Ezekiel 3 and Psalm 39

Ezekiel 3 is a little bit more difficult for me to reflect on this morning. The Spirit show Ezekiel that he is to eat the scroll of the Word of God. Even though its message is bitter, it tastes sweet as honeycomb to Ezekiel. Regardless of God’s message, His word is sweet to me and my soul.

Ezekiel 3:16-21 is the section on the watchman. Just like Ezekiel, we have the tremendous responsibility to share the message of God. We have been given the gospel and we must share it with others. We have no greater responsibility than that. Ezekiel 33 also discusses the watchman.

Psalm 39:4 is a reflective thought that we should carry with us often. O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! If I was able to really grasp the understanding of the brevity of my life, my actions would more closely align with God’s plan for my life.

Ps. 39:7 summarizes my heart this morning. My hope is in you.

Ezekiel 2 and Psalm 38

Ezekiel 2 is a relatively short chapter. My first read through it seemed a bit vanilla until I took a look at D. A. Carson’s For the Love of God Volume 2:

…success is not measured by how many people Ezekiel wins to his perspective, but by the faithfulness with which he declares God’s words. 1

How often do I approach my life with a goal of being faithful no matter what the outcome is. I realized yesterday that there are areas in my life where I need to make changes with regard to this principle. Ezekiel 2:7 says:

… you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear …

Psalm 38 seems to be a song of mourning for the psalmist’s sins. It echoes a repentant heart and pleas for God’s mercy and forgiveness as well as protection from the author’s enemies. Ps. 38:9-10 recognizes that God is not unaware of my grief and sorrow. Ps. 38:15 reminds me of yesterday’s reading where the psalmist reiterates the need for patience in the life of a believer as he/she waits for God to heal and rescue. But in spite of the recognition of the need for patience, the psalmist still cries out to God for relief and immediate intervention in Ps. 38:21-22.

That is how I feel this morning. I want to wait patiently for The Lord, but my heart longs for His intervention and rescue. I believe that is a very human perspective to God’s work in my life.

1 Carson, D. A. For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998. Print.

Ezekiel 1 and Psalm 37

This morning I began a new book, Ezekiel. Ezekiel 1 begins with the author sharing his vision of the four creatures. The description was so strange that I went online to see if I could find any artistic renditions. This one is on Pinterest and is of one of the four creatures. Another one was a rendition of the vision of the wheel.

I love the devotional book by D. A. Carson, For the Love of God Volume Two. I will quote from it occasionally in this journal. He gives a very helpful introduction on the book of Ezekiel:

EZEKIEL WAS JEREMIAH’S contemporary. Though he was born into a priestly family, Ezekiel was removed from the temple. In March, 597 B.C., he, young King Jehoiachin, the Queen Mother, the aristocracy, and many of the leading priests and craftsmen were transported seven hundred miles to Babylon. The young king was in prison or under house arrest for thirty-seven years. The exilic community, impoverished and cut off from Jerusalem and the temple, dreamed nostalgically of home and begged God to rescue them. They could not conceive that in another decade Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed. On the banks of the Kebar River—probably an irrigation canal swinging in a loop southwest from the Euphrates—the exiles tried to settle. And here, according to Ezekiel 1, when he was thirty years old and in the fifth year of his exile (i.e., about 593, still six years before the destruction of Jerusalem), Ezekiel received an extraordinary vision. 1

Ezekiel 1:28 closes with,

“…Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

I would assume that it is very difficult to describe the glory of the Lord with human words and images. But I believe we would definitely know it when we saw it. Today we only experience shadows of His glory but someday, we will be able to experience the fullness of His glory. I imagine it will be more that the greatest visual scenery we have every experienced here on earth.

The heading for Psalm 37 in my Bible is, “He Will Not Forsake His Saints”. How timely for me today to read that! This psalm is rich in promises and encouragement for those who may be down-hearted. Probably the most familiar verse is Ps. 37:4. However, we cannot claim the second part of the verse without realizing the first part. Delighting in the Lord is a lifelong pursuit. It is more than a simple confession – it is a life consuming passion and drive and it affects what happens in the second half of the verse. When our delight is in the Lord, the desires of our heart line up with His will and purpose. Having noted all that, it is a wonderful promise to cling to!

Ps. 37:5 uses the word “Commit” as a apropos description of the action required. It goes “hand in hand” with the second verb in the verse, “trust”. Our responsibility is to trust God and commit our actions and will to Him.

Ps. 37:7, Ps. 37:9, and Ps.37:34 encourage the reader to be patient and still. God’s actions are not predicated on the timetable that I choose.

