Just as Christ is returning to the earth, the Antichrist is also coming. Paul reminded the Thessalonians of several facts regarding the mysterious person he referred to as the “man of lawlessness.”
First, Paul said, “He will exalt himself and defy every god there is and tear down every object of adoration and worship. He will position himself in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). His spirit will be that of a proud, boastful, arrogant beast.
Second, Paul pointed out that the Antichrist could not be revealed yet because something was holding him back (v. 6). Many believe that this “something” is the Church, inhabited by the Holy Spirit. When the Church is removed, however, the Antichrist will manifest.
Finally, Paul said that incredible signs and wonders that will deceive all humankind will accompany Antichrist’s coming (vv. 9-10). The people who refuse the simple truth of the Christ will be deceived by Antichrist’s lies, and they will eternally perish.
So stand firm, believer. You may pass through the “Valley of Weeping” (Psalm 84:6), but you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
The source of our peace is our right standing with God. When we get out of sorts with God’s purpose and will, peace departs. The psalmist, understanding this relationship between righteousness and peace, declared, “Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!” (Psalm 85:10).
Paul prayed that “the Lord of peace himself always give you his peace no matter what happens” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). Our actions determine our peace. We should spend our lives, therefore, in productive, focused labor.
The Bible clearly states that “whoever does not work should not eat”
(v. 10). To be “busy,” but not “busybodies,” means that we know our jobs, vocations, and callings and are working hard every day to accomplish them. Many people chase idle dreams and foolish talk but never produce anything. Consequently, they grow frustrated and lose their peace. If we will work hard and “never get tired of doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13), however, then the Lord of peace will give us peace.
Have you lost your peace? Find your work, and you will find your peace.
These sobering words were delivered to a false prophet named Hananiah, who had prophesied that the Jewish people would be restored from Babylon within two years. This prophecy contradicted Jeremiah’s clear teaching that they would be captives in Babylon for seventy years, not two.
Satan has always had his prophets who look right and sound right. They are like Hymenaeus and Alexander, who shipwrecked their own faith by teaching that the resurrection was past (1 Timothy 1:19-20).
False doctrine works its way into churches as well as into individuals. It misleads and steers away from faith and a good conscience. All true teaching will produce “love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith” (v. 5).
Judge all teaching. The teaching may look good and sound right, but does it lead to godly actions? Does it lead people away from “talking foolishness” (v. 6) and cause them to focus on saving sinners?
Keep your doctrinal ship steered down the center of the channel. Beware of the shorelines, no matter how appealing. The rocks of destruction lurk just beneath the surface!
Prayer is the foundation of a godly society. Paul admonished us to offer prayers for kings and all those in authority. When we pray for our rulers, they become softened to the purposes of God, respectful to the Church, and honest and just in their lawmaking.
A peaceful and quiet society is the best environment in which the lost may be saved. When Satan is influencing government, wicked laws are passed, anarchy rules, and the Church is persecuted. Preaching the Word, printing Bibles, and establishing churches are forbidden in that environment.
God our Savior “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2: 4). He sent His Son as a ransom for all men and women (v. 6), and thus He desires nations to be open to the preaching of the Gospel. Whenever we come together with other believers, we should pray specifically for each nation and ruler “with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy” (v. 8).
A praying church, an open government, a perfect sacrifice, and an obedient preacher will bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth and usher in Jesus’ return to reap the harvest!
God can do a new thing! He told Jeremiah that He would make a new covenant in the future that would far surpass the old one. Today we are living under that new covenant. God has put His law in our minds and written it on our hearts. He has forgiven our wickedness and will remember our sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34).
At a time when the nation of Israel was being invaded, God directed Jeremiah to buy a piece of property. Jeremiah purchased the land, placed the deed in a jar, and buried it. The Lord promised that once again Israel would return to the land, and the deed would then be worth something. Jeremiah responded to the Lord and to this incredible promise by saying, “Nothing is too hard for you!” (Jeremiah 32:17). God agreed with this assessment, saying, “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” (v. 27).
Have you lost all hope? God can and will do the impossible. If He can forgive your sins forever, He can fix your problems right now. Place your confidence in His strong covenant. Absolutely nothing is too difficult for God!
