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Monday

August 19th - Sweet Storytelling

Sweet Storytelling

(Ezekiel 19:1-14; 20:1-49; 21:1-32: 22: 1-31)


Storyteller Hans Christian Andersen

Photographer Unknown – public domain photo


I love a good story. Don’t you?


I love to read stories, write stories, tell stories and listen to stories.One of my favorite storytellers of old is Hans Christian Andersen, whose fairy tales have inspired imaginations for many years.


It fascinates me to see how a passage of Scripture may affect each reader in a different way. One may peruse a passage and immediately begin worshipping the Lord. Another may become overwhelmed with spiritual conviction. Still another may be drawn to repentance and recommitment to God.


The Word of God is true and powerful.


When the Lord spoke to His people through the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, they responded in a number of ways. Some accused the prophet of mere storytelling.


“The word of the Lord came to me:

‘Son of man, set your face toward the south;

preach against the south and prophesy

against the forest of the southland.

Say to the southern forest:

“Hear the word of the Lord.

This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

‘I am about to set fire to you,

and it will consume all your trees,

both green and dry.

The blazing flame will not be quenched,

and every face from south to north

will be scorched by it.

Everyone will see that I the Lord have kindled it;

it will not be quenched.’”

Then I said,

‘Ah, Sovereign Lord!

They are saying of me,

'Isn't he just telling parables?’”

(Ezekiel 20:45-49, NIV, emphasis added)


What’s wrong with storytelling?


Didn’t Jesus Himself teach in parables?


Storytelling can be an excellent tool for teaching. Still, the people accused Ezekiel of crafting fiction, rather than accepting the truths of God. Instead of heeding the Lord's truth, the people attempted to write off the prophet's message as mere storytelling.


Although allegory may add details to emphasize a point, it must be based in truth, if it is to teach. And the hearts and hearing of listeners must be quickened, or the prophet may remain unheard.


How might this story ring true today?


Will you pray with me?


Wonderful Wordmaker,

All Your words are true.

Teach us Your truth,

And urge us to speak truth.

Grant us creativity,

Even as You are creative,

That we may use stories,

Parables,

Allegories

And other creative communication

To share Your truth with others.

Prepare hearts

And hearing

That others may know You.

Amen.


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Tuesday

August 18th - On Children's Choices



On Children’s Choices

(Ezekiel 15:1-8; 16:1-63; 17:1-24:18:1-32)


The Time Out Chair

Photographer Unknown


Today's Bible readings contain tons of truth, while evoking many potential questions. First, the Lord gave the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel two allegories to teach about the unfaithfulness of His people.


Judah’s Judgment


First, God described a useless vine, which produced no fruit or solid wood for any purpose. He likened this to the people of Judah, pursuing their own interests, rather than looking to the Lord.


Next, Jehovah likened Judah to an unfaithful wife, who offered her private treasures to outsiders, even as a prostitute might peddle her lost purity.


Through Ezekiel, the Lord pronounced prophetic judgment upon His people, warning them to repent. Surely, the children of God might return to the Father’s care, if they would but look to Him and turn from the pagan practices and worldly living of the nations around them.


Sodom’s Sinfulness


Next, God described the neighboring people of Sodom as arrogant, appetite-led and apathetic. Ouch! Might these adjectives apply to modern culture? Could these descriptions pertain even to us at times?


Owning Accountability


Finally, the Lord delineated the individual responsibility of each human heart to repent from sin and live in His light.


This passage may seem puzzling, when compared to other Scriptures, in which generational sin and ancestral accountability may be described. How might we resolve the difference, as we look at Bible verses like this one?


“The soul who sins is the one who will die.

The son will not share the guilt of the father,

nor will the father share the guilt of the son.

The righteousness of the righteous man

will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked

will be charged against him.”

(Ezekiel 18:20, NIV)


This passage may offer both peace and panic to parents. Doesn't it sound as if God holds each individual responsible for his or her own decisions? What freedom might we gain, if we will claim this truth?


Of course, God promises to hear and answer faithful prayer, and parents can be quite earnest at interceding for children. Doesn’t God desire the safety and salvation of our kids? Absolutely, He does.


