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SAME SONG, DIFFERENT VERSE

Hosea 4:1-2 “1 Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. 2 There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

NOTHING CHANGES

As I was reading Hosea today, it sounded like America.  We have turned our backs on God, yet cry out to Him when something bad happens. We beg for deliverance from a God we shun most of the time.  City, state and national leaders will lead prayer vigils after a major disaster, but will vote to stop prayers from happening at a football game.  We are just like Israel and Judah.

We are quick to criticize Judah for not seeing the judgment that fell on Israel.  But here we are, over 2000 years later, and we are ignoring it all.  And it’s not only America.  I can only speak for where I live.  But our world is in desperate need of deliverance.  There is only one Deliverer, Jesus Christ.  So, what do we do?

TEACHING MOMENT

We must teach our children the truth of God’s Word and the importance of confession of sin.  We must show our children how to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord by truly living it.  We must share the Gospel with everyone we meet.  We must be the watchman on the wall shouting warnings of coming judgment to a lost and dying world.

“Wow, Carl!  I normally read this devotion to get encouraged.  You’ve got me all depressed today.”  Sorry about that.  But I can only write about what I am reading at the time.  Hosea warns us to turn to the Lord.  Have we done that?  Are you doing that?  Are you pointing your children toward Him?

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of “playing church.”  I want to live a life that honors Him.  I have made too many stupid mistakes in my life.  I want to live the rest of my life loving as many people as possible to Jesus.  Will you join me?  Then start right at home with your spouse and your children.  Love them to Jesus.

Father God, You are certainly going to judge this world.  Your Word tells us so.  Allow me to share Your Word and Your Hope with as many as I can before then.  Help me to be bold and courageous as I share with others the love of Christ.

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JUST ONE NEEDED

Ezekiel 46:15 “‘Thus they shall provide the lamb, the grain offering and the oil, morning by morning, for a continual burnt offering.’”

PERMANENT SACRIFICE

I cannot imagine how it must have been to have to present a daily sacrifice at the temple.  Every day a year-old lamb without blemish.  Every day a grain offering and oil.  Every day!  Surely, the priests got tired.  Perhaps they even wondered why.

I am so thankful that our God sent the perfect, permanent sacrifice to cover all sin.  It was a one-time sacrifice, never to be repeated.  His blood was not only unblemished by sin, it was also perfectly sinless.  It was perfectly divine.  That’s why it was a permanent sacrifice.  Up until that time there had not been a sacrifice like that.  But now…

TEACHING MOMENT

Teaching our children about sacrifices may seem strange.  But the Lord wants us to so they will truly understand the magnitude of what Christ did. Why not use this as a math exercise for your kids.  Help them figure out how many lambs were sacrificed before Christ.  Use your imagine.  Google it.  I found some interesting facts documented by Josephus, an early Jewish writer.

He said that between 66 and 70 A.D. over 250,000 lambs were sacrificed on Passover alone.  That’s a lot of mutton.  So, you can just guess how many were killed over all the years of the temple.  All of that and still no permanent forgiveness of sins.  But Jesus came and gave His life and poof – all forgiven.

Do you truly understand the greatness of that act in your life?  Do you understand that there is nothing you could ever do to acquit yourself of your guilt?  You and I were doomed to eternal punishment, but Jesus…  What a perfect sacrifice!  What a perfect Lamb of God!

Father, we thank You today for Your Son’s perfect sacrifice.  Thank You that we don’t have to stand in line with our little lamb to have it slaughtered for our sins.  Thank You for Your Son’s shed blood on Calvary which washes away all my sin!

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WHERE HE DWELLS

Ezekiel 43:6-7a “6 Then I heard one speaking to me from the house, while a man was standing beside me. 7 He said to me, ‘Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever.’”

WE ARE THE TEMPLE

Ezekiel was shown the glory of the Lord as it came near the temple.  And then the Lord God told him, “this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever.”  God would dwell there.  God would put His presence right there.

Isn’t it incredible to know that now, through Christ, He dwells IN us through the Holy Spirit.  His glory fills us at salvation as His Spirit enters us.  We are filled to overflowing with the presence of God. Think back to your moment of salvation.  That flooding of Jesus is still there. So, why don’t you feel it anymore?