When God makes a covenant, He means eternal business. In biblical times, a covenant was sealed between two parties by their cutting an animal in half and walking between the pieces in a figure-eight movement. Israel had entered into that kind of covenant with God, yet failed to keep it. God was forced to respond with these words:
“Because you have refused the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows” (Jeremiah 34:18).
It is human nature to make and then break covenants. God, however, cannot break a covenant. He promised Jeremiah that if he could break God’s “covenant with the day and the night so that they do not come on their usual schedule, only then will my covenant with David, my servant, be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne” (Jeremiah 33:20-21). The chances of David not having an heir as king on Israel’s throne are less than the chances of the sun not shining anymore! That’s how faithful God is!
With a God who is that unchangeable and faithful, we must also be true to Him—the faithful God who keeps His covenant forever.
Jehonadab, son of Recab, was quite a man. He was an upstanding man of iron principle who taught his children and grandchildren the precepts of righteousness. His biblical career started when he joined Jehu in destroying the prophets of Baal (2 Kings 10:15-17). Jehu saw in Jehonadab a man who would not compromise with Jezebel and her wicked prophets, but would follow through in delivering judgment against them.
Jehonadab commanded his children and grandchildren to live by certain standards and principles, and these principles were still being upheld centuries later during Jeremiah’s day. In Jeremiah 35:5-6, Jeremiah offered Jehonadab’s family huge bowls full of wine, which they refused. They strictly maintained the principles of purity they had received from their ancestor many years before. Jeremiah used the family of Jehonadab as a perfect example of a family who consistently put principles ahead of personal choice.
It’s easy to change your convictions because they don’t feel good. King Josiah just took a knife and cut out the parts of the Bible he did-n’t like (Jeremiah 36:23)! Don’t change your Bible to fit your lifestyle— change your lifestyle to fit your Bible. In the end, you’ll be glad you did!
Paul taught Timothy three vital truths about finances. First, he taught him that the love of money can be dangerous to one’s spiritual health. Money itself is not evil, but the love of money is a dangerous deception that can lead even to being drawn away from the faith. The proper attitude toward money must be one of contentment. As we live our lives, we must be thankful for what we have, not always wanting what we don’t have.
The second truth is that God desires to bless us. He “richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). God is not a taker— He’s a giver! He longs to bless us for our enjoyment.
The third truth Paul shared regarding money is the principle of giving. He urged Timothy to instruct the rich to remember to use their earthly wealth for doing good, thus laying up an eternal reward in heaven (vv. 18-19).
The finances we invest in others and in God’s work will be multiplied back to us in the life to come. Let’s use our money as a tool for eternal investment, and one day we will see it again.
Fear can oppress and mask wonderful talents. In his youth, Timothy was naturally timid and fearful. He thus tended to hide his gifts for fear of rejection. Paul exhorted him “to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you” (2 Timothy 1:6).
God gave you unique gifts and talents to use in His service, and “you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:8). Fear causes those special gifts to lie smoldering inside you, smothered by intimidation and dying for lack of encouragement. When you begin to pray in the Holy Spirit, however, the latent gifts within you begin to burn brightly and become visible.
The Holy Spirit’s power came upon Timothy through the laying on of hands, a method used throughout the Bible to impart blessing and release giftings. This was also the way Moses imparted the spirit of wisdom to Joshua (Deuteronomy 34:9).
David refused to let fear control and smother his life. Instead, he stated, “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day” (Psalm 91:5).
Rise up, stir up, and speak up. Release your gifts, and be not ashamed!
Long-term success is achieved only if there is a successor. Paul knew this and thus instructed Timothy to impart everything he had learned from him to other reliable people. In 2 Timothy 2, Paul used three images of a reliable, faithful person.
First, he said a faithful person is like a soldier (2:3), who will endure hardship as part of his calling. Good soldiers do not get involved in things that distract them from following their commanders; no matter what, they maintain their focus. In order to be faithful to Jesus, our total focus must be on fighting the battle of faith with Him, not on gaining worldly position.
