Studies in Ezekiel — Ezekiel 38-39

Studies in Ezekiel — Ezekiel 38:17-39:8

G – O – G

See also: Gen. 10:2; Matt. 24:7-8; Rev. 13:7, 20:7-10; Dan. 9:26; 2 Cor. 10:13

Here the prophet has an end-time vision. If talk of the end-time creates an anxiety in you, read the prophet’s words.

Gathering – v. 38:7 – It has long been prophesied that there would be a gathering of the military forces in the plain of ‘Armageddon. This comes about through an alliance of the forces of the north. At least one of the primary forces identified by the prophet is the modern state of Russia. Do you see a gathering of the world military forces in the Promised Land today?

Offensive War – vs. 38:9, 16 – Have you been disturbed by war crimes against the innocent. This is nothing new. The prophet predicted that the innocent would suffer during these times.

God over all – vs. 38:19, 22-23; 39:6 – Even in times of war and tribulation there is something to reassure the faint of heart. God is over all. God has never abandoned God’s throne. In the text God sends an earthquake. This is a message. God is saying that the military and criminal forces may resort to violence and the innocent may suffer in their wake, but even these powerful forces do not have final authority over nature or life. God alone has the final authority.

Exemplary story: Now Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451, is assigned reading in some high schools. In the novel the author predicts that there will be a day when drones fight wars as people look on. We are living in that day of destruction. Nonetheless, God has not given up God’s control of the world or of our future.

Ezekiel

Studies in Ephesians — Ephesians 6:18-20 & 21 – 23

Studies in Ephesians – Ephesians 6:18-20 & 21-23

A – S – K – I – N
See also: Rms 8:26; Ps 145:9; Heb. 13:1; I Tim. 2:1-2; John 17:15, 20-21; I Peter 4:7; I Thess. 5:17; Psalm 109:17

Alert – v. 18 – Ever watch a child that is looking for gifts at Christmas time. We should be so alert spiritually.

Spirit – v. 18 – We are to pray in-Spirit. To some that seems like a mystery that cannot be fathomed. It should not be so mysterious. We pray in-Spirit when we pray in the name of Jesus. We pray in-Spirit when we pray that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Known – v. 19 – Paul ask that prayers be made to spread the Gospel. That is a one-size-fits-all prayer. Try it.

Inclusive – v. 18 – Pray on all occasions, pray with all kinds of prayers and requests, and pray for all the saints. Our prayers should be comprehensive.

Nerve – v. 20 – Paul asks that they pray that he remain bold. Courage is said to be about doing even when we are not feeling courageous. Pray for others to be bold to share God’s love, and pray that we be bold to share God’s love.

Exemplary Story: As we review the closing verses of the book of Ephesians we find Paul speaking of a servant whom he will send with a personal report. Then he closes in prayer: (vs. 23-24) “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus with an undying love.”

Jesus

Studies in Ephesians – Ephesians 6: 1-9

H – O – N – O – R

See: Exodus 20:12; I cor. 14:40; Col 3:20-21, 23; Prov. 10:1; Rms. 13:1 Matt. 5:14

Haven of Home – vs. 1-3 – God ordained home and government.

Order – vs. 5, 7, 9 – In home and government there is a God ordained order. When we respect the order we work within God’s plan.

Nurture – v. 4 – Fathers are to bring up children in the Lord. If we were to follow this order the home would be blessed. We would see children as a heavenly trust given us by God.

Obligee – v. 9 – Those under authority have their obligations, and those in authority have their obligations. All are obliged to act right in their proper roles. This applies to workers and their supervisors today.

Repose – v. 6 – We are to obey, that is, to respect authority, as if we were showing respect to Christ. Here is a practical question: Would you treat Christ that way? If not, why treat your brother or sister that way?

