Sunday, 31 December 2006

A heart which is taken away

“Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” - Hosea 4v11

Why does it seem sometimes that people who are going on in their sin a just doing stupid things. Their actions and attitudes make no sense at all. It is hard for those on the outside to figure out what they are up to and why they do what they do. Their lives just don’t seem to make any sense.

Sin has an amazing and tragic influence. From earlier in the chapter we find that often times people will set their affection on their sin instead of the Lord. The results are that they will not prosper, but even “worse” than that is that their hearts can be turned away and enslaved.

Sin is a terrible master. It thinks nothing of its victims. It is selfish, greedy, and destructive. It takes away any ability to reason logically.

It is tragedy heaped upon tragedy when Christians allow sin to be their master and to take away their ability to think. Even Christians can be so enamoured with their sin that they lose all logic. Sin want to reign over them and often they will let it.

The blessing is that they need not. Sin has NO power of them, when sin reigns and messes up their heads it is because they allow it. There needs to be a “rereckoning” in their hearts. Sin has turned them away, but for the believer it has NO POWER. “Reckon yourselves dead to sin” God tells us in Romans chapter 6.

The believers heart may indeed be focused on his sin, his sin may have messed with his head till he it totally confused, but God has an answer, it requires faith and accounting that sin does not have the power it seem to have. We have a new Master who loves is more than sin ever will. Sin is selfish, our new Master in Christ is selfless.

The heart may indeed be taken away in sin, but it can be restored by turning to the One who wants to restore and comfort. “Come unto me, all who are burdened and I will give you rest.” There is rest from the control of sin, but it is only found in repenting and turning to Christ!

Saturday, 30 December 2006

They set their heart on their iniquity

“They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.” - Hosea 4v8

How awful sin really is. One of the major problems that Israel really had is that not only did they continue in their sin, not only did they love their, not only would they not forsake their sin, but they had set their hearts and their affection on their sin. Their sin had taken God’s place in their focus. Their affections were totally off base.

Sadly, Israel had no monopoly on this mindset. Colossians tells us that we have to set our affection on things above, we can’t set our affection on things here on earth. Our flesh cries out for attention. Sometimes we can love our sin so much that we can set our hearts on that instead of on Him and His way.

Oh the tragedy of setting our hearts on our sin. May we, by God’s strength, set our affection on things above instead.

Friday, 29 December 2006

The more they prospered the more they sinned

“As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.” - Hosea 4v7

Everyone likes to prosper. We like to have better clothes, better cars, and nicer homes. In our churches we like bigger and better facilities. Meeting in storefronts and hired halls is okay, but we really want more and better, reasoning that we can better serve the Lord. There is nothing inherently wrong with having more, but there is always a danger.

Here in Hosea one of the problems was that the richer the people got, the more they had, the more they sinned. There is a problem between “things” and God. Jesus told us that it was impossible to serve both God and mammon. We can’t love both, and we may even debate the point of whether or not we can have both or not. It is difficult for a rich man to be saved, we can’t serve God and mammon, the more Israel had the more they sinned.

Prosperity is not wrong, but it does have its dangers. As we prosper we must not forget the Lord. Even when we have much, it is because He has allowed us to have it and it must not turn us from Him.

Let’s always be aware of the dangers of prosperity.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

You are my people

“And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” - Hosea 2v23

One of the greatest gifts God has given is to include the Gentiles into His perfect plan for redemption. In the Old Testament only the Jews were God’s chosen people. Those who were not Jews were “without hope in this world.” As the perfect, holy, righteous God that was His choice. All men are sinners and they deserve damnation but God chose to give man a chance. Jews, and those who became Jews, were saved by putting their faith in God.

At the cross the “middle wall of partition” was torn down and now all who put their faith in Christ have hope and can call their own God! What marvellous grace God shows by offering salvation to all! Without that not one of us would be able to say “Thou art my God.”
What an amazing God Who will show just grace and mercy to such undeserving people as us!

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

A door of hope

“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” - Hosea 2v15

Hosea is one of those amazing stories found in what we often call the “Minor Prophets.” The prophet Hosea was called to marry a prostitute as a picture of Israel’s unfaithfulness. Israel, by her spiritual unfaithfulness, had acted just like a prostitute toward God. Hosea and his wife Gomer were a clear picture of this relationship.

For most of two chapters God expressed His displeasure are Israel’s sin. Yet, God still showed His mercy – “I will give her the valley of Achor as a door of hope.” God always provides a door of hope, even in the times of trouble. For Israel it was a valley, for us it is a Saviour.

