Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 24-26:21; Hebrews 11:1-16; Psalm 110:1-7; Proverbs 27:14
The book of Ezekiel contains several parables spoken by God regarding the relationship between God and His people. In Ezekiel 23 compares Judah and Israel to two women (Ezekiel 23:1). Like the women in the parable were not faithful to their husband, Israel and Judah were not faithful to God. Rather than wanting to spend time with Him, they went looking for greener pastures (Ezekiel 23:5).
Notice what attracted the women’s attention: outward appearances (Ezekiel 23:6, 14-16). In the parable the women are drawn to attractive men of power who are finely dressed (Ezekiel 23:7). Its very easy to find ourselves wanting something or someone based on how it looks. But outward appearances don’t count for much. What matters is what is on the inside. As we continue reading the story we see that these men were not men of character. They did not worship God. Instead, they lead these women away from God (Ezekiel 23:7). The true measure of something’s value is how much closer it makes us to God. If something (or someone) causes us to spend less time with God then it is not something (or someone) we should want to have in our life.
If there is one thing we learn from history it is that we don’t learn from history. The human race repeats its own mistakes, often times doing things even worse than previously (Ezekiel 23:11, 14). One of the most important lessons we can (and should) learn from the Bible is just how serious it is to turn our backs on God either as individuals or as a nation. Israel had all they could ever have wanted – all of it a gift from God – and it was theirs based on one simple condition: that they stay focused on Him. But they didn’t do it. They were seduced by the sinful world around them. And that lead to their downfall (Ezekiel 23:35).
We can say the same thing about ourselves and our country. The way we prosper is to maintain a relationship with God and follow His design for our lives. But we’d rather not do that because we see other people seemingly having more fun doing other things. So we do them too. But these things aren’t fulfilling. That is why they are often addictions: sex, drugs, success, wealth. If they were fulfilling they wouldn’t gain more and more control over us with the passage of time. We become slaves to these sins. The saddest thing is that this is the complete opposite of the life God has in mind for us. He doesn’t want us to be slaves who are not in control of our lives. He wants us to be completely free. The only way to do that is to walk with Him.
Because of what Jesus did on the cross (taking on our sins and paying their penalty through His death) believers can boldly approach God (Hebrews 10:19). This is very important to understand. A believer can approach God with confidence – boldly – anytime, anywhere, and for any reason.
So many people avoid God because they think He has an itchy trigger finger and is just looking for a reason to whack them over the head because of their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is God wants to be with you now and for all of eternity. That is why He took the initiative to come to earth in a human body and pay the penalty for our sins. Without Him doing so there would be no way possible for anyone to enter heaven (Hebrews 10:19). As a result anyone who believes will be cleansed entirely – including their conscience (Hebrews 10:22).
Notice that without Jesus there is no way to God. Allah won’t get you there. Brahma (or any of the other hundreds of Hindu gods) won’t get you there. You can’t earn your way there. Until Jesus came there was no way. As we learned a few days ago, this is not the closed-minded opinion of human beings. This the open-hearted work of a God who loves you and doesn’t want to see you separated from Him forever.
Also notice that our consciences are purified when we believe. We still sin. But a born-again person has no need to let guilt dominate their life. Certainly regret over sinning is understandable, not to mention expected. But God is a loving Father who understands we make mistakes and who immediately forgives. Therefore, we can immediately forgive ourselves and work on doing better next time (with His help, of course).
One of the requirements God gives believers is to encourage each other to do good (Hebrews 10:24). We do this by meeting with each other (Hebrews 10:25). Going to church and being part of a small group (or home group) is very important. This is how we hold each other accountable and how we provide encouragement to on another. If a Christian tries to live in isolation she will stumble and lose confidence, potentially turning her back on Jesus as a result (Hebrews 10:35-39).
In Psalm 109 David recounts the mistreatment he received from other people who truly wanted to see him badly harmed or even dead (Psalm 109:5-19). David’s could have responded in-kind. Instead he does the right thing: he prays (Psalm 109:20) and leaves it in God’s hands. David even prays that his enemies would come to know God (Psalm 109:26-27).
God doesn’t give us commands to make us miserable. He gives us commands because He knows the best way to deal with things, including money. People will do evil things for money. That is why it is important that we handle our financial transactions wisely (Proverbs 27:13).
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