Thursday, January 30, 2014


"Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31)

"…what signs I have done among them (the Egyptians), that you may know that I am the LORD." Exodus 10:2

God is sovereign over creation. He, therefore, can do things we cannot, such as heal the sick or fill the land with frogs. The Father and the Son both did these things to demonstrate their power and sovereignty so that men and women would believe in them. Pharaoh's heart was hardened by the display of God's power. The Jews also rejected Jesus despite the signs.

We did not get to see any of the signs. But God had them recorded for us by faithful men. Reading them we experience the same awe and believe in him. Those who believe receive the power to become children of God with eternal life. (John 1:12)

It may be a hard day. But eternity awaits.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


What an amazing privilege to be the first person to whom God revealed his name. "I am Yahweh." (Exodus :2) Yet God continued to reveal himself more fully to his people. Then his son came and revealed him more than anyone.

John said "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." (John 1:14) Jesus said "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) Colossians 1:15 says "He is the image of the invisible God…"

We now know Yahweh more fully than Moses did, for we know his son. It is a blessing we should not take for granted.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Commanded To Obey
Ezekiel 2:8

God called Israel a rebellious house because they were stubborn and impudent. (2:4) But Ezekiel was not to be rebellious toward God even though he was part of Israel. When God appoints a prophet, the prophet must obey. Remember Jonah? God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach judgment. (Jonah 1:1-2) Jonah refused and fled to Tarshish. (Jonah 1:3) But God created a storm, captured Jonah, and sent him back on mission.

Jeremiah’s experience is almost humorous. God appointed him as a prophet before he was born. (Jer. 1:5) Jeremiah told God he was too young. (1:6) Here is God’s response:
Do not say I am only a youth;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

So, likewise, God warned Ezekiel not to rebel, but to preach whatever message God had for him to preach. After telling him this, God showed it to Ezekiel.

The Scroll
Ez. 2:9-10

God’s first command was for Ezekiel to eat whatever God gave him to eat. Then he further explained that Ezekiel was to eat a scroll that God handed to him.

The scroll had writing on both the front and back. In other words, it was completely full of God’s message, meaning it contained God’s complete message to Israel. And the words were of lamentation, mourning, and woe. (10) So, the scroll was a message of God’s judgment upon Israel, already in exile, that would cause them to lament, mourn and woe their fate. It was not good news.

Ezekiel 3:1-3
Eat And Speak

God told Ezekiel to eat the scroll, then go speak to Israel. The imagery here is that Ezekiel is to fill himself up with God’s word, his message, and then go tell it to Israel. So, he would hear and absorb God’s message (eat), then go preach this sad word to his people. Ezekiel obeyed and ate the scroll.

Even though the message was a sad one to hear, it was good to Ezekiel. He said it was sweet as honey to his mouth. How could that be? I had to deliver some sad messages this week, and none of them were sweet to me. But this message was God’s word, so it was sweet. God’s word should always be good to us, even when it convicts us of sin. Psalm 19:7-11 speaks of the sweetness of God’s word:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant, warned; in keeping them is great reward.

The Task
Ez. 3:4-7

God tasked Ezekiel to speak his message to Israel. That sounds straight forward and simple. But, God says no, it will be hard. In fact, he said it would be easier if Ezekiel went to a nation with a difficult language unknown to Ezekiel. That would be like me going to China to preach in Chinese after growing up in West Texas. But, God said, if I sent you to a foreign land with a difficult language, they would listen to you. (6) But Israel will not be willing to listen to Ezekiel, because Israel was not willing to listen to God. (7) They will not listen because they have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.

I grew up hearing of people who were hard headed. That meant they would not listen to advice from others. The idea is their head is to hard for advice to get through. Israel was that way. They also had stubborn hearts. That means they would not take God’s message to heart, repent and obey him.

If you move forward in your Bible to the book of Acts, you see, centuries later, Stephen say to the Israelites: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51)

Ez. 3:8-11
God equipped Ezekiel

God made Ezekiel as tough as his Israelite audience. His face was as hard as theirs. His head as hard as theirs. In fact, his head would be harder, as emery is harder than flint. So, God gave him the toughness he needed to persevere in preaching to people who were hardened against God’s message.

It takes courage to be God’s man or woman. People will resist you and ignore you. Even those who claim to be God’s people will resist the message.