TEACHING MOMENT

One of the basic doctrinal truths we need to teach our children is this.  God fills you with ALL of Him at salvation.  You receive the Holy Spirit, with all the benefits of the Spirit, at salvation.  Whenever your children need the Lord, He is RIGHT THERE.  They do not need to go to a church building to find the Lord.  They just need to hit their knees in prayer and allow Him to speak.

But we parents don’t set such a good example for them, do we?  We forget that we, too, have access to the fullness of God.  We are indwelt with the third Person of the Trinity.  That’s no small thing.  We have the glory of the Lord, the same glory that filled the temple, in us.  So why are we living like spiritual paupers?

Will you today decide to peel back your flesh and allow the Spirit of the Lord to shine through?  Don’t let the battles of the flesh cause you to hide God’s glory that lives in you.  Let it pour out of your mouth, eyes, hands and feet.  Allow the Holy Spirit to determine your EVERY move today.

God, my Father, I give You praise for the gift of Your glory that dwells within me.  I praise You that You are willing to live in me through Your Holy Spirit.  Help me today to show forth You more than me.

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DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS

Ezekiel 40:3-4 “3 So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway. 4 The man said to me, ‘Son of man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you. Declare to the house of Israel all that you see.’”

THE GREAT ARCHITECT

My Uncle Larry is an architect. He has been doing that for over four decades.  Let me tell you something.  He knows about details.  Every building he designs, whether it is a 13,000 square foot home or a 900 square foot garage, has to have pages and pages of drawings and elevations and measurements.  He knows the codes and regulations and studies them each year.  Details!

Chapters 40-42 of Ezekiel shows us a picture of the Lord God giving details about His house.  Exact measurements!  Extreme details!  Precise.  Some may read these verses and say it is boring.  But just think how precise He is about your life.  He knows every square inch of you.  He has counted every hair on your head.  Details!

TEACHING MOMENT

Teaching our children the importance of “getting things right” is hard to do sometimes.  Some kids, maybe your little Susie, just want to get it done quickly.  But doing something right the first time is a lot better than having to do it again the second time.  Unfortunately, our children have to learn that the hard way.

God gives them written instructions, detailed instructions, on how to live their lives.  It is all contained in His Word.  But they can’t just get a Bible and put on a shelf.  Like my Uncle Larry, they have to study the plans and know how to use them.

What details of your Christian walk are you overlooking today?  You know, missing the mark by a “smidgeon” is as bad as missing the mark by a mile.  A miss is a miss.  Pay attention to the Master Architect.  He will give you the plan to follow.

Father, thank You that for giving me Your plan for my life.  I know if I follow it, all will turn out as You designed.  Help me to trust Your plan and not improvise my own.

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FULL DISCLOSURE

Ezekiel 38:23 “‘I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.’”

THERE WILL BE NO DOUBT

Man, these chapters right here in Ezekiel are pretty gruesome.  God is telling Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog and Magog, which we know is tied to the final judgments here on earth.  There’s blood and flesh and all kind of vivid pictures of death and destruction.  Someone might read this and wonder why God is so brutal.  Well, there’s a reason.  He is a holy God who will not allow wickedness and evil to go unpunished.  He will defend His children.  We can depend on that.

But the point I want to make today is there will come a time when NO ONE will be able to say, “There is no God.”  He says right here in verse 23 that “they will know that I am the Lord.”  He will fully disclose Himself.  He will remove all doubt of His existence and holiness.

TEACHING MOMENT

As “scary” as these verses may sound, for a child of God, they hold no fear.  We are on His side.  He is defending US.  He is fighting for US.  He is our mighty God who is ALL POWERFUL!  So, as you read these verses to your child, make sure they understand that we are on the winning side.  There is NO power on earth or in heaven that can defeat our Lord.

Those are reassuring words for a little one when they are having a bad day.  We should reinforce their faith with the knowledge that God is and always will be God.  He is not going anywhere.  He is and always will be their protector.  He covers them with His shield.  Wow!  That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Do you believe that?  Do you hold that truth close to your heart?  Or are you constantly in the doubting mode?  Rest, my child.  He is there.  Call out His name.  He is just waiting to respond in the way that is BEST for you.  Let Him have His perfect way in your life.  Then all fear can be released, and you can rest in His perfect peace.

O God of peace, remind me daily of Your peace and love.  Remind me of Your protecting arms that surround me.  Help me rest in You and in no other.