Man is still guilty of spiritual adultery. Man runs from God and is unfaithful to Him. While the valley of Achor was a door of hope as a land, Jesus said that He is the door to eternal life. “I am the door,” He said. Without this door of hope we would indeed be without hope in this world. Praise God that He provides a “Door of Hope!”

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Spiritual warfare

“Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Greece shall come. But I will show thee that which is noted in the Scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” - Daniel 10v20-21

There are some things we don’t really like to talk about. A few years ago Frank Peretti wrote a series of books about spiritual warfare. We read about angels and demons fighting to and fro. The people on earth never knew what was really going on, but their lives were vitally affected by the spiritual battles going on around them.

The books are fiction, of course, but they do picture a Biblical truth that can seem a bit mystical and even scary. From what we glean in these verses there are demons assigned to certain geographical areas. The angel sent to Daniel had to leave to fight with the demon assigned to Persia and the demon of Greece was also mentioned.

What is the point here? The point is that there is a spiritual warfare going on around us. It may not be exactly like Peretti described, but it is real and it is happening. Yes, greater is He that is in us than, but we still must avail ourselves of His power. We must be sober and vigilant, because our Adversary is walking about seeking whom he may devour. We must ever on guard, ever vigilant, ever ready, and ever armoured for the fight.

Monday, 25 December 2006

Speak Lord, you have strengthened me

“And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.” – Daniel 10v19

When we look at this passage of Scripture we see what a daunting task we have before us in our spiritual work. Daniel had been praying for help. When help got there the angle told him that he had been delayed for three weeks by Satanic forces and that he did not succeed until Michael cam to help him.

The angel told Daniel that there was a real battle to come, but that God would one day be victorious. When Daniel saw the scope of the battle he was afraid. Well should he have been – and we face the same battle today. It is an immense fight that we fight, and we need to be aware of the immensity of it.

Yet, we, like Daniel, have a source of encouragement. The angel told Daniel – “You are greatly loved, don’t be afraid, live in God’s peace, and be strong – indeed – be strong.” Where do we find strength for the battle ahead? The same place Daniel did – in the fact that God loves us and that He has given us His peace. We need not be afraid – we can be strong for the fight.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Prayer that God hears

“Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” - Daniel 10v12

“Daniel was a man of prayer, daily prayed he three time…” Thus starts a lovely children’s song about Daniel in the lion’s den. It does point out an important truth about Daniel and his prayer life.

Daniel was a man who saw his prayers answered. I think this passage partly tells us why. When he prayed he

Set his heart to understand God
Chastened, or humbled himself before God

When he did this, God heard his prayer and sent the answer.

What does this mean about prayer? It means that Daniel did not try to get things done his way, he set his mind to understand God’s way instead of his and then he humbled himself to receive God’s will. True prayer does not try to mould God to our pattern, it humbly desires Him to mould us to his pattern.

When we pray, do we humble ourselves and seek to understand Him, or do we selfishly and proudly demand that He act our way?

Saturday, 23 December 2006

God, forgive us

“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” - Daniel 9v19

As part of Daniel’s prayer of intercession for the people he came to the point when he admitted that they were totally dependent on God to deal with their sin. He had confessed their sin and called on them to repent. He knew that there was nothing more that they could “do” to deal with their sin and that only God could deal with it now.

He knew that they were dependent on God to forgive their sins. They were totally reliant on Him. There is nothing man can do about sin, other than to forsake it. God must forgive it.

Praise God that He is a forgiver of our sin. When we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and then He will cleanse. We confess, we forsake, then we trust His forgive.

Friday, 22 December 2006

The Lord is righteous in all He does

“Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.” - Daniel 9v14

How do we know what to do when it seems like God is really “messing things up?” Lets be honest, do we ever get “cheesed off” at God for not doing things the way we think He should?

Overcoming this requires a measure of faith to know that whatever He is doing is right. There are times when this requires what I once heard referred to as “raw faith” -the ability to dig down deep and simply trust God.

How do we do that? First of all we must have absolute, 100% faith in the word of God. If God says it in His word we must choose to accept it. Actually, this is vital in every aspect of our Christian life.

Here though, in order accept how God works we must accept the truth of “the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which He doeth.” Only when we can learn the truth of this can we accept the things that don’t “seem right” to us.

