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Tuesday

September 3rd -

Warning the Watchman

(Ezekiel 32:1-32; 33:10-20)


The Watchman

Artist Unknown


Does God hold us accountable for others’ salvation? Will those who know the truth be called to judgment for those who do not?


Theologians have pondered these points for millennia.


The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel offered strong words from God, detailing divinely ordained accountability for those who carry the Lord’s message of truth.


"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.”

(Ezekiel 33:7-9, NIV, emphasis added)


What sobering words! God vowed to hold His prophet accountable for carrying His message to those who needed to hear it.


Might God also make us His watchmen, entrusting us with His Gospel? Does He hold us responsible for sharing the truth with those who need to hear it?


Will you pray with me?


Holy Lord,

Your Word is truth.

Your Gospel is love and peace.

You have blessed us

with Your way of reconciliation

through Your own Son,

our Savior,

Jesus Christ.

Make us mindful

of the responsibility

You have given to us

to share Your Word

With the world.

Grant us Holy Spirit boldness,

and wisdom to recognize

Opportunities You give us

to offer Your truth.

Amen.


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Monday

September 2nd - A Skeleton’s Story

A Skeleton’s Story

(Ezekiel 37:1-28; 38:1-23; 39:1-29)


Dry Bones

Photographer Unknown


God gave his Old Testament prophet Ezekiel a rather unusual vision – a valley of dry bones. Then the Lord asked Ezekiel if it might be possible for those dried out bones to come to life.


I love the answer Ezekiel gave to the Lord.


He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
I said, "O Sovereign Lord, You alone know."

(Ezekiel 37:3, NIV)


How many questions might we answer in exactly this same way? How often do we try to come up with our own smart solutions, when only God truly knows the answer? Doesn’t God seem to delight in asking rhetorical questions, perhaps simply to prove the pride or humility of the hearer?


The Lord promised Ezekiel that He could, indeed, raise dry, dead bones to life. Historically, God proved this to be true, as He restored the nation of Israel. Spiritually, our great and gracious Lord proves this daily, as He rebirths and renews all of us who recognize that we are dead in our sins without the fresh, new life that only He can provide.


How do I know this is so? I once was a dead shell, a skeleton without substance, carrying bony burdens. But the Lord set me free. He clothed me in His own holiness, rebirthing me in His own image. And He continues to remake me every single day.


What a wonderful Maker. What a wonderful re-maker. God is able!


Will you pray with me?


Creative God,

You breathed life into man.

Then You offered new life,

After we sold ourselves

To ourselves

And to sin.

You breathe new life into us

Each day,

As we turn to You.

Remake us.

Call life into our deadness,

And light into our darkness.
Say the word,

And it will be so.

For You are

The great “I AM,”

And there is no other.

Amen.


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September 1st -

No More Middle Man

(Ezekiel 33:21-33; 34:1-31; 35:1-15; 36:1-38)


The Good Shepherd

Artist Unknown


The people of God spent 70 years in exile in Babylonia. God sent the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel to reprimand and reassure His children.


The prophet chastised the religious leaders, who seemed to care more for their own aims than for those they were to lead and guide.


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.”’”

(Ezekiel 34:1-6, NIV)


Surely the Lord mourned to see His children’s needs ignored and their appointed leaders failing to care adequately or diligently for them. In His divine omniscience, God had to have known – right from the start – that no human leaders could fulfill His expectations of selfless guidance and care for those they led.


Since Creation, the Lord had planned to send the ultimate Shepherd, the lover of all men’s souls, to lead and lift those in need. And who is not?


Jesus is the Messiah in the middle - the Intermediary between God and man - the holy High Priest of God's purpose and the only bridge to the prime pasture of God's perfect peace. We need no other middle man, so long as we depend upon Him.


For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“I myself will search for my sheep

and look after them.

As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock

when he is with them,

so will I look after my sheep.

I will rescue them from all the places

where they were scattered

on a day of clouds and darkness.

I will bring them out from the nations

and gather them from the countries,

and I will bring them into their own land.

I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel,

in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.

I will tend them in a good pasture,

and the mountain heights of Israel

will be their grazing land.

There they will lie down in good grazing land,

and there they will feed in a rich pasture

on the mountains of Israel.

I myself will tend my sheep

and have them lie down,”

declares the Sovereign Lord.

“I will search for the lost

and bring back the strays.

I will bind up the injured

and strengthen the weak,

but the sleek and the strong

I will destroy.

I will shepherd the flock with justice.”

(Ezekiel 34:11-16, NIV)


What a wonderful Old Testament picture of the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd Himself.


Will you pray with me?


Good Shepherd,

You pastor Your people

In love and mercy,

Providing us with pastures of peace

Under Your care.

Guide us, Lord.

Lead us in the paths

That You have marked out for us.

Teach us to follow You,

Rather than relying upon worldly leaders,

Who listen not to Your call.

Turn the hearts of those who lead,

So that they may follow You as well.

Thank You for the godly leaders

That You have already placed

In prominent positions.

Most of all,

Thank You for Jesus,

The Lover of our souls

And the Shepherd of our hearts.

Without Jesus, we would be lost,

Like sheep without a shepherd.

Amen.


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August 31st - Pagan Practice

Pagan Practice

(2 Kings 25:23-26)

(Jeremiah 40:7-16; 41:1-18; 42:1-22; 43:1-14; 44:1-30)


Asherah, Pagan Queen of Heaven

Ancient Artist Unknown


The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah warned the Lord’s people against paying homage to false gods. But the people persisted in the pagan practice. The men followed their foreign wives, burning incense to the Queen of Heaven.


And the Lord brought judgment.


Who was the Queen of Heaven?


The term, “Queen of Heaven,” has become a reference to Mary, the human virgin mother of Jesus Christ, throughout Christian history. However, in ancient times, the Queen of Heaven was not nearly so virtuous.


In Old Testament times, the Queen of Heaven referred to goddess worship. Usually, this term indicated Asherah, the Semitic pagan goddess of fertility. In other historical instances, the Queen of Heaven meant Isis, an Egyptian goddess, as well.


Goddess worship has enjoyed a renewed popularity in recent generations, as Wiccans and New Agers have encouraged the adoration of Gaia, Mother Earth and other goddess figures. Surely, paganism is not merely an ancient practice.


What would the prophet Jeremiah say about modern culture? What would God say about it? What is the Lord already saying about paganism and today’s generation?


Will you pray with me?


Great God,

Above You is no other.

You are the only true God,

And we worship You.

Encircle our hearts,

That we might adore no other,

Worship no idols

And place no one or nothing

Above You

In our hearts.

Open our eyes

To any false worship

In our own lives

Or in the culture

That surrounds us.

Give us hearts

For holiness.

We praise You.

Amen.


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