The second image of a faithful Christian is that of an athlete (2:5). An athlete must follow all the rules if he wants to win the game. To break the rules means instant disqualification. The image of the athlete reflects the need for character in the life of the Christian. Only those who live pure lives within the constraints of God’s commands will win the prize.
The last image of a faithful Christian is that of a farmer (2:6). Diligent, hardworking farmers are models of patience. The seeds they sow into the soil must gradually grow into crops. If the farmer wants to reap a harvest, he cannot become impatient and dig up the seed to see if it is growing yet! Similarly, we must be patient with our growth and that of others in the Lord. Patiently we must wait for the harvest of spiritual growth.
If you find a focused, pure, patient servant of the Lord, invest your time in that person. One day he will do the same for someone else, and your life will have counted for something great.
Although the word discipline may create a negative connotation in our minds, it is actually quite a positive principle. In our flesh, we are content to do as we please, say what we want, and live how we feel. Discipline, however, gets our flesh in order. It is like putting a train on its track. The train has far more freedom on the track than it would have if it were trying to be free off the track!
How it offends us to be in public with someone whose child is totally unruly and undisciplined! It is an embarrassment to the family and to the child. Conversely, when children know their places, their boundaries, and their limitations, they experience real freedom and security. Disciplined children are a blessing both to themselves and everybody else.
God, as our Father, wants to train us. He is willing to confront us and help us change areas of our lives that bring shame upon the Kingdom of God. Because of His concern and love for us, He says, “But I must discipline you; I cannot let you go unpunished” (Jeremiah 46:28).
Discipline is a blessing! Put yourself in the hands of the Lord, and remember that His discipline is not rejection, but genuine acceptance.
Do you feel called into ministry? In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul outlined four sequential steps that should occur for entering the ministry. It is important information for anyone who is called to minister.
First, he said to “keep a clear mind in every situation.” Learning to observe carefully what is going on around you will begin your ministry training. Watch and learn from seasoned pastors, missionaries, and teachers to see how they minister.
Second, Paul said, “Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.” After a season of watching and being under the care of your ministry mentor, you will enter a season of flying solo. Your flight may be rough at first, but all of us have to encounter a little hardship in order to test our mettle!
The third stage of entering ministry is to do the work of an evangelist, “bringing others to Christ.” Every minister should be a soul winner. Timothy was a pastor, not an evangelist, but Paul told him to throw himself into personal evangelism anyway.
Finally, Paul said to “complete the ministry God has given you.” The day will come when you will put on your ministry like a custom-fitted jacket. The preparation will be over, the ministry will fit you, and you will enjoy your calling for the rest of your life!
Paul challenged those who love the Lord not to be “arrogant or quick-tempered . . . a heavy drinker, violent, or greedy for money” (Titus 1:7). He expected those who loved God to live exemplary lives.
The challenge of controlling evil emotions, appetites, and greed is not an easy one. To serve in the position of an elder, a person “must enjoy having guests in his home and must love all that is good. He must live wisely and be fair. He must live a devout and disciplined life” (v. 8). The lives and characters of godly people must show that they hate evil and are committed to doing everything within their conscious power to remove it from their lives.
The opposite of such a person is the one who tolerates evil. “For there are many who rebel against right teaching; they engage in useless talk and deceive people” (v. 10). These types of people teach wrong doctrine, love money, lie, and turn others away from the truth (vv. 11-13). They so tolerate evil that “their minds and consciences are defiled” (v. 15).
These two kinds of people represent two different paths in life. If you intend to see God one day, remember that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psalm 97:2). Follow the upward path, for God “protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked” (v. 10).
Babylon was destined to fall. Even though Babylon’s final demise was years in the future, Jeremiah could see through his prophetic eye that the time for Babylon’s fall had come (Jeremiah 51:13).
God had used Babylon to destroy Jerusalem, and for many years the Babylonians ruled over the Jews to the glory of their false god. Now the time had arrived for the Medes to be stirred up to attack the seemingly invincible city of Babylon. History records that the Medes diverted the Euphrates River, which ran through the city of Babylon, and were able to penetrate the massive city walls in one night. When God gets ready to judge a proud nation, the curtain of history has closed for them!