He is God after all – He sees the whole picture. He knows what is best. He ALWAYS does the right thing.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

We have not repented

“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” - Daniel 9v13

Israel was in captivity. They had chosen to disobey the law of God, which He gave them for their own good, and as a result they were suffering the consequences of their sin. All that happened to them was not necessarily the result of God’s judgement, but was the natural result of their choices. Instead of trusting God, they tried to treat with the Chaldeans and were betrayed by them. If they had trusted God He would have kept them. They suffered the results of their choices. In Daniel’s prayer he acknowledged that God was full of grace and mercy, but they would not turn to Him. If they repented and turned to God He promised that He would restore them.

We are God’s children. Jesus took the judgement for our sins when He went to the cross for us. However, when we choose to go on in our sin we can expect to suffer the consequences of our actions. Choices have consequences. God is there waiting for us, He has not forsaken us. When we sin we can expect to suffer the natural results. The answer? Repent and forsake our sin. Simple enough, if we would just apply it.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

We are embarrassed

“O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.” - Daniel 9v8

Whatever happened to embarrassment? It seems like we live in a day when even God’s people are ashamed to be ashamed. After Daniel’s vision he interceded for God’s people, but he did not do so on any basis on what the people deserved. He fasted and prayed, seeking help for God’s people.

He admitted something that some folks today would be embarrassed to do. He said that God is righteous, but the people have “confusion of face.” This word “confusion” refers to confusion which is caused by being ashamed, or embarrassed, In essence Daniel said – “You are righteous, but we are embarrassed by our sin.”

Today, far too often, we make excuses for our sin instead of being embarrassed by it! We ought to be ashamed, we ought to be embarrassed. Our sin is always shameful in the sight of a perfect, holy, righteous God. It is time that we stop being ashamed of being ashamed.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Because Daniel believed in his God

“Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” - Daniel 6v23

Over and over again Daniel’s faith was honoured and blessed. After Daniel survived the night in the lion’s den the king was overjoyed, just as he had said, Daniel’s God had carried him through and kept him safe.

Daniel’s faith was honoured with deliverance. The reason was clear – in this situation God knew that He would be best glorified by delivering Daniel. The king would see His power and it would be clear to the whole nation that Daniel served the one and only true God. Because Daniel believed he was delivered.

We need to remember though that God does not always act that way. There are times in the Bible when God is honoured by the death of His saints.

What are we to do? We do what Daniel did – believe God and trust God with the results.

Monday, 18 December 2006

You God can deliver you

“Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spoke and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” - Daniel 6v16

For nearly sixty years Daniel had faithfully serve in the king’s court in Babylon while remaining faithful to his God. The first bit of news for us is that it is possible to serve the Lord while being involved with the affairs of the world. His walk with God was right and pure, yet he was still able to serve in a public position. What an example for us today.

What kind of impact did his faith have on those around him? After Darius was tricked into signing a law which forbad worship of anyone but himself he realised that Daniel was to be the first prosecution under the new law. He was distraught and tried all day to figure out a way to salvage the situation. At the end of the day he knew the law had to be carried out.

But Daniel’s testimony bore fruit – “Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” After watching Daniel consistently, faithfully serving God Darius knew that God would help him. Everyone, including the king, knew where Daniel stood and knew that he served the God who had the power to deliver him, even from the mouths of the lions.

Daniel set a pattern for real people working in the real world. It is possible to live and serve in this world and still live for the Lord and be a testimony for Him.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

As he did formerly

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did formerly.” - Daniel 6v10

This is a very special portion of scripture to me. A few years ago I received a letter, or a writing, as Daniel did, and I did not respond the way Daniel did. The next morning I read this passage of scripture and my heart was challenged.

Daniel was a true man of God. When no one could find fault with him a group of the other leaders decided that the only way to get to him was to make a law regarding God. The law forbad anyone from praying to anyone but the king, They watched Daniel to see how he would respond. Daniel did not get his back, he did not protest, he simply did what he always did before – he prayed. He just went about his own business, knowing that the death penalty could await.

How do we respond to bad news? I long for the day when I respond to bad news like Daniel did – to just go on and do what I would always do, trusting God with the result.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Keep your money

“Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” - Daniel 5v17

Twenty years had passed since Nebuchadnezzar had accepted the true God. His son (or grandson) was on the throne and he decided to throw a huge party. During the feast they used some of the sanctified vessels from the Temple and the party declined into debauchery and the worship of pagan gods.

