Posts Tagged “Ezekiel”

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

We’re down to the final days of summer. Take a bit of time to sit in the sun (or shade) and enjoy God’s Word over the next few weeks. Use our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules to stay on track with us, reading four or five chapters each weekday. If you fall behind – don’t worry about it! Use the weekend to catch up or don’t worry about keeping up. Just keep reading. God will reveal Himself to you – He promises to! Ask Him to and He will.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the July/August bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the July/August 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The August Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

I love the way God’s Word seems to speak to my specific situations as I read through His Word. I know He’ll do that for you, too. I’d love to hear about it. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for August is below.

Resting at the River's Edge Reading Schedule for August 2013

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ
Ephesians 2:1,4-5a (NIV)

As for you – yes, you! And me – we were dead in our sins. We were truly dead men walking. That’s the phrase used to describe men who have been sentenced to death and are in prison awaiting their execution. Like these men, we had a death sentence over our heads because of the sins we had committed. The sentence hadn’t yet been carried out, but it was irrefutable and irreversible. There were no appeals that might save us. We were still walking around. We might not have even heard the verdict, but it had been announced –

The soul who sins shall die.
Ezekiel 18:4b (NKJV)

“I [Jesus] told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins.”
John 8:24 (NIV)

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)

We were objects of the judgment of God because we chose to live according to our own desires – in other words, the way we wanted to live, without care or consideration of how God wanted us to live. We lived according to our own rules and our own made-up religion. But Truth is Truth. We can choose to believe that it is raining, but unless water is falling from the sky, it is not raining. We can choose to believe that there’s nothing wrong with our sinful behavior, but if God has defined it as wrong, it is wrong. And we become objects of God’s judgment.

But God – but God! – who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. He saw our need and Jesus said “Father, let me take the punishment that they are owed, that they earned, that they deserve.” The sentence is irreversible, but it can be transferred to me. And so…

4…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5a (NIV)

He made us “alive with Christ”…even when we were dead men walking. Only God can make the dead live. Only He, the One who breathed life into Adam .

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 
Genesis 2:7 (NIV)

That describes how we were created physically. Spiritually, God has done the same thing. Out of dust, something with no life, He breathed life into us and made us alive with Christ. Truly, it is by His grace that we have been saved. We didn’t do anything to earn our salvation (as Paul wrote later in the chapter) – it was a gift offered – the gift of Christ. And when we accept the gift, when we accept Christ, we are made alive with Him.

There’s a big difference between the first life and the second life. The first life is bound by earthly things. The second life – whew! – it is eternal and it is unbounded. To truly appreciate the next verses, we need to get a running start by re-reading verses 4 and 5:

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV)

Not only has our death sentence been paid by Jesus – not only have we been made alive with Christ – but God has also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms! Now, while I’m sitting on my couch, typing on my laptop, I am also seated with Christ.

Pause to consider that a bit more. Wherever you are, can you imagine that you are seated with Christ? I’m sitting cross-legged with my feet under me because my toes are cold. Seated in Christ, I imagine then, that I am sitting on his lap. Pause to think about what that would be like (is like).

…(pausing here – are you?)

It’s not only when I’m sitting in the corner of my couch with my legs crossed on the seat cushion that I am seated with Christ. I will soon go to my office and sit in my desk chair. There, I will be seated with Christ in heavenly places. Can I embrace that and be confident in the wisdom He will give me for the day (if I ask for it from the one seated with me). Frequently throughout the day I ask advice of those around me. Today, I want to be aware that I am seated with Christ and turn to Him for advice.

But these are earthly things I’m writing about. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms – speaking of the rule and authority we have in the spiritual realm. We have it here on earth and we will have it to a greater degree in heaven. More to ponder…

Why has God done all this? I love this next verse

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

I made a nativity set once from clay. I used molds to create Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the wise men and animals. After firing, I spent hours and hours painting them. They were my workmanship. I probably spent more time on the nativity set than anything I’ve ever made. I created it. They were inanimate objects. After painting and glazing them, I gave wrong instructions for the final firing and they were ruined. I was heart-broken. But it gave me insight into this verse. “We are God’s workmanship.” He has molded us and He gifts us and He teaches us and He disciplines us – all for a purpose. We are of so much more worth to Him than that nativity set was to me. He has spent so much more creating me and saving me and molding me into the person – in Christ Jesus – who is (or will be) perfect for the good works He’s prepared in advance for me to do. That process began before the creation of the world!

