Maybe your mother used to remind you to, “Think before you speak” or “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This Proverb reminds me of those warnings she’d give me…of not blurting out the first thought in my mind, but discerning between good and evil, true and false, right and wrong. Proverbs 15:28 says, “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” No wonder the folly of fools yields folly when only falsehood and treachery pour from their lips.
We all have been in difficult work situations. The boss is over-bearing, our co-workers stab us in the back, and the work environment is toxic….but we also know that God has placed us there for a reason. So we can either go to work everyday in a bad mood, willing to tough it out for another shift…or we can start our day by praying for the business, the management, and all the people we work with. Just think how praying for a happy, friendly and prosperous workplace would change everyone’s mindset and would be accomplishing God’s plan & purpose for you being there.
This entire Chapter in Ezekiel goes back to a old Jewish proverb about the fathers eating sour grapes, but it’s the children’s teeth that are set on edge…or as God said in Exodus 20:5-6, “I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of their fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” But in this Chapter of Ezekiel, God is abolishing that old proverb for a new one…The soul who sins will die. The bottom line is, we can be responsible to someone, but we can’t be responsible for them. Each individual has a free will, and their eternal fate is entirely up to the decisions they make…or not. Nor can we “fix” someone who is on the wrong path. Sure, we can encourage, counsel, and point the way, but the very best thing to do is pray for them…allowing the Holy Spirit to draw, convict, and compel.
After Peter’s compelling Gospel message to the crowd they were cut to the heart and asked, “What shall we do?” His answer was straightforward, “Repent and be baptized.” Start by acknowledging your sinfulness and turn from it. Follow that with a public display of the new moral reorientation of your soul by being baptized. And because of these you will receive spiritual renewal, forgiveness of sins, adoption by God, and the precious gift of eternal life.
When power & pride are more important than God…evil runs wild. When the wicked are more confident in themselves and their riches…immorality reigns. But no amount of money or arrogance will save their souls in the end. And this is laid out later in verse 13 of this Chapter when it warns, “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves.” For it’s pride and rebellion that causes someone not to seek after God and it’s stupidity that makes them think they don’t need Him.
Paul was ironically referring to false teachers that at first impression appear to be Christians…but it’s only a guise. And that’s what makes false teachers that superficially look or act like Christians so dangerous. They may have all the “Christian” terminology down pat, and enamor everyone with their eloquent speech, but what comes out of their mouths is not the Gospel Message. Rather, it’s divisive and contrary to doctrine. People like this teach of a corrupted Jesus, and their lives are in the flesh, so don’t be deceived. (Romans 16:17)
Jesus wasn’t being rude or impatient, nor was He asking the two disciples of John the Baptist a question He didn’t already know the answer to. In fact quite often in the Gospels we see Him asking the same question…”What do you want?” In Mark 10:51 Jesus asks this of the blind Bartimaeus…in Matthew 20:21 it’s the mother of James & John. Today, Jesus is asking you the very same question…”What do you want?” What are you seeking after? What are you desiring to happen in your life? He already knows the right answer…but are you willing to agree with Him & then to be obedient in order to obtain it? His question still remains…”What do you want?”
Even though Job was grief-stricken and in misery, he quietly submitted to God’s sovereignty. We read about his steadfast patience in James 5:10-11, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord. As you know we consider blessed those who have preserved. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Suffering well is first acknowledging that everything belongs to God. Or as I Timothy 6:7 says, “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” Secondly, God is a good God and only does what is good. (Psalm 119:68)…He will never leave nor reject us and is constantly watching out over us.
Many have problems when it comes to the Trinity, and especially the idea of the Holy Spirit, and as Believers that we are his dwelling place. The role of the Holy Spirit is to work to bring about in us a more righteous life and heart…imparting spiritual knowledge and divine truth, aiding & consoling us in times of sadness & grief…leading us into holiness…and always there in intercession. But this idea of God’s Temple is not only individual but corporate…for God’s people are also known as His Holy Temple or Spiritual House. Or as Ephesians 2:21-22 tells us, “We’re God’s people and members of His household, being built on a foundation of those who went before us with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.”
This verse shows the contrast between the exalted God and the weakness of humanity. The Day of the Lord will bring judgment on the godless, or as Isaiah 5:15 says, “So man will be brought low and mankind humbled…” On that day, God’s supreme power & sovereignty will be shown over man’s pride & wickedness or as Job 40:11-12 tells us, ” Unleash the fury of Your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand.” But for the Believer that trusts in the Lord… on that day there will be blessing and peace in the knowledge & deliverance of God. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)