On the other hand, don’t our children (and teens) possess the same free will that we do? Aren’t the hearts that beat within them simply human hearts? Don’t they hold the same ability to make poor (or good) decisions that we do?


What responsibility do we hold for the choices of our children? What lasting legacy can we build, if no guarantees exist that our children will follow the faith we hold?


May God guide us, as we pray for the hearts and souls of those we love.


God, Claim My Kids for Your Glory

Photo c2009 by Nickers and Ink


Will you pray with me?


Father of Fathers,

Unless You draw us,

None of us can come to You.

Tug at our hearts,

To pull us closer to Your own.

Place Your pull

Upon the hearts

Of our children,

So that they will desire

More of You

Above all else.

Hold our children,

Even when we cannot.

Make us faithful,

As we plead in prayer

For those we love

For Your glory.

Amen.


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Monday

August 17th - No Borrowed Blessings

No Borrowed Blessings

(Ezekiel 12:1-28; 13:1-23; 14:1-23)


My Granddaughter

Photo c2009 by Nickers and Ink


Grandchildren are a true gift from God. What a blessing it is for a parent (or a stepparent) to experience to wonder of childhood again through the eyes of a child’s child. Surely the Lord smiles upon such bounty.

Someone once said, however, that there will be no grandchildren in Heaven.


What does this stark statement mean?


Doesn’t our Heavenly Father love grandchildren? Of course He does!


The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel offered a clue to the import of this biblical truth. In Ezekiel 14, we read the Lord’s own words. God Almighty instructed Ezekiel about His own justice. The Lord said that the most righteous men of all could not save others within their own nation, or even their own family.


“’As surely as I live,’

declares the Sovereign Lord,

‘even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it,

they could save neither son nor daughter.

They would save only themselves by their righteousness.’”

(Ezekiel 14:20, NIV)


In other words, although parents and leaders may leave lasting legacies of faithfulness, their children and followers cannot inherit salvation itself. Each of us is individually accountable to the Lord.


Doesn’t the Lord desire each of us to choose to love Him, in response to His great love for each of us?


God longs for each of us to belong to Him as His first-generation children, rather than as second-generation grandchildren. In the Father’s house, there is plenty of room for all who will enter.


Will you pray with me?


Heavenly Father,

How blessed we are

To be called Your children.

We adore You.

Thank You for calling us

And saving us

And making us Your own.

Amen.


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Thursday

August 16th - The Pen Prepared

The Pen Prepared

(Ezekiel 8:1-18; 9:1-11; 10:1-22; 11:1-25)


Pen in Hand

Artist Unknown


The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel received a vision from God, nearly 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The Lord’s Spirit carried Ezekiel, in a vision, between earth and heaven (see Ezekiel 8:1-4). There the prophet saw the idolatry in the Temple of God, including the “idol of jealousy” (see Ezekiel 8:5).


What is the idol of jealousy?


Although the Scriptures are not specific in describing the idol of jealousy, we may infer that this pertains to idolatry and distraction from devotion to the one true God. Jehovah is a jealous God, and rightly so. Only the one God Almighty, Lord of Heaven and earth and Master of the universe merits our worship.


Anything that lures our devotion away from the one Lord may be regarded as an idol of jealousy, may it not?


A look at the writer in linen


In the middle of Ezekiel’s vision, God showed him a man, clad in linen, who held a writing kit. All around him were men guards equipped with swords and weapons of war. But the writer held his tools with honor.


We are not told the identity of this ready writer. But we do know that God instructed the writer to pen His words of truth.


What a purpose!


As a writer, I find this passage of Scripture intriguing. What power might the Lord portray through the written word? What world change might be wrought through faithful penning of God’s own truth?


May the Lord be glorified in the words we share, even as we submit to His guidance.


Will you pray with me?


Lord of lords,

We long to serve You.

Make us willing.

Make us worthy.

Guide our tongues

And our pens.

Even more,

Guard our hearts

And our ears,

That we may hear You

Above the noise

Of idols of jealousy

All around us.

We live to honor You.

Amen.


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