Monday, June 24 2024

Bible Reading for: September 1

Ezekiel 11-13

Do you have a heart of stone or flesh? If you belong to Christ He has replaced your heart of stone with a heart of flesh filled with His Holy Spirit.

It just never ceases to amaze me how God, even in the midst of declaring punishment, will declare salvation. God had allowed the descendants of Israel to become as debauched as they could be before He finally declared it was time for wrath. Even so, He tells us once again in today’s reading that He will redeem a remnant. He will call them back to Him, and restore them to the Promised Land, and He will be their God.

Listen to this:

Ezekiel 11:16-21 ESV
“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.  But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”

It is crucial to notice that God is doing the work. It is He who will call the Lost back to Him. It is He who will change their heart. It is He who will make it possible for them to walk in His ways and obey. We men want a step-by-step guide that will show us how we can make ourselves right with God. It is just the way we guys think. Unfortunately, this desire for a step-by-step guide over which we are in control is part of our problem. We can’t make ourselves right with God. We cannot take steps A, B, and C and be right with God. We have to completely give ourselves over to Him. We have to completely deny ourselves. We have to accept that we serve Him and we have no rights.

I love the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and I think the line that states that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights is correct as far as our interaction with each other goes, but we must be careful not to fool ourselves into thinking that we have “rights” before God. “Rights” are a human idea. Rights are about limiting the power others have over you. God has unlimited rights over you, and if you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are acknowledging this fact. You have no rights. It is when we wish to exercise our “right” to make our own decisions that we get into trouble. It is when we surrender that right to Christ that we are actually set free.

It is the desire to be lord of ourselves that stands in the way of being the men God created us to be. God’s ways seem like fantastic opposites to us. How can one be strong through weakness? How can the first be last and the last first? How can one be free only when they truly surrender all their rights? All of this is a great mystery to most of us, but you need to understand that God is the only meaningful power and strength available. If you want to be truly strong, you must deny your own strength and lean on His. If you want to be first in God’s book, you need to view yourself as the least, for it is the humble heart that is the heart of flesh. The self-powered heart is the heart of stone.

God can change that heart, and in His children He is at work doing just that. He will teach you how to be humble. He will teach you how to rely on His strength rather than your own. It will hurt, but you will learn. I, like you, am a sinner saved by grace. During my walk with Him, God has shown me, from time to time, sin in my life that must be removed. I have discovered that when I puff out my chest and declare that I will sin no more I fail, but when I go to my knees with a broken heart and humbly ask God to forgive me and strengthen me I find that He gives me the humble attitude of heart I need to go and sin no more. In my strength, I am weak, but in His I can conquer all.

If you have accepted Christ, your heart of stone has been removed and a new heart of flesh, filled with His spirit, beats in its place. If you haven’t accepted Christ, God will bring your deeds upon your own head. You will have earned it, and you have no rights or strength before Him. We must choose ourselves or Him, a heart of stone or a heart of flesh. Which will it be?

Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)

Your brother and servant in Christ,
Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Ezekiel 16-17
Old Testament Only: Psalms 91–95
New Testament Only: 1 Corinthians 3

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