4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)

Even before he breathed life into Adam, He chose us. He began working on us, creating us to do good works. And not just any works – the works He is preparing for us to do. In other words, He’s putting things in place so that I am ready and the works are ready at just the right time. I can’t even think three moves ahead in chess (or checkers for that matter). But God…

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5

He made us alive with Christ so that we might do the works which He has prepared for us to do. My life has purpose. Your life has purpose. Heavenly, God-created and God-sent purposes.

Lord, help me to grasp how deep and high and wide and long your love is for me (Ephesians 3:18), that you would raise me from my dead man walking condition and seat me with Christ in heavenly places. That you created me in Christ for a purpose – to accomplish the good works you’ve prepared for me.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV)

Being in Christ – saying “yes” to God’s Lordship – gives us new roles and responsibilities. One of those roles is that of reconciler. God reconciled us to Himself and has now given us the ministry reconciliation. Our message is to be the same as Paul’s – a heartfelt “Be reconciled to God.”

The word “reconcile” means “to restore to friendship or harmony; to settle or resolve” (www.merriam-webster.com). That is our job – to be one who brings reconciliation.

And it’s pretty hard to do that job wholeheartedly when I am harboring an offense against someone. No matter how hard I try to suppress or hide it, I’m not successful. I’m just not that good an actor. And hopefully you aren’t either! Because being a good actor in this case, simply means being good at deception. We don’t want to be deceivers, we want to be people of love. People who have worked through anything we might be tempted to have against a person.

One of the marks of Christian maturity is not being easily offended. Francis Frangipane refers to this as having an unoffendable heart. Of all the heart conditions we’ve studied so far this year, I think this one takes the most work. This one requires that I choose to turn my back on intentional and unintentional attempts to offend me. It means that I choose not to take offense. It means that I choose to forgive even before there is a need to forgive. It’s so much easier (in the natural) to take offense and hold onto a grudge!

I can’t choose to have an unoffendable heart without the love of Christ in me and without making a decision to let His love rule my heart. His love overlooks offenses. It is patient, kind, not prideful or rude or self-seeking. It keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) The person who is easily offended isn’t characterized by those things. They are not patient with others. They do not respond kindly when they are offended, and their pride makes them easily offended. In not letting go of an offense, they are keeping a record of wrongs against them. Which, of course, makes them more easily offended with each interaction.

The disciples asked Jesus “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3, NIV) His answer included the following:

10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another… 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Matthew 24:10, 12 (KJV)

As the world turns away from Christ, people take offense more easily. That leads to betrayal and hatred. Satan is on the prowl, seeking whom he may devour – one of his tools is to bring you to the point of taking offense. Yes, you!

It can happen so easily – unmet expectations, frustrated progress, or a bad night’s sleep can all lead to slipping in our practice of love.

We can’t develop an unoffendable heart on our own, but Christ has made us a new creature. God has kept His promise from Ezekiel:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)

Need help with this one? (I do.) Ask for it.

Lord, help me to develop an unoffendable heart. Remove from me my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. Put the love of Christ within me – filling my heart so there is no room to hold an offense.

 

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

Make God’s Word the cornerstone of your summer reading schedule. Join us as we read through a few chapters of the Bible each day. Use our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules to stay on track with us. If you fall behind – don’t worry about it! Just keep reading. I am praying that God will reveal Himself to you as you read each chapter. Ask Him to and He will.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the July/August bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the July/August 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The July Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

I hope you’ll join us! I love the way God’s Word seems to speak to my specific situations as I read through His Word. I know He’ll do that for you, too. I’d love to hear about it. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for July is below.

