“See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”
Back in the stone ages, when I was in middle school, it was common for the guys who “liked” a girl to write her name on their notebook or on the side of their shoe. I remember liking a girl named Carol, but being afraid to really admit it, so I wrote her name on the soul of my shoe. It didn’t take long before her name wore off (and the relationship didn’t last much longer than that). I am so glad when I read that God has inscribed our names upon the palm of His hand. What a beautiful description this is of the love He has for us. The word “inscribed” in its noun form means lawgiver. It speaks of the one who inscribed His word on tablets of stone. His love for us is as unchanging as His word.
Jesus declared that though heaven and earth will pass away, His word will never fail. There is no force in heaven or on earth that is powerful enough to break the promises of God, and the same is true of His love for us. Our names are permanently inscribed in the palm of His hand where He can see them and show them off to others.
Take comfort this morning in immeasurable love of God.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!”
The church serves many purposes, not the least of which is as a place for the people of God to gather together and worship. When we meet with the congregation, turn our attention upward and begin to worship, something takes place in time and eternity. We are given a whole new perspective on life. Instead of being consumed with our troubles we are able to see them in light of the mighty God who loves us and works all things for His purposes and our good. When this happens our discouragement and fears are often replaced with a new found faith and hope. A broken marriage, a trouble child or disastrous financial situation is now seen as an opportunity for God to show His never ending mercy and divine power. We see our lives like a Red Sea, a Jericho wall or the enclosed tomb of Lazarus. Each of which is an opportunity for God to do the miraculous.
If you are downcast,broken hearted or facing what seems to be a hopeless situation remember that worship was created by God as a means for you to connect with Him and see life in light of who He is. Don’t let discouragement keep you from gathering with the people of God in worship. Perhaps more than anything else you need a new perspective on life. One that is seen through the filter of faith.
“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”
Uncertainty makes life difficult. There are times in each of our lives when we have been crippled by indecision. We struggled so long to make a decision, that the decision was ultimately made for us. In those times, we might say our problem was double-mindedness. We could not make a decision because we either wanted to go both directions or neither direction. James referred to that as being a double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). The Psalmist refers to a problem even deeper than being double minded, he refers to the person whose heart is split between opposing desires.
Anyone who has walked with Christ for any length of time knows to what the Psalmist is referring. There are times when our desire to please God is overshadowed by a desire for something we know is wrong, or perhaps just a desire for comfort, ease or complacency. If we are going to move into deeper intimacy with Jesus, and more effective service for His kingdom, we must have our hearts united with a single desire to do that which pleases Christ. The Psalmist links learning the ways of God with having a singleness of heart. The implication is that through regular intake of God’s word, we will develop a desire to live for the things that please God.
Will you join me in praying for a heart united with a desire to fear the Lord and do what is pleasing in His eyes?
“…Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.”
The Psalmists describes Israel as a vine that was taken from Egypt and planted in a garden by the Lord. Unfortunately, the walls that protected it had deteriorated and the wild beasts began to devour the vine. This psalm is a prayer for God to restore Israel to its former glory. To do so, Asaph pleads with the Lord to revive the nation. The word revive means to be made alive, and to have that life sustained. It is illustrated over and over again in Scripture when the dead are raised, the sick healed, or the demoniacs delivered. It is applied here to the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel. We need the same work to take place in the church today. We need God to pour His Spirit out once again upon His people, that we might have a greater desire for God and be empowered to share the Gospel with a needy world.
Years ago I read a statement by Leonard Ravenhill. He wrote, “If you want revival, draw a circle on the ground, get in the circle and pray for revival to come to everyone in the circle.” The basic idea is, for the church to be revived we must allow God to revive our hearts. I don’t know about you, but I certainly need God to light a new fire within me. I need to have the joy of my salvation restored, and I need a fresh and continual outpouring of His Spirit in my life. I want to see God work in my family, church, and community, so I need Him to work in my life.
Will you join me in praying for God to revive the man in the circle?
“Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.“
As we reach the end of ourselves and cry out in desperation to God, prayer is the place where we express our greatest desires. We have found ourselves on our knees pleading with God for direction, the healing of a loved one, or to fix a mess we have created through our own foolishness. I wonder though, when is the last time we pleaded with God for those who don’t yet know Him.
The great promise of the Gospel is that it knows no borders. Every man, woman and child can have their sins forgiven, and enter into a personal relationship with God, through Christ. We can participate in that through the ministry of prayer.
Take a moment to make a list of a few people that don’t yet know the Lord and begin to pray for them daily. Add to that list an area in the world where your church is involved in ministry, and pray for the furtherance of the Gospel there. Perhaps the Lord may even send you, some day, to assist in the work.
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord”
This chapter contains some of the most valuable and important instruction for anyone seeking to be involved in Christian ministry. In it, Ezekiel explains the role of the servant of God, by using the imagery of a shepherd. As a shepherd must care for the sheep of his pasture, so a person seeking to serve Christ must care for the people of God. Ezekiel explains how to go about doing this by contrasting the leaders of his day with the ministry of the coming Messiah. A careful look through this chapter will reveal many of the roles and responsibilities of anyone who wants to serve Christ.
First off, it is worth noting, the leaders were failing because they were feeding themselves instead of feeding the sheep. A person who looks at the people of God for what they can do for him and his ministry goals, instead of for what he can do for them and their growth in Christ, is behaving more like a butcher than a shepherd. It is the primary role of the shepherd to ensure that the sheep are well fed. Scant, weak, and frail sheep are evidence that the shepherd has failed to do his job, more than it is an indictment on the sheep themselves. If you want to be an effective minister, you need to get to know the word of God, and share it faithfully with others. Paul did this by declaring the whole counsel of God, and not picking and choosing select subjects that he enjoyed teaching.
Ezekiel also explains that the shepherds failed because they neglected to seek after hurt, broken, and scattered sheep. Jesus illustrated the role of the shepherd when He said He would leave the ninety-nine healthy sheep and seek after the one that is lost (Luke 15:4-6). A true shepherd will seek to minister to the needs of the sheep. Often, a hurting Christian will speak or act out of their pain. Instead of judging them harshly for their behaviors, we should seek to minister to the cause of their actions.
There is no shortage of hurting, wandering, damaged and scattered people in every community in the world. If we will look at others through the eyes of Christ we will find that we have wide open doors for ministry.
“. . . that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”
The people in Ezekiel’s day were facing the same struggles we face today, they were failing to look into the Word of God. As a result, they were easily swayed into believing they could live however they wanted. This lifestyle soon caught up with them and the nation was beginning to collapse. What had once been a thriving city, and the envy of the nations, was now about to collapse in total ruin. In this condition, God reveals his ultimate desire for the people. He says “I will seize the house of Israel by their hearts.”
It seems God had their lips, for there was no shortage of people running around claiming to have a word from the Lord. He had their hands, for people were sacrificing on every high hill throughout the land. He had their feet, for they were running around trying to do whatever the false prophets told them would please God. But what was missing, was their hearts. They had never really surrendered themselves to the Lord, and as a result were not really in a relationship with Him. They spoke as though they knew the Lord, but their hearts were really far from Him.
What God really wants from you is your heart. He wants you to simply bow your knee and submit your ways to Him. He does not want your money, your singing, or your sacrifice, until He has your heart. Have you given yourself to Christ and are you living to please Him? If not, why not? Don’t take another step forward, until you have surrendered yourself and your ways to Jesus.