Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Enthralling Ezekiel

I’ve been enthralled with the first three chapters of Ezekiel for some weeks now; it’s like I can’t get away from them. Every time I read and reread them, it’s as if another little nugget pops off the page. It’s been an amazing experience for me, and I wanted to share some of what the Lord has been showing me.

Ezekiel 1

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

“Visions of God” is what I want us to note in the passage above.

There’s one other time when you read of someone having a similar experience and the heavens were opened up.  As you recall, that would be Saint John in the Book of Revelation on the Island of Patmos. It’s a very, very similar experience.

On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity,

By the way, Ezekiel is in captivity when this is taking place.

The word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest,”

The “Word of the Lord” is the next important point. Why is that important?
  1. We need a vision of God.
  2. We need the Word of the Lord.

When we’re talking about the Word of the Lord, we’re not simply referencing reading the Bible. We’re talking about the rhema word, something that is being revealed to us, by God, through the Spirit.

“ . . . the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.”

Point three is that the “hand of the Lord” was upon Ezekiel. We need to be living, moving, and operating in such a way as having the hand of the Lord upon our lives. We need the vision of God, we need a Word from God, and we need the hand of God upon our lives.

4 “Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.”

We could get so much out of that verse as well, but we’re not going to rest there.

5 “Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.”

“The likeness of a man” is worth noting, in fact, it’s the most predominant of the four living creatures that are mentioned. He’s seeing a four-headed, or four-faced creature. We know from the Word that this being evidently had four distinct faces. Each face pointed a different direction (North, South, East, West). Other commentators say that it could have been a four-headed creature.

6 “Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.”

The creatures did not turn when they went. That is point number four.  They did not go left nor right; they went where the Spirit directed. I’ll show you that in just a moment.

10 “As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.”

They went where the Spirit wanted to go; that is point number five.  Let’s review those five points.
  1. They have a vision of God.
  2. They have the Word of the Lord.
  3. The hand of the Lord was upon them.
  4. They’re moving straight forward (which would indicate moving with purpose).
  5. They’re going where the Spirit goes.

17 “When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went.”

20 “Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.”

These are all important, relevant points for us as believers today as well. I invite you to meditate and mull over these Scriptures with me, and we’ll discuss them even further in next week’s blog.

Grace and peace,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Have You Left? Then It's Time To Return . . .

Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you,
that you have left your first love.”

The Lord spoke to my heart saying: We must return to our first love. It’s so easy to be pulled in too many directions, and it’s so easy to be distracted.

The passage above follows a pretty impressive list of good works for which the Church was complimented. However, it appears that even in the midst of doing good, it is possible to become distracted and wander off course. Every time we sin or fall short, it is the result of one thing above any other . . . it is because we have left our “first love” and have gone our own way.

We must routinely return to Christ, experience His love, and be filled with it in order to express that same great love to others.

I believe we should take this opportunity to beseech the Lord and turn towards Him in a fresh way. Would you join with me as we ask the Lord to baptize us anew with His love? I have no hope of being a demonstration of the love of God to a sin-sick world if I have wandered from my first love, Jesus Christ.

Come back to your first love and love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your strength, and all of your soul, for therein lies the issue. When we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, we find it’s an easy thing to love our neighbors.

I’m going to assume that we are all Christians. Jesus said that they will know that we are His disciples by the love that we have for one another. That’s the sure sign. They’ll know us by our fruit and that fruit is love, and then comes the peace, joy, and the other fruit as well. It’s all the product of God’s love in our hearts.

If you’ll take a moment, pray the following with me: Father, we come to You today, and we find ourselves in need of grace and forgiveness. At times we have fallen from our first love, and we have turned our own direction, followed our own choices, and have done what we thought was important.

We ask you in the name of Jesus to forgive us, cleanse us, and remove all of our unrighteousness . . . to just blot it out. May we experience a fresh baptism of divine love. Cause us to be plunged under the flood of Your love. May we be held under that water long enough for our hearts to grow soft as a sponge so that we may absorb the very love that You have for us. May we love others with that same love.

Fill our hearts anew, God, with Your divine love, and let our lives be a demonstration of it. It’s all for Your kingdom and Your glory, in Jesus’ name.

Grace & Peace,

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Colossians 3:12 says that, “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering . . .” The author of Colossians is saying that we have to put these things on; they may not always be part of our personal wardrobe.

Before we open our mouths, it would be great if we’d think quickly and “change our clothes,” in a figurative sense. We should put on tender mercies instead of judgment or criticism. Put on kindness instead of anger and wrath. Put on humility! Meekness is not weakness, but strength under restraint.

You might say, “Well, I won’t be anybody’s doormat.” Tell that to Jesus! “I get tired of doing that stuff; we’re not supposed to let people walk on us.” Noooo, we’re supposed to turn the other cheek!

I’m going to challenge you to do something that I personally began doing. I’ve begun to go through my Bible and write the red print (in longhand, not typing it on my computer). I’m writing out every word that Jesus spoke. It’s not that big of a task; He really didn’t say all that much, even in the four Gospel accounts.

They say that if you hear something that your retention is about 20%. If you write something though, it increases significantly. As I’m writing Christ’s words, it really brings the message home. I challenge you! I’ve been a Christian for well over thirty years; I’m not boasting in that fact, but what I am saying is that I’m still learning from the red print.

Everything I need to know can be found in Jesus’ words! If I could just do what the red print tells me to do, then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything else! It’s amazing. I was writing the Beatitudes the other day, and I came under conviction. “Oh Lord, help me to be a peacemaker.” He says, “Come and follow Me, and I’ll teach you how to be a peacemaker.” It’s so simple; we try to complicate it. Jesus made it so easy that even a caveman could understand.

Look at verse 13: “Bearing with one another.” Now what does that mean? It means putting up with one another. “Forgiving one another,” means to forgive people, to let it go! “Yeah, but . . .” LET IT GO! “But you don’t know . . .” LET IT GO! That’s what forgiveness is.

God knows everything about us, yet He lets it go. When we confess our sins and repent, He forgives us. So if you want to be more like Jesus, then just let it go! It’s not helping you a bit to keep it. In fact, it’s hurting you! It will make you downright sick if you hang onto it long enough.

“If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”  15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 

Let me tell you that if you don’t walk in the bond of love, you will not experience peace. When you walk in love, you let the transgression go; you don’t hold it against anyone.

I believe that these verses show a progression.
  • Put on love.
  • Let the peace of God rule your heart.
  • Be thankful.
It’s hard to be thankful when you don’t have peace in your heart.
It’s hard to have peace in your heart when you’re not walking in love.
It’s hard to walk in love when you’ve fallen away from your first love.
So what is the solution? The solution is found in returning to your first love!

Grace & peace,