July 2013 RARE Reading Schedule JPG

 

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods HeartLast spring I wrote a series of articles titled Live…Like Someone Left the Gate Open! It was a series that impacted me more than any other that God’s given me. A few months ago God began laying on my heart a focus for 2013 – essentially, a year-long series – about living from a heart that has been transformed by God – living from a heart that reflects His heart – living from God’s Heart! I am trusting that this series will take us more deeply into Christ-likeness than we’ve ever gone.

Each month we’ll focus on a different aspect of a healthy heart – healthy as God defines it, that is! We’ll start with a seeking heart and look at other conditions such as a faith-filled heart and a generous heart. We’ll also look at having a repentant heart and a joyful heart. (To name just a few.) For each condition of the heart, we’ll examine what that condition looks, how we develop it and how we live it.

Let me encourage you to take these messages into your heart and focus on developing them in your own heart, as I will be doing throughout each month. More than ever, I sense that it is time for us to go deeper into God – to allow Him to transform us into the image of Christ in a greater way. This world needs us.

I’ve not seen the movie Gladiator, but this morning as I was getting ready for work I had the television tuned to a Christian station. The preacher quoted the movie and it grabbed me: “What we do in life echoes through eternity.” (A subsequent search revealed that I’m probably the only preacher who hasn’t heard the quote. Oh well. Guess I lead a sheltered life when it comes to battle movies.)

What a great line, and what a biblical truism! What we do in this life – how we live, how we trust, how we hope – echoes in eternity. And how we live is largely determined by the condition of our heart.

The things we say are determined by the condition of our heart.

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45 (NRSV)

Do your words bring life to those around you or are they carrying a spirit of criticism and death?

The things we do are determined by the condition of our heart:

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 
Ezekiel 11:19-20 (NIV)

Are your actions consistent with holy living? Are you living as one who has been set apart for God?

How we love God is determined by the condition of our heart:

Moreover, the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.
Deuteronomy 30:6 (NRSV)

Our hearts must be circumcised – our desire for sin and our attachment to worldliness must be cut away – so that we can love God better, and in that loving receive life. Is your heart pining after the world or the Lord?

I expect to be challenged by this series – if I were to tell you the truth, I’d have to admit that I’m a bit afraid of it! Yes, I know, fear is of the enemy. I admit that I don’t have enough of God in me yet because I am afraid of the changes He’ll want me to make as I learn more about the heart He wants me to have.

But what I do here on earth does echo through eternity and I want those echoes to be good ones. I want them to touch people with life. I want to hear God’s heart beat and live it out.

So friends, I invite you to come along. And I encourage you to heed the words of the Psalmist:

6Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8do not harden your hearts…
Psalm 95:6-8a (NIV)

Let the adventure begin! Watch for the first blog in our Living God’s Heart series.

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It wasn’t a proposal I wanted to write because the last time we quoted a project for this company we lost our shirts. That doesn’t usually happen, and we praise God for the jobs we win and the ones we lose. Usually praising Him for the jobs we win is an easy thing. The last time we worked with this company it wasn’t so easy.

The porposal was due first thing this morning, so I got up early. I was tempted to skip my devotional reading. I’m so glad I didn’t. As often happens, God used today’s Resting at the River’s Edge scheduled reading to speak to me. (I always think that is so cool! It’s not like I knew what would be happening today when I created the 2012 reading schedule last December! God is so good.)

1“When you divide the land among the tribes of Israel, [the Lord said to Ezekiel,] you must set aside a section for the LORD as his holy portion. This piece of land will be 81/3 miles long and 62/3 miles wide. The entire area will be holy. 2A section of this land, measuring 875 feet by 875 feet, will be set aside for the Temple. An additional strip of land 871/2 feet wide is to be left empty all around it. 3Within the larger sacred area, measure out a portion of land 81/3 miles long and 31/3 miles wide…5The strip of sacred land next to it, also 81/3 miles long and 31/3 miles wide, will be a living area for the Levites who work at the Temple. It will be their possession and a place for their towns. 6Adjacent to the larger sacred area will be a section of land 81/3 miles long and 12/3 miles wide. This will be set aside for a city where anyone in Israel can live.”
Ezekiel 45:1-6 (NLT)

Now you’re wondering what in the word did she get out of that! 81/3 miles long! 62/3 miles wide! 875 feet by 875 feet! 871/2 feet wide! Our God is a God of exactness. Not 8 ¼ or 8 ½ miles long. Not 87 or 88 feet wide.

