Friday, January 4, 2013

I'm afraid of setting goals.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year, and Ezekiel is teaching us when we are called to do things we can't do God will help us.

I don't know about you, but this is such a timely lesson. (Or re lesson as the case may be.) For the first time I have some goals. Some big time goals. And when I say first time, I do mean it. I have always been a day by day girl. I did what was set before me and tried hard not to fail too much at that. Maybe this is the case for most mom's raising babies, but even when I was younger setting goals was simply a difficult thing for me to do.

All of a sudden, events have transpired, lessons have been learned, and desires have been inflamed within my heart and I have been left with goals. You know, I say "all of a sudden" but it hasn't been. Even getting to this point has been over a year in the making, I just didn't know where I was going at the time.

Sometimes God sets plans out for us very clearly and we know exactly what we are to do. Other times all we can do is what has been set in front of us at the time. Either way, God will provide the strength, resources, and stubbornness needed to accomplish what He has planned.

As I start this path towards the fulfillment of these new goals I am so glad He will carry me to the end as I do what is set before me. Otherwise there would be no help of reaching them whatsoever.

I pray as you start this new year, if you have new goals before you may you know God's strength to get to the end. And if you have no goals at this time, know God's strength will help you do what is set before you as well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The fear we can't do it

Ezekiel 3:9
I will make your forehead like the hardest stone,
harder than flint.
Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them,
though they are a rebellious house.

When given a job to do, don’t you want it to be something you are good at? Yes, learning opportunities stretch us, and new positions teach us much, but if we could shape things the way we wanted nine times out of ten it would be something designed for us. Something right up our alley.
 
But so often this simply isn’t the case. Instead we are stretched beyond what we thought was possible, and our gifts then become restful places where we are eager to serve. The stretches we will do, but oh if it could simply be a little easier.
 
I don’t know Ezekiel’s disposition or his reception of God’s calling on his life. What I know is God told him he would be doing something difficult. Something he could not do on his own. I imagined Ezekiel putting his trust in God regardless of what was to come, simply because he walked the calling out. But God also let him in on a secret.

While Ezekiel was told the Israelites would rebel against what he said, would dislike him, would cause him problems, and the path would not be easy, God also told him He would prepare Ezekiel for the challenge.
 
Here Ezekiel is told his forehead would be harder than flint. This is a figurative illustration of determination. Regardless of how stubborn the Israelites would be in not listening to Ezekiel, he would be made even more stubborn in making sure God’s message was heard. God did not make the path easy; He made Ezekiel up for the challenge.
 
Ezekiel is told not to be afraid or terrified, though in other translations the word used is dismayed. God does not want Ezekiel to feel discouraged or confused if the word he shares does not bring a change he can see. God wants Ezekiel to know he has been prepared for what lays ahead, and the response from the Israelites is not his responsibility.

Question 1: Have you ever been challenged with something you know you should do but weren’t sure you could? Were you able to trust God with yourself as well as the outcome? Sometimes all we have to do is lean into Him, and His strength fills us where we are weak. Next time you face such a situation I challenge you to keep walking and trust God to make you up for the challenge.
 
Question 2: Have you ever been like the Israelites in a situation where God was trying to tell you something? What will it take for you to listen and hear rather than continue competing for the most obstinate person? I promise you God can and will outlast us all.
 
Dear Father,
Thank you for the challenges you face us with
But help us remember to be soft hearted towards you
We ask that you open our eyes so we can see
and our ears so we can hear

Monday, December 31, 2012

Ezekiel's Fear

Before the break we talked about the “do not be afraid” found in Ezekiel 2:6. It was Ezekiel’s calling to be a prophet, and God letting him know what was coming. His calling to be a prophet ended with another “do not be afraid” found in Ezekiel 3:9.
 
Ezekiel 3 9

Ezekiel 3:9

I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. (NIV)  
But I’ll make you as hard in your way as they are in theirs. I’ll make your face as hard as rock, harder than granite. Don’t let them intimidate you. Don’t be afraid of them, even though they’re a bunch of rebels. (The Message)  
Like an adamant harder than flint or a diamond point have I made your forehead; fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. (Amplified)

Reformation Study Bible - Ezekiel means "God makes strong, hardens"

Matthew Henry's Commentary - When God has work to do, he will animate men for it and give them strength according to the day. He is therefore commanded to have a good heart on it, and to go on in his work with holy security, not valuing either the threats or the censures of his enemies.

Encyclopedia of the Bible - forehead: a figurative use illustrates that the direction of the forehead shows determination or defiance.

Easton's Bible Dictionary - flint: the expression means that he "would be firm and resolute amidst all contempt and scorn which he would meet; that he made up his mind to endure it, and would not shrink from any kind or degree of suffering which would be necessary to accomplish the great work in which he was engaged."

preceptaustin.org -
Hardened in sin as the people were, they would meet their match in his resolute hardness in standing firm for God.
True servants of Christ must be tough-minded but not hard hearted.
The response of the exiles to Ezekiel's message was not to govern the nature or manner of his ministry.
Dismayed here is applied figuratively to describe a feeling of discouragement, implying fear, terror, and/or panic and confusion.