Friday, May 29, 2009

More thoughts on Ezekiel 3:16-27

2 Corinthians 5:20 says "we are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us." As God used Ezekiel to make His appeal (and warnings) to Israel, Christians are God's ambassadors to the world. As preachers of the Gospel, we are God's ambassadors to our congregations. Duguid has a few good quotes concerning this. "Though we may be creative in the way we communicate the message, we are NOT free to be creative in the content of the message that we are to deliver." We can be as charming, witty and smooth as any polished speaker, but if God's word is compromised, twisted or diluted, then we are just a motivational speaker that make people feel good.

The Good and the Bad - God's message to the world contains good and bad news, yet we must preach both. We must present a balanced picture of God. The bad news is God's judgment on those who do not change after hearing God's Word. People need to understand the eternal consequences. Yet, the good news of the Gospel is better than the average person believes! Duguid stated that God loved the world so much that He stepped into the midst of our rebellion to bring about reconciliation. Can we ever fathom that idea! The Gospel is both good news and bad news news for the world and we are called to proclaim both clearly.

We are also called to bring the news to everyone without distinction. There are "likely prospects" and "hard cases" that we place people in and we lean towards the easy ones. Let's face it. Lost is lost. Whether they are pretty or plain, rich or poor, pleasant or mean, they are lost. Duguid said, "Our calling as watchmen is not to engage in endless soil analysis so that we can deliver the gospel with pinpoint accuracy to those who we think are ready to receive it. Rather, we are to be faithful shouters of the Word, proclaiming the good news and bad news faithfully into the lives of all those around us."

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Preach My Word...Or Else

Paul told Timothy to "Preach the Word" (2 Tim 4:2). The world does not need to hear our thoughts but God's message of love and redemption and the result of sin. Similarly, and more drastically, God told Ezekiel to preach His words only when He gave him the words. In Ezekiel 3:16-27, God puts Ezekiel in the position as the watchman over Israel. Duguid likens the watchman to the Air Raid Warden in WWII when his responsibility was to sound the siren when bombers were approaching. Ezekiel was to warn Israel of God's vengeance for their sin if they did not turn back.

It is interesting that God names the wicked and the righteous as the 2 groups Ezekiel was to preach to, yet they have the same fate regardless of their status. If they repent, they live. If they don't, they die. but the greater responsibility was on Ezekiel. He was required to speak the Word of the Lord when it was given to him. If he did not and people died in their sin, he was accountable. Not to their sin, but accountable to NOT speaking when commanded. Ezekiel could not save them, could not make a decision for them, but only laid out the way for them to repent of their sins and turn to God.

As preachers of the Word, do we take this serious enough? I, admittedly, have not preached a lot. About 20 times, yet I am still humbled by this. When I do preach, am I taking this serious enough? I believe in a time of invitation and decision-making at the end of the service. If the whole service, music and prayer included, does not make people think about their life, then have I failed?

Any thoughts?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ezekiel 3:4-11 A Commissioning

I had started a study on Ezekiel in January, but due to seminary studies, I had to delay until the semester was over. I picked up where I left off and that is with Ezekiel 3:4-11. This is the second commissioning speech of God to Ezekiel and is very powerful to everyone that is called by God to vocational ministry and even aspects can be applied to all Christians. I use 2 commentaries when studying Ezekiel (not an easy read or easily understood). One is a 2-volume work by Daniel Block and the other is the NIV Application commentary by Iain Drugoid. In today's reading, I read through Block's commentary and he lists 6 lessons that come from the relationship between God and those He calls into service.

1 - Whoever serves as a messenger of God must recognize that the calling comes from God. No ministry need, no examples of Gifts, no other voices can authorize this calling, but God alone.

2 - God's messenger must have a clear vision of the one who sends him. God prepared Ezekiel for the audience he was to speak to. Unless the servant of God enters divine service with a sense of awe at the privilege of representing the King of kings and that God is sovereign over all things, the ministry will become a burden.

3 - God's messenger must be empowered by the Spirit of God. Ezekiel was referred to as "the prophet of the Spirit."

4 - The messenger of God must be inspired by the message of God. Merely hearing the message of God is not enough. It must be digested, internalized, incorporated, embodied and lived. "Live you faith; share your life." (from Brother Maynard) If we are not inspired by the Word of God, what will inspire us? If we are not moved with compassion because of Christ's compassion in Matthew 9, what will move us?

5 - Whoever serves as a messenger of God will be divinely equipped. The modern saying has been, "God equips the called, not call the equipped." God's call to service is not made on the basis of gifts; gifts are given on the basis of the assignment. What may seem an obvious fit in man's eyes is not so in God's. We see the gifts of the outward man. God knows the heart of man.

6 - The messenger of God must recognize that the calling is not to success but to faithfulness. Too many in ministry look at numbers. Are we involved in a ministry because we want success, big numbers? We are involved in ministry because God has called us to be in this or that particular ministry. God wants obedience and that comes from us being faithful to Him. As Block said, the privilege of being a messenger of the divine King should provide sufficient motivation for unconditional service.

Any thoughts? This was very eye-opening to me this morning and I will be chewing on this all day. I have been called to be a messenger of God. How does all this relate to me and how do I view these things?