Anyway, when I got home last night I actually watched ‘Hornblower’ on TV. It’s the first time I have watched TV with my Husband and enjoyed it in months.
Before I went to bed I found myself directed to open my new KJV Bible. I am not one for just opening my Bible and using it as an Oracle, I think we should know it well enough to have God’s word simply spring to mind in any situation. Funny it reminds me of the new alarm sounds on our new car. Get near a hazard and the warnings go off! Sail too close to the wind and you lose the wind from your sails.
Well the passage that opened to me to read was Ezekiel 14. Which is very direct.
On Saturday I was feeling how much I would like to get back into the Sea to get fitter. Swimming, learning to surf, possibly learning to scuba dive, and taking up dinghie sailing, which I enjoyed when I was young. Not all at once, but as the Spring and Summer come, to learn to do these things again.
Then I found myself being challenged about smoking. I don’t smoke all the time. The longest I stopped was 15 years. I started again when I was taken into the psychiatric ward.
Well I found myself thinking in bargains. ‘Your smoking makes other people sick’. If you give up smoking I will do so and so...’ this bothered me a bit, because I felt a sense of guilt.
God does not accuse me I thought. He usually tells me outright to my face when to do something. For instance if I start getting more active, and needing to improve my lung capacity, I will probably find the smoking will fall off like the old garment He says it will.
This is why this little process is important. It’s about discernment. Satan is our accuser. He makes us do the wrong thing, perhaps even the right thing for the wrong reasons. I just realised this little tussle was about knowing the difference.
These are stern warnings from Ezekiel. They are dire warnings. God does not change. He is merciful and just, and offeres us a way to change our attitudes and behaviour, even with dire warnings. However if we continue to disobey He does act out His Justice. We get punished.
This is why reading The Bible is so important. It is the living word given through Prophets.
Ezekiel has spoken to the Nations. This is the Old Testament foundation for the Book of Revelation.
God is gracious,and will avert His discipline when He sees we have had a genuine change of heart, our minds are truly set on working with Him to put things right with Him. He also gives us a willing heart and makes our journey with Him to a good place to hang out with Him a heck of a lot easier than it should be.
In these passages in Ezekiel 14 God makes it very clear that each of us are responsible for our own choices, the way we live, and what we do. Only God Can accredit someone with being right with Him.
Thankfully God sent us Jesus, who has already atoned for our wrongdoing. By trusting in Jesus and all He has done for us, we can stand before God imperfect, as a new creation in the making. Each day being renewed in Spirit, Mind and Body. In God’s eyes we are already perfected, just that we are working it out on a journey with Him.
If I only had the Old Testament to read, this passage in Ezekiel 14 would leave me without a leg to stand on. I would be convicted as unrighteousness. However, I do have the New Testament, which clearly explains to me that I am OK with God, because of Jesus.
That doesn’t mean I can behave badly, ignore what God likes and generally get things wrong when I know better now. I have come a long way from the girl, and young woman of my Youth. Yes my Husband made an Honest woman of me! However it is the great work of rebuilding me as a person that Jesus has done through the Holy Spirit of God. A Christian is a person with a changed life.
Instead of Ezekiel 14 striking fear into my very bones, I find it a promise that God will alert the Nations to pull their socks up, before they do crash into a brick wall. That is why God sent the Prophets, to warn His people before He takes action against them. This warning from Ezekiel 14 is definitely serious.
Perhaps we could ask ourselves more often if we made a good choice, or the right choice for the wrong reasons. I find I need God to lovingly bring my shortcomings to mind! The difference is a dawning realisation with God, or self accusatory, guilty, recriminatory censorship when those shortcomings are brought up either by Satan, or our own conscience.
Certainly our self conscience, nor Satan will work a miracle of a changed heart, mind and body. That is the Job of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and us, working together to bring ourselves to the perfect creation God made each one of us to be... A pleasing work of His Eternal Presence.