Suddenly a hand appeared and starting writing on the wall. Belshazzar and the others were petrified and they didn’t know what the message meant. The wise men were called in and they couldn’t figure it out either. Finally someone remembered Daniel and he was called before the king.

Of course Daniel knew the meaning, but before we get to that I want to notice something special about Daniel’s character. Belshazzar offered Daniel all kids of wealth and riches to tell him the meaning, but Daniel was not interested. He did not think it wise to accept money to give God’s message to the king. He did not want any question that he was being bought. “Keep your money, give it to someone else, I will tell you the meaning.”

I am impressed that Daniel refused all of the wealth he was offered. He knew that God would take care of him if he was faithful. The king had no real power over him and he wanted everyone to know it.

As God’s people we need to be sure that we don’t have a price – we can’t be bought. We also need to be careful of our testimony before the world in this regard.

Friday, 15 December 2006

The salvation of a king

“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” - Daniel 4v34-37

Daniel chapter four is the amazing testimony of a king who learned to trust the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar had already had dealings with the Lord and had seen His and at work with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. In this section he tells what it took to make his head knowledge of God into heart knowledge.

The king had a dream that only David of course could interpret. The dream was a warning from God that his mighty kingdom would come to an end because of His pride. At first it appeared that Nebuchadnezzar was a bit rattled by the news, but a year later he is still wandering though his magnificent gardens admiring all the he had done. He was more full of pride and self-assurance than he ever had been. God humbled him by fulfilling his nightmare and sending to live among the animals.

Finally the king had had enough. It was clear at last that he was not as important as he thought he was. He acknowledged the realty of a God who ruled in the kingdom of men. After all of his talk and thoughts of God in his head, he now knew God in his heart.

What kept from knowing God all along? It was his sinful pride, but praise God that those who walk in pride He is able to bring down. Praise God when He deals with our pride so that we can walk in fellowship with Him!

Thursday, 14 December 2006

The fire had no power

“And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” - Daniel 3v27

Nebuchadnezzar surely thought that he had dealt with these three recalcitrant Hebrews. The furnace was heated so hot that those who threw the men into it died from the heat.

While they watched a fourth person appeared in the flames. To Nebuchadnezzar this one appeared to be as a “son of the gods.” It was clearly a supernatural personage. There are two possibilities, it was either and angel, or it was an appearance of Christ in the flesh. Whichever, it was evidence that God was somehow with them through the fiery trial.

God’s presence was so real that the flames had no power over the men. Their hair was not singed and they did not even smell of smoke. When God was with them they really had nothing to fear. The enemy, in this case the flames, had NO power!

During our own fiery trial God may indeed use the flames to burn off the dross. The “dross burning” may not always be comfortable, but we can be assured that the flames really have no power over us. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego we can take comfort that when the Lord is with us the flames have no power over us!

The hymn writer put it this way:

“When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Our God is able…but if not…

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” - Daniel 3v17-18

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were truly amazing men with an astounding faith. When Nebuchadnezzar made a law requiring that everyone bow down and worship his statue they simply refused to do so. No big deal, no protest march, letters to the editor, they simply would not bow down.

Enraged, Nebuchadnezzar called them before him. He told them that they would be executed if they did not bow down. Their testimony is a challenge to us all. They knew God had the power to deliver them – “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us…” Great! They knew God could deliver them. But their faith went even deeper – “But if not…we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image…”

These men knew that God was able to deliver them, but they did not presume that He would do so. Even if God did not do what they wanted, they still would not worship the image.

Their faith was not contingent on what God did or did not do. They knew that He would do best and that what He did would not change their views toward Him.

Do we have that kind of faith? Can we worship Him no matter what He chooses to do in what we see as difficult times?

May God give us the heart of these men, a heart that will not bow, no matter what happens in our lives.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Your God is a God of gods

“The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.” - Daniel 2v47

Nebuchadnezzar is an interesting character. Here he reacted emotionally to seeing an interpretation to his prayer. He was so excited that he said that Daniel’s God was the true God, he elevated Daniel to a position of authority, and then promoted the Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Surely, Nebuchadnezzar got saved because of Daniel’s testimony?

Sadly, this was not the case. In the next chapter Nebuchadnezzar will set up a monument to himself and demand worship. Not a saved man. What happened then?

Like far too many people Nebuchadnezzar made a statement and a decision based on his emotions. We need to be careful that we do not base our view of salvation of people based on their emotional responses. Emotions can cause huge responses – lets be sure that we see the reality of “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.”

