught they are. How hopeless they are and even thought Jesus knows what’s going to happen, he weeps with them. Verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible…

35 Jesus wept. (John 11:35 [ESV])

Even in our darkest most emotional moments we are not alone. And on this side of eternity the one thing we know is that when we weep, Jesus weeps with us. He is our high priest and has suffered all that we have suffered. He stands with us and weeps as we weep. What a powerful picture of God’s love for us all.

That brings us to our third observation. The religious leaders instead of being convinced of Jesus’ Messiah-ship at this point are ready to kill Him. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Can you believe this? Read it for yourself:

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation… (John 11:49-51 [ESV])

The darkness of the human heart can be very deep. Don’t be surprised, then, when you share the gospel with friends and family, if people who saw Jesus resurrect Lazarus are ready to kill Him. Our job — like Jesus — is to be faithful to the mission God has given us and let Him handle the consequences.

A couple of question this morning:

  • Have you lost your zeal for Jesus? Are you falling into a season of doubt. Ask Him to rekindle that love you have had for Him in the past.
  • Are you grieving over a lost loved one or a broken relationship? Remember Jesus cares and is weeping with you today.
  • If for some reason you stumbled across this blog by accident today and don’t know Jesus at all, what will it take? He has raised the dead, He has performed miracles way beyond what our minds can imagine. Yet today He wants to have a personal relationship with you. Please let Him into your life to have that relationship.

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Ezekial 28-30; John 10

25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (Ezekial 28 ESV)

I am not fully comfortable in my neighborhood; naturally introverted and very private, there are many times I want to retreat to the woods (again – as some may know I lived deep in the woods; indeed, juxtaposed right up against a national forest for 6 years prior to our move to this state). And I sometimes feel neighbors’ contempt. We do not own this house, and we certainly do not fit the parameters of this neighborhood. We are sometimes the objects of scorn. But I treasure the above verses. First, I treasure the promise of security. Second, I treasure the Lord’s great love. No matter what, we (my family and I) are a people for His own possession- and we are loved. We are not loved because of our social status, our home upkeep, our car (or car care), or our physical beauty. We are loved because Jesus. This is precious to me, and I hide myself in this protecting shelter.

John 10

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  ESV

I think about the scornful voices. I think about many choices I make and paths I choose. Ultimately, I must follow my Shepherd’s voice. There is something to be said for being true to that voice; to the leadership of Jesus in my life. Fun and seemingly harmless choices for so many- I sometimes know I just can’t. I can’t. Scorn from without the church; scorn from within. There is a witness (in my spirit), and I choose to (and I must) be true.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ESV

Jesus does not flee when He sees the wolf coming. He offers His very Life. Safe Pasture. Protection. Good leadership. Security. He promises: I know my own and my own know me.  O, deepen this intimate knowing in my life, O Lord!

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” ESV

Over many years, as I grew up in a faith of my own, plucked out of a family with no Savior, I worried I would be snatched. I will never forget the first time I stood in church and heard (and sang) the song: In Christ Alone by the Gettys: “No power of hell; No scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand…”  Spirit-infused reassurance and truth flowed like molten gold from song to soul. And still, to this day, does.

Lord, sometimes I don’t understand why I must hold to a specific conviction- other than knowing I must. I must be personally faithful to Your Voice in my life. Help me to hear You, O Lord. Deepen my intimate knowing of You. Thank You for security in You. Help me understand what it means. Hide me in Your shelter from the scorn of man. Your very life is invested in me. Help me understand. Amen.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Ezekiel 25-27; Psalm 85; John 9

Were the Pharisees upset because Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath, or because they themselves were unable to perform miracles? Was it because they didn’t feel the blind man deserved healing? Was it because all the attention was diverted from their pious ways to this Jesus who was gaining a following? Was it anger? Offense? Disbelief? Jealousy? Hatred?

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:2-5, NLT, emphasis added)

A blind man (from birth) can now see. Where’s the party? (Instead, he’s interrogated. And even his parents kept a safe distance away from him.)

When I first became a Christian as a new adult, a sibling skeptically commented to another, “We’ll see how long that lasts.”

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
    for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
    But let them not return to their foolish ways.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
    so our land will be filled with his glory. (Psalm 85:8-9, NLT)

 

When my husband, kids and I didn’t participate in the lie (consequently breaking the reach his legacy of lies), that relative wouldn’t speak to or see me/us for two years.

This year, a pursuit to establish healthy boundaries, to lose weight, to change–each was met with anger and/or silence from some extended family and some years-long friends.

Where’s the party? When God shows up in a life and starts His transforming change, isn’t it cause for celebration?

When I went in for my post-op visit after last week’s cataract surgery, the assistant removed the patch and bandage over my eye. At first I wouldn’t open my eyes.

“Open your eyes,” she encouraged. “You’ll like what you see.”

And I opened my eyes and saw with clarity through an eye that, for more than half my life, had worn prescription glasses, and was more recently clouded by cataracts. I started to cry.

“Is it OK to cry?” I asked, holding back the largest wave of emotion.

“Yes,” she said. “I remember, you’re the crier.”

Father God, I’m grateful for the gifting and talent and wisdom you have measured out to people all over the world. Because of a man’s interest in healing eye disease, I can see. Because of one believer’s response to a call in her life, a nurse prayed with me before the operation. Lord, when I look with holy vision, I see your work in the world and in the hearts of those around me. When your work in my life is met with anger and silence from another’s heart, I trust that you are at work there too (because you’ve used those same responses in me to look deeper). And I can be grateful and peaceful instead of hurt. Thank you, God, for restored vision and new vision.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 7-9; John 3

As a young teenager I found reading parts of the Old Testament rather exciting at times, confusing some of the times, and many times the dots just did not seem to connect. Thankfully, as I continued to read, and engage in a local church, it was helpful to get some perspective on certain stories and how the connection between the Old and New Testament narrative really made a difference in my understanding of God’s relationship with me.

Peace has been a measuring stick for success in many of the Old Testament stories.  When there was no peace, you could count on something being wrong in characters relationship with God.  I hold the same yard stick in my life.  If peace is missing in any decision that I make, I know I need to square things up with God or step away from the activity where I find peace missing. I cannot imagine what it will be like in the end times when the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth and people will be looking for God but cannot find Him.  The book of Revelation says that they would rather have the mountains and rocks fall on them instead of living life without God’s love.

 You will be terrified and will desperately look for peace—but there will be no peace. – Ezekiel 7:25  CEV

The story I am most impressed upon, in keeping a right relationship with God, is where the people of Israel are complaining, once again, and God allows poisonous snakes to come into camp to kill them. I think the story was one of awe and wonder that God had just about had enough of all this complaining.  Could He ever run out of patience with me? Then I keep reading the story in Numbers 21.4-9 and it ends with an amazing gift from God once the people repented. A bronze snake is made, put on a pole, lifted up, and every person bitten were healed if they looked at the snake and every person looking at the bronze snake were not bitten. In other words, if you looked at the bronze snake, you did not die.  What a story!

Then to see that this was not just a story, but a game plan God had in mind with Jesus, I am still blown away today.  Here is God, trying to explain exactly what He means by sending Jesus to the cross, and He has created the perfect illustration from a real life experience in the Old Testament. I could not miss this plan of salvation even if I tried.

And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. – John 3:14  CEV

That is how much He wants to save me from my sin, my rebelliousness, my desire to walk away from Him.

Lord, what can I say of Your desire to create peace in my heart by having such a loving relationship with You. Thank You!

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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