Ezekiel 41-42 B

“When the priests leave the sanctuary, they must not go directly to the outer courtyard. They must first take off the clothes they wore while ministering, because these clothes are holy. They must put on other clothes before entering the parts of the building complex open to the public.”

As a product of a non-denominational church that boomed on the heels of Keith Green’s Jesusfreak movement, I find myself on the more casual side of a relationship with the Lord.

Prayer can happen anywhere, church gatherings are casual and ministry can be just about anything you want it to be as long as you assure everyone you were “called” into it. I don’t think any of this is bad, it just is. But it’s also just one side of the coin.

Don’t forget that God is holy. The ground where we meet with him is holy ground. The clothes one wears in the sanctuary are holy clothes. Clothes matter.

What feels like a religious routine to you, but might hold significance to the Lord?

-Carly

Ezekiel 39-40 B

“Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer.” (39:28‬)

The LORD is fine about being known as a disciplinarian. He knows what is for our good and He brings truth to light in order for His name to not be de-famed by the people meant to express it.

With all the noise, clashes of opinions, war, conflicting ideologies, and oppression—brought to us daily through international news—it’s good to know the LORD’s goodness doesn’t depend on mankind.

He is Mighty to Save, able to build up and tear down anything. There is nothing too great for Him, no person too dead, no outcome too unlikely. He will be found true in this world.

While many people point to Ezekiel 38-39 as an upcoming prophecy about Russia and Iran attacking Israel, it really doesn’t matter. This 2,500+ year old prophecy has been true many times. The LORD has opposed the proud and given grace to the humble, time and time again. Empires have risen and fallen and He has remained the same. Such will continue to be true until the end.

There are many cycles of discipline, where we find ourselves being either scattered or gathered. What season do you feel you’re in now? Do you feel like you (or your community) are experiencing disciplinary judgement or compassionate healing?

-Bethany

Ezekiel 37-38 B

I was relieved to read in my Bible’s commentary today that most scholars scratch their heads at chapter 38 too. There are some theories, yes, but mostly the identity of Gog remains uncertain.

By the end of the chapter, it feels irrelevant.

“All living things-the fish in the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals of the field, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people on earth- will quake in terror at my presence.

“…I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” 38:23

Same story, different characters. However rebellious and defiant something/someone will be, God will have the final word. His presence will be known and he will be victorious.

He will be known. I love reading this sentence. It makes me feel like a comforted child, being soothed by a calming parent.

Is there someone in your life who challenges God’s authority in a way that really pushes your buttons? They deny God’s sovereignty and power and it bothers you. Or maybe it worries you because you know how wonderful it is to submit your life to him and you want that for them too.

It’s okay. He will he known. You don’t need to argue with people on Facebook about it. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that he is God! (Romans 14:14)

-Carly

Ezekiel 35-36 B

“I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.” (36:23‬)

The LORD goes on to detail His plan to cleanse His people: exchanging their hearts, and filling them with His Spirit. He plans to use the very people who made Him look bad in the first place?

This makes me think about the ways the LORD’s name is profaned in 2020.

What does it look like for His people, full of His Spirit, to reintroduce His true heart and nature to the world? How can we know if we have the right heart or His Spirit? How do we know when He is glorified in truth?

Stay in His word. Familiarize yourself with His voice and practice spotting His handiwork. It often looks like light and hope in dark places, healing in sickness, life from death, forgiveness and restoration. The fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.

His glory is evident in creation, is it evident in you?

-Bethany

Ezekiel 33-34 B

So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it! But when all these terrible things happen to them—as they certainly will—then they will know a prophet has been among them.” 33:31-34

They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it. James talks about this too. He says reading the Bible without applying it to your own behavior is like looking in the mirror and forgetting your own reflection as soon as you walk away. (James 1:22-25)

At some point, I scrawled “following Christian culture vs. following Christ” under these verses from Ezekiel in my Bible.

Am I just simply entertained by the message of the gospel, or does it impact my life?

Do I consume spiritual things without obeying and submitting to the message?

Ezekiel warns the people that they won’t even know a prophet has been among them until it’s too late. They won’t even realize these were God’s holy words until terrible things start to happen!

Read the verses from today’s chapter again. Do you catch yourself behaving this way? Maintaining a superficial relationship with God?

Here are a couple ways I know I’m really in it with God:

It’s costing me something. A life with Christ will require sacrifice.

Joy despite circumstances. If I still have an insatiable appetite for contentment, I know I’m in an unhealthy spot.

Are you able to recognize what it looks like for you?

-Carly

Ezekiel 31-32 B

Assyria was like a very magnificent tree, one that could make even the trees of Eden jealous. Egypt was like a vicious sea monster. Both were brought down and became places for birds and animals to sit. (31:13 & 32:4)

There’s a lot of slaying, death, graves, and going down to the pit. Everyone from the Pharaoh and lofty kings, to the insignificant nobodies face this death. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The LORD is the Only sure foundation in this world. Even the largest, most secure establishment imaginable can be brought down and turned into mulch under the feet of animals. All of these pronouncements of judgement are followed with “Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

This line is everywhere. Why is it so easy to forget who is God and who is not? Why is it so common to turn our affection away from the Creator toward the created? We can be so easily dazzled.

In some cases, rightly so. Our Creator is a true master of making beautiful things, but these are meant to turn our attention toward Him. The beauty is an arrow, pointing to His glory.

Likewise, we are His workmanship. Mankind is considered creation’s crowning achievement. Do you and I act as arrows, pointing toward the glory of the LORD, or do we like to point to ourselves?

I’m very thankful for the many times in my life I became enamored with something besides the LORD and He knocked it out of my hand in a way only He could. Then, I could know that He was the LORD. I could remember what’s what.

Is there something or someone stealing that place of affection in your heart reserved for the LORD? Ask Him about it today. Maybe you can surrender it to Him before it becomes a massive heap of rubble. Remember, this isn’t to ruin our lives or spoil our fun. It is for the health and well-being of mankind to remain properly positioned before the LORD.

-Bethany

Ezekiel 29-30 B

“And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then, Ezekiel, your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” 29:21

This verse reminded me of something important: we do not work for the approval of people, but for the glory of God.

Ezekiel is point-blank told that his messages are not going to get through to people for a long time. And this happens to a lot of the prophets! They’re told, hey no ones going to listen to you, but say it anyway.

I’m a direct result of an instant-gratification culture. But this is not gospel culture. There are very few stories with instant results. Instead, there’s stories about 40 year camping trips and poor, sweet Jacob working, what, 14 years? To earn the right to marry the love of his life?

Jesus speaks in parables about gardening. Mature plants that stabilize over time and seasons. Seasons of hard work and labor or seasons that are cold and bare.

God’s culture is slow-paced, steadfast and requires longevity of your faith. For example, Ezekiel could not have possibly hung in there if he was hoping for quick results or fast friends. Sometimes (really, I feel confident saying most of the time), being God’s messenger is lonely and without any reward, initially. There are several circumstances where I feel confident I did the right thing, or spoke the truth I needed to speak, and never got to see/receive the fruit from that.

Or maybe, you’re reaping fruit someone else sowed. I feel like that with my husband a lot. I look at him, admiring what a godly, intentional and hard-working man he is and just delight in how lucky my kids and I are to have him. But it was his family, teachers and mentors who put in the work, and honestly not very many of them get to see the type of man he is today.

Who are you working for? I love the perspective Galatians 1:10 gives us.

Who has put in the work on you in the past? Take a minute and thank God (and them, if you can!) for the people he’s put in your path.

-Carly