May 20, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 41

The Most Holy Place…

Ezekiel is continuing to speak about his vision of the new temple. Can you imagine “following” a heavenly being around and seeing these incredible images that have deep meaning? God will set his temple among His people, as a representation of Him being in their midst, and this is how he has chosen to do so. This is how he has chosen to “house Himself” as if He could be housed. And Ezekiel is seeing this with fresh eyes.

In the midst of this, it is pointed out (without Ezekiel actually entering in) where “The Most Holy Place” is. This is also known as the “Holy of Holies.” It’s pointed out to Ezekiel, and this must have been the peak of the vision, because this place is where the Arc of The Covenant was housed, which is the ultimate representation of God’s presence. Behind the veil was where God would “dwell.” The veil served as a barrier between sinful people and God. A priest would enter into this place once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people.

This must have been incredible to see. But what is even more incredible, is that because of Jesus, we can actually go in.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Matthew 27:50-51 says, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

Jesus’ death, on the cross, paid the price that was required for the sins of the world. Jesus has made it possible to have open access to the Holy God of the universe. No longer was (is) separation required. Jesus now serves as the curtain that we can “enter through” to get to God. Jesus is also the great high priest, who has made a once-and-for-all atonement, and now we can enter into the presence of God. And because this is true, Hebrews 10 tells us exactly how we should respond to this truth.

Hebrews 10:19-23 says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

If we are in Christ, we should draw near to God, because we can. Because, as Psalm 73 says, … “as for me, it is good to be near God.”

Let us not forget the incredible privilege we have, the privilege that the people in Ezekiel’s day did not have, to draw near to God. Draw near to Him today through His Word, through prayer, through confession, through repentance, through love…. and allow this to make you clean and make you more like Jesus.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

May 19, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 40

Pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church often says, “Until the bad news becomes bad, there is not good news.” Well, here’s a little good news to go with all of the bad news we’ve been reading in Ezekiel as of lately. Some type of angel appeared to Ezekiel and gave him a vision for what the rebuilt temple of the one true God would look like. And God was specific with the outline of His temple. Imagine the encouragement, joy and hope that Ezekiel experienced when seeing the place where God would dwell and meet with His people once again after years of disobedience, rebellion and living in exile. All would be restored and redeemed. God doesn’t stop giving us visions for what to come. Yea, we won’t have vision quite like this one or the one He gives the apostle John in the end times when Jesus defeats Satan and rescues His bride once and for all. The Holy Scriptures are closed and we won’t receive any type of revelation or vision beyond the Word that He has graciously given us. However he gives us Gospel visions for our specific roles and responsibilities that we have on this earth. He gives us Gospel vision for our marriage/family, ministries, vocations and life. There are a lot of Christian books on the importance of casting vision but not a lot on receiving vision from God. I believe it’s very important that we hear Him speak before we lead out on our own personal motives and gifts. We won’t receive specific measurements but we need to be in God’s Word and communicating back to Him through prayer to hear from Him concerning our future and how God wants to use us. What type of vision is God giving you for the certain tasks He’s entrusted you with? Do they align with Scripture and CPC’s vision of evangelism and discipleship? How can we help you hear from God more in these areas of your life? Be encouraged that we worship and have a relationship with the same God that gave Ezekiel this vision of good news in the midst of hard times. He does the same with us in the good news of the Gospel and he doesn’t just leave us where we are at.

Posted by: Erik Koliser

May 18, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 39

The nations will then know why Israel was sent away to exile—it was punishment for sin, for they were unfaithful to their God. Therefore, I turned away from them and let their enemies destroy them. I turned my face away and punished them because of their defilement and their sins. (v.23-24)

Does God punish us for our sins? Are there punitive charges for what we do wrong? I’m asked this question in one form or another very often. Obviously, you can see here that was clearly the case for the Israelite people. God was punishing them (after many many warnings) for their sin of idolatry.

What about us? If you’ve come into a relationship with God through Jesus, then Jesus took all your punishment for you on the cross. He was our “substitutionary atonement”. HE paid for OUR sins. So no – you don’t have punishment for your sins – it was already paid by Jesus if you have invited Him into your life.

However… sin still has consequences and God still reserves the right to discipline you to help you learn to avoid dangerous things. Even though we’re completely and totally forgiven by the cross, there are still consequences for our actions. If you commit a crime – the law has certain punishments for each and every act. If you have an affair – you will damage your family. If you lie, or act unkindly to others – they will not see you in the same light. Sin always has consequences – and they’re always greater than we like.

Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.

God also will discipline His children out of love for us.

For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12

FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” Hebrews 12:6

God uses discipline as corrective action to get our attention and turn our affection back to Him. He always know the perfect amount – He’s never too lenient or too severe. It’s always for our good and growth.

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 12:11
Thank you Lord for being the perfect parent!
Posted by: Tim Parsons

May 16, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 38

In today’s passage we see God’s sovereignty, as well as, God’s desire to demonstrate His glory and holiness. The prophesy of this future enemy and their fate is a call back to the history of God’s protection of His people. There are three events that come to mind that give us insight into how these future events will play out according to Ezekiel 38.
The first event is the Exodus of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 1-15). God comes to Moses in the burning bush and tells him to go and tell Pharaoh to let His people go. Of course Pharaoh did not respond in submission but God broke him through His power using plagues and death on the Egyptian people. God used miraculous signs and means to free his people including parting the Red Sea in order for His people to cross into freedom while crushing the Egyptian army. God displayed his sovereignty, wrath and mercy through it all.
The second event is Joshua (Joshua 1) taking Israel into the Promised Land that would later be known as the country of Israel. It was inhabited by great nations of giants. God displayed his power and protection of his people by going before them and bringing defeat to the nations that inhabited the land. God made this band of shepherds into a great warrior nation that demonstrated God’s glory to all the peoples of the world.
The third event that comes to mind is Gideon and his army of 300 that defeated the Midianites who were oppressing Israel (Judges 6-8). Gideon was an unlikely hero and had small faith. Yet, God decided to make the odds even more impossible to the human eye by wilding down Gideon’s army from 22,000 to 300. God went before Gideon and turned the Midianites against one another allowing the 300 to victorious against the Midianite army.
The lesson that I think we can gather from our passage today and the passages that I have referenced is that God fights for his people and He gets the glory. God’s faithfulness to his people through His miraculous signs galvanizes his people and grows their faith while humbling the enemy. Only God is in control and only God decides who wins and who loses. The essence of God’s sovereignty is summed up in four words, “God is in control.” God’s control is what gives us as his children peace and joy in the midst of trial. If God is in control then we are ultimately going to be ok because fear of death is defeated and the final chapter of our lives has already been written. We will go to be with Him in heaven. However, in order for God’s sovereignty to mean something to you then you must have an eternal perspective. If your anticipation and belief in heaven is small then it will not be hope to you but a cause of anxiety.
So is your hope in heaven or is it in the here and now?
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

Posted by: Chad Wiles