Monday, 11 December 2006

That they would desire mercies

That they would desire mercies

“That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” - Daniel 2v18

By this time Daniel and his companions had honoured God, passed the test, and were now well established in the palace, without compromising their faith. One night king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him. He called the wise men and no one could interpret so he ordered all the execution of all of the wise men in the kingdom, including Daniel and the others.

Rather than panic Daniel did the right thing – he went straight to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and asked them to “desire mercies of the God of heaven” concerning he dream so that he would be able to interpret it.

What did Daniel do? He had a need so he went to his companions and he asked them to pray for him. What a wonderful example he set for us! What is the best thing for us to do when we have a need or face a challenge? We do like Daniel did and ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us. Our service for God is not an isolated effort. We have a “team” behind us to support us, lets be sure that we share our needs with them.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

Daniel purposed in his heart

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” - Daniel 1v8

It is nearly impossible to pass by this one little section of Daniel without pausing for a moment. Daniel was a young man who was displaced from his homeland in a type of “ethnic resettlement.” He and his people were carried from their homes in Judah to the heartland of the massive Chaldean Empire. He, along with a few other young men were called into the king’s palace to teach him and his subjects the language, customs, and manners of the Israelites. This small group of men had the perfect job! They lived in the palace, slept in nice beds, and ate the king’s food. What more could one ask for?

Daniel saw in advance that there would be a problem. There would be a draw and a desire to conform to the ways of the king’s palace. Babylon’s desire was assimilate captive nations into their society. The goal was to make a few allowances and eventually do away with all memory of the original culture. Most of the time it worked for Babylon.

The king had not reckoned on a man like Daniel. He was a man who knew the importance of the purity of God’s people and that mixing with Babylon would defile God’s people. Therefore he decided to take a stand – “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” Before he ever encountered the problem he had decided what he would do – there really was not a question and nothing was open to debate.

What would happen today if God’s people had the courage to take a stand like Daniel did? We tend to accept situation ethics, deciding what to do when the situation arises. Oh that we would be like Daniel – no room for compromise, no room for debate, simply a hear purpose not to be defiled. Do you think we would have an impact for God on our communities?

Saturday, 9 December 2006



“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there.” - Ezekiel 48v35

YHWH Shammah – “The Lord is there!” The last verse of Ezekiel is a marvellous picture of the summation of the history of Israel and indeed the world itself, for at the end of the day all of history is tied to Israel. Jerusalem will have a brand new name to go with her new place in the world. All of God’s promises will then be fulfilled as He brings it all together.

The wonderful thing is that He has allowed the Gentiles to share in history. Through the marvellous gift of His Son He has broken down the wall of partition so that we can share in Israel’s glory!

What does that mean to us? We will share in the day when Jerusalem is called YHWH Shammah! Yes, the Lord is here today, there is no doubt about that. But in that day the Lord will be there is a very tangible and visible way. In His presence there is no sin so that terrible burden will be done away with.

What a day that will be when all of this around us will be done away and we will know is a new way that the Lord is there!

Friday, 8 December 2006

Teaching the difference

“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.”
- Ezekiel 44v23

There are several chapters in Ezekiel where he is given a task of measuring the temple for its instruction. In the middle of this there are some instructions for the priests as they minister in the temple. One of these particularly catches the attention.

“Teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to know the difference between the unclean and the clean.”
It is obvious from this that people are not going to automatically know the difference between what is good and what is bad, between the holy and the unholy, or the clean and unclean. The wonderful thing is that God gives us His word to teach us the difference in these things. We can’t ever trust our own hearts or emotions to teach us what is right and what is wrong, for our flesh is strong and will always interfere. We have a standard, God’s word. It is up to us to learn all we can and then pass it on to others. May we willingly learn the difference between the holy and the profane, between the unclean and the clean.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Dry bones

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:” - Ezekiel 37v3-5

The story of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 is primarily and most importantly a story of the spiritual and physical restoration of the nation of Israel. He make a promise and a commitment that He is not going to totally forsake His people and one day they will be totally restored.

There is however an application for us as well. There is no doubt that the breath of God symbolises the Holy Spirit. God breathed into Adams nostrils and he received the breath of life, here God breathed on dry bones and they received life. At salvation the Holy Spirit came and gave me spiritual life.
I think we can also speak of times in our lives when we are in a place of spiritual dry bones. In those “dry bones” times it is important to remember that we already have the life giving power of the Holy Spirit, God’s breath is already on us. All we need to do is to avail ourselves of that power and let the Holy Spirit do His life giving works. There is no need to us to live in the valley of dry bones. Let’s enjoy His life giving power!

