Today’s Reading: Daniel 2:24-3:30 (additional reading: Psalm 119:81-96 & Proverbs 28:15-16)
To compromise one’s beliefs as a Christ follower is a constant pressure in our culture. Often it is a subtle pressure that occurs in conversation or while watching TV or in front of your computer. How can we stand up under that pressure?
You and I may never have to face persecution and death like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But we’ve all felt pressure to compromise. We’ve all had moments when we were not as bold for Christ as we should have been. We’ve all had moments when God wanted us to say something, or God wanted us to do something, or God wanted us to take a stand on something, but we backed off because we were afraid.
We were afraid that someone might be offended. Afraid that people won’t like us anymore. Afraid that someone might say, “What gives you the right to force your value system on me? What gives you the right to act as judge and jury over how I live my life? What gives you the right to say that your way of doing things is better than my way of doing things?” Proverbs 29:25 says “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”
This scripture came true in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their firm answer to the king is one of the most courageous moments in Bible history.
This passage raises questions for us: Will you be loyal to God even if He doesn’t give you everything you want? Will you be loyal to God even if He doesn’t heal your husband’s cancer? Will you be loyal to God even if you don’t get the promotion you want? Will you be loyal to God even though He is the One who is calling the shots instead of you?
God is not a magic lamp that you can rub to get what you want anytime you want it. The true God is the all-powerful Creator of the Universe. The true God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. The true God is greater than all other gods, and greater than all other kingdoms. The true God has a purpose for our lives that overrules all of our second guessing and all of our protests.
When do you find it most difficult to make a stand for God?
Father, Thank You that You never back down from Your Word or Your commitment to us. Help us to make a stand for You and to avoid compromise. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Today’s Reading: Daniel 1:1-2:23 (additional reading: Psalm 119:65-80 & Proverbs 28:14)
The life of Daniel is the story of a young man that “Lived a Life Without Compromise.” He lived a life of integrity. Webster’s defines integrity as, “1.firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility 2: an unimpaired condition: soundness 3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided: completeness.” It is closely related to the word honesty. I defined it last week as doing what you say, and saying what you do. It is where word and deed are in agreement. It is sticking to your guns no matter what the circumstances. It sounds easy, but it’s not. What do you do when the pressure to change builds in your life?
Daniel and his three friends were among the hostages Nebuchadnezzar took with him back to Babylon. Daniel was from a royal family and only a teenager at the time. Daniel found himself in a pressure situation. His life was in turmoil at every level. His emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being was being threatened by world events.
Daniel was in a difficult, stressful situation that was going to test his faith and principles at a fundamental level. The Israelite was to change into a Babylonian. How was he to meet this challenge?
One way to deal with the pressures to our beliefs is to surrender. He could have sold out. Simply give up and bow to the peer pressure, circumstances, or whatever is compelling you to change your beliefs. Nobody would have blamed him, he was out of town. When in Rome…
Another way he could have handled it was to lie about what he was doing. Keep the court official and the king in the dark and do everything behind their back. No one would have been the wiser. Just eat and drink what you want in keeping with God’s law but pretend to be obedient. Fake everyone out. Many are willing to tell a little white lie as long as the circumstances warrant the lie.
How did Daniel handle it? He stood his ground by offering a solution. Daniel offered a win-win solution to his problem. He found an answer that allowed him to obey the Lord and obey the laws of the king. Daniel went in with confidence because he knew where he stood and he knew the Lord would honour him if he honoured the Lord.
How do you handle these kinds of situations? Do you just try to blend in or do you offer a win-win?
Father, Thank You for allowing us to live for you. Help us not to give into the world around us but to remain faithful to You. In Jesus name, Amen
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 47:1-48:35 (additional reading: Psalm 119:49-64 & Proverbs 28:12-13)
This river that Ezekiel saw in this vision was coming from God. It represents: Grace, Love, Redemption, Healing, and the Holy Spirit. If there was a stream of water anywhere on earth that would do all these things for whoever stepped into it every one of us would be making arrangements to go get into this river.
