It is one of my greatest heartaches and concerns of the American church today that the Sunday morning altars are empty. Pastors should not have to heap guilt upon the congregations to create movement and cause a begrudging child of God to kneel at the altar of grace. We should not ever do it out of vain repetition but rather with the knowledge that there is always a need, be it ours or someone else. For me… it’s me. I take others to the altar too, but I’m here to tell you, I go because I know what a wretched sinner I am and how I fail my Lord every day. I don’t go to prove my “sainthood” or that I am all that and a bag of chips in the house of the Lord. I’m not trying to impress anyone in any pew. I’m going because I need it!
I find three things at the altar (and more). But
three very notable things.
I Find Quality
Ezekiel spoke of the altar as a table. The finest
wheat, and sweetest bread is there waiting for me every time I kneel. Jesus
said in John 6:35 I am
the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that
believeth on me shall never thirst.
It is apparent from my
waistline that I love to eat. But I pray that my soul is every bit as ravenous
for the things of God. That is why I go. I don’t always feel hungry for the
things of God. I’m ashamed of that. There are times I want worldly things that
tickle my fancy. It’s a real struggle. I’m a vain, bling loving babe that likes
techy things, music things and all things artsy craftsy. Those are the things
that can so easily draw me away from God. I need reminded that those things are
fine in their place, but that the true and finest filling of the soul comes
from time with the Master.
I Find Quantity
God has not one time
refused me time. Isn’t that a great thought? But what’s shameful for me again
is I have refused Him time over and over. I need reminded on as I kneel at the
altar that it is a privilege beyond comprehension that the Lord of Glory wants
to talk to me. Wants to give me His precious time.
I Find it Quietly
While there is a time
for praising and shouting the glory down, my time at the altar is in humble,
silent awe. It’s the feeling of the Holy Spirit that dwells within, also coming
from above like a mighty rushing wind and just settling there on top of me
pouring Himself down into me and blessing me all over. Helping me to understand
that in my greatest failures, I am loved. In my deepest pain, He understands
it. And when I just don’t know what to say. He intercedes on my behalf, making
groaning where there was no words.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our
infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the
Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. ~ Romans 8:26
That is why at every
opportunity you’ll find me at the altar. Not because I’m a saint… but because I
So, I’m back in Ezekiel again today, and I’m enjoying the Lord’s work in me through His word. Even the words I don’t understand.
Ezekiel 40, according to the commentary of John Gill, tells me that the Jews under the age of 30 were not allowed to read chapters 40-49 until they were of the age of 30 years old. And then they were to read it with the understanding that they wouldn’t understand. Finally, someone who gets me!
It speaks of a temple, of glorious grandeur and it speaks in great detail. I mean GREAT detail. As my eyes were glazing over while I read the cubit after cubit detail, the number of steps, the width of the rooms, the length of the porches, I begin to wonder why? Why does God give Ezekiel this information? So I looked closer. And began to try in my feeble brain to imagine what those images would have been. And I came across a few words that captured my attention for a minute and took me to a happy place. A pickin’ parlor.
In verse 44 of chapter 40 it says that “without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court. ” That’s when I understood that God is all about the details. As He described this location to Ezekiel it didn’t really matter when it was, only that it was going to be, and when it was and where it is, we will be.
I don’t have to understand the future events, I only have to believe that God has got an amazing place for the believer and that it has been designed in great detail for us.
Don’t miss out on it by not knowing Jesus as your Savior. And if you’re saved, tell your family and friends so they don’t miss out!
THESE ARE THE NOTES FROM MY MONDAY, OCTOBER 15TH – “NOT ANOTHER MANIC MONDAY” – LIVE FACEBOOK SESSION. SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM IF YOU’D LIKE TO WATCH THAT VIDEO OR ENJOY ALL THE PIECES I LIKELY FORGOT TO SAY BY READING THE NOTES 🙂
Get dressed, Put your shoes on and don’t worry about provision.”
That’s what I heard as I read Ezekiel 24 on Saturday morning.
I’d been struggling to get back into the reading of this book because it’s so tragic. Israel’s rebellion and punishment from God breaks my heart. It also heaps the guilt on me because I feel like Israel most of the time. The rebellion in my heart never seems to go away. I look at our country, and the shape that many of the people in our nation is in and I could easily go into depression were it not for the fact that I know the end of the book and I know I’m going to be okay, as well as all others who know Christ as Savior.
