Imagine being called a prophet and then recording what the Spirit told them. The prophets of old “who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory. They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of.”
As we glimpse into the past we find prophets like Micah who prophesied where Jesus would be born and Dr. Luke recorded it was so. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin and again Dr. Luke recorded it was so. Moses wrote that the Lord would raise up a prophet like him and John wrote that the crowds declared “This man surely is the Prophet.” The psalmist prophesied that the Messiah would be tempted by Satan and it was the gospel writer Matthew that recorded that event. The prophet Zechariah said he would enter Jerusalem triumphantly and it was fulfilled in Matthew/Luke and John.
The religious leaders in Herod’s day knew these words and the prophecy but relinquished their duty and let the Magi get the glory. It is as true then as today; men have the word of God but choose to ignore it. May we not be so guilty. May we treasure the prophecies.
Beloved, the signs were given hundreds of years before their fulfillment. Many scoffed but also many believed. What will you do?
Are those your words when you are flummoxed by an unbeliever who can’t or won’t believe in Jesus? Keep reading.
2Cor 3 Understanding Unbelievers—
One of the hardest things for a believer to understand and recall is how they were before they met Christ. Once spiritually alive all thoughts turn to share Him with those who are not yet “in the fold.” Yet, time and again we are met with indifference and often misunderstandings. We want them to live and fellowship with us but something is hindering them. What is the problem and is there a solution?
How many times have you read Paul’s words: whenever the words of Moses are read there is a veil over their minds and wondered what he meant? It wasn’t until one day when a neighbor, on her own and out of the blue asked me “Who is God?” In my mind, I saw an open door but Satan saw his opportunity to shut it, lock it and hide the key. Excitement built only to be shattered that very day. As we sat and I explained to her the answer it was like a “veil” came down and separated us. To this day I can see that glaze in her eyes literally falling down; it was the strangest thing but now I know from Paul that it was that veil. Several attempts later were all for naught yet I prayed and continue to pray for another opening.
The words of Hughes: “A veil of intellectual darkness hides the glory which has been deliberately rejected.” Did you notice what Hughes says? The glory has been deliberately rejected but why? The answer is this: Satan “has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Cor 4] Satan has had his hand in this veil.
Beloved, keep praying for openings. Don’t give up hope. Pray specifically that Satan would be bound and that God’s love pours through you to that unbeliever. And yes one more thing, pray for my neighbor that God would remove that veil.
Do you have that someone who needs prayer too? Share with me so we can covenant together for their salvation.
1Cor 5-6 Today’s society is attempting to teach us that there is no right or wrong but what feels good. As a result we are seeing the decline of the church in the areas of purity and holiness. Like today, the Corinthian church had a serious problem. As a church they had failed to discipline the sin in their midst and in fact were accepting it and were proud. Why were they not sorrowing over this serious sin? Why had they not administered discipline? The world would tell us that we must love all men and that biblical standards are outdated, antiquated and must be changed. But, God’s word does not reveal that thinking. What it does reveal is this: Sin will infect the entire church just as yeast infects the dough. It affects the whole body and the lines of purity and righteousness become blurred.
Begin with evaluating your church’s acceptance of sinful lifestyles. Follow the steps of 2Tim: Teach, rebuke, correct, train both in the home and in the church. The reason? Consider that Jesus may return at any moment. Is there any sin within you or the church that needs attention? Remember these words: Be ye holy as I am holy saith the Lord. If need be, follow the discipline principles of Matt 18 (one on one, two on one, bring to church).
We are to love all but we must also be wise and discerning, know truth from error and keep the church unspotted from the world.
Amos 7 to 9 In chapter 3 God asks Amos a question: Can two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? In reading scripture we find some personalities who walked with God such as Enoch, Moses and others. All had one thing in common: they understood God’s ways. Enoch walked with God and he was not for God took him. Moses walked with God as friend to friend. Then there was Abraham. God asked to himself: should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Amos “saw” or beheld God making locusts to devour the crops and then a fire to consume the fields in the northern kingdom of Israel. As Amos watched, he pleaded with God: Sovereign Lord, forgive Israel! How can Jacob survive? And so as the conversation continued, the Sovereign Lord said: It will not happen.
What does this mean to us today? Just as these spoke to God on personal terms so can we. Jesus said: I no longer call you servants, instead I call you friends. A servant is told what to do and how but has no understanding of the why and does not question. In contrast, a friend converses and seeks to understand the motives and actions. Also, like the others who walked with God, Amos appealed to God for His mercy. God heard and relented of His decision.
Do you have that personal relationship with Him? Does he walk and talk with you? Are you His friend?
Ezekiel 40 Many of us have visited museums or art galleries where a tour guide or an audio guide “fills in the blanks” that we might miss. The prophet Ezekiel is in Jerusalem and encounters a man who will be Ezekiel’s tour guide of the new Temple. Before he begins the tour he gives Ezekiel these instructions:
“Son of man, watch closely, listen carefully, and pay attention to everything I show you, for you have been brought here so that I can show it to you. Tell the house of Israel everything you see.”
Jesus was the disciple’s tour guide for three years. He told them to have open ears and open eyes because they would be tasked to tell the good news after he would be gone. But, God would not leave them without a new tour guide in this new task. Their new tour guide would be “ the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name; He will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.” [Jn 14]. and like the healed demoniac, they were to: “Go to your home and to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you, that he had mercy on you.” The task is the same for us:
We know who we were and who we are now.
Pray for opportunities to be a tour guide to those who need to hear the gospel message.
