Thursday, 25 April 2019

Order in our worship

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At first glance, Ezekiel's words can seem like a long list of "religious rules" and perhaps even a little confusing for us. However, there is reminder for me in these instructions and that is how our worship can benefit from order. Of course, we need to balance 'order'  with 'freedom', but Ezekiel's vision certainly helps people know how to approach God in their worship times.

“‘When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed festivals, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which they entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate. 10 The prince is to be among them, going in when they go in and going out when they go out. - Ezekiel 46

Over the centuries the Christian church has vacillated from the extremes of stifling order in our worship into times of chaotic freedom. It is our role as Christian leaders to discern the move of the spirit and not to restrict God's movement, but also to allow for sincerity in our worship. It is not an easy thing to do, but it seems that even Paul tried to manage this: 

1 Corinthians 14:26 -[ Good Order in Worship ] What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

Any thoughts?

Living in Grace

Enough is Enough - Ezekiel 45

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“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have gone far enough, princes of Israel! Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Stop dispossessing my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. - Ezekiel 45:9

God is patient by nature, but even the Lord has limits. In today's reading we see how God reprimands the princes of Israel telling them that they have gone too far. Enough is Enough, the Lord says. He urges them to stop oppressing the innocent and to start doing what is JUST and RIGHT. 

I wonder if this is not a timeous word for all our politicians as we inch closer towards the Elections? Enough is enough! God (and the people) are tired of the greed and selfishness of the 'princes' of our nation and it is time to start acting with Justice and Righteousness.

What do you think?

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Our Portion - Ezekiel 44

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In Ezekiel's 44th chapter he gives clear instruction as to how the priests should live and work. One of the things that struck me about this chapter appears in verse 28, where God says:

“‘I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession."

I believe this speaks to all of us today, not just priests. God is to be our true 'inheritance' and 'possession.' All of the material things we spend time trying to acquire and hold onto, will revert to someone else when we have died. However, the one thing that we can claim for our eternal life, is God's inheritance and possession. These things we can claim in the name of Jesus.

Psalm 16:5 - Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 

Living in Grace


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Among the people

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For those of you who have faithfully been reading my reflections over Lent, I am most grateful. As you are aware I tried to find something interesting and positive from the visions of Ezekiel, and also tried to link this in with the story of the Cross and Resurrection. In order to finish Ezekiel's book, I will carry on for a few more days.

Today's chapter reminded me of the Incarnation of Christ, recorded in the Gospels, where God says, "I will be with you." 

"The Lord said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place where I will rest my feet. I will live here forever among the people of Israel." - Ezekiel 43:7

This is a message that is relevant all year round and I offer Ezekiel's words to you today. It is God's gracious decision to be among us and I am deeply grateful for this wonderful gift.

Living in Grace

Monday, 22 April 2019

Looking to the Lion

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I am not 100% certain of the actual symbolism of the vision in Ezekiel 41, but I was drawn to the image of the man and lion. I picture us as the "human face" looking towards the palm tree, while the young lion looks towards us from the other side. In the light of Easter I see this as representing us looking towards the 'Lion of Judah' through the lens of the Tree. Of course the Palm Tree is synonymous with Holy Week and the Tree relates to the Cross.
18 All the walls were decorated with carvings of cherubim, each with two faces, and there was a carving of a palm tree between each of the cherubim. 19 One face—that of a man—looked toward the palm tree on one side. The other face—that of a young lion—looked toward the palm tree on the other side. The figures were carved all along the inside of the Temple, 20 from the floor to the top of the walls, including the outer wall of the sanctuary. - Ezekiel 41

May you have a blessed week. 

Living in Grace

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Something to look forward to - Ezekiel 40

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Okay, confession time. I read through Ezekiel 40 for the first time and thought to myself - "I am confused. Let's just skip over to next chapter." But, then I decided to give it another try and that is when I realised the remarkable promise that comes from the first few verses. In the context of the people already being in exile for 25 years, this vision that Ezekiel shares, would have spoken an incredible promise into their lives.

In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, .... on that very day the hand of the Lord was on me and he took me there. In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. The man said to me, “Son of man, look carefully and listen closely and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the people of Israel everything you see.” (Ezekiel 40)

All the people could see was pain and suffering. They had no hope of getting back home and worshipping in the temple again. However, this vision gave them all a renewed hope and something to look forward to. 

As we move into the most dramatic weekend in our faith, let us remember that no matter how dark the present seems, there is ALWAYS hope with Jesus.

Living in Grace

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Hiding my face - Ezekiel 39

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The phrase "hiding my face" immediately conjures up two things in my mind. Either I am terribly embarrassed by something and want to hide from the public eye, or I am deliberately trying to stay away from another person. 

As we read Ezekiel 39 this phrase occurs 3 times (verses - 23,24,29) and it seems to me that God has moved from a place of deliberately hiding from his people, to allowing himself to be found (note verse 29). As the Lord chooses to forget the unfaithfulness of his people, we see a shift in his desire to be 'found' by them. I get a picture of God moving from a place of  'embarassment' to a willingness to be seen in public with his people again.

 25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Not sure if any of this makes sense? Hopefully we see a glimpse of this in the events of Holy Week as Jesus moves fully into the public arena, willing to die on the cross in full view of the entire city. God is not hiding any more. God is present with us 100%.

Living in Grace