May 23, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 44

It can be difficult to read today’s passage and be able to relate your own life narrative to it. I doubt anyone reading this is from Israel, is a Levite priest or is the prince that this passage talks about. However, our story is very much a part of what Ezekiel is talking about. We can find ourselves in verses 7-9. We are the foreigners in God’s kingdom. Paul states that foreigners (gentiles) have been brought into the fold of God’s family through the blood of Jesus Christ.

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” ~ Ephesians 3:6

The Old Testament often gets a bad rap when it comes to the inclusion of foreigners into God’s redemptive plan. Often we focus on the stories of Israel at war with other nations and God’s wrath being poured out. It is true that God harshly (rightly) judged the wickedness of people groups that worshiped other gods. God did choose Israel as his chosen people and he did show favor in that sense. However, the God of the Old Testament is the exact same God of the New Testament and Jesus was as much in the Old Testament days as he was in the New Testament days.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” ~John 1:1-3

Jesus, who is part of the trinity, was present all throughout the Old Testament and God’s grace was as well. Foreigners were accepted into the family of God by one criteria “Be circumcised in the heart and flesh.” What does the circumcision of the heart mean? It means a complete change of heart. It meant to switch their trust from their own gods and placing their trust in the one true God, “Yahweh.” Some examples that we know of from the Old Testament is Rahab (Joshua 2 & Joshua 6) & Ruth (The book of Ruth).
The guideline for anyone to be saved is really no different after Christ’s death. Paul explains this principal well in Romans 4: 6-11:
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?

We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
We are saved by faith alone in Christ regardless of our works. So my question for today is “Do you have the same amount of faith in Christ now as you did on the day of your salvation? Why or why not?”

Posted by: Chad Wiles

May 22, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 43

It’s good to be reading about restoration here in these later chapters of Ezekiel. It’s encouraging to read about visions of good things happening in Jerusalem because of the grace and mercy of God. The temple was prophesied to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, and the presence of the Lord would be in His house again. It’s an encouraging and hopeful vision.

Verse 4 stuck out to me today as I read these words: “And the glory of the Lord came into the house…”

That vision that Ezekiel saw reminded me of what happens to us at the moment of our salvation. The glory of the Lord comes into His house when we receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Remember, we are the temple now. When He enters into our lives, a total restoration is done. He makes us new. We become different people.

I hope you will take a couple minutes today and reflect on the amazing privilege and mystery it is that He has chosen to dwell within you and me. As a result, we get the privilege to reflect His glory to others today and every day. That is encouraging for me to think about today.

Posted by: Rich Duffield

May 21 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 42

Sometimes, for many of us, when we hit a passage like this we want to just skip over it or skim it at best. We tell ourselves its not important and that there isn’t anything for me in this passage. Well, here are 2 big ideas from this chapter for us to take away today:

1. God is serious about details

Almost everything we read about getting built for God per His instruction comes with very detailed plans on how to build it and what materials to use. This isn’t by accident. God cares about details because, so many times, it is in those details He shows us Himself. Think about things like the sacrificial system of the old testament. That was to show us the incredible need we had for a savior. Also things like what we see in the temple, like the bread of the presence and we see Jesus as the bread of life. We also see the lamp stand and how Jesus is the light of the world. We could go on and on but what we have to understand here is that God cares about details for two main reasons. One, He wants to use them to teach us and two:

2. God is serious about holiness

Throughout today’s reading we see this theme:

There should be separation between what is holy and what is common

Why is this so important? What was the big deal if common places and items and people were around those things deemed and set aside as holy for the Lord? There are a number of reasons but here are a few:

A. God demands it
B. God is worthy of our best
C. God cannot be around sin
D. God longs for us to be like Him, wholly set apart and holy

So remember today that the details are important because they are used by God and holiness is important because we are to live a holy and separate life, just as Jesus did as our example.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

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