I would like to ask you a question. Are you in the centre of God’s will and that you are right where God wants you to be in your spiritual growth? The truth of the matter is, we all have plenty of room for improvement!
That’s what today message is all about. It’s about becoming more of what God wants each of us to be. It’s about leaving the shore of stagnant, disappointed Christianity and wading out into the deep spiritual waters of the born-again life. It about getting in over our heads and not just paddling around in the shallows.
God is telling Ezekiel about wading out into the deep spiritual waters of the Spirit-filled life. What has happened in the modern church is that we have become too afraid to give our all to Jesus Christ. We are afraid because we think that God may require more of us than we are willing to give. We reason within ourselves that, if I don’t commit to the work fully then I won’t be found guilty of failing in my commitment to Christ.
We see in today’s text 4 levels of commitment: 1)Ankle depth – V3 Ankles or the feet are where the whole body stands on. It speaks of our foundation. God wants to rebuild the foundation of faith. 2)Knee depth – V4 Serving God in knee-deep water means that we must work a little harder and study a little more. 3) Waist depth – V4 At the waist level in a flowing river, we are beginning to lose control of our movement in the water. We cannot run anymore at waist level. God wants us to let go of our strength and the control of our lives to Him 4) Swimming depth – v5 At the swimming depth, our feet cannot touch the ground We have very little control of our body. At fast currents in the river, the current carry us along the river. God wants full control and navigation rights of our life.
A deeper commitment means wading deeper and deeper into a strong relationship with Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to have complete control of their lives, helps us to stay close to God. At the swimming depth, the river takes us wherever the river flows. The river controls us we can’t control the river.
How deep is your relationship with God?
Father, Help us to trust You fully and to leave the safety of the shore and allow You to take us into deeper waters. Thank You for remaining with us wherever we go. In Jesus’ name, Amen
It seems that we have moved on from the world where everyone is looking for answer into a world where everyone and his dog has the answers. Doesn’t matter what your looking for you can find the answer on a TV shopping channel or from the old lady at the bus stop or the man in the pub. But is this really wisdom and are these really the answer that we need to hear?
In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul introduces Christians to the higher realm of godly wisdom. This kind of knowledge and understanding isn’t available through human intelligence and reasoning; it comes strictly through divine revelation. Only those indwelt by God’s Spirit have “the mind of Christ” (v. 16) and access to “the things freely given” to them by God (v. 12).
Even believers need to guard against trying to fit God into their preconceived image of Him. The Bible is the only reliable source of divine revelation, but we must be careful to consider the Scriptures as a whole—it’s critical that we don’t just pick and choose the verses we want to believe. For example, by focusing only on passages that emphasize the Lord’s lovingkindness while excluding those that speak of His holiness and justice, we misunderstand His true nature.
Let’s seek to know the Lord in truth by considering the entire counsel of Scripture. Divine wisdom is available to every believer through the Holy Spirit, who searches the depths of God. May we never try to limit Him to fit our preferences. Instead, may He enlarge our minds to embrace His thoughts.
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 40:28-41:26 (additional reading: Psalm 118:19-29 & Proverbs 28:3-5)
Throughout their ordeals as a nation the Jews have recognized three Temples – They were: 1. Solomon’s, 2. Herod’s and 3. Messiah’s.
However, we read this in the book of Exodus chapter 15, “17 You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. 18 “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.” This first dwelling place was a temporary home for our Lord’s presence. Once in the land then a permanent structure could be built.
The first Temple was built by King Solomon as 2 Chronicles 3 tells us, this is the one that was destroyed. Hundreds of years later, in the New Testament, in order to try to please the Jews Herold went on a massive building spree. He enlarged the Temple mount and the Temple itself, thus giving record as this remodeled Temple being credited under his name. In 70 AD, the Roman army destroyed the city and this remodeled Temple.