Ps. 37:17-19, Ps. 37:25-26, and Ps. 37:28 speak about the sustaining power of God in the life of the believer. I find words like, “upholds”, “abundance”, “lending generously”, “blessing”, and “preserved forever”.

1 Carson, D. A. For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998. Print.

Lamentations 5 and Psalm 36

Today I finished reading Lamentations 5, the last chapter of the book. This is the first time that I really have understood a little of what the book of Lamentations is about. My exercise to record my daily reading of the Bible and write a few thoughts in this online journal has caused me to spend more time in reflection and thought about what I have read. I have included a small excerpt from D. A. Carson’s devotional book, For the Love of God, Volume Two, that shares such a wonderful understanding of my thoughts this morning:

“In this information-rich age, many of us have learned to be as brief as possible. …Efficient managers learn to be brief; computer programmers are rated on how briefly they can write precise code to do what needs to be done. Only a few contemporary authors (e.g., Tom Clancy and James Michener) get away with long, rambling books—and even then the editors have drastically trimmed them.

“Yet here we are, quietly reading through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, with Ezekiel to go, and we find ourselves circling around the same handful of themes again and again: sin in the covenant community, threatened judgment, then enacted judgment, first for the northern tribes, then for Judah. …But haven’t you caught yourself saying to yourself more than once, “I know this is the Word of God, and I know it is important, but I think I understand now something of the history and the theology of the exile. Couldn’t we get on to something else?” …So we scan another chapter as rapidly as possible because we already “know” all this.

“But that is part of the problem, isn’t it? Read through this chapter again, slowly, thoughtfully. …But listen to the depth and persistence of the pleas, the repentance, the personal engagement with God, the cultural awareness, the acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty and justice, the profound recognition that the people must be restored to God himself if return to the land is to be possible, let alone meaningful (5:21). Then compare this with the brands of Christian confessionalism with which you are most familiar. In days of cultural declension, moral degradation, and large-scale ecclesiastical frittering, is our praying like that of Lamentations 5? Have the themes of the major prophets so burned into our minds and hearts that our passion is to be restored to the living God? Or have we ourselves become so caught up in the spirit of this age that we are content to be rich in information and impoverished in wisdom and godliness?” 1

The first few words of the author are “Remember, O Lord…” (Lam. 5:1). Could God forget? Obviously the answer is “no”, but the author is expressing the repentant heart and pleading heart that proceeds suffering.

One verse that literally jumped off of the page this morning was Lamentations 5:15. It literally is the inverse of Psalm 30:11, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,”. God indeed, has power over our deepest emotion and He alone can take ruin, suffering, and pain and redeem it for His glory.

Lam. 5:19 acknowledges the eternal rock-steady power of God over all things. Lam. 5:21 is a prayer and request for restoration from the only One who can restore us. It is my prayer this morning.

Psalm 36 is a short psalm that begins with a description of the wicked (Ps.36:1-4). The balance of the song teaches us about the steadfast (enduring) love of God. I think it is the text of a song by the group Third Day, “Your Love Oh Lord”. I could hear that song while I read these verses. References to God’s “steadfast love” are repeated three times in Ps. 36:5, Ps. 36:7, and Ps. 36:10.

1 Carson, D. A. For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998. Print.

Lamentations 4 and Psalm 35

Lamentations 4 provides some answers to why this great judgment on Israel and more specifically Jerusalem has happened. The chapter also ends with a glimmer of hope.

The first illustration is the comparison of gold that was once bright and valuable but has now been cheapened to “earthen vessels” or simple clay pots (Lamentations 4:1-2).

The second is the dire circumstance of starvation where mothers can no longer provide for their children; where even the jackals do a better job providing for their offspring (Lamentations 4:3-4).

Whereas the city of Sodom experience quick judgment of utter destruction (Lam. 4:6), for Jerusalem, the judgment is long and drawn out.

The reason for the judgment lies with the sins of Israel’s leadership. Everyone was culpable and each person faces judgment for their own sin, however the greatest condemnation is for the ones who should have led the people to truth (Lam. 4:13).

The small glimmer of hope for Israel lies in the promise of Lam. 4:22 that the judgment has been accomplished and there is hope for peace and rest.

God does not wink at sin or ignore the consequences of our actions. The hope for believers, however, lies with the effective sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. Our High Priest will lead us in the path of righteousness and He will cover our sins with His own blood. We can find forgiveness in repentance and prayer with Him (1 Jn.1:9).

Ps. 35 is David’s cry to the Lord for protection from those who were his enemies. He cries out to God to hold back the mockers and the scoffers. Ps. 35:3 acknowledges to God that He alone is the salvation of my soul. Ps. 35:28 repeats the truth that the one who praises the Lord the most is the one who recognizes the Lord’s deliverance.