But what about the bad days that I’m struggling with more than reading Ezekiel. That’s where the scripture I read in the book of Ezekiel really helped out.
In chapter 24, the obedient servant of God, who’s doing his best to live a righteous life, loses his wife. God warned him in advance that he was going to take away the “desire of Ezekiel’s eyes.” That scripture proves the love Ezekiel had for her. But God tells him that he’s not going to cry, or morn, but he’s going to put on his turban and his shoes, and everything else in between I assume, and preach! And as he does, he’s not to worry about the provision of the people. God will take care of him.
That seems a tad harsh for me.
But it also helps me get life into perspective.
Prior to that verse in chapter 22, verse 30, God says “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”
I sometimes feel that that is how God looks at America. But then I know better, because I’m in it. And He hasn’t destroyed us yet. Although I’m a failure sometimes, I also stand in the gap with the word of God, sharing the gospel of Christ and standing for Him, in the gap that has been created by a fallen world.
Yes, America is a mess. But let’s look at us individually. Those of us who are on this blog today, looking for hope and believing that we’re going to find it in the word of God.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had some terrible days. Days I physically did not feel like going on. I had to fight to move. Days that I failed my family and I failed God and I wasn’t really sure what was going on.
I have a feeling this may have been how Elijah felt as he preached judgement and wrath again and again and in the process of that he lost his precious wife; and God basically tells him to suck it up and get back out there.
How did He do it?
Wrap your mind
The tire that the Lord tells Elijah to bind around his head isn’t a steel belted radial. It’s his turban. A piece of fabric that protected his head from the elements of the day as he went out into the world.
We need that in a spiritual form that protects our minds from the elements of the world. Negative people and thoughts of our own and drag us into a mindset that’s unhealthy. Satan always makes us believe it’s worse than it actually is.
Wow, did I need to hear that. All week I had been procrastinating some things I needed to do because I was sure it was going to be terrible. When I finally got around to it, it was fine. But in my mind I had convinced myself of the worst case scenario.
That’s how Satan works to knock us off our game and cause us to step out of the positions and plans that God has for us. Doubt and fear are never of God. He may warn us of things we shouldn’t do, but He will never incite fear. That’s a tool of the Devil.
So in order to bind our minds we have to fill it with words of encouragement. The word of God is a great place to start! But also godly music, and friends who speak life into you!
Shod your feet
That’s the second thing that God told Ezekiel to do.
Ephesians 6:15 tells us that part of the armour of God is to have “Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” Before that it said to have the helmet of salvation on. God’s word may change forms but it never changes the truth.
Just as Ezekiel spread the word by physically walking in the heat of the sun to get to the people of Israel, we can spread the word by walking in the power of the Son! S.O.N.
Perhaps an acronym for “save our nation.”
The Word of God speaks peace! My struggle with Ezekiel had less to do with the book, but rather had to do with my state of mind. I was allowing Satan to get inside my head and preventing me from sharing the gospel.
God’s third piece advice for Ezekiel was:
At the loss of his spouse, there would no doubt be people that would want to help Ezekiel out. God warned Ezekiel not to rely on others for preservation.
The same is true with us. We cannot depend on someone else to feed us physically or spiritually. We have to take care of ourselves.
It’s why I listen to preaching multiple times a week. I feed myself the word of God through any means possible. I read the bible, I listen to preaching, I listen and sing gospel music. Things that feed my soul and encourage my spirit so I can encourage the people God puts in front of me.
Years ago, when I first got saved I claimed 2nd Corinthians 2:1-2 “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me.”
I determined as a young Christian that I would sow seeds of hope and happiness, not seeds of despair and sorrow that I had witnessed so many other saints of God sowing by constantly telling the people around them how terrible life was.
I’ve not always been able to stick to my convictions, but I honestly do try. And that’s why this Monday live video is so important to me. I want to give you hope and encourage you for the day.
I feel that Ezekiel’s example, although sorrowful, is still a great scripture to hang onto today.
As the weather changes, we have need for a turban, or toboggan as the case may be, sandals have been replaced by boots and hot soups are soothing to the soul on these cold days. Let those serve as a reminder that God has you covered too!
