Ezekiel 7-8

“Terror and trembling will overcome my people. They will look for peace but not find it.” 7:25

Out of all the terrible things listed for Israel’s future, this one bothered me the most. Fear and anxiety are symptoms of being away from God’s presence. And being outside of God’s presence is a living hell.

Israel has pushed God away repeatedly, and eventually, he gives them over to their sin. In the process, they are stripped of their false happiness. They’re robbed of their riches, their homes are destroyed and filled with violence. Their land is taken over by their enemies.

Peace is a God-given gift, one that we are told to pursue (1 Peter 3:11, Psalm 34:14). What does it look like to pursue peace?

-Draw near to God. Spend time studying and reading the Bible, daily! Discipline yourself to pray (my designated time is often in front of the kitchen sink, washing the day’s dishes).

-Flee from evil. Even the seemingly harmless ones, like gossip, bad movies, aggressive music, etc. These things add up, grate on your nervous system and produce anxiety.

-Shut down fear. This is an exercise of self-control and guarding your heart. Don’t let yourself have a 20 minute day dream about a family member dying. Limit how much news you consume from the media. In general, don’t throw logs on anxiety fires (I make it a rule not to watch horror movies; I’m sensitive to them and they haunt me for EVER).

-Memorize peace-producing Scripture. Zephaniah 3:17, 2 Timothy 1:7 and Isaiah 26:3 are a few of my favorites.

-Repent of your sin. If you’re holding on to unrepented sin, you will not experience true peace. You’ll find yourself like the Israelites, filling the void with meaningless distractions and drifting further away from God’s peace and closer to the consequences of sin.

Reflect on this list. How are you experiencing true peace in your life? If you’re not, what do you need to change?


Ezekiel 5-6

“Thus they will know that I am the LORD.” (5:13; 6:7, 10, 13, 14)

It’s a great Bible study trick to always take notice of repeated phrases. This statement occurs five times in these two short chapters! I dare say, we will see it again soon.

In the midst of all this judgement, we might ask the age old question: why, and this repeated phrase is ready to answer.

Israel has abandoned the LORD by confusing Him with other gods, marrying Him with the female fertility goddess, and forgetting who He really is. They know some deity saved them from Egypt, but since then, there’s been a lot of Exodus 32:4 moments when a leader has pointed to a golden something and said, “this is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

All this giving the LORD’s glory and sacrifices to idols has led to the ruin of Israel. So when they’re dying by sword and famine, the LORD is going to be clear that this is why.

The false prophets said there would never be consequences for idolatry. The LORD’s prophets, most notoriously at this time: Jeremiah, said the opposite. Soon everyone would face the truth.

If we really stop to think, most conflicts and troubles in life can be traced back to an issue of idolatry. Whether we don’t know who God is, or misunderstand His profound goodness, we look elsewhere; misplacing sacrifices. When it all goes wrong, it’s not because He isn’t good, it’s because, somewhere along the way, someone misplaced the glory of God.

What is the situation you find yourself in today? Is there an instance where His praise has been given to the wrong person or thing? Ask God to reveal His true, worthy nature and presence in your day. How will you know that He is the LORD?


Ezekiel 3-4

“Then I said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, must I be defiled by using human dung? For I have never been defiled before. From the time I was a child until now I have never eaten any animal that died of sickness or was killed by other animals. I have never eaten any meat forbidden by the law.’ ‘All right,’ the Lord said. ‘You may bake your bread with cow dung instead of human dung.’ “ 4:14-15

Kind of a weird stand-alone verse, but it stuck out to me. It’s always catches my eye when people negotiate with God and he changes his mind. Moses does this a few times, and we read about Paul’s attempts to convince God of something in a couple of his letters. (God says no.)

It’s a reminder to me that God is living and active, and our relationships and prayers with him should be as well. Ezekiel isn’t trying to get out of the (very odd and disgusting) task that God has designated him. Maybe he’s trying to maintain his integrity? Cling to his obedience to the the law? I really don’t know, but I love that he at least asks.

And I love even more that God is gracious with his humanity. We see this earlier in Scripture, when Moses feels insecure and God grants him Aaron to partner with him. God meets us where we are. Don’t let your humanness stand in the way of obeying him.

When I felt like God was pulling me towards a really big life change, I gave him a thorough list of things he’d have to do before I agreed to it. (This if often my way of testing him: I don’t recommend it.) He met every single one of them, perfectly. I wish I could brag and say that I trusted God whole-heartedly without blinking, but it’s much more rewarding to brag about him in this story. He doesn’t condone my anxiety, but he bears with me.

Has God asked you to do something extreme? How are you responding? 