God told Ezekiel not to be afraid. Do not worry about what they say or how they look at you. Remember God’s first words to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” (Joshua 1:6) 2 Timothy 1:7 says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. Later in the same letter, Paul told Timothy “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus”. (2 Timothy 2:1) It is time for Christians around the world to be courageous. We are the most persecuted religion on the planet. Some suffer greatly. Others, as in America, see a nation that is rapidly going from Christian values to anti-Christian values and actions. We all have different personalities, but we can all stand up for Christ, testifying to his saving power and kingdom.

Ez. 3:12-15
The Parting

At the end of God’s message, the Spirit again moved. A great voice worshipped and praised God saying “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from its place”. The four creatures again moved with great noise. And as the glorious presence of the LORD began to leave Ezekiel, the Spirit took him away and left him back by the canal where the Israelites lived.

We have seen another time the Spirit relocated a man to preach. After Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, the Spirit of the Lord carried him away and Philip preached the gospel to all the towns went through. (Acts 8:39)

Ezekiel began to feel God’s feelings toward Israel, communicated to him by the Spirit. That is what he meant by “the hand of the LORD being strong upon me”. (14) He had bitterness in the heat of his spirit. God’s anger toward Israel was strong.

Finally, the visitation of the LORD was over. Ezekiel had experienced the glory and presence of the LORD. He had been appointed as a prophet. He had been changed so that he was equipped to preach. Surely we can understand why he was overwhelmed for 7 days.

The presence of the Lord will do that to you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I think one of the by products of well meaning devotional books is the concept of a quick devotion. I'm sure the idea is, people are busy, I'll make something they can fit in. Even the godly Stephen Olford wrote a tract about having a quiet time in 7 minutes. In contrast, I read an article the other day where the man claimed you could not have a stable spiritual life if you spent less than one hour in prayer. 

The busyness of Americans has also led to another phenomena, praying while doing something else. I've asked around about when people pray and have heard they pray while running, showering, driving etc. The common denominator is they pray while doing something else. It is fine to pray while doing something else, but is it fine for that to be your main prayer time: that is, not time devoted solely to God, but time devoted to something else that we let God in on. 

I've heard pastors say "prayerlessness" is the biggest spiritual problem. They may be right. Certainly it is easier to be worldly when we have not spent a lot of time with God. Having convicted myself, I'm off to pray now.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

GOD CALLS EZEKIEL - Ezekiel 2 part 1


After revealing his glorious presence to Ezekiel, the Lord commissioned him as a prophet with strict instructions.


First, God filled Ezekiel with his Spirit. The Spirit allowed Ezekiel to stand to hear God’s word. Then, the Spirit caused Ezekiel to hear God speaking to him. Without the Spirit, Ezekiel may have been as stubborn toward God as Israel was. 1 Corinthians 2 tells us the Spirit enables us to hear and understand God's message. Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. The Spirit helps us understand the things of God. One without the Spirit cannot understand.

God sent Ezekiel to speak to Israel in captivity. God said Israel was rebellious, obstinate and stubborn. They resisted God’s word even though he proved it by sending them into exile. So, his task is actually more difficult. There is much emphasis on the historical rebelliousness of Israel. They are a “rebellious house”. (5, 6, & 7) Their “fathers” also transgressed. (3)They refuse to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over them.

Remember that Israel had a covenant with God. He was sovereign, they were subjects. They were to keep his decrees to obtain his protection and blessing. They did not do so. God never calls them “his people”, which is a bad sign.

The word “nations” in verse 3 is important. That term is normally used of the Gentile nations that do not worship Yahweh. But here, God applies the term to Israel. The word for nations is “goyim”, it should be plural even though the NIV has it singular, for it is identifying Israel with the pagan nations. Israel is unchosen rather than chosen in that they have broken the covenant and moved away from Yahweh.

God only refuses to call them his people when he is angry with them for violating the covenant. For example, when Israel built the golden calf and worshipped it. God told Moses to go talk to his (Moses) people, not God’s. (Exodus 32:7) In Hosea, God had Hosea name his son “not my people” and said “you are not my people and I am not your God”. (Hosea 1:9)

This would be as Jesus saying to us that not everyone who says to him “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. He will say they never knew them if, in fact, they have not received him as savior and lord. (Matthew 7:21)

Not only does God refuse to call Israel “his people”, during this whole encounter, God never calls Ezekiel by his name. He calls him Son of Man, literally “ben adam”, or “Son of Adam”. The Old Testament use of “son of” is to say that person is a member of a certain class of people. Son of David would mean a member of David’s house or line. Son of Man or Adam means he is a human being, a creature, who is facing his creator. He is inferior to God, as are all men, as demonstrated by the revelation of his glorious presence in chapter 1.