But then we have the temple that God builds. A dwelling place in the hearts of His people which will never be destroyed. While outwardly, you may not have the beauty of splendour of Solomon’s or Herold’s temple. Inwardly, as God’s children, we have something much better.
What does it mean to you to know that God has decided to dwell with you?
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 39:1-40:27 (additional reading: Psalm 118:1-18 & Proverbs 28:2)
This year as we have been reading through the Old Testament together we have seen a number of names for God. In biblical times, names tell us important things about people. – People were named after – events in their lives, circumstances they found themselves in, personal characteristics or even their ministry function. And God’s names are no different. They are an important source of knowledge of who God.
Today we come to the name Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is There. The only time this name is used is in the passage we read earlier in Ezekiel. However, the truth that the Lord is Present with us is right throughout scripture.
The word “There”, is interesting. If we look up the Hebrew term for this word guess what it means … “There.” That’s right – there means there. Just like the ball is over there. Not here, there. So the name the “Lord is There”, means, the “Lord is There”, speaking about some location.
And where is God in Ezekiel’s prophesy which we just read? He is in the city. What city? Jerusalem. In chapter 40, we read that Ezekiel had a vision. It was in 574BC, in the 25th year of his exile, 14 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. To understand the significance of this name to Ezekiel and in fact to all Israelites, you have you pause and think about what this meant for the people. Think about what it would be like if God was Lord over everyone and everything in this world. If God was physically there with us. It would be paradise, wouldn’t it? It would be just what it was like in the Garden of Eden. Now there’s a fantastic picture of God relating to man. You can read it in Gen 3. He walked through the garden in the cool of the day. There walking with him was Adam and Eve. They had everything – security, love, acceptance, innocence, perfection and an intimate relationship with God – Face to face contact. What an amazing experience that must have been to be there with God.
Unfortunately, that close communion was destroyed by sin entering the world and the result of this act of rebellion was that God threw Adam and Eve out of his garden – out of the nearness of his presence. God was still there in the world, but not like he had been in the Garden. In the Garden, God was There – right there – able to be seen and touched even. But after the fall – everything changed. The proximity of our contact changed. After the fall, the closest the Israelites came to God dwelling with them was his presence in the tabernacle and the temple. God was there – in his temple. But it was not the same as before the fall. There was no intimate fellowship as in the garden. There were no relaxed walks in the cool of the garden. Instead of God being just there, he was just over there. The other side of that wall, inside that curtain – he was set apart.
How great for us that God takes his residency with us and makes us into the His temple. 1 Cor 3:16-17 – “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” God is no longer over there, but there right inside of us and living through us.
Does God seem near or far from you?
Father, Thank You for saving us and restoring a closeness in our relationship to You. Help us to remain close to Your presence and to seek You more and more. Thank You for welcoming us into Your family. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-38:23 (additional reading: Psalm 117:1-2 & Proverbs 28:1 )
What a scary sight it would have been for Ezekiel in today’s text. The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.
Graveyards are often sad places to visit. What a sad view this must have been for Ezekiel as well. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. And what was worse, was that God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. From this, we can tell that God was giving Ezekiel a vision of the SPIRITUAL lives of Israel.
That’s the way that God describes unbelievers. As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. (Ephesians 2:1) The mind of sinful man is hostile to God. (Romans 8:7) When God describes the world as dead in sins, there isn’t much room for hope.
So when God presented Ezekiel with this graveyard and asked him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” What did Ezekiel say? “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” He honestly said, “I don’t know.” He knew God was almighty, and he wanted to believe it, but how could they?
When you stand in the middle of this graveyard, don’t you often have the same question? Are you also living in a graveyard of finances? Does there seem there is no way out of debt? Are you living in a graveyard of dead love in your marriage? Does it seem hopeless? It was seemingly hopeless. But not with the LORD of hosts!
