Posts Tagged ‘Ezekiel’

Give God Our All

May 22, 2014

We have several students graduating this spring.  It brings back memories of my own graduation from college back in 1987.  Since I was graduating from a Bible college it was no surprise that instead of a student presenting a speech, we had a student preach a message.  I still remember the title “More Than Just a Little Bit”.  That line came from a popular Christian song by the group Glad.  The basic theme was that we were to give God our all, not just a little bit.  It was a great message and it has stuck with me through the years.

I.  Inconsistent!  Ezekiel 14:1-6

 Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.”’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations.

A.  Idols:  These elders had come for a word from the Lord.  That looked good on the outside.  They were a part of the children of Israel. They were supposed to seek guidance from God, through the prophets.  The problem is that it was not with their whole hearts.  They “set up idols in their hearts”.  God was not pleased.

Do we have idols in our hearts?  Chances are pretty good that none of us actually have physical idols that we worship or consult, but that is not the only type of idol that exists.   Anything that we allow to be more important to us than God is an idol to us.  Anything that we place our trust in, more than we trust in God, is an idol to us.  God wants to be first in our lives.  The most important thing to us, and the thing in which we place the most trust.

B.  Stumble:  “The stumbling block of their iniquity”.  We are called to repent and believe the gospel.  Although we are saved by faith we are still called to turn away from sin. We should be careful in our lives to avoid those things that cause us to stumble.

II.  Repent and Live!  Ezekiel 18:26-32

When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?

30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

A.  The Righteous Man:  These verses are both a warning and a message of hope.  The warning is to those who are serving God in righteousness and truth.  The warning is that we need to continue in righteousness, if we fall into sin we will be judged.  God does not want simply a part of our lives.  He wants us throughout our lives.  We are not to walk with God for a while, we are to walk with God throughout our lives.

B.  The Sinful Man:  There is a message of hope for the sinner.  As long as we live, there is still hope for us to repent and call upon the Lord.  We can still be saved, even if we have lived a lifetime of sin. Even as the thief on the cross was forgiven in his final hours, so we too, can be forgiven.  This should motivate those of us who are believers to continue to pray for those who are lost.  There is still hope.  Never give up hope!

III.  All of Us:

A.  Confession and Faith:  Romans 10:9-10

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

A public confession of faith in Jesus in important.  It is even more important that we actually believe the message in our hearts.  It affects both our inner and our outer person.  What we think, and what we say are important.  God wants all of us, not just the inside, not just the outside, but all of us.

B.  Faith and Action:  James 2:24-26

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

These verses do not imply that we are saved by our works.  We are still saved “by grace, through faith”.  What it does mean is that if we are saved, then our lives will be changed.  That should not come as any surprise.  Do we really think that having the Spirit of Christ in our hearts would not change us?  A living faith will produce works of righteousness.  Our lives should be producing “good fruit”.  God does not want us to have a merely a saving faith, but a transforming faith. This is a faith that changes us from who we were, to who we are becoming in Christ.  This process of becoming will continue throughout our lives as we grow closer to Him.

God does not want a part of our lives.  He wants all of us.

These are the sermon notes from 5/18/14.  Any advertisement that may accompany this blog is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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God Working Through Us

February 20, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 2/17/13.

I.  Warning of the Watchman: Ezekiel 33:1-11

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

10 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Ezekiel uses the illustration of a watchman to underscore his responsibility to warn the children of Israel.  I wonder, to what degree are we responsible to warn people of coming judgement?  Have we been called, like Ezekiel, to sound a warning?  I do not believe that we need to grab people by the collar, get in their face and scream “Turn of burn!”  but what is our responsibility as believers with a message that contains aspects of both forgiveness and judgement?

II.  Warning Disregarded:  Ezekiel 33:30-33

 “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. 32 Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. 33 And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

The people did not respond to the message of Ezekiel.  He had, however been faithful to his calling.  We too, should not be as concerned with whether or not people respond to our message, but we should be concerned with whether or not we are faithfully discharging our responsibilities.

