How are things going? Keep up the good work. Regardless of where you are on the schedule, I am certain Father is working in each of your hearts. Whether you are already finished, right on the date, or no where near where you want to be, it is OK. Father is just so glad you are reading every one of His words. This is not easy. It requires much diligence and fortitude. It is so doable though. We only have 29 days to go! I was talking to someone today who said, I am going to finish with everyone else if it kills me. She reads in the car (not driving), during TV commercials, in bed, at work on breaks, everywhere she can. Others around her are getting an earful on what it is we are all about. You go girl!
I was wondering why I was dragging so much at the beginning of our reading section today. Then towards the end I broke out and things got better. Here is why- there are basically four parts to the book of Ezekiel:
1. Ezekiel’s Call and Preparation (chpts. 1-3)
2. Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem (chpts. 4-24)
3. Oracles Against the Nations (chpts. 25-32)
4. Oracles of Blessing for Judah and Jerusalem (chpts. 33-48)
Up through chapter 24, the way Ezekiel works with his countrymen is so expressive, creative, and fun. It is great reading, even though the reason for his work and ministry is so negative. Today we read the judgment on all the nations around Judah and Jerusalem. That was just kind of blah. Not too creative, just plain words. But towards the end today, things started to look up. The blessings started flowing again. Some good stuff.
The famous chapter on Shepherds and Sheep did something a little different for me this time around. Who knows how many times I have read Chapter 34, however, the call to responsibility echoed loudly. In vv. 11-16b it is the Lord who steps in to encourage the flock, the people of Israel. The Shepherds are the leaders who took, took, took; not looking out for those they were responsible for. The Lord encouraged them by declaring that he would personally assume the responsibility for “shepherding’ the flock of Israel. Where Israel’s recent rulers had failed to protect the people and to reach for those who had strayed, the LORD promised that he would search, rescue, and regather the flock of Israel; then he would care for them as a loving shepherd. He would restore Israel to her own land and feed her on the lush pastures of Israel’s own mountains and ravines. Individual needs would be healed; the weak would be strengthened. The Lord would care for every need of his flock.
As I was reading this section, this is what occurred to me- everything was the work of the Sovereign Lord. It is truly only the LORD who can do any of that in the first place. This is not new to me, but again just a gentle reminder that anything good that happens in our lives is because of our loving Father and not by us. When a person puts faith in Jesus, wants to change their mind, repair broken relationships, or give generously, it is only by the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It has nothing to do with a pastor’s work. We are all in this together friends. Let’s encourage each other onto faith and good works in order to bring Father glory. The message was loud and clear- woe to that leader who puts him or herself above those he or she is to care for.
Tomorrow we will read about an out of body experience Ezekiel has in the new temple. For several chapters he flows around checking out different parts. It is pretty dang cool. Then one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, forty-seven, all about the river of God which flows from the temple.
I would love to hear from any of you regarding how things are going with you. What have you learned about yourself, your world, and your Father? Where are you challenged? What has surprised you about reading books and material you have never read before?
Jesus bless each of you as you gain so much understanding of our King, Lord, and Maker.