Ezekiel knew that God could bring life into these bones, but he seemed hesitant to say, “YES – they can live.” So it’s interesting to see how God renewed Ezekiel’s faith in this time of doubt. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. What an awesome feeling that must have been for Ezekiel. Here he had preached to the Israelites for years and years, and they weren’t listening and weren’t listening and weren’t listening. He must have thought to himself, “what am I doing here?” But when God gave him this experience, allowing Ezekiel to speak HIS words and bring life through his voice – what a rush that must have been! Ezekiel would have then realized, “there is hope for the Israelites! All I have to do is preach the Word!” This is the way God has continually worked throughout history and the way He is still working. Trust His word.
What dead thing do you need God to grant new life?
Father, Thank You that You gave us new life when we were dead. Thank You that everything is possible with You. Help us never to give up on what You alone can do. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 35:1-36:38 (additional reading: Psalm 116:1-19 & Proverbs 27:23-27)
There’s a Native American fable about a young brave who happened upon a nest of golden eagle eggs. Deciding to have some fun, he took one of the eggs and placed it in the nest of some prairie chickens. The egg hatched and the changeling eagle grew up with the brood of prairie chickens. Believing himself to be like everyone else around him, he behaved accordingly. He clucked and cackled and scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to live on. He never flew more than a few feet off the ground, since prairie chickens are incapable of rising any higher. Years passed and one day the young eagle was scratching along with one of his older prairie chicken brothers when a fleeting shadow passed over them. They looked up and saw, high in the sky, the soaring form of something gliding on the currents of the wind. “What a beautiful bird!” the young eagle exclaimed. “That’s an eagle,” the older brother informed him, staring upward. “A golden eagle. He’s the king of the air. No bird can compare with him.” Then he lowered his gaze and added, “But don’t give it a second thought; you could never be like him.” And back to scratching they went. Indeed, the changeling eagle never gave another thought to that soaring sight. And according to the fable, he died as he had lived, never rising any higher than a prairie chicken’s existence.
Tragically, this same story is repeated in too many of our lives. Like eagles, we were created and redeemed to mount up on God-given wings. Our privileged calling is to know God more and more intimately, to know the thrill of unrestrained, exuberant worship and to abandon ourselves to the high adventure of warring on behalf of the Kingdom of God in this dark world by loving others to Jesus. This is our God-given design and that’s why we can’t be truly satisfied with anything less. We can never find the intense fulfilment our souls long for while scratching around in carnal living or mediocre spirituality. We were made and fully equipped at the time of our conversion to soar! In our New Covenant relationship, God has placed within us the deeply designed desire to do the will of God. It’s a gift of God’s grace in us. Deep down in our spirit, every true believer in Jesus Christ does want to do the will of God. And either we are unaware of it or we’re blocked to the realization of it. However, in Ezekiel 36 God reveals the truth that He has provided four primary spiritual provisions that gives you Your New “Can Do!”
God gives us not only a new set of “want to’s” for doing His will, but also a new “can do” through His Spirit to actually carry out our new inclinations. The point is: The Christian life isn’t just hard; it’s flat-out impossible to live. It becomes possible only when God injects His fullness into His people’s hearts and that’s exactly what He’s done in the New Covenant. So let’s attempt to recognize and release these four spiritual realities: your new: Purity, Identity, Disposition and Power. Each is purely the gift of God alone, received through Christ alone, by faith alone. Therefore, Christ alone is our key to Christian living and He has already placed all of these supernatural resources permanently within your life, ready for release every day of your life on earth.
Are you living the life God wants for you?
Father, Thank You for saving us and calling us to a new, better life. Help us to break past our past life and live for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 33:1-34:31(additional reading: Psalm 115:1-18 &Proverbs 27:21-22 )
There was a very popular movie series in the 1980’s was called “Back to the Future.” In it Marty McFly accidentally traveled back to his past. While he was there, he tried to make life a little better for his parents, so his life would be a little better. It made for an amusing and interesting story line – the idea that someone could go back in time and try to fix the past. That would be nice, wouldn’t it – to be able to go back and fix your past mistakes – so you could change your fate?