Don’t be afraid to approach God with your hesitations or conditions. I’m not saying he’ll meet every one of them or alter his plans. But ask. Share with him and stay in prayer with him. What an understanding, gracious and powerful God we get to talk to! Let’s not take it for granted.



Ezekiel 1-2

Here are the first and second Bible Project videos covering Ezekiel. I wanted to include them both now, because the hope of the last part really got me jazzed and I didn’t want to delay in sharing it.

I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude to have access to the Word of God. His words have reached me, His Presence and Spirit are with me.

I imagine, until this moment, Ezekiel was terribly grieved to be separated from the presence of God and access to His word. All hope seemed lost, because wasn’t the LORD confined to the temple in Jerusalem, 900 miles away? Not even a little.

Ezekiel is made a prophet to his people, “who are stubborn and obstinate children.” (2:4) The LORD assures him it won’t be easy 3 times. They probably won’t listen and they will inevitably hurt you, but you must speak to them.

It’s easy, too easy, to be swayed by the responses of people (I’m a middle child peace maker and really hate confrontation, unless I’m leading the rebellion). But when a glowing man on a throne supported by winged and four-faced creatures on eye wheels shows up, and is just the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD, you fall on your face and get ready to obey.

I’m challenged in two ways:

  1. I desperately need God’s Presence and Word in my life.
  2. I must remember His authority and commission when the going gets tough.

Do you remember God is near/with/inside you? Do you ever feel far from Him or outside His reach or jurisdiction? Are you submitted to Him or the finicky responses, actions or words of those around you?

Israel was in exile due to centuries of idolatry. I’ve been really blessed and challenged by the sermon series my home church (Montavilla Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon) has been doing about relationships. Thank God for Facebook livestream! Pastor Randy spoke about the destructiveness or making each other into gods we need to appease. Becoming aware of my tendency to do that has revolutionized the way I love. I am challenged to love out of submission to the One True God who commands unconditional love, not submission to “whatever will keep the peace”.

Let’s remember, today, the magnificence of God and check His place of authority in our lives. Also, thanking Him for His Spirit who is with us, wherever we go.


Numbers 35-36

“…designate cities of refuge to which people can flee if they have killed someone accidentally. These cities will be places of protection…” 35:11-12

What a merciful God we follow, who carves out space for accidents. Terrible, life-costing accidents that are the result of our carelessness, our shortsightedness or sometimes, just plainly, our humanness.

I’m convinced that if God designates space to someone who has screwed up big time, that we should too. This doesn’t really draw a great crowd; those hiding out from their avengers. But it’s a great example of God’s mercy and compassion that we should follow. (Justice still stands; the “slayer” is awaiting a trial while they’re in the city of refuge.)

How can we be a city of refuge for those caught in their sin?

What does it look like for your church? Your home? Your heart?

Tomorrow we will start the book of Ezekiel. Should be interesting!


Numbers 33-34

“Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the Lord, and these are their stages according to their starting places.” (33:2‬)

Whenever embarking on a new endeavor or season, it’s advantageous to remember where you’ve been.

The LORD is leading them into a pretty crazy situation. They will need to trust Him and follow His directions exactly. What better way to agree to trusting Him for a seemingly impossible outcome, than to recall the last impossible thing He enacted: the Exodus (plus 40 years of surviving in the wilderness)!

I know I say this all the time, but take time today to remember the faithfulness of God. Name specific instances you’ve seen Him provide, protect, etc. Thank Him! Praise Him! Ask for His leadership and wisdom moving forward.


Numbers 31-32

“But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” 32:23

When I was in high school, my brother and I would occasionally borrow my mom’s cell phone if we had after school plans. One day, when my brother was allotted The Cell Phone for the day, my mom pulled me out of class. She couldn’t get a hold of my brother, but needed to retrieve her phone so she could rush out of town for an emergency with my grandpa. Did I know where he was? The color drained from my face. He had skipped school that day, headed to the beach with friends and sworn me to secrecy. And now I was delivering that news to her, in the midst of a stressful situation. I mean, what were the chances my mom would come to school looking for him on the one day he was two hours away instead of sitting in English class? The truth always has a way of coming out.

One of the many lies we believe about sin is that it doesn’t impact anyone besides us. Or, we convince ourselves that no one will find out. I can think of at least fifteen times something I was hiding unexpectedly became exposed.

God exposing your sin feels awful, but it’s actually an act of mercy. The weight of being tangled up in lies and smothered by your secret sin is a life marked by death. Jesus came to give life.

Don’t wait for your sin to find you out. Instead, live with integrity. I love what Titus has to say about Christian living:

“An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.” Titus 1:6-9

This is directed towards church elders, but it’s a standard of godliness we should all move towards. A blameless life. 

How can you make strides towards having a blameless life?

Is there sin in your life waiting to find you out?