Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Welcome to Day 241 of our Life Journal!
Click here for today’s reading: Ezekiel 4; Ezekiel 5; Ezekiel 6; Ezekiel 7; Revelation 3 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Ezekiel 4-7, judgment is proclaimed for Jerusalem.
Chapters 4 and 5 contain four symbolic parables portray Jerusalem’s fall. (Signs of a clay tile, the prophet lying on his side, eating polluted bread, prophet’s shave and haircut… six bits!)
Chapters 6 and 7 outline the devastation of the land. (Yet a remnant will be spared!)
Ezekiel 4:15, ““Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”
Ezekiel 5:7, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you.”
Ezekiel 6:8, “But I will spare some, for some of you will escape the sword when you are scattered among the lands and nations.”
11 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out “Alas!” because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the people of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague.”
Ezekiel 7, desolation described: social, military, economic and political disruption.
27 “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
The Lord continues His letters to the churches in Asia, with this chapter containing those written to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
The church in Sardis is rebuked for having a name that they are alive, when in reality they are dead. With their works not perfected before God, they are exhorted to be watchful and to strengthen the things which remain. They are also told to remember how they had received and heard in the past, to hold fast and repent. Otherwise, the Lord will come upon them as a thief in the night. Notice is taken, however, of a few in Sardis who had not defiled their garments and are still worthy, who are promised to walk with the Lord in white (1-6).
The church in Philadelphia is promised an open door that none can shut because they had kept the Lord’s word and not denied His name. Their enemies, those who claim to be Jews but are not, will be made to worship before them, and the church will be kept from the trial that was about to test those on the earth. With an announcement of His quick coming, they are exhorted to hold fast what they have that none take their crown (7-13).
The church of Laodicea is then described as lukewarm, for which the Lord threatens to spit them out of His mouth. While claiming to be rich, they are blind to their true condition. Therefore the Lord counsels them to buy from Him those things they truly need. His strong words are indicative of His love for them, and the fact that He stands ready to re-enter their hearts if they will open to Him (14-22).
As before, each letter ends with wonderful promises to those who overcome. In most cases, the manner in which the promises are to be fulfilled is illustrated in the visions to come.
Revelation 3:21 “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
Excerpts used with permission from Mark A. Copeland’s study of the Book of Revelation.
God always leaves us with hope, whether Israel and Judah in captivity with the promise of a remnant restored, or the churches in Asia, with a promise to the victorious.
God always, always leaves us with hope and a promise.
One of the most realistic verses in all the Bible is when Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33.
Difficulty and hardship are a part of life. Jobs come and go, kids act out, relationships are hard, even under the best of circumstances. But even in that, there is a promise, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” also John 16:33!
Difficulty and “trouble” don’t mean we have a lack of faith… it just means that it’s how life is. We all experience seasons of hardship, as well as seasons of blessing and abundance and fruitfulness.
This past weekend, Doug talked about pruning, in John 15 that we are pruned so that we can become more fruitful. Pruning is not fun, even painful, but our pain has a purpose.
Really what it comes down to is relationship. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from him we can do nothing (of any lasting or eternal value.)
Revelation 3:20 is one of the classic verses in all the Bible. “Here I am! [Behold!] I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Verse 19 just prior states, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
I would say, “rebuke and discipline” = “pruning” yes?
Not fun, but necessary. When a tree is fruitful, it is pruned. That’s the good news!
When a branch is not fruitful, it is cut off…
Better to be pruned than cut off, right?
The thing is, it can feel the same… both are cut, just one is completely cut off, the other is merely cut back some.
The Lord is speaking to the seven churches… wanting them to thrive and be fruitful… and to have fellowship with him!
He wants the same for us!
Lord, I have to admit, I’m not crazy about being pruned, but I trust you, to know and to do what is best, so that I may become more fruitful.