Rebel Without A Cause 

Ezekiel 2:8
“But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Ezekiel played a pivotal role in the history of Israel. His ministry took place during the seventy years of captivity. It was, no doubt, largely responsible for motivating the generation that would renounce idolatry and repatriate the land. Although he was used in a mighty way, the early chapters reveal that his ministry was difficult. He faced the most difficult opposition that a missionary will ever face, hardened hearts. He was told in advance that the people were rebellious, impudent, stubborn; their hearts were as hard as flint stone. Ezekiel was also given the secret to a successful ministry among the hardhearted. He was told,

But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious…”

The rebellion of the people was not used as an excuse for Ezekiel to disobey God. Instead, their hardheartedness made his obedience all the more critical. Often, the reason we are less than faithful in ministry is because of the difficulty of the task. We start out with a sense of calling, which is soon overshadowed by the opposition we face. In many cases, the difficulty causes us to give up, surrender, retreat, or at least hit the pause button, hoping things will get easier.

Ezekiel sets an important example for all of us. He was a man who knew the difficulty he faced required a deeper commitment to faithfulness. He did not let the rebellion of the people justify his rebellion against the call of God. If you are facing hard hearts in your attempts to share Christ with others, the solution is not to give up. Resolve to seek strength from the Lord, pray more specifically for the lost, and continue your efforts to win souls for the kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Jim


A Hard Heart 

Hebrews 3:12-13
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Life is dangerous and filled with pitfalls. We are constantly warned to be on the lookout for danger. We see signs warning us that the road is slippery, the coffee is hot, there is a low beam, animals may cross the highway; riptide, sharks, jellyfish and high surf face us in the ocean. Paul reminds us of a hazard that is far more dangerous because it has taken many more away than any riptide ever has. He warns us against having a hardened heart. Biblically speaking, a hard heart could be defined as being unwilling to do what God asks. This was the primary issue with the pharaoh in Moses’ day. He clearly heard the word and will of God, yet he was unwilling to submit to it and fought against God. This proved costly to him, as it always will to us. Our text reveals three things we must avoid because they will result in a hardened heart.

First, we are warned against unbelief. Unbelief is simply not trusting the Word of God, whether it is warning, instructing, or providing us with promises. Israel in the wilderness is cited as an example of unbelief. God promised them victory as they entered the land, yet they cowered in fear and refused to enter. Looking at their circumstances, instead of looking to the Lord, resulted in unbelief that led to a hardened heart. We can avoid our hearts hardening by taking God at His word and doing what He asks.

Second, we are warned against departing from the living God. Departing means to move away. The closer you are to Jesus the easier it is to trust Him. Mark records the story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding feast, where the host had run out of refreshments for the guests. When word came to Jesus, he sent his disciples to fill large contains with water from the local well. Upon arriving back at the party, the water was served but had miraculously been turned into wine. The guests were unaware of what had been accomplished, but those closest to Jesus experienced the miracle. Close proximity to Jesus is always beneficial to walking with Him. James exhorts us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

Finally, we are warned against our hearts becoming hardened by sin. Sin is doing what God has forbidden. We often sin because, from our limited perspective, we cannot see why something is bad. This is very common in relationships. We see many Christians get involved with someone who is not pursuing the Lord, but is a very nice person. They cannot understand why that is forbidden. Others cross the line physically, because they believe they are in love and convince themselves that sexual activity is acceptable. In every case, sin leads to a hardened heart and must be avoided. Be very careful that you do not cross verses out of your Bible, in order to justify your behaviors.

Let us not harden our heart, but keep it soft to hear all the Lord has to say to us.

Pastor Jim

One More Night

Exodus 7:23
“And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this.”

IMG_1391Have you ever wondered how different the story of Exodus would read if Pharaoh had only listened to the Lord? Instead, Pharaoh is an example of what we should not do, when we hear the Word of the Lord. We read, Pharaoh refused to allow his heart to be moved. Before ever hearing the Word of God, he had already determined he would not obey. A good friend of mine went on a vacation to a new hotel that was selling time shares. They received a very inexpensive rate on their room, under the condition that they would sit through a sales pitch. Before entering the meeting, he and his wife made a pact, they would not allow themselves to be swayed into purchasing something, no matter how good it sounded. That may be a good way to approach hard sales, but it is a terrible way to approach listening to the Word of God.

Exodus 8:9-10
“And Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.’
So he said, ‘Tomorrow.’ And he said, ‘Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.’”

As things heat up around him, Pharaoh’s heart is finally starting to stir. He looks around at the conditions in his nation, because of his rejection of the Lord, and begins to see the need for change. Calling for Moses, he requests that the frogs be removed, to which Moses asks, “when?” The reply from Pharaoh is shocking! He says “tomorrow”, instead of pleading for them to be removed instantly. It is as if he is desiring just one more night. Sin can have that kind of hold on us. We can realize it is destroying us, and still desire to keep it around. The right way to react, when God reveals sin, is to forsake it and cling to Him.

Exodus 8:19
“Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had said.”

The more Pharaoh hardened his heart to the Word of God, the worse things got. Those around him began to recognize this was the Lord. Yet, Pharaoh’s heart continued to resist the Lord. There are times, when we refuse to hear from the Lord, He will send someone else to encourage us. Instead of becoming upset at him or accusing him of judging you, the right response is to recognize the loving hand of God, and turn to Him.

Pastor Jim


Pharaoh’s Failure

Exodus 5:2
“And Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.’”

IMG_1387All of Pharaoh’s foolish decisions can be traced back to this statement. The fact is, he did not know the power of God, which caused him to view the miracles as parlor tricks, and have his magicians do the same. It was a failure to understand the provision of God. He couldn’t see how releasing his work force would ever be good for the prosperity of his nation. Most of all, it was his failure to comprehend the plans of God, which caused him to harden his heart and resist Moses. Week after week, month after month, Moses preached to Pharaoh. He explained the plans of God, and yet Pharaoh resisted. He failed to realize these oppressed slaves were part of the plan of God, to save the human race. What he saw, was an immigrant work force to further his kingdom. God saw the nation from whom the Messiah would come, and the world would be saved. Pharaoh’s hardened heart and resistance to Moses’ message did not thwart the plans of God, but it did cost Pharaoh dearly. It cost him in this life. He suffered, his family suffered, and his nation suffered, all because he refused to submit to the plans and purposes of God. What a different story we would read, had Pharaoh only accepted the Word of God.

The same remains true today. God’s purpose is still to save humanity. Week after week, month after month, His message is being declared, and many are responding by placing trust in Christ. Sadly, however, many follow the foolish example of Pharaoh. They harden their hearts and resist the Word of God. Instead of resisting God and suffering loss, both now and in eternity, will you respond to His call, and surrender to Christ? His love for you is great and His plans are perfect.

Pastor Jim