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

The Great Shepherd

“For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” - Ezekiel 34v11-12

Fortunately, in spite of the unfaithful shepherds, we have a Great Shepherd Who is always faithful. It is such a blessing to know that He always cares for His sheep. This section is reminiscent of the New Testament story about the shepherd who leaves in ninety-nine sheep to go after one who has gone astray. To the Great Shepherd each and every sheep is important.

Men are doomed the fail – human shepherds will fail at times. But our Great Shepherd will never fail us.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Failing as shepherds

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.” - Ezekiel 34v2-5

Through His prophet Ezekiel, here God sent a specific lesson on how His shepherds were failing. These are, of course, those who led or shepherded His people. Although all do shepherd to a certain extent, specifically God is dealing with those who would be pastors or other spiritual leaders today.

In what ways did these shepherds fail?

They took care of themselves first
They failed to strengthen the weak
They failed to care for the sick
They failed to help those who were broken
They failed to go after those who wandered away
The did not seek the lost
They ruled with cruelty

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how these things can apply to spiritual leaders today. What a checklist to see how we are doing as pastors and spiritual leaders. How do we do if we have use the list to tick off what we are doing, or failing to do for the Lord?

Monday, 4 December 2006

Doing God’s word

“And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” - Ezekiel 33v31

In James we are told to be doers of the word and not hearers only, for then we are only hearers of the word we deceive our own selves. Here is Ezekiel we have an Old Testament example of the same truth.

These people were hypocrites. They talked about how much they loved God and others. They acted like the loved Ezekiel and the words he was speaking. They came and heard him preach, but they talked about him at the city walls. The listened to him, but they did nothing. They acted like they loved him, but the actions belied their words because they were caught up in their own covetousness.

The true test of their faith was not how well they listened, but what they did. Like the readers of the book of James these people were deceiving themselves in the own covetousness by hearing, but now doing, by telling Ezekiel they loved him, but never showing it to him.

Are we like the people in Ezekiel’s day? Do we hear God’s word with joy and then not follow through by doing it?

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Sounding the trumpet

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.” - Ezekiel 33v6

God uses the trumpet all throughout His word. Sometimes it is talking about good news, sometimes bad news, and sometimes as a herald. In this case God reminded Ezekiel that he had a job to do. After all of the warnings God reminded Ezekiel that he still had to give a warning, to be as the herald and blow the trumpet of warning to the people. Then the people could decide whether or not they were going to respond.

Today we are to sound the trumpet call to warn the people around us. Our trumpet call is to proclaim the word of God of warning. As long as we are really sounding the trumpet can rest assured that we are doing all we can do. Lets be sure that we are sounding out the trumpet call.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

God’s heart or our heart?

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God;” - Ezekiel 28v6

The prince of Tyrus in Ezekiel 28 was a real political ruler, but he us also a picture of Satan and that title is one of Satan’s titles. Of course Lucifer is the author and progenitor of sin. Here God details how he sinned and what the core of his sin was.

Two things stick out – 1) “You have lifter up your heart,” and 2) “You have set your heart as the heart of God.” Lucifer, the prince of Tyrus, thought that he knew as much as God did and that he could do things as well as God does.

Terrible sin we might say. But are we any better when we doubt God’s way in a situation or a trial? Are we any better when we think that we have it figured out and that our way would surely better and our solution more suited to the situation? When we doubt and question God in a situation our solution much be that which Habakkuk finally came to - “I will settle and wait on God.” Otherwise we are guilty of the same prideful thoughts that Lucifer was.

Friday, 1 December 2006

My wife died

“So I spoke unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” - Ezekiel 24v18

Ezekiel must be one of the greatest examples of faithfulness in the light of what we see in this chapter. In chapter 24 God told him to proclaim His word and not be stopped by anything. One morning Ezekiel went out to preach as God had instructed him. That evening he experienced the tragedy of seeing his wife die. Yet, the next morning he was back doing what God told him to do – he went back and preached again.

I realise that we live in a different day than Ezekiel. I realise that we are not under the same instructions as Ezekiel. Yet, there can be no doubt that Ezekiel is a challenge to us regarding faithfulness. What does it take to deter us from serving God? If Ezekiel can keep serving God on the death of his wife, can’t we be faithful in the little trials we face?