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A NEW HEART

Ezekiel 36:26 “‘Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.’” 

HARD TO SOFT

Have you ever known someone who was just plain ornery?  I have.  Everything they say is said with a critique or a jab.  They always look mad – mad at the world.  You can just picture their heart being made of stone, can’t you?  We would call them hard hearted.  That’s what we were before Christ.  God called His children the same.  But He changed them, and He can change us.

My old heart of stone, that cold, hard muscle in my chest, was removed and the Lord replaced it with a soft, moldable one.  This one had been fashioned by Christ.  It had His stamp on it.  In fact, His Spirit now lives in it.  He is the one who directs my thoughts and words now, at least when I surrender to Him daily.

TEACHING MOMENT

I am sure little Johnny has probably said something harsh or mean to someone, hasn’t he?  Those are the moments we talk about our hearts.  Those are the opportunities to point out the hardness of our hearts without Christ.  Most children really want to be sensitive to others, but that flesh gets in the way.  That original hard heart is tough.

How do you keep your heart tender and soft towards the things of the Lord?  You stay in His Word.  You keep an attitude of prayer.  You spend time with the Father.  He will keep His hands firmly on your heart massaging and manipulating (in a good way) it towards things that please Him.  A soft heart pumps much better than a hard one.

So, is your heart hard or soft?  Is it a rock or flesh?  How do you view life – with cynicism or hope?  Open your chest to the master cardiologist.  He wants to give you a heart transplant.  And this heart He wants to give you does not have to be cross checked for compatibility.  His heart fits all chests – guaranteed.

Father, here is my heart.  Take it and exchange it for an eternal one, one made from the heart of Your Son.  Thank You for giving me Your heartbeat for others.

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CAREFUL COMPARISONS

Ezekiel 31:2 “‘Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes, “Whom are you like in your greatness?”’”

ALWAYS SOMEONE GREATER

Why do we do it?  Why do we compare ourselves to others, thinking we are so much better?  You can always find someone who “appears” less than you.  It is easy to make yourself seem superior.  That is exactly what Pharaoh had done.  In fact, he was worshipped as a god in Egypt.  Now that’s pretty high thinking.

I am sure you have never seen yourself as a god, but we definitely can laud ourselves over others.  We say things like, “Well, I’m not as bad as he is.”  Or we say, “I would NEVER stoop that low.”  That’s not much better than Pharaoh.  We put others down, thus making us look higher.

TEACHING MOMENT

This is one of those character building issues that every parent faces.  We cannot allow our children to put others down.  We should teach them to build others up.  In our walk with Christ, our motto should always be “More of Him and less of me.”  When you humble yourself, God will exalt you.

Similarly, when you see your child serving humbly or putting their little brother or sister before them, that is your chance to exalt them, to build them up, to praise them.  This will teach your child the importance of Christ-like humility.  And that is a trait that will guide them well.

So, let me ask you a question.  Are you in need of humbling or exalting?  Hmmmm.  “Well Carl, I am the most humble person alive.”  You just blew it.  Lol.  Seek to follow the Lord’s example of humility.  Seek to serve others as Christ would.  Seek to be the servant and not the served.

Father, Your Son showed us the way.  Help me follow His path and not insist of my own recognition and praise.

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TOOLS OF JUDGMENT

Ezekiel 30:25 “‘Thus I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh will fall. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I put My sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt.’” 

WHO WILL GOD USE IN YOUR LIFE?

It has always amazed me why the Lord chose to use Babylon to judge not only Israel and Judah, but also the surrounding nations.  The Babylonians were ruthless.  Not only would they defeat an enemy, but then they would take the people and disperse them to other defeated lands.

And the Lord is very clear that it is He who is using Babylon to judge.  He is clear that they are His tool for judging.  So, will the Lord do that today?  Will He allow unbelievers to “judge” us?  Will He allow us to suffer under the hand of a pagan?  Bottom line – God will use whatever it takes to bring us back to Him.

TEACHING MOMENT

I have tried to teach the children I have had the privilege to know that God places people in our lives as authority figures for a reason.  I truly believe if God puts someone in authority over us then we need to trust there is something He is trying to teach us.  Submission to authority is important.  Unless your authority tells you to do something illegal or immoral, you are to obey.  Period.