Another milestone in the zipper club (heart bypass) journal was the completion of my first week of cardiac rehab. Also another reality check on the lack of care for myself over the last several years of life. Following my decision to stop smoking on May 26th, 1997 (with the prompting of the Holy Spirit after a year of salvation) I traded my addiction to tobacco for an addiction to all things tasty. Gradually I blossomed into the well-rounded person I am today both spiritually and figuratively.
The criticism and judgement of sometimes well-meaning people (sometimes not) served me well in the department of discouragement and depression. The added pressure added extra weight. However, before anyone thinks I blame others for my blessed figure status, the answer is no. I’m the one who lost her will power. And so today as I read Ezekiel 18, I remembered my week at cardiac rehab. The struggles that I had as I pushed through each piece of equipment and so did not enjoy it. As I tried to clean up the mess I had created over the past 21 years.
“Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
I believe Israel had gotten on God’s last nerve. They’d sinned, worshiped idols and used their children as sacrifices. What a mess they’d gotten themselves into because they’d gotten their eyes off the Lord and put them onto the things around them. I won’t throw any stones in that department either.
But the end result of a life without God, is always death. And no matter what I try to do in life without God as the central focus, it will surely die, because I am His, and He is mine and He expects to be a part of my life.
So how do I make sure that’s the case when living everyday life and making decisions that can change my future? And how many times have I gotten on God’s last nerve by not listening to Him.
The Word tells me.
Cast away from you, all your transgressions.
Easier said than done, right? Well, yes and no. We know that nothing is impossible for God! But we must first allow Him to have it. For me and my transgressions… there were many. The overeating and desire for food replaced an addition that had begun when I was a child. I smoked my first cigarette at 13 years of age. I had been addicted a very, very long time. But when God got involved the desire for that substance was replaced with a desire to be better for Him. But the cigarettes had also come with a stigma of non-acceptance by the world, both saved and unsaved people alike. So it wasn’t hard to not desire it. But everyone loved food! It was acceptable.
But the weight gain was not.
Add to that the fact that God had called me into ministry work and I was now standing before people every week, I became very weak emotionally.
I allowed the pressure of that judgment, whether real or not to get the best of me and I ate all the more because it made me feel better.
So what did I need to cast off?
Addiction. Self-Condemnation. Irresponsibility.
If Jesus had cast my sins as far as the east is from the west, I needed to cast my transgression to Him so He could take care of them. Because when I threw them down, they never failed to land out of arms reach and I would pick them up again
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
…and make you a new heart and a new spirit:
So how do I do that?
I have to change somethings about my life. Beginning with my mindset. Your brain tells your heart when to beat.
In the course of the day, your heart will beat somewhere around 100,000 times and over a calendar year might beat up to 35 million times. Over the course of a lifetime then, your brain and your heart have to work together to engineer 3 billion heartbeats.
However there’s something in the heart called automaticity.
Meaning that the heart, even if it’s disconnected from the brain, will continue to beat at a set rate.
For me that shows that there’s a thought controlled side of the heart and a God controlled side of the heart. Praise God! He knows when to kick His side in.
But when it comes to decision making He leaves that to me for the most part. So I need to create within myself a new heart and spirit. Basically new desires and passions that align with God.
I can only do that if I focus on godly things casting those things that are unhealthy to Christ so that He can help me get them out of my life.
…for why will ye die,
Commitment was something that Israel didn’t have. They’d make and break promises as fast as the ink would dry on the paper.
I’m not any different. I yo yo diet, and I yo yo commit to the promises that I make God that “I’ll do better.”
We take commitment too lightly. Forgetting that God doesn’t take it lightly. Over time, God allowed many of His chosen people to be killed because they couldn’t keep their commitment to live for Him.
When I quit smoking, I partially did so because I believed God was going to allow me to die a dreadful death because of the effect of smoking. He warned me to quit… and so I did.
The transgression of poor health was not so easy for me to commit to overcome. I allowed emotions and lack of self-respect to play the major role in controlling my diet. Scroll forward to May of 2018, three heart attacks, open heart surgery and now cardia rehab and I am beginning to think I should have listened sooner.
Duh. I’m a Slow learner. Israel and I have a lot in common. Most of all, and Hallelujah, we have God’s grace in common.
But eventually God’s patience runs thin and we get on God’s last nerve. Before that happens, it would be much better to give those transgressions to Jesus. Everyone has them, and their personal to them.
There’s a 3 step plan for it. Cast. Create. Commit.