We are all sons of man, or sons of Adam. Therefore, we are all infected by sin. We all need to be “in Christ” rather than “in Adam”. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Receive Christ as your Lord and Savior if you have not done so.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Genesis 32:22 begins the story of Jacob returning to Canaan. Jacob was alone on the banks of the Jabbok river, worrying about his upcoming meeting with Esau, the brother he betrayed. An “man” appeared and wrestled with Jacob.

Jacob has lived largely by his wits, winning some and losing some. God had promised to bless him, but he continued to struggle. Now, Jacob seems to wrestle with a man who is God. And this time, he is determined to cling to God. He refuses to let go until God blesses him.

God did bless Jacob. But he changed him, too. He changed his name from Jacob to Israel, from “trickster” to “struggles with God”. He marks him physically, damaging his hip so that he walked with a limp. And, finally, Jacob starts to live as God’s man.

Jacob lived in God’s blessing. His new name, Israel, became the name of the nation of his descendants. He became great. But he also became different. He abandons tricks for dependence on God. When his sons trick the men of Shechem, Jacob condemns their actions. On his death bed he, in effect, curses them. (Genesis 49)

Those who live for God are changed. They are marked by their relationship to God. If not changed, they are not God’s.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thoughts on Psalm 13 - When Enemies Attack

David was frequently engaged with enemies who would see him fall. When we try to do the right thing, we may experience this. Or we may just experience it because it is the way the world is. David said "my foes will rejoice when I fall".

But he trusted, rejoiced and even sang because of God's love, salvation and goodness.

And so must we.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Godly wisdom has great value. Proverbs 3:13-15 says "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies, nothing you desire can compare with her." James 1:5 tells us God will give us wisdom if we ask.

The study of God's word and prayer lead to spiritual and practical wisdom. It takes time. Don't wait to get started.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ezekiel 1 - The Glory of God

Ezekiel 1:1-3

This book contains the visions and messages God gave to Ezekiel. They began in his 30th year. Ezekiel was a priest. Priests started their service when they were 30.

Ezekiel was “among the exiles”. Remember that the Babylonian army attacked Jerusalem in 598 B.C. King Jehoiakim died. Jehoiachin, at 18 years of age, became the new king The Babylonian army began their attack on Jerusalem in 598 B.C. King Jehoiakim died. His son, Jehoiachin, became the new king. He was only 18 years old. He was evil as his father had been.

Nebuchadnezzar forced his surrender three months after his reign began. He, his mother, his wives, his officials and the leading men of Judah were exiled (taken to Babylon) in 597 B.C. They were settled in an area near the Chebar canal.

There would be no priestly service for Ezekiel, for the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. But, God used his as a prophet, as he did with Jeremiah. In the fifth month of his 30th year, God sent a vision to Ezekiel. Verse 3 also says the Lord’s hand was upon him. God’s hand was on him in that he used him as his prophet. This vision is often called the inaugural vision, because it begins Ezekiel’s ministry.

Similarly, God gave Ezekiel a vision of himself to call him into his prophetic ministry. This is described in Isaiah 6. God did not give a vision to Jeremiah, but did speak with him and call him to speak for him. Paul saw the risen Lord Jesus and was called into apostolic ministry. Those who speak for God and endure suffering triumphantly have a good picture of how glorious God is. No one risks their life for a small god.

1:4 - 3:15
The Vision
The description of this vision is quite long. But we will look at it in parts.

The Storm
As the vision began, Ezekiel saw a storm coming out of the north, with a high wind and a great cloud. The cloud was likely dark, but there was a brightness around it and fire flashing continually. There was gleaming metal in the middle of the fire.

God’s presence is often connected with storm, thunder and lighting. It is a symbol of his power and greatness, literally causing the earth to tremble when he appears in his glory. Isaiah’s vision occurred inside the temple, but the building shook and smoke filled the room. When God gave the covenant to Israel, in Exodus 19, there was thunder and lightening and a thick cloud, smoke around the mountain, and the Lord descended in fire. When the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, there was a cloud over it. When they were to move on the cloud was taken up. By night there was a pillar of fire. (Exodus 40:34-38) John’s vision of the throne in Revelation 4 is accompanied by “flashes of lightning and rumblings and peals of thunder”.