Lamentations 3 and Psalm 34

Lamentations 3 opens with the phrase, “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath. What a powerful statement that is! I don’t know if this chapter is the story of a man or of a nation, but nevertheless, it is a story of strong judgment and affliction. The interesting and thought provoking point of this chapter is the two interludes of the grace of God. The first one is found in Lamentations 3:21-26 and the second one is Lamentations 3:55-57.

In addition, there is hope for the chastened in Lamentations 3:31-33. “… though he cause grief, he will have compassion…” 

I find it very interesting the parallel contrasts both yesterday and today in the coresponding readings of Lamentations and Psalms: judgment and grace, pain, sorrow, and affliction versus joy, praise and testimony.

Today’s reading in Psalms 34 is full of hope. Ps. 34:1-4 is the praise and testimony of a man who has experienced the glory of God. 

Ps. 34:8 – “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” This is a call to experience God Himself, not just His blessing but God Himself. When life is tough and hard, I can find refuge in God alone. That is the most likely time that I will experience the blessing shared by the psalmist in verse 8.

Ps. 34:10 seems like a promise that I want to grab onto right now: “…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. ” I must remember that it is God who defines what is a good thing.

Ps. 32:15, Ps. 34:17, and Ps. 34:19 all refer to the righteous and the promises of God that pertain to the righteous. What makes a man righteous? Is it my works? Is the nature of my heart? No, it is the saving work of the Saviour alone that makes a man righteous before God (Romans 3:21-22).

Lamentations 2 and Psalm 33

Lamentations 2 is a very sad and somber declaration of the heavy hand of judgment The Lord is dealing with Israel. It is important for me to remember how longsuffering He had been with Israel but also that His righteousness demanded His actions against her.

Lamentations 2:11-12 is an effective summary of the judgment and a vivid description of the resulting suffering. Is the idolatry of my day any worse than that of the children of Israel? What ultimate judgment lies in store for those who continue to turn against God and reject Christ.

Lamentations 2:17 – the beginning of the verse declares the inevitability of God’s judgment. “He has carried out His word…” God will always be true to His word. This is true of pronounced judgment, but it is also true of His unfailing promises to us.

Psalm 33 is a great declaration of the faithfulness of God. It is a good remedy to the dire narrative of Lamentations 2. Some verses that stood out to me today are:

Ps. 33:4 – God’s word is upright. It is good for us and good to us. It is not confused and scewed like much of today’s world. He is always faithful (a correlary to Lamentations 2:17).

Ps. 33:11 – His word is enduring. When so much seems like it is weak and fading. His word and His promises do not fade but endure.

Ps. 33:12 – This is a great national promise but even when our nation seems to be turning away from God, His promises endure for His chosen people. My future is not dependent on the course of my country.

Ps. 33:18-19 – The Lord has his eyes on me and on my life. I don’t have to be concerned that He will miss the critical moments of my life or that He is somehow absent especially when I am in great need. 

The hope in Ps. 33:22 is present because of His faithfulness and because of that faithfulness, we have the trust spoken of in Ps. 33:21.

Lamentations 1 and Psalm 32

Today I began reading Lamentations. Lamentations 1 is a cry of the fall of Jerusalem and a recollection of how things were and what they are now. It is a stark contract to the reading from Psalm 32 which is an encouragement for the believer who confesses sin and finds forgiveness.

I am not sure how I will respond to my time in Lamentations. In the past, it has not been a place where I have enjoyed or felt moved by what I have read. I would like to be more disciplined and prepared this time while reading through Lamentations and hear what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach to me.

I am glad for the heart lifting blessings of Psalm 32 however. Beginning with Ps. 32:1-2, this psalm is a great reminder of the cornerstone of our spiritual birth. We are greatly blessed to have our sin covered by the blood of Jesus. I think that I would be stronger spiritually if I would simply remember this truth each day.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,…

See the strong contrast between Ps 32:3-4 when we cover our sin or neglect to confess it to God and Ps. 32:5 when we acknowledge our sin and confess it. However, I believe that it also means that we genuinely confess sin with true sorrow in our heart because of the transgression it is against God. Not simply a pattern of sin, confess to relieve our conscience, and then return to that sin again. I understand that we all struggle with besetting sins that recur in our lives. I think that we do genuinely repent but find ourselves returning to battle those temptations again. In that case, we need to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to gain victory over those temptations. We can however, repeat sin that we confess with a form of superficiality but in reality, we have a great love of the pleasure of that sin than we do of God. That can be a real danger that puts us in a position of the risk of experiencing a hardening of our hearts. I pray that the Holy Spirit protects me from that! I think Ps. 32:6 reflects that thought.

