Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: August 2017 (Page 1 of 6)

Shepherds

August 31 – Today’s Readings – Ezekiel 34-36 and Psalms 61

Ezekiel 34:1-10 reads, “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves.”

Here is the Lord God, holding people accountable for the “flock” of God. His challenge is simple – you are not just supposed to look after yourselves or use your religious position and influence to improve your lot in life – you are supposed to care for others – people who could use your help. You should have compassion on people and treat them with respect. You should also be setting an example for others to follow!

Jesus spent much of His “sermon” time challenging us concerning loving one another – the good Samaritan style of spirituality – showing compassion – not using our “riches” for ourselves but following His example of giving His life for others.

There is a clear Messianic prophecy found in Ezekiel 34:11-16 – a picture of Christ and His ministry as “Shepherd”. This is also a picture of what our lives should look like if we are to be ambassadors of Christ. We are challenged to be “shepherds” of the Lord and your “flock” are those people who come in contact with you – those whom you influence. When we see all the spiritually confused people around us, we have no choice but to help them find the Good Shepherd and to become good shepherds in the flesh.

Questions:

1. Are you and I shepherds? Are we supposed to look after others?
2. What kind of “heart” is required to become a shepherd like Christ has called us to be?

Responsibility To Watch Over

August 30 – Today’s Readings – Ezekiel 31-33 and Psalms 60

Ezekiel 33:7-11 reads; “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: ‘Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?’ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?”

There are definitely two reoccurring themes in the Book of Ezekiel but they are found in other sections of Scripture as well:

A. We have a responsibility to watch over people – both in the Church and in our sphere of influence.

B. God never takes pleasure in judgment – but rather in the salvation of people as they turn towards Him.

We must be careful never to portray God as one who either gleefully or without much grief judges the world of sin. The sin of the world as we know it causes God much grief and it should cause US much grief as well. Our attitude should be one of sorrow when we think of rebellious, self-willed people and their eternal separation from God. BUT this heart attitude needs be more than just sorrow. We have an obligation to VERBALIZE the free gift of God to those who continue in sin and are ignoring God. This is what the “systems” of the world and the Devil fight so hard to stop us from doing. The Devil wants – even demands – that Christians “shut up” – keeping the Gospel and God to themselves – allowing people to leave this world without the good news of Christ and freedom from sin.

This becomes a delicate subject in our lives – to be confronted with a hostile Devil who yells at us; “Don’t you push that religious (#^*:#^^*! ) on me!” Sad, but true, most Christians have been intimidated by this angry voice and no longer share the Gospel with others unless a desperate person begs them to. Yet, we truly are watchmen for God – the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We must not lose sight of this urgent calling from God.

Questions:

1. How do we go about “warning” people without being dismissed as “religious kooks”?
2. Is there a method of sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that would still allow us to be good neighbors with people?

“Spiritual Beings” And World Affairs

August 29 – Today’s Readings – Ezekiel 28-30 and Psalms 59

There is complex Biblical thought found in Ezekiel 28. Here is the gist of it – behind all natural power and authority – nations and leaders and civilizations – there is SPIRITUAL power and authority.

In These chapters the city-state of Tyre, and in particular the king of Tyre is targeted by God for judgment. It is sure that the human king of Tyre was brought low because of his pride – but the real issue here was the “spiritual power” in Tyre – (Lucifer-the Devil)

“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.” (Ezekiel 28:11-17)

Do you see the great Biblical mystery? There are “principalities and powers” at work in this world. They are behind the scenes because; the “natural eye” can’t see them but they are very visible to God and to all those who “see” Biblically. This is why Paul says in Ephesians 6:10-13; “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

This enemy is the same one who deceived Adam and Eve, throwing the entire world into the chaos of sin. Thank God – we have overcome Him by Jesus, the One who crushed the serpent’s head!

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture of “Spiritual Beings” working behind the scenes in world affairs.
2. Give an example from recent history where it was obvious that spiritual beings were at work in the affairs of this world.

Does God “Discipline” Me?

August 28 – Today’s Readings – Ezekiel 25-27 and Psalms 58

These three chapters teach us an important truth – God is not impressed when any nation, people or spiritual force come against His own people – this is true even when God is in the process of “dealing” with these people because of their sin. For several chapters now, we have been reading about God’s judgment of Israel’s sin. In His desire to bring that nation to its knees in repentance He has made things extremely uncomfortable for them. In this passage however, God now turns His attention and severe judgement towards the real enemies of Israel. (God is never the enemy of the Church nor of His children)

The application or lesson of this reading? – God does discipline those He loves, chastising them to bring them to a place of repentance or maturity.

“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11)

The enemies of the Church are and always have been the enemies of God and He will deal with those evil forces with severity. When the end comes, judgment will be complete upon all the evil in this world – but the children of light will have their eternal reward!

“For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 25:6-7)

Questions:

1. When we go ‘off course’, does God make things uncomfortable for us even today?
2. Give an example of this “discipline”.
3. Give another example from Scripture where God judged the sin of His people, but dealt severely with His people’s enemies.

He Sent One!

August 27 – Today’s Readings – Ezekiel 22-24 and Psalms 57

What a horrible and graphic account of a nation living in sin and ignoring God’s will. Here the Lord compares Israel’s lifestyle with that of a woman whose only desire is to have as many lust-filled, sexual relationships as possible. God doesn’t hide the fact that this lifestyle can be very pleasant (physically). He even goes into lurid detail concerning the “lovers” genitalia! Let there be no mistake – people who are living horrible, sinful lifestyles do so for a reason BUT when you live simply to fulfill the desires of the flesh you have ignored the eternal outcome of this way of life.

The Apostle Paul said that the only end for those living to please the flesh is death and separation – “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,” (Romans 8:10-13)

We too must be careful to keep our hearts on things above – not just on things of the earth. We live in a day and an hour when there is much idolatry all around us – both in the objects or people that are worshiped and in the promiscuity that is so readily at hand.

There is a verse in the middle of all this that stood out for me – Chapter 22:30; “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”

This is an amazing verse considering the context of the book of Ezekiel that focuses so much on the judgment of God. Here was the Lord seeking a person who would pray – who would lead – who would build – who would bring the people to repentance so that they might be saved. He found none! The great news of course is that HE SENT ONE! Jesus is the one who stood in the gap for us and continues to stand in the gap. Without this great intercessor and advocate we would be in exactly the same boat as the people of Ezekiel’s time. Here’s the most interesting news – God also calls His children to stand in the gap – to be ambassadors for Him toward a lost and dying world.

2 Corinthians 5:20 reads “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

Questions:

1. In which ways can today’s society be compared to Ezekiel’s “adulterous” one?
2. How do we best reach out to a society which has sought after the pleasures of the flesh rather than God?

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