As I read this, I was so encouraged – God used this passage to remind me that He is a God I can trust to create my proposals!

Imagine, friends, that the God who placed each star in the sky and knows them each by name – that God is a God of exactness. That is a God I can trust to help me determine how many hours to estimate on any given project. That is a God I can trust to help me establish my home budget.

That is a God I can trust. You can too.

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the the half-page PDF you can download here or the September/October Bookmark you can download here.

We’d love to have you share what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the September/October 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the October Reading Plan here

Here’s the October reading plan:

Oct 2012 RARE Reading Plan JPG

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the September/October Bookmark.

September offers an opportunity to start anew as routines change with the changing weather. If your reading declined during the summer months, jump back in and join us. We’d love to have you share what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the September/October 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the September Reading Plan here

Here’s the September reading plan:

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

“In the beginning was the word…”

This month during our Resting at the River’s Edge readings we’ll read the Gospel of John – starting with the beginning of time, it will take us through the life of Christ and then lead us into the book of Revelation for December’s readings. I thought it would be interesting to read these two books back-to-back. (Although you’ll find 2nd Thessalonians sandwiched in between because I realized I had forgotten to include it in the schedule when we read 1st Thessalonians this month. Oops!)

The Gospel of John is many people’s favorites. It’s a bit too contemplative to be my favorite, but I appreciate it’s uniqueness among the Gospels.

Our Old Testament readings will have us finishing the Old Testament except for the book of Psalms which we’ll read in December. That means we’ll finish the book of Ezekiel, cover six of the minor prophets and read the book of Daniel. Remember, the minor phrophets aren’t called that because their message is minor, but simply because they wrote shorter books. For example, you’ll find these two prayers in the book of Habakkuk:

LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2 – I often include this prayer of Habakkuk in my times of intercession for revival

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 – this prayer challenges me to rejoice regardless of my circumstances

One of the minor prophets we’ll read is Zechariah. According to the NIV Worship Bible (Zondervan Publishing), “Zechariah is not an easy book to understand, partly because it is an example of apocalyptic literature. This genre includes fantastic visions, grand schemes and mysterious interpretations. Often history is ‘telescoped,’ with past, present and future described as happening at the same time. Above all, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic writings demonstrate God’s ultimate sovereignty over everything. God is the cosmic playwright and authoritative director of the drama of history. We worship this God with awe, humble obedience and confidence in His rule over all that is and is to come.” (page 1271)

Hold on to your hats, folks, there’s some fantastic reading ahead!

Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for November is below.

To download a PDF of the November 2011 recommended reading plan, click here.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

Dry Bones and the River of Life

Most of our Resting at the River’s Edge readings this month will be in the book of Ezekiel. Tradition has it that Jews were not allowed to read this book until they were thirty years old! It’s some heavy stuff!

But it’s stuff we love. We’ll read about the Valley of Dry Bones. Pray as you read that God will breathe life into areas of your life that might be dry, and that He will show people that you are to prophecy the breath of life into.

4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to
them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5This is what the
Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter
you, and you will come to life. Ezekiel 37:4-5

Then get ready for a hallelujah time in the River of Life:

1The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar… 3As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. 5He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6…Then he led me back to the bank of the river… 8He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. 9…so where the river flows everything will live…12Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” Ezekiel 47

Hallelujah!

And So Much More…

Oh, we’ll also be in the New Testament – the books of Colossians, 1 Thessalonians and Ephesians:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him… and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. 1 Thessalonians 5:19

For it is by grace you have been saved… Ephesians 2:8

Ah – you gotta read the great stuff for yourself!
Enjoy the fall blustery days by reading a good book next to a window – I recommend the Bible.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for October is below.

To download a PDF of the October 2011 recommended reading plan, click here.

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