Ezekiel 28 Recently a rich and powerful man was found in sin. He was incarcerated and found that when all was said and done, his piled-up riches, and wisdom were unable to protect him from the enemies crouching at his door. His false façade of “self-exaltation” came crashing down and in that cold cell he, like the leader of Tyre, died alone. Satan’s lie never changes.
Satan has dangled this lie before men: “you will be like God.” Like many, the rich man and the leader of Tyre, fell hook, line, and sinker trusting in their riches, position, power, and wisdom. Satan’s lies never change. James reminds us that when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin and when sin is full-grown, it gives birth to death. Have you fallen for Satan’s lie? Do you think all your riches, good works, and worldly wisdom will prove you are righteous? Beloved, God says there is none righteous, no not one. Your one-way ticket to heaven is through Jesus alone. He is the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by Him.
Over and over God has said to men, I have left you here so you will see and know that I am the Lord. Like Pharaoh’s magicians, the rich man and the leader of Tyre saw the finger of God but chose to believe Satan’s lie and now face an eternity apart from Christ. Beloved, gods don’t die but humans do and apart from Christ will face eternal separation from God. Learn this lesson: he who exalts himself shall be humbled.
People are waiting for the movie Downton Abbey to be released. People already have purchased tickets and are counting down the days. Why are people drawn to this fictitious story? One reason may be that one character, the stuffy butler, captures our heart. Like in feudal times the butler understood his role as servant and he obeyed. In the NT Peter has a vision in which he is told to rise up and kill but he responded: “Surely not, Lord!” How often are we like Peter and not like the butler when we say “but Lord?” or “why me Lord.” Could it be that we don’t understand our role as a servant?
The Lord prepared Ezekiel for the death of his wife. He told him:
“I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you with a jolt, but you must not mourn or weep or shed tears.”
And it happened just as the Lord had said; in the evening his wife died and Ezekiel did just as the Lord commanded. Ezekiel did not question: “but why Lord?” or as Peter said, “Surely not, Lord!” Ezekiel, like the stuffy butler, obeyed without question because he knew his position as servant and he trusted the Lord to take care of the details.
How about us? Do we trust God enough to be obedient even when we don’t understand the reasons behind his request?
Some trust in chariots and others in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. [Psa 20:7]
There were no newspapers, no Instagram, no Facebook, no cellphones— only miles and miles of desert sand. Ezekiel’s fellow captives had some serious questions.
Why are we here? What is happening in Jerusalem 900 miles away?
God used Ezekiel to dramatize the news as He revealed it. God in his mercy wanted them to know how He saw their lives. He wanted them to repent. Over and over Ezekiel spoke these words in their ears: “I the Lord have spoken” or “then they will know that I am the Lord.” and more importantly: I have not forgotten you.
He wanted them to trust Him—even if they didn’t understand. Back in Jerusalem, they had worshiped idols on the mountain tops and yes even in the homes and the temple. Because He loved them He sent them prophets to warn them: do not trust in these idols, they will fail you—but the words fell on deaf ears. Now in the plains outside Babylon, Ezekiel asks:
Where are your idols now? Did they save you? Do you have them now?
Idols rust and decay, but this one truth remains; God loves yesterday as He does today and will tomorrow. He will use whatever means He considers best so that we might return to Him and repent.
The question remains: Do you trust in chariots (idols) or in Him?
Ezekiel 1 – 3 Ezekiel found himself celebrating his 30th birthday in Babylon having been recruited by Nebuchadnezzar’s squad of thugs. So goes the birthday! No more being a priest because there is no more temple, no more Jerusalem. Just when life couldn’t get any lower, God steps in and says I am calling you to be my prophet/watchman to your people. God revealed His glory and Ezekiel fell on his face in adoration. Yet when God laid out his plan, filled him with His Spirit, fed him the Word, like Moses, Ezekiel says “why me?”
We fall into the same pattern. God reveals His glory and we are in awe. But then reality steps in and God says I want you to “go and make disciples”–beginning at home. You know the people, you know the language. After traveling over 900 miles with this crew, Ezekiel knew their behavior, attitude, and grumbling. No wonder Ezekiel said, “why me?” No wonder Moses said, “why me?” No wonder we say the exact same words because familiarity breeds contempt. We know their shortcomings. We know their attitudes. We know that they didn’t listen before so why would they listen now?
Do you say “why me?” when God calls you to a ministry? If God fills you with His Spirit, feeds you with His Word, you are ready. Welcome to the Watchman on the Wall Club.
Jeremiah 50 to 52 The book of Jeremiah is long and there are some pointed lessons to learn and they come through the tale of two kings; Zedekiah and Jehoiachin.
Both had the privilege of having Jeremiah speak the words of God to them and both had sought the advice of him as the Babylonians were crouching at their doorstep. Both were placed in the position of leadership yet failed because of their wickedness. One believed Jeremiah, surrendered and saved his family. The other rejected and lost his family and the royal household. Both ended up in a Babylonian prison yet one was released after 37 yrs. to sit at the king’s table. The other would die in his bronze chains and in blindness remembering the faces of his children as they were slaughtered. Neither would have a descendant to take their place on the throne.
What is our take away from these two men and their end? When we ask God what to do and He tells us, we have a choice; we can keep fighting God or surrender. God says surrender your life to me and you will have everlasting life but often we say we can save ourselves. I can fix myself. I can…I can…etc. etc. etc. Yet, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”
Surrender to God and be saved; reject and enter a Christ-less eternity.