Day 324 – November 20, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 48, Acts 9
Ezekiel comes to an end! What a long book, with a lot of difficult details! The book looks ahead to a day when the people of God have returned to the Lord and the land he has given them. In this case, the temple, the land and the people are back in order, and their space is parceled accordingly.
As we continue in our reading of Acts, we read about the conversion of Saul from a persecutor of Christians to a fellow believer in the Lordship of Christ.
Saul, as we well know, will become the missionary to the world. He will be the one God uses to take the message of the Good News, beyond the allotted borders of Israel, and well beyond Jerusalem. Paul will take the Gospel to the Roman world, preaching Christ as the crucified and resurrected Lord.
We see an important person play a critical role in this. His name is Barnabas the encourager. It’s the Encourager who gives Saul a place among the Apostles and the mission of God.
How can you be a Barnabas today?
Day 323 – November 19, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 46-47, Acts 8
I was hoping for a connection concerning the spread of the gospel in Acts and the river flowing out of the temple. I think there is, but it’s not as airtight as I would have liked it. Philip goes west, and the river flows east from the temple in Ezekiel’s vision.
But the heart of the message is all the same. As the disciples of Jesus scatter from the persecution, the word of the Good News about Jesus and the Kingdom of God is spreading throughout Judea, on to Samaria, and progressing towards the ends of the earth. The picture in Ezekiel of the river flowing outward from the temple is a lesson on the renewal of dry and arid land. The river flowing is restoring life.
This vision of Ezekiel’s is a compelling reminder and vision for the church, equipped with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We have a message that will bring renewal to a dry and arid world. In the desert of death, we have the river of life! The River of life is Jesus Christ, Lord and King.
Share the Good News today!
Day 322 – November 18, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 45, Acts 7
Acts 7:59–60 (ESV)
59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen recounts the history of Israel in his sermon. The reaction of those who hear it, reveal their stubborn hearts and their unwillingness to turn to God.
Ezekiel hopes for a day that people will have new hearts. The day is upon the hearers of Stephen’s message. Will they divert from the past mistakes of their ancestors and repent? Or will they continue down their stubborn path?
Unfortunately, Stephen is stoned to death for this challenging message. But his final words give us a glimpse of a forgiving heart, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
That’s the type of heart we all can now have in Jesus Christ. We can have a heart of forgiveness because we are forgiven in Christ.
Have a great day, Jordan
Day 320 – November 16, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 41-44, Acts 5-6
Acts 5:19–20 (ESV)
19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
Acts 5:42 (ESV)
42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
Ezekiel 41-44 is a tour of the temple. But it more than that, it is also a return of the Lord and His presence into the temple. Later we see the call to holiness and guarding against the sins and failures of previous generations.
We of course know that the sins continue, despite the warning, the temple priests will fail.
Jesus will rebuke what the temple became in his day. Jesus condemns it and says that the temples days are numbered. Rumors of this are stirring in Acts 6, they interrogate Stephen over what Jesus said regarding the temple.
In the ministry of the disciples, we follow now the hope of life in Christ. The disciples work is to go back to the temple courts and proclaim something new, “speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
Life is now proclaimed in the temple courts. A new day is upon us, one that Ezekiel fully anticipates, and now far beyond. The Gospel goes fourth now, from the temple, and from “house to house.”
May the Good News of this life be proclaimed from “house to house.”
Day 319 – November 15, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 40, Acts 4
There are two contrasting images of the temple. One is the perfect temple explained in Ezekiel 40. A temple where the peace and presence of God is flowing. In Acts, a temple filled with those who are angry about the Apostles continued ministry in the name of Christ.
As we will see in Acts, the church is on the move. The Spirit and presence of God is out of the building and flowing into places and people who begin to hear the saving message of God – Salvation comes through Jesus only! Lives are being changed and the Spirit of God is moving!
Let’s turn our hearts and minds towards Christ today.
Day 318 – November 14, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 38-39, Acts 3
Ezekiel 39:29 (ESV)
29 And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
Acts 3:19–21 (ESV)
19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
We are in the times of refreshing. The Spirit of Christ is upon us. We have new life in Him!
Repent and turn back to God!
Day 317 – November 13, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 37, Acts 2
Ezekiel 37:9–14 (ESV)
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
Ezekiel 37:24–28 (ESV)
24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
Acts 2:36 (ESV)
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
It is the hope of Israel that there would be one who comes to rescue people of their sins. IT is also a hope now, brought to us by prophets like Jeremiah and here, Ezekiel, that a new heart would be given to the people of God. This Spirit of God will be in the people of God and they will dwell in the land.
Peter explains to the Israelites that Jesus is also connected to David, and the royal covenant. Jesus is the great fulfillment of messianic expectations. He is Lord and Christ.
As the clarification of this truth comes to the people of God, they repent and they turn to God through Jesus Christ. The church is formed in this truth, and the Spirit of God now animates all that these people think, say and do together.
Repent. Be baptized. Join with Jesus in his mission to the world.
Day 316 – November 12, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 36, Acts 1, Psalm 108
Ezekiel 36:26–30 (ESV)
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.
Acts 1:8 (ESV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Psalm 108:1 (ESV)
1 My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Psalm 108:4 (ESV)
4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
God gives us the Spirit of Christ, and with it a new heart. The promised of a new life and new hope back in Ezekiel is fulfilled in Christ and the giving of the Spirit. We join the psalmist in celebrating – “My heart is steadfast, O God!”
Day 315 – November 11, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 35, Obadiah, Psalm 109
Today’s reading brings the waywardness of Israel’s neighbor into sight. Edom is threatening and has done violence against Jacob. Both Ezekiel 35 and Obadiah provide a strong word against Edom for their oppression and violence towards God’s people.
AS we strive to make a connection, we see a good word from Psalm 109. Psalm 109 is a cry of anguish for the hardships endured and a call to God deliverer and vindicate.
The best we can do in every situation is turn to the Lord and ask for his help. God will right the wrongs!
Have a blessed day.
Day 313-314 – November 9-10, 2021
Scriptures: Ezekiel 32-34, 1 Timothy 6, Jude, Psalm 4
The common thread in our reading today is about trusting in the Lord. Ezekiel’s message is a rebuke on the shepherds who are no longer caring for the sheep. But it is also that there is a shepherd coming who will rescue and help the people. This forward-looking hope in a rescuer is seen quite clearly in what we have in the New Testament. Jesus is our good shepherd. And he leads us to have true contentment and peace. This, alongside of godliness is of incredible gain for us as Christians.
Jesus is our peace. Find strength, hope and encouragement in him today.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.