Exemplary Story: It is a wonderful thing to watch a bird such as a dove or a robin build a nest and hatch its young. The nest is carefully shaped, the eggs are lain, the parent set on the eggs until they hatch. The hatchlings cry out for food and they are fed by the parents. Then the young birds flex their wings and take flight. They have followed a divine pattern by instinct. We must follow a divine pattern set for home and work to see the greatest blessings that may follow.

Studies in Ephesians — Ephesians 6:1-9

Being Still — An Old Challenge for a New Day — Exodus 14:14

English: Johnson Bible College chapel

English: Johnson Bible College chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being Still — An Old Challenge for a New Day – Exodus 14:14

Big.  The little college I attended in Tennessee has grown big.  It is so big that it has become a university with three campuses – one in Tennessee, one in Florida, and one online.

I was recently invited to a regional rally for Johnson University on a Friday night.  Anyone who knows the history of the campus would expect that there would be stories galore at an assembly of the alumni of the school.  This night did not disappoint.

Among the alumni present was one Mary Beth, the daughter of a prominent professor of the school and a class president.  Her class was 1975 or 1976.  I do not recall the precise year, since I was among the  underclassmen.

Mary Beth held forth with a story about prayer.  As class president she was tapped by the administration to spearhead a prayer vigil for the school.  It was not uncommon to have prayer vigils then.  Some were conducted in small groups, and others were round the clock vigils stretching on for several days.  I could recall how we would scramble to get a decent time, but don’t let me get started.

Mary Beth was charged with the responsibility of praying for the debt retirement for two new dormitories during a Fall prayer vigil.  Prayer was the opportunity to step back, be still, and let God do the work of God.  Mary Beth recounted that the answer followed in the early Spring.   The debt was retired, the construction cost of the dorms was paid in full.

The prowess of my memory is a matter of debate.  Some of my female friends may declare I have a short memory, and some students may argue the opposite; but I regress.

This recollection dates from about 1976.  I was seated in the back of Alumni Memorial Chapel listening to Dr. Floyd Clark.  As he led the singing he interjected his challenge, “Stop.  Listen.  Can you hear them? I can hear the angels.  Can you?”  We were then to go on singing one round and another of the chorus he had chosen with the expectation that we would hear angelic voices.

White coral bells upon a slender stalk,

Lilies of the valley deck the garden walk.

Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring.

That will only happen when the angels sing.”

I cannot say that I did hear angels singing other than the angelic voices of the congregation.  In the men’s dorm, Brown Hall, I could not find anyone who heard celestial angels that night.  Nonetheless, the message was important.  There are times when you must be still.  In stillness you let God do the work of God.

I cannot say whether the students of the big university have yet come to understand the lesson.  It was a lesson Moses knew time and again.  Exodus 14:14 says, “the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Studies in Ephesians — 2:11-22

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Studies in Ephesians – Ephesians 2: 11-22

 

B – U – I – L – D

 

See also: Gal. 3:27, 28; I Cor. 3:11; I Peter 2:6; Rms. 12. 1, 2; I Cor. 12:14-15; Is. 28:16; Ps. 118: 22

 

Blood that bonds  – v. 13 – Ever watch an old western?  You might have seen the ceremony of two men becoming blood brothers.  When we were immersed into Christ we became brothers and sisters by a bond of blood.

 

Unity – v. 14, 18 — There is a strength in unity, and there is a unity in the body of Christ.  We are united with Christians across the world, and we are united with Christians through the ages.  The voices of Christian leaders echo over the ages.  They thrill us with their love of God.  They shame us with their absolute devotion.

 

Intertwining – v. 19 – In Christ we are a body knit together.  The aches and pains of one are those of the body.

 

Leadership – v. 20 – The church is built on one cornerstone, Christ.  Its support is the apostles and prophets.  As I rest my hand on the Bible with its New Testament I have the apostles with me.  They are no farther than arm’s reach.  These apostles – Matthew, Mark, John, James, Peter, Paul – and these prophets – Luke and the writer of Hebrews – still offer that leadership and order that the church needs.