III.  The Good Shepherd:  Ezekiel 34:11-16

 ‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.

God is at work in the world seeking out His own.  Jesus referred to Himself as “the Good Shepherd” and we can trust that God is at work in our world.

We should also realize that God works through us. He will orchestrate the affairs of life so that His message can get through to His sheep.  His sheep will hear and recognize His voice.

IV.  The Dry Bones Live:  Ezekiel 37:1-10

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Although these verses were originally referring to the restoration of Israel, I believe that they speak to the ability of God to restore life to all things dead. People can be restored.  We should never give up hope.  We should continue to pray, and witness, and live our lives in such a way that God may use them for His glory.

Warnings & Hope

February 18, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 2/17/13.

I.  Hope for the Wicked: Ezekiel 18:19-23

Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

21 “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

There is hope for the wicked.  People have the opportunity to repent, to turn away from sin and choose to do what is right.  We know from the New Testament that we are saved by grace, through faith, not by works.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)  We also know from James that “faith without works is dead”.  (James 2:17-18)  What needs to take place is that people turn away from evil, and towards God.  Faith precedes works, but works do follow genuine faith.  God continues to call to the wicked, and if they turn to Him they can be saved.

II.  Warning to the Righteous:  Ezekiel 18:24-26

“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.

It is important to continue in the way of righteousness.  We cannot count on an experience of the past.  Whether we are counting on a conversion experience, baptism, confirmation,  or church membership; if our faith is not current, then we are in trouble.  We are called to continue to walk in faith, obedience, and a living relationship with Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

III.  A New Heart:  Ezekiel 18:31-32

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

The concept of a new heart is not unique to the New Testament.  Although in the New Testament we use phrases like “born again” and ” a new creation”  these concepts have been a part of God’s relationship with humanity since the beginning.  It is God’s desire to bring us life, not death: forgiveness, not judgement.  “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”  (Romans 6:23)

The Lord is Our Portion

February 14, 2013

These are the sermon notes from 2/3/13.

I.  God Protects His People:  Ezekiel 9:1-7

Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.  And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city.

Do not be deceived, God is willing to carry out judgement upon the wicked.  Some emphasize the love of God to the point that people may think that God would never pass judgement with severe penalties.  That would be wrong.

Even in the midst of judgement against evil, God is able to look out for His people.   He does not forget us.

II.  Even in Judgement, God is Faithful: Lamentations 3

A.   Affliction vv1-3:

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.
He has led me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
Surely He has turned His hand against me
Time and time again throughout the day.

Jeremiah was a faithful servant of God, yet he was caught up in the judgement that fell on Jerusalem.  He was mistreated by the people to whom he proclaimed the word of the Lord.  He experienced much hardship.

B.  More Hardship vv16-18

He has also broken my teeth with gravel,
And covered me with ashes.
17 You have moved my soul far from peace;
I have forgotten prosperity.
18 And I said, “My strength and my hope
Have perished from the Lord.”

Jeremiah experienced great misery.  He did not blame the devil, or people for his suffering,  he rightly recognized that God had allowed those things to happen to him.

C  Hope vv19-21

Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

Even in the midst of his suffering he has hope.  Hope is something that is precious, and God offers to us all a hope that goes beyond our circumstances.

D.  God is Faithful vv22-25

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

God is faithful.  His mercy is new every morning.  God is good to His people.  Most importantly “the Lord is my portion”.  We have the ability to be in a relationship with God.  Our fellowship with Him is not destroyed by difficult circumstances.  God is with us always.  If we were more aware of His presence, the afflictions of this life would be much easier to bear.

III.  There is a Reason  Lamentations 3:37-38

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?

Nothing can affect us without God’s permission.  God is in control even though people are able to exercise their own wills, God is watching over everything and can intervene at any time.  God has a reason for allowing what He allows, He is not being mean, nor arbitrary, nor ineffective.  We just do not have the capacity to understand.  Remember Job “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

God is our portion.  In Him, we are content.  No matter what may happen, we may be secure in Him