“The church used to be a lightning bolt, now it’s a cruise ship. We are not marching to Zion – we are sailing there with ease. In the apostolic church it says they were all amazed – and now in our churches everybody wants to be amused. The church began in the upper room with a bunch of men agonizing, and it’s ending in the supper room with a bunch of people organizing. We mistake rattle for revival, and commotion for creation, and action for unction.”
~ Leonard Ravenhill
“For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” ~ Psalm 149:4
What a splendid thought that the Lord takes pleasure in His people! God is not some mean ogre sitting in heaven with a scowl on His face merely seeking to consume us. No indeed! He takes great joy and satisfaction in the salvation of His people. And why not? It was the glorious work of His own Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that accomplished it. Such marvelous truth and amazing love adorns and beautifies those who truly humble themselves and earnestly come before Him.
“Christ choosing solitude for private prayer, doth not only hint to us the danger of distraction and deviation of thoughts in prayer, but how necessary it is for us to choose the most convenient places we can for private prayer. Our own fickleness and Satan’s restlessness call upon us to get into such places where we may freely pour out our soul into the bosom of God.”
~ Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)
“Thus says the Lord GOD: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations” ~ Ezk. 14:6
There is no room in your heart for both God and idols. The Lord desires to sit on that throne and does not tolerate any idol competing for your love, devotion and affections. We cannot serve both God and mammon (idols). The call to all true believers is to turn away from every form of idolatry and to turn heart, soul and mind to God in Christ. It is the doubled-minded person who tries to serve God and keep secret sins, desires and idols tucked away in their heart. Let us be willing and eager to repent from these things. And turn in faith, hope and prayer to the Lord and God of our salvation.
“I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from Me there is no Savior.” ~ Isaiah 43:11
Advent is a wonderful occasion to be reminded of the exclusivity of Christ as our Savior. God the Father sent His only Son into this world, to be born of a virgin, to live a perfect life, to die a perfect death and to be raised from the dead as the sole means by which mankind could be redeemed from their sins and have the curse of their iniquity lifted. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And He would go on to say no one comes to the Father but by Him (Jn. 14:6). So that what was foretold in Isaiah hundreds of years before the Messiah arrived is true… Jesus is Lord, and apart from Him there is no Savior.
“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.”
~ Ezekiel 11:19
This was the great and glorious promise the Lord gave to Israel under the Old Covenant through the mouth of His prophet Ezekiel. God was going to restore His people, but in a new and refreshing way. He was going to place in them the drive and desire to listen, obey and serve the Lord by giving them a new undivided heart and a new revived spirit. Through this work of grace, God’s people would be eager to live for Him.
It takes a new heart and a new spirit to truly serve God. Through Christ, sinners become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). By faith in Him, we can receive that new heart and new spirit which is not only means our merciful salvation, but means we have the high privilege of serving Him. We owe the Lord an undivided heart. Our salvation cost Him His own Beloved Son whose heart was not undivided in His sacrifice for you. Let us then take our new heart and new spirit and wholly and undividedly give them back to Him.
“The life of a Christian ought to be adorned with all virtues, that he may be inwardly what he outwardly appeareth unto men. And verily it should be yet better within than without, for God is a discerner of our heart, Whom we must reverence with all our hearts wheresoever we are, and walk pure in His presence as do the angels. We ought daily to renew our vows, and to kindle our hearts to zeal, as if each day were the first day of our conversion, and to say, “Help me, O God, in my good resolutions, and in Thy holy service, and grant that this day I may make a good beginning, for hitherto I have done nothing!””
~ Thomas a’ Kempis
“And He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you.” ~ Ezekiel 2:1
God’s call on Ezekiel’s life was for him to go up to Israel and speak only the words that God would give him. Ezekiel was God’s mouthpiece; sharing with the people only that which the Lord revealed to Ezekiel through His own Words. Ezekiel was a faithful minister and did as God said. When we share our faith, let us only share that which comes from God’s Word. Opinions and feelings may change, but the eternal truth of Scripture and the power of God’s Word never does. Therefore let us read, study and pray as God’s speaks to us, and we in turn, speak to others.
“He who walks with integrity walks securely…” ~ Proverbs 10:9
Scripture often uses the concept of walking as a metaphor for our life. Our “walk” with Christ is literally our “life” lived in Christ. And as our Proverbs states here, he who walks, that is lives their life, with integrity, walks securely. Why is this? It is because God would have His people live by His character, His integrity. We should walk as “living sacrifices, holy and blameless” (Rom. 12:1-2). And as our life conforms more to Christ, there is safety and security knowing you’re walking in the will of God.
“If each year should see one fault rooted out from us, we should go quickly on to perfection. But on the contrary, we often feel that we were better and holier in the beginning of our conversion than after many years of profession. Zeal and progress ought to increase day by day; yet now it seemeth a great thing if one is able to retain some portion of his first ardour. If we would put some slight stress on ourselves at the beginning, then afterwards we should be able to do all things with ease and joy.”
~ Thomas a’ Kempis