God’s final verse in chapter 18 was For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
There is life in Christ! And a much better, more rewarding life. Live it! And live it well.
I love being live on Monday’s! But what ever the day is you’re tuning in, I hope that his video serves as a word form God to encourage you and help make your day a little sweeter. Tune in every Monday at 10 a.m. to my “Not Another Manic Monday” Vlog and please share this with your friends! For questions or comments, send me a message or find me on Facebook by searching for The Jesus Chick!
It’s the day after Christmas, all the goodies have been unwrapped, our bellies are full and our eyes are glazed over from sugar and caffeine overload, or at least that’s the case in my world. My family is so blessed… and as my evergreen tree now stands bare on my porch it is the reality of the day that this year is nigh on gone and it’s time to put aside the stuff, and get busy; refocused and prepared to step it up in 2016. It’s been on my heart for weeks, I need to make some tracks in the coming year that not only leave an impression on the ground I trod but leave an impression on souls for God.
In the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 12, verse 7, we find Ezekiel preparing to give a prophetic shout out the children of Israel about what was to come.
And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.
Ezekiel cheerfully did as he was told. He’s not complaining or offering excuses, clearly he’s not a Baptist! He just gather’s his stuff and does what he’s told. That is a command ready child of God. I have to wonder if God told me to gather my stuff and hit the road… walking… what I would gather. Would I even go? Where would I plug in my new electric pressure cooker? We really do load ourselves down with “stuff” don’t we? So much so that we’re nowhere close command ready! How can we go with all this stuff?
We are indeed a nation held captive by stuff and I am for certain a Shari held captive by stuff. iStuff. iPhones, iPads, gadgets galore and great tools of my trade as a minister of the Gospel, but I’m often held captive by it. Even now my iPhone lays on the arm of my chair, an easy distraction if it buzzes or whistles like a dog’s owner calling it to the house for dinner. I’m held captive by electronics. Over the past month I’ve weened myself away from social media in hopes of regrouping my thoughts and preparing for 2016. I want a presence on social media, but I want it to be with purpose and vision.
Ezekiel brought forth his stuff as stuff for captivity. Only the essentials. Because of his captivity he couldn’t go out the gate… the easy way, he had to dig his way out through the wall. Even though I’m often held captive by the world I live in I want to spend my time digging in the Word of God and using my hands as tools for the ministry. Whether that’s on the keyboard on the mission field working to help another soul out. I want to be ready.
Ezekiel was out to prove a point to the captive Nation of Israel. His prophetic act would foretell that the leader they’d relied upon was about to become captive himself. There is but One who we should depend. God Himself will bring us forth from captivity but as leadership we need to compel the soldiers of God to move forward. This world is not our home!
Are you ready to make a move in 2016? I am. I want to be command ready, so that when God says go, I’m gone.
Every year I have the best of intentions of getting a boatload of things done and every year I watch that ship sail with far less cargo than intended. 2014 was no different… A few weeks ago it was my intention to get my Christmas cards out to friends and family, if you didn’t receive one, don’t feel slighted… neither did anyone else, with the exception of a few that were enclosed with gifts. Life gets crazy, but it’s really more about being off focus than busy.
This is my own verse for 2015 from the book of Ezekiel 11:19
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
Once upon a time in the year of our Lord 1996, God gave me a new heart when He saved my soul. It changed the direction of my life from that very day and I began traveling the paths that the Lord had laid out, however I have on more than one occasion strayed from the path of His intended design and went off on my own journey; which always ended in disaster and found me crawling back to God’s path. Ezekiel’s verse, written long before God’s Son redeemed mankind, has a prophetic tone and a message for me (and perhaps you) that will lay the ground work for our 2015 journey. Within that verse I found a map…
Motives: What is our motives within the body of Christ? Do we seek to have one heart with the congregation or are we more concerned with the oneness of our own. In a world full of division, now is the time that they need to see the body of Christ working together. I love what I heard a few weeks ago regarding churches… “I decided I would stop following men and follow the bible, there’s too much religion in the other.” That’s not a direct quote, but the foundational truth is there. Billy Graham once said “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.” — That should be my motive every day in 2015.
Attitudes: That new spirit needs to be a full blown attitude check! I speak to my own, but perhaps I’m not alone. I often get so caught up in my own thoughts that I close my mind to someone else’s ideas. Everything Christ did upset the religious. It was new and different and