The fact is, however, that we can’t go back in time to change our fate. There’s nothing you can do about your past. Therefore, are we just doomed to a certain destiny because of mistakes from our past? Does that mean we should just throw our hands up and give up? Not at all.
We have a commission from God that can affect the future (Ezekiel 33:7-9). This was not just some exercise to test Ezekiel’s faithfulness. God told him to do this to hopefully change their fate – to save the Israelites. Just because it doesn’t happen every time, neither means that God’s way is wrong nor that God’s way should be ignored. Even though it didn’t work for the Israelites the first time around, God told Ezekiel, “stick to plan A! Don’t give up! It’s not too late! You could still have a part in changing their fate!” God says the same thing to us. You may not have trusted in God’s ways. But Jesus died for your sin, and God wants to involve you in changing lives! As long as they are alive, it’s not too late for a change fate!
Let’s stop and consider the effect that it has on the one who didn’t listen. Ezekiel had warned the Israelites to repent, but they wouldn’t listen. How did this affect their attitudes? “Our offences and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ It felt as if a huge weight were on their shoulders, and there was no way they could get out from under them. They thought that God was holding a grudge against them – that they were forever enslaved to suffer for sins in Babylon because they should have run from them and listened to Ezekiel in the first place – but they didn’t.
Martin Luther once said, “It is much more difficult to console an afflicted conscience than to wake the dead.” There is a difference, isn’t there? Have you ever decided to do something that you knew was wrong – in direct disobedience to what God and fellow Christians told you to do? How did you feel afterward? You feel like a traitor. You have a heavy amount of guilt. Why? Because you KNEW beforehand that it was wrong, but you did it anyway. You can’t help but feel angry at yourself and embarrassed over your behaviour. That’s what was happening to the Israelites.
How did God respond? Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! He was cheering for them – wanted them to come back.
- Is there something from your past you wish you could change?
- How has God given you a second chance?
Father, Thank You for giving us a second chance. Thank You that we live in a day of grace. Help us to repent quickly of the wrong we do and live lives that honour You. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 31:1-32:32 (additional reading: Psalm 113:1-114:8 & Proverbs 27:18-20 )
We now come to the fourth chapter dedicated against Egypt. A good question to ask is, why is there so much attention given? No ancient civilization compares to Egypt. It was the first nation to rise as a world power. Even after others came along in dominance, Egypt continued to play a part in world history.
One great characteristic of God is that He Is Long-Suffering. It might seem that He Is slow to act but in reality, He Is never late in His Judgements. He steps in with His righteous justice at just the right time. Everyone must give an account to Jehovah Elyon – The Lord Most High. Egypt would not go on and on forever. Only our God was, is, and ever shall be. It was time for Egypt to answer for all its sins.
The description God gives of Pharaoh was direct and to the point. He thought himself to be a tough guy. His thinking was affected by pride and as a result, he actually thought he was a god. Pharaoh was seen, admired, and feared by the other nations. They looked upon her as being a ‘young lion’. However, our Lord God sees things differently. He saw the king of Egypt as a crocodile that caused harm among all people.
You may be able to think of some world leaders who thought that they were doing something to help the world, but now in history, we can see it had a terrible effect. You might even know someone who tried to turn around a failing company, and though they had all the best intentions, trying to make the business successful, they forgot about their staff. It doesn’t take us long to lose focus or to starting seeing ourselves bigger and better then those we are supposed to be serving.
When Jesus was teaching about serving in Matthew 20 he taught us this “25You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you, it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
A truly great leader is someone who is a truly great servant. The secret to successful leadership is successful servanthood to the authority of our heavenly Father. How do we treat those under our leadership? Do we serve them? Or do we try to make ourselves bigger and better? Are we falling into the Pharaoh delusion?
Are you falling into the Pharaoh delusion?
Father, Thank You that You alone are sovereign. Help us to remember who we are in You and to keep ourselves humble. In Jesus’ name, Amen