Day 305 – November 1, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 16, Galatians 6
Ezekiel 16:47 (ESV)
47 Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways.
Ezekiel 16:60 (ESV)
60 yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant.
Ezekiel 16:62–63 (ESV)
62 I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.”
Galatians 6:15–16 (ESV)
15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
The reading today reminds us of Israel’s troubled past. They have been adorned by God as His beloved, and they have completely rejected him. We see how God loves Israel by the use of intimate terms of God’s affection, adorning them as His beloved and beautiful bride. Yet Israel has prostituted themselves using the very beauty that God gave them, against him.
God’s benevolent kindness and patience is shared at the end of the chapter though. He will remember his covenant with them and atone for their sins.
A consistent message echoes throughout the book of Galatians, Christ is that atoning sacrifice who gives life through the cross. It goes something like: Christ is our righteousness. Christ is our forgiveness! Christ is our mercy! Christ is everything!
The challenge of Ezekiel is a challenge also there in Galatians. Will we use this new life, the beauty we are adorned with to walk by the Spirit, or to walk in the flesh? Will we use new life to do new life things, or will we return to our ways of old?
Let us choose today the way of new life!
Day 304 – October 31, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 13-15, Galatians 5
20 even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness. (Ezekiel 14:20)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22–26)
The message of Ezekiel is clear, the Israelites have turned their back on God. The consequences of it, are all justified by God. He does nothing outside of his right as the true judge over the unrighteousness and wickedness of the people filling the land.
The message is clear in Galatians as well. We have new life in Christ. Christians live by the Spirit, not by the flesh.
Our righteousness is not our own, but the righteousness of Christ given to us, and pouring out of us through the Spirit of Christ. Where the destruction that is prophesied in Ezekiel is justifiable, we are now rescued through Jesus Christ. He is our justification. He is our righteousness. Where Daniel, Job and Noah could only rescue themselves., Jesus is greater and rescues us all. His righteousness is greater!
He gives us life!
Day 303 – October 30, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 11-12, Galatians 4
2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:2–7 (ESV)
Ezekiel 11:17–19 (ESV)
17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
We have new hearts through Christ! The Spirit is in our hearts and we cry out to our heavenly father!
Abba loves you!
Scriptures: Ezekiel 8-10, Galatians 3
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
In the book of Ezekiel, the people of God have defiled the land and rejected God for the worship of idols. There abuses of one another, and rejection of the law of God has compromised any sort of distinction they might have had from other nations. Their distinct status as the people of God is swallowed up in the empire of Babylon. In Abraham’s family, the offspring that was to be faithful to God and walk with him, is essentially doing the opposite. They have rejected God and the promise of Abraham, to be a blessing to all people comes into question.
How is it possible that Abraham’s family would be a blessing to all the world? Especially like this!
Paul’s argument, “If you are in Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the Promise!”
When the blessing seems most at risk, God’s doing his greatest work. WE are heirs through Christ!
Days 300 and 301 - October 27-28, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 1-7, Galatians 1-2
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Ezekiel and Paul both enjoy an extravagant and clear call into ministry. Paul relies upon this calling to speak words of truth to the Galatian church.
Ezekiel will rely upon his dramatic calling from God to speak a word of truth and warning to the people of Israel. (Thanks Renee Long for the great connection)
As we read through the book of Ezekiel, I encourage you to watch the Bible project overview to catch a glimpse of what’s going on in the text.
Today, it’s a simply encouragement to know that we are now alive by faith in Jesus, the Son of God. He loved us and gave himself for us. Submit to him.
Day 298, October 25, 2021
Scriptures: Daniel 9-10, James 4
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:7–10, ESV)
Daniel’s prayer is similar in conviction and tone:
“I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.” (Daniel 9:4–6, ESV)
We are called to humility. The arrogance of going our own way, apart from God must end. There is no room for pride in the kingdom of Christ. It is made up of those who lay down their life and take up their crosses. We humble ourselves before him, and he will lift us up.