The Four Living Creatures
As this furious storm approached, Ezekiel saw four living creatures in the middle of the storm. In 10:20, he tells us they were cherubim. Cherubim guard the presence of God from anything unholy. A cherubim was placed at the Garden of Eden to prevent man from entering it. (Genesis 3:24) Golden cherubim were installed on the cover of the ark of the covenant, with their wings spread to cover the view of it, where God’s presence dwelled. And, in fact, verse 11 says their wings were spread out and touched each other, shielding the view of what is inside, at least partially. The Old Testament of refers to God as “enthroned among the cherubim”. Solomon also put them in the temple. John saw them in his vision of heaven, where they stood around the throne. (Revelation 4:6) So, when Ezekiel sees them, we expect that this vision will ultimately be of the glory of God himself.

You’ll notice the word “likeness” is used frequently in the description. It seems that Ezekiel struggled to describe these things the best way he could. But the descriptions might not be exact.

Why are the faces of the creatures different? There have been several theories, but the text does not explain it, so they are all speculations. The Catholic church taught for some time that they represented the four gospel writers. There are stained glass windows in old churches portraying this. Another is that the likenesses of the creatures represent all of creation. The lion is the greatest of the wild animals, the eagle the greatest bird, the ox the greatest domesticated animal, and man who is to rule them all. In effect, all creation is there to attend to God the creator.

The Wheels
The wheels suggest that we have a magnificent chariot. Note that David called the ark of the covenant “the golden chariot of the cherubim” in the plans for Solomon’s temple. (1 Chronicles 2:18) A king would come into battle in a great chariot. There are four wheels. They are made of a gleaming material, suggesting God’s glory. They are “tall and awesome” according to verse 18. They go in any direction without turning. They went wherever the spirit directed them. And the spirit of the living creatures was somehow in the wheels. Verse 19 also says the rims were full of eyes all around. This likely demonstrates God’s omniscience. He sees everything.

The Loud Noise of the Cherubim
The creatures made a very loud noise as the moved. it was like the sound of many waters or an army. Verse 24 said it was the sound of the Almighty. The noise again signifies the power of the Lord. It is similar to Jesus speaking to John in Revelation with a loud voice like the roar of many waters. (Revelation 1:15)

The Expanse

Verse 24 says there was the likeness of an expanse over the heads of the creatures. This expanse shone like crystal, clear and bright. The word expanse is used in Genesis 1 to describe the sky and space. Above the expanse was the likeness of a throne. An area above space would likely refer to heaven. And in this area there was a beautiful shining throne. Upon the throne sat one with the likeness of a human. (26) But this person had an upper body that appeared to gleam like metal with fire enclosed all around. It was bright all around him. This would be the glory of God.

Above the throne is a rainbow. (28) The rainbow indicates God’s covenant with man not to destroy the earth by water again. John also saw a rainbow around the throne in Revelation 4:3. The descriptions of God’s throne in heaven are very similar in Ezekiel and Revelation.

Ezekiel realized he beheld the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And, as all do in that situation, he fell flat on his face on the ground. John, upon seeing Jesus in heaven, “fell at his feet as though dead”. (Revelation 1:17)

Why all this? As a Jewish priest, Ezekiel would think that God dwelt in the Temple in Jerusalem, the the holiest place, on the mercy seat. To be exiled from Jerusalem, and the temple destroyed, would to him mean he and all Israel are cut off from God. But now he sees that God is also in Babylon with the exiles. Indeed he sees everything everywhere.

And, this great and majestic God, present even in the land of the powerful, conquering enemy of Israel, has a message for him to preach.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

God's Sovereignty in Genesis 20-22

This section of scripture displays God's sovereignty. In chapter 20, God kept Abimelech from sinning with Sarah after Abraham passed her off as his sister. In chapter 21, God visited Sarah and caused her to conceive Isaac. In Chapter 22, God provided the sacrifice in place of Isaac.

God directs the affairs of men to accomplish his will. Daniel 4:35 says "he does according to his will among the host of heaven and amount the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say to him "what have you done".

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Not For Show

Jesus tells us not to practice religion for show. (Matthew 6) If so, you will have no reward in Heaven for your good works. (6:1) That is because you received the attention you sought on earth and that was your reward. Giving to the needy need not be announced, praying is not to show how good you are. Motives are important to God. He wants your heart, not your demonstration. Prayer is to talk directly to God. Therefore, the first thing in prayer, according to Jesus, is praise: "hallowed be your name".

Thursday, January 02, 2014


In Genesis, God drove man out of the garden and into the wilderness because of their sin. In Matthew, God sent John the Baptist into the wilderness to herald the coming of the one who would save them from their sin.