Dwelling – v. 22 – When Jesus left, he gave a promise that he would send the Comforter.  That Holy Spirit abides in the church, since we are intended to be the dwelling place of God.  When the sick, poor, and lonely turn to the church for refuge, the church must respond in the loving spirit of Christ.

 

Exemplary story:  No doubt you have heard of how Sam pieced together the map of the world.  For her geography lesson one teacher distributed to her pupils copies of a world map from an activity book.  The teacher cut each sheet of paper into a dozen or so pieces.  She asked her class to reassemble the map. The challenge seemed formidable.

Sam completed his puzzle first. The teacher praised for his accomplishment.  Then she asked how he had finished his work so quickly.

He replied, “I just put Jesus together and then the world fell in place.”  Sam saw something the teacher had  overlooked. On the reverse side of the map was a picture of Jesus.

Signs and Works in John’s Gospel — John 12:12-24

English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

English: Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Signs and Works in John’s Gospel – John 12:12-24

C – O – L – T

See also: Zech. 9:9; Ps. 118:26; Matt. 21:9; Phil 3:9; Col. 3:17

Crowd – v. 12, 17 – In the crowd were witnesses to Lazarus’s resurrection. Now they were prepared to receive the Messiah. How short lived that would be.

Outcry – v. 13 – Hosanna. Take a moment and imagine the scene. People crowd the path that leads into the city and to the temple. They cast down their coats, put palm branches in the street, and cry out to God. Can you hear them cry out to God? They are praising God in the highest.

Legation – v. 21 – The Greeks came to Philip. He took them to Andrew. Andrew did what we should do. He led them to Jesus. This marked a turning point. There were men who wanted to see Jesus. In our generation there are men and women who want to do likewise. They need someone to serve as Andrew.

Threat – v. 19, 10-11 – To the leaders this was a threat. They were jealous. They were fearful. Their power was in danger if the crowd followed Jesus. So, they did something diabolical. They set in motion a plan to have Jesus killed.

Exemplary Story: It’s been many years since I worked at university with a community chapel on the campus. It was appropriately named All Saint’s Chapel. The chapel was a grand edifice with stone walls, high arches, beautiful stained glass, and ornate hardwood pews and furniture. The polished flagstone flooring was kept in perfect order. I was most interested to inquire from a student how things went during worship on Palm Sunday. My equestrian friend had arranged to bring a donkey to All Saint’s Chapel and lead her down the center aisle to the altar during the children’s presentation. Later I was pleased to hear the report, “It’ll never be the same again.”

Signs and Works in John’s Gospel — John 5:1-9, 13-15

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Signs and Works in John’s Gospel – John 5:1-9, 13-15

A – H – E – A – D

See also: Jn. 5:21; Luke 13:15; Matt. 9:6; Jn. 7:11; I John 5:15-16; Psalm 86:5

Anxiety of Affliction – v. 5 – For 38 years the man lay ill. That is a long time to keep an illness.

Hearsay hope – vs. 4, 7 – The man’s hope was a wish and a superstition. He hoped an angle would solve the problem. It was something to cling to. Do you cling to hopes that are hearsay?

Encounter – vs. 6-8 — Jesus met the man and offered him a blessing if he would have it. During a course in pastoral counseling students were warned that they must always ask the patient’s permission to pray, etc. Jesus wanted to know if the man wanted his help.

Admonition – vs. 8, 14 – Before they could conclude their conversation Jesus and the man parted. Later Jesus has a word of advice: “Go and sin no more.” Have you ever noticed how Jesus was not focused on the seedy past of people. Surely that is a lesson. He is about preparing people for heaven.

Divine divulgence – vs. 15, 17 – There was now no doubt about who did this. The man proclaims that it was Jesus.

Exemplary story: A dear friend who claims to be an Aunt by marriage has a favorite saying. “The past is history. The future is a mystery. The present is a gift. So, enjoy it.”
Jesus allowed the man to put sin and sickness behind him. He gave the man a gift for the present, and he gave the man a hope to cast off the uncertainties of the future.