Day 297 – October 24, 2021
Scriptures: Daniel 7-8, James 3
“But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’” (Daniel 7:26–27, ESV)
The visions in Daniel are difficult to fully understand. There are a lot of interpretations that could be divisive and problematic. You can try and figure out if Daniel is talking about the Roman empire or the Greeks, or the Persians and feel really good about your interpretation, but let’s make it simple and clear: The Son of Man is Jesus. His kingdom is coming and he will set the world to rights.
This is what we need to know, above all else, Jesus is King, and His kingdom has no end.
Apocalyptic literature, which is what Daniel 7 transitions to, is a powerful critique of empire. It’s a language of an oppressed people, to speak in incredible imagery. The vision is so complex and overwhelming that it exhausts Daniel.. Apocalyptic literature is the language of the oppressed. It’s a language for those who have something to say, the reign of evil and terror. God’s people will be delivered and it s a language of hope.
One king, will be usurped by another. Eventually, all kings will be surpassed by the King of Kings, in a kingdom that will never end.
Walk in faith in allegiance to Jesus Christ, whose Kingdom never ends.
Day 296 – October 23, 2021
Scriptures: Daniel 5-6, James 2
Faith without deeds is dead.
Daniel in the lions den is a story that we are quite familiar with, for good reason. It is the story of a man who has faith and deeds, who is delivered by the mighty hand of God. Daniel’s faithfulness, as in, his loyalty and allegiance to God leads him down a terrible path. His life is threatened. God rescues Daniel, and delivers him from the lions den, unscathed. The story inspires us to have a similar faith of our own. To not just proclaim Jesus as Lord, but to live it out as well. Does our faith have deeds that go with it? Do we proclaim Jesus as Lord and live accordingly?
Day 294 - 295 – October 21-22, 2021
Scriptures: Daniel 1-4, Psalms 136, James 1
The book of Daniel is one of my favorites in all the Bible. The stories of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego has inspired faithfulness for generations. Right out of the gate, we are encouraged to know that there are some who are faithful, despite their being captured and assimilated into Babylon. Against all odds and the threats against their lives, they maintain a faithful loyalty to God. Daniel’s diet, isn’t so he would be physically fit. Instead, it was him drawing the line. He can learn about Babylon, even take on the emperors clothing. But a diet was one way in which Daniel and his friends could keep Israelite identity and a bit of their holiness intact. The same goes for the bowing to the idol that Nebuchadnezzar creates. The three friends are wise to abstain from idolatry. They are protected by God, who they have come to believe and trust in, and understand that his love endures forever.
In James, we are encouraged to remain faithful as well. I enjoyed the connection to James 1:27, and the pure and faultless religion. A religion that pleases God is one that cares for widows and orphans in their distress. It also is not polluted by the world.
That’s the key to the whole thing, isn’t it? That we would care for others, and watch over our faith, that it wouldn’t be polluted. Daniel drew the line at meat. Shadrach, Meshach, and Benny, well, they drew the line at political persuasion that led into certain idolatry.
This of course is a challenge for us today.
Are we caring for others? Are we being polluted by the world? Is politics polluting our faith? Is money? Are we loving and kind?
Careful analysis probably reveals that there is a level pollution within each of us. Will we repent, and turn to Christ?
We are encouraged today to know that despite our failures and sin, God's love endures forever. Take courage, repent and trust in him!
Day 293 – October 20, 2021
Scriptures: Lamentations 4-5, Psalms 85
The severity of the people of Judah’s situation comes to the forefront in our Lamentations reading. The famine has reached a pinnacle and the desperation of people has as well.
All that is left during darkness and despair is hope in the Lord. Things are so bad, and evil has caused such incredible problems for the people of God, that the only way out is for divine action and presence.
Psalm 85 pulls this hope forward. It’s an invitation to remember God’s faithfulness in the past and his power and willingness to act today.
When we face incredibly difficult times, it is our encouragement here to remember the past faithfulness of God. As Christians, we trust and hope that he will respond and deliver us from our present struggles.
The psalmist knows that God is faithful. Will we be faithful, and trust in the Lord?
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.