John the Revelator foretold the same collapse for the future economic empire called Babylon: “How terrible, how terrible for Babylon, that great city! In one single moment God’s judgment came on her” (Revelation 18:10).
It doesn’t matter how great, lofty, and mighty the world’s empires are—they will all fall before Jehovah God. His awesome power is described this way: “The Lord is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake!” (Psalm 99:1). We, too, should tremble, remembering what happened to the great Babylon.
Even before we become Christians, many of us think we are “good.” The Word of God, however, clearly states the contrary. At one time, all of us “were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us” (Titus 3:3).
In His kindness and love, God saved us, washed us in His blood, and renewed us in the Holy Spirit. His goodness to us made us good. Now, because of that goodness living in us, we devote our lives to doing what is good (v. 8).
Doing good includes submitting to those in authority, and living an obedient, gentle, humble, and peaceable life (v. 2). As we follow these guidelines, we will live productive lives, devoting ourselves to providing for daily necessities and the needs of others (v. 14).
The central theme of the Psalms is the goodness of the Lord. Psalm 100:5 puts it this way: “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”
Let us enjoy His goodness today and rejoice that He has changed us into someone “good.” God is good all the time, and so should we be!
What we look at shapes our lives. David said he would not set before his eyes any vile thing. In this world we live in, our minds are bombarded daily with vile and vulgar images. From television, magazines, movies, and even the daily lives of others comes the constant portrayal of the perverse, proud, deceptive, profane, and slanderous.
What can we do about it? We can do as David did and be totally intolerant of filth. Whenever something from the enemy came before David’s eyes, he immediately cast it from his mind. We cannot afford to meditate passively on unclean and worthless things that our minds conceive. Rather, we must follow Paul’s instructions to “take captive every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV) and David’s admonishment to “stay away from every evil” (Psalm 101:4).
Analyze your environment. Conduct spiritual housecleaning, if necessary, and do not let evil enter your presence (Psalm 101:7). Your mind will clear, temptation will lift, and you will dwell in safety.
Isn’t it easy during times of weariness and bitterness to forget the Lord’s faithfulness? But Jeremiah, in his most desperate time, remembered that God’s compassion never fails. Because “He doesn’t enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow” (Lamentations 3:33), we are assured that no matter what trial we are walking through, God still loves us and is not the cause of our problems. Whether a “clear” day or a “cloudy” day dawns, His mercies truly “begin afresh each day” (v. 23). Great is His faithfulness!
Our job in the midst of difficulty is to stop being so restless and fitful. We must learn “to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord” (v. 26), never doubting that He loves us and will deliver us.
Both David and Paul understood the faithfulness and mercy inherent to the Lord’s nature. In Psalm 102:27, David said, “But you are always the same; your years never end.” In Hebrews 1:12, Paul expressed the same thought: “But you are always the same; you will never grow old.” Everything around us may change—even the world itself—but God never changes.
Are you feeling bitter toward God? Hang on, and remember that He will always be there to hang on to you. The “appointed time has come” (Psalm 102:13 NIV) for your miracle!
Rejoice in your spiritual benefits! According to Psalm 103, your benefit package includes five specific blessings.
First and most importantly, God forgives all your sins. Nothing is more valuable than having your sins removed from you, “as far as the east is from the west” (v. 12).
Second, He heals all your diseases (v. 3). The root of disease sprang from the cesspool of sin in the Garden of Eden. But if the root is cut, the fruit (the disease) is also rendered powerless!
Third, He ransoms, or redeems, you from death (v. 4). Satan’s power over your life is broken, for just as God redeemed Israel from the hand of Egypt, so Jesus redeemed you with the shedding of His blood.
Fourth, He surrounds (“crowns” in the New International Version) you with “love and tender mercies” (v. 4). The Holy Spirit has come to rest upon your head like the anointing oil rested upon, or crowned, the Old Testament high priest. That presence will surround you with God’s mercy every day of your life.
Fifth, your life will be filled with “good things” (v. 5) and your strength renewed. Your temporal and physical needs will all be supplied from God’s abundance.
These are your benefits: forgiveness, healing, deliverance, anointing, and provision. Rise up today and claim your inheritance!