But what if they are constantly ridiculing your faith or talking evil about God?  Then we need to be that witness they need.  We need to stand firm, as Ephesians says.  We need to NOT be surprised that a lost person will speak that way.  How we model this to our children will teach them volumes for the rest of their lives.  Instead of coming home every day complaining about your lost boss, ask your children to pray with you for their salvation.  Ask them how you should respond to them.

Maybe right now you are battling one of those bosses.  Maybe right now you are up under someone who is a tyrant in the workplace.  Have you asked yourself why they are the way they are?  Don’t you think they need prayer?  Are YOU the instrument of salvation God has placed in their life?  Or are they the instrument of correction and judgment in yours?

Father, I want to pray a dangerous prayer.  Thank You for sending “judges” in my life.  Thank You for giving me a reminder of who I was outside of Christ.  But Lord, give me the courage to stop complaining about my “judge” and start claiming them for Christ.

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BRAGGARTS

Ezekiel 27:1-2 “1 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 ‘And you, son of man, take up a lamentation over Tyre;’”

HUMBLING

Chapters 25-27 of Ezekiel are spent naming Judah’s enemies and the Lord proclaiming their judgment.  They all bragged on their success over Israel and Judah and even rejoiced in their downfall.  Now the Lord is telling Ezekiel to proclaim their demise.  But the Lord spends an entire chapter on Tyre.  Why?

Tyre was a city of Phillistia.  Do you remember how severe they treated Israel?  They were horrible to them.  This went on for years, all the while they bragged of their beauty and wealth and success.  But watch out!  Things have a way of changing.  And they did.

TEACHING MOMENT

We want our children to be proud of their accomplishments.  What parent doesn’t get a little puffed up when their little Gertrude or Elrod receives an award at school or a trophy at the game?  We want to encourage them to be the very best at whatever they do.  But we have to come up short in the bragging department.  Pride really does come before the fall.

It is important to teach our children that pride is not flattering.  Pride drives people away.  Look at Jesus.  He never exhibited a proud moment.  He was always the humble one.  He was always the servant.  Even though He was the MOST confident person to have ever lived, He knew the dangers of pride.  He had seen it in Lucifer which resulted in his fall from heaven.

So, proud Dad and Mom, in what or whom is your pride?  All our pride should be directed toward the Lord.  He is the only one we should take pride in. Sure, our children need to be praised and encouraged, but do NOT take pride in your children.  Did I say that?  Yep.  What I mean is, don’t boast in them.  Boast in what the Lord can and will do through them.  There’s a big difference.

Father, I know misplaced pride will only do harm.  Teach me to boast in You and what You can do through me.  Help me to show others that any good in me is only You.

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STAND IN THE GAP

Ezekiel 22:30 “‘I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.’”

BE THE ONE

In this chapter, the Lord God is telling Ezekiel about the impending doom that is going fall upon Jerusalem.  Here he is, the prophet of God, and he is hearing that there is no one to “stand in the gap” for his beloved city.  No one is righteous enough.  No one cares enough about God to rescue the city.

Aren’t you glad He sent Jesus to “stand in the gap” for us?  He not only stood in for us, but He stood in for everyone from every generation.  His righteousness was enough to rescue not just one city, but every city that repents and turns to Him.  He took the spot in the gap that could be filled with no other.

TEACHING MOMENT

As believers, we are to teach our children to “stand in the gap” now.  We need to stand proud and tall representing our Lord.  If you haven’t noticed, the world is against us.  Everywhere you look Christians are being persecuted and ridiculed.  In many foreign countries Christians are being killed.  But we have to stand up for Jesus, no matter the cost.

Now, don’t hear me saying that we should make our children martyrs.  I am NOT saying that.  But I am saying that we should teach them to stand up for the Word of God and how it tells us to live.  Little Susie will face obstacles in her walk with Christ.  People will challenge her beliefs.  Make sure she knows how to answer.

Are you being challenged in your walk by a neighbor, fellow worker or even your boss?  Or is your walk so private that no one even knows you are a believer?  It is time to stand up.  It is time to stand in the gap.  It is time to take a stand for Jesus.  Let others know exactly where you stand.  And if you have confused someone by your lifestyle, ask them to forgive you.  Set the record straight.

Father, give the courage to stand in the gap for You.  I know You will be standing right beside me so there is no need for fear. Help me to stand in order to draw others to You.

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