Ps. 32:8-9 speaks of a heart that is willing and obedient to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. The contrast of the unwilling horse that needs a bit in its mouth to lead it tells me of the effects of rebellion against The Lord. How much better to be submissive to the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the contrast in Ps. 32:10 is worth noting. The wicked have many sorrows. The unspoken thing to note is that those sorrows must be borne alone. The contrast is that the one who obeys and follows The Lord may also have sorrows, but he/she also experiences the presence and the love of The Lord. In fact, that love is both steadfast and encompassing (surrounds).

Jeremiah 52 and Psalm 31

Jeremiah 52 appears to me to be a sort of appendix to the book of Jeremiah. It is a recounting of the final fall of Jerusalem – a second recounting of 2 Kings 25. Some interesting notes for me are:

  1. The account of the capture of Zedekiah and his humiliation by Nebuchadnezzar
  2. The absence of the record of how Jeremiah was protected by the captain Nebuzaradan.
  3. The treatment of Jehoiachin later on.

This chapter marks the end of the book of Jeremiah. This is the first time I have read through Jeremiah and both enjoyed and understood its context. I have previously not enjoyed my time reading Jeremiah and now I believe I am more prepare to understand it even better the next time I read through it.

Psalm 31:1-5 repeats a recurring theme of refuge and rescue. During these days, these words speak to my heart and remind me of the security I have in Christ. There is no other place of refuge other than the hand of God.

Ps. 31:6 – the psalmist says he hates those who pay regard to worthless idols. I believe it can be easy for us today to succumb to the trap of paying regard to worthless idols like wealth, possessions, pleasure, and narcism. This behavior is a great sin against God and robs Him of the glory He deserves.

Ps. 31:9-10 is a confession of the helpless position we are in apart from the mercy and grace of God.

Ps. 31-11-13 – the psalmist tells us of the contemptible situation he is in. No one understands his plight and his only choice is to turn to God for help (Ps. 31:14-15).

Ps. 31:24 is an encouragement to me because it reminds me that God’s timetable is different from mine. I want resolution now but God’s timing is sovereign. He will deliver when He is ready and His timing is perfect – always! My responsible is to be strong and take courage. The best way for me to do that is to remember His love and His grace in past blessings.

Jeremiah 51 and Psalm 30

Jer. 51 is actually yesterday’s reading. I fell behind a day so I plan to read yesterday’s scheduled reading this morning and today’s reading tonight.

Jer. 51 is a longer chapter that foretells of the destruction of Babylon. The Lord used Babylon as a tool of chastening against Israel. However, the sins of Babylon will not be overlooked or pardoned. The great city and nation will fall because of the just hand of God. Jer. 51:8-9 is interesting because there is a tone of pity for Babylon. If she would repent, she could be saved. However, the last part of Jer. 51:9 instructs the reader or Israel to walk away because Babylon will not repent but will be destroyed.

Jer. 51:20-23 describes the destructive actions that will occur. Jeremiah repeats the phrase, “…with you…”. I don’t think that means Israel, but I am not sure who it refers to without referencing a commentary. Jer. 51:34-35 describes the indictment against Babylon. The length of the chapter and the detailed description of the destruction and judgment against Babylon is worth noting.

Ps. 30:2 is a testimony of God’s care. When we cry out to God, our words do not fall to the ground unheard or unacknowledged. He hears us when we cry out to him. The second part of the verse tells us that He heals us when we cry out to him.

Ps. 30:5-6 tells us that pain and suffering has a finite duration. We endure it for a season or a time, but “…joy comes in the morning.” Often, lately, I wake up with fear but as I rise and begin the day, the fear subsides. Perhaps a brief prayer upon waking to acknowledge my heart to God would reflect the tenor of these verses.

Ps 30:8, 10 reiterate the psalmist’s thought that his repentance and his cry for help is directed to God and not to things or other people. Only God has the answer to the fears and deep hurts of life.

Ps. 30:11 is where the writer turns the corner. Mourning is turned to dancing. His prayers have been answered and there is a restoration of joy! His response is a thankful heart forever (Ps. 30:12)

D.A. Carson observes the spirit of Psalm 30 in his devotional book, “For the Love of God, Volume Two”,

many a christian has experienced the almost ineffable release of being transported from despair or illness or catastrophic defeat or a sense of alienated distance from God, to a height of safety or health or victory or spiritual intimacy with our Maker and Redeemer. Certainly David had such experiences. Psalm 30 records his pleasure during one of those transports of delight.