The glory of God is awesome. Ezekiel saw the massive living creatures moving at the speed of light on wheels full of eyes. Fire, wind, and lightning swirled around the creatures, while above them was the throne of God sitting on a crystal floor. What a glorious sight! Psalm 104:3 also describes God’s awesome glory: “You make the clouds your chariots; you ride upon the wings of the wind.”
We can contrast God’s glorious nature to the rebellious nature of humankind. God called the Israelites a “hard-hearted and stubborn people” (Ezekiel 2:4). When the Israelites were in the wilderness they rebelled against Moses, even though they could see the literal cloud and fire above them day and night.
Humanity should melt like wax before the awesome glory of God Almighty, but instead, people harden their hearts and rebel. The message of the Holy Spirit is “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God’s patience in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Soften your heart today and listen to His voice, for one day you will see His glory face-to-face!
Hebrews 4 reveals that rest is a precious commodity, stemming first from a promise (v. 1). God’s promises can give us rest and soothe our minds when we are troubled. After we receive the promise, however, we must combine it with faith (v. 2). Faith is the “fuel” in our “engine” that brings the promise to life. A promise without faith has no power, in the same way that an engine without fuel has no active energy.
We know that our faith is activating a promise when the result is rest. “For only we who believe can enter his place of rest” (v. 3). The moment our faith mixes with a promise, a perfect rest enters our hearts. All anxiety, frustration, fear, and worry depart, and God’s rest is ours.
God is not anxious about problems! When we believe His Word, we enter into His rest. Therefore, when we are troubled we must bring a promise to God’s throne, mix it with faith, and sit quietly in the rest of God until He performs it.
“Let us do our best to enter that place of rest” (Hebrews 4:11)!
God always starts His process of purifying in His own house. In the New Testament, Peter echoed that thought, saying that judgment must “begin first among God’s own children” (1 Peter 4:17). What a sober realization that judgment begins first among God’s people!
Ezekiel 9 speaks of a man dressed in linen who was carrying a writer’s case. The man was instructed to walk through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of every person who had wept and sighed because of the sins they saw taking place around them (v. 4). Apparently, there were those who grieved deeply for the sins of their society.
The average person today has no concern for the gross immorality and debauchery existing in our society. Such an individual thinks homosexuality is “gay,” abortion is “necessary,” and drunkenness and adultery are “acceptable.” For God’s saints, however, these things should be repulsive and deeply grievous.
God marked Noah as righteous in his generation and spared only his family from the flood that enveloped the earth. Even now God is “marking the foreheads” of those whose lives are pure and who closely follow His commands.
Remember: This process begins in the sanctuary, so check your “mark” today.
Faith and patience are two wings of the same bird. You may not always experience instant results from your faith; in fact, more often than not, you must wait for the results. But with consistent faith and patience, you can obtain the results you need.
Abraham is a prime example of patient waiting. “Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised” (Hebrews 6:15). First he had to wait, and then he received the promise. In the same way, it should not really matter to us when the Lord performs His Word. His timetable is perfect, and He is never late. What should matter is that we learn to relax in His promise and hold on to our confidence, which is like a “strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (v. 19).
Joseph’s life also illustrates the successful blend of faith with patience. The dreams and visions of his childhood seemed to be hidden forever as he languished in an Egyptian prison. The Word of God records, “There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his word, the Lord tested Joseph’s character” (Psalm 105:18-19).
You must understand that the Word of God is testing your faith until it has passed the true test of its worth. Faith is patience in waiting on the promises. Therefore, time must pass to prove that your faith is patient.
Be encouraged today. Your patience for the promise will produce!
Think of the transition from rags to riches! The Israelites had lived in squalor and filth, yet suddenly they were draped in the gold, silver, and jewelry of the world’s richest nation.
God has a plan of financial blessing for His people. The blood of Jesus paid the price for our deliverance from the land of bondage. Consequently, we can expect our inheritance of provision. That provision begins with the giving of the tithe (Hebrews 7:2). Just as Abraham gave the tithe, or one-tenth, of the spoils of battle to Melchizedek, we give our tithes to the One who “lives on” (v. 8).
God always had His priests collect the tithe. Because we no longer have an earthly priesthood, Jesus, the great High Priest, is collecting the tithe. We give our tithes to the local church, referred to as the storehouse in Malachi 3:10, and Jesus receives them. Then, like Israel of old, we come under the covenant of God’s blessing.
Can God bless in any circumstance? Israel received an abundance of quail, manna, and water in the desert (Psalm 105:40-41). Can’t He meet our needs as well, if we are obedient with our tithes?
How do you react when someone corrects you? Are you threatened and defensive, or do you receive correction with a grateful heart?
God always “tells it like it is” to His people. He reminded Israel that she had at one time been like an infant cast out of doors, bloody and naked. His faithful concern for her brought her to maturity, adulthood, and prominence. Rejecting God’s faithfulness, however, Israel became faithless and was described in Ezekiel 16:32 as an “adulterous wife who takes in strangers instead of her own husband.” So corrupt was Israel that God compared her to a prostitute that insisted on paying her suitors (vv. 33-34)! These rebukes, harsh though they may seem, were intended to bring Israel back to repentance.
Those who whitewash sin and do not tell you the truth about yourself are actually contributing to your destruction. It is better to be rebuked openly if it causes your repentance and restoration. Look for friends who are willing to wound you with correction, rather than enemies who multiply kisses!
A friend’s courage in confronting you will produce a change in your character and may save you from eternal destruction. After all, doesn’t everyone have a blind side?
Three basic factors contribute to the destruction of a society, and Sodom had them all! Sodom was destroyed because its citizens were proud, lazy, and gluttonous.
When a people become proud, their intellects excuse them from standards of basic decency. The Sodomites grew so proud and arrogant that they thought they could leave the natural order of sexuality and engage in homosexuality. God, however, viewed their perverted ways as “loathsome” (Ezekiel 16:50).
In addition to being proud, the people of Sodom were lazy and unconcerned about others. Being so self-centered, they had little to do with their time. People who are bored and unconcerned about others gradually begin to live for pleasure.
Finally, the inhabitants of Sodom were overfed gluttons. They had so much bread and food that their entire lifestyle revolved around eating and pleasure. Though, of course, we need food, it is never to be the focus of our lives. As Christians, we should “eat to live,” not “live to eat”!
How can we guard against these three deadly diseases of society? We must continually humble ourselves in prayer before God. We must then work for the Kingdom of God, showing concern for and compassion to others and not just living for pleasure. We must regularly fast to remind ourselves that man shall not live by bread alone.
Prayer, godly work, and fasting are the “salt” that will preserve against the rot of condemned societies of the past.
Ezekiel reminds us that it is not the way people start in their walks with God, but the way they finish, that counts. When a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, the righteous things he has done are no longer remembered.
Sitting back and resting on our spiritual laurels is a dangerous posture. How often have people served the Lord for perhaps a year, five years, ten years, or longer . . . and then, toward the end of their lives, thrown it all away?
Moses spent forty years in the wilderness being faithful in God’s house (Numbers 12:7). However, at the very end of the journey, he lost his composure in front of all Israel. “Rash words came from Moses’ lips” and “trouble came to Moses because of them” (Psalm 106:33, 32 NIV).
On the other hand, if there are people who spend their lives in wickedness but repent in the end, “All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done” (Ezekiel 18:22).
Don’t be self-satisfied, thinking you cannot fall, and don’t condemn yourself, believing you cannot rise. Remain in an attitude of repentance, and you will make it to the end. “Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31-32).
In Psalm 107, the psalmist lists four areas from which we are redeemed and for which we should praise the Lord. The first group of the redeemed were those who were wandering around the wilderness with nothing to eat (vv. 4-5). But when they cried to the Lord, He “rescued them from their distress” (v. 6). As our Provider, the Lord satisfies our hunger and thirst, both spiritually and physically. Praise the Lord for His provision!
The second group of the redeemed were those who were in emotional or physical bondage (v. 10). But when they called on the Lord, He “led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains” (v. 14). He is our Deliverer, the One who can set us free from darkness, gloom, and depression and break our chains of bondage. Praise the Lord for His deliverance!
The third group were those who were so physically sick and diseased that they could no longer eat (vv. 17-18). They, too, cried to the Lord, and “He spoke and they were healed—snatched from the door of death” (v. 20). The Lord is our Healer, victorious over any affliction that attacks our bodies. Praise Him for His healing!
The last group included people who were confused by hopeless circumstances (vv. 23-27). When they cried out, “He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves” (v. 29). The Lord is our Light in the darkest storms of life. Praise Him for His guidance!
Are you hungry, bound, sick, or confused? The Lord is your Redeemer, and He wants you to praise Him!
This verse contains both a promise and a penalty. The encouraging part of the scripture is that God is looking for just one person who will be righteous and pray fervently for his nation. We sometimes wait for crowds and multitudes to join us in prayer, but God is looking for even one individual who will intercede for his country.
That one person must see himself as mediating a large gap between a holy God and a sinful nation destined for His judgment. What an important position! Because Moses willingly stood in such a gap, the nation of Israel was spared.
The sad reality of the situation in Ezekiel was that even though God needed only one person, He could not find a single one. Today may you and I be such an intercessor, knowing our rights in the new covenant of grace.
Always remember: You may be that person upon whom God is focused—the one who is holding back His wrath. Keep praying, for God is surely watching!
Deliberate sin brings dreadful punishment. Think of the beautiful things of God that sin tramples. First, deliberate sin “trampled on the Son of God” (Hebrews 10:29). The corporate sin and individual sins of all mankind were responsible for putting Jesus on the cross. Imagine punishing Christ all over again with your own hands and then simply walking over His precious body. Paul stated that when we commit willful sin, we are in effect “nailing the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting him, holding him up to public shame” (Hebrews 6:6).
Second, those who engage in willful sin have “treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people” (Hebrews 10:29). Jesus’ blood is the purest, most holy thing in the universe, and it has sealed an eternal pact with God. To deliberately sin is to act as if that blood were worthless.
Finally, deliberate sin insults the Spirit of grace. The Holy Spirit is so precious, forgiving, and long-suffering. To deliberately sin against the Lord is to offend, insult, and take advantage of the Spirit’s goodness. Judas acted in this way, and his judgment and that of others like him is recorded in Psalm 109:1-20.
Run from sin, not just for your own sake, but also because of the horrible shame and pain it will cause the God who gave His life in your place.
Can we be sure of something we cannot see? The certainty of faith goes beyond hope. Hope has to do with the future, our eternal reward once this life is over. In contrast, faith has to do with the present. The King James Version of Hebrews 11:1 begins with the phrase “Now faith.” If it’s not now, it’s not faith!
The entire concept of faith rests on being certain of the unseen, because all creation came into existence from things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:3). The fact that something is unseen does not make it unreal. God’s Word operates in the unseen realm, and faith in His Word is what brings those things into the seen realm.
It takes evidence, a piece of objective data in which you place your full confidence, to be certain of something you cannot see. The promises of the Bible must become your evidence and certainty even when your five senses see no tangible reality in the natural world.
Fix your attention on God’s promises until your hope graduates to become faith!
Ezekiel describes in a prophetic picture the beauty and perfection of Satan in the Garden of Eden. Leading the worship of God, Satan was clothed with garments decorated with beautiful stones, and some believe he was even covered in musical instruments. He was a “mighty angelic guardian” (Ezekiel 28:14), walking among the fiery stones that surround the throne of God.
Satan’s high position and beauty led him to imagine himself as the source of that beauty and position. Jesus said that He saw “Satan falling from heaven as a flash of lightning!” (Luke 10:18). And how great was that fall! He lost everything he could lose and was thrown to the earth, exposed to “the curious gaze of kings” (Ezekiel 28:17).
We must always remember the wisdom of showing reverence to the Lord. To Him alone belongs eternal praise (Psalm 111:10). It may sound like a simple lesson—to walk humbly in the fear of the Lord— but it is the one the devil never learned. To have the fear of the Lord means we always reverence Him as first and never take any praise for ourselves. If we will give God the glory, one day the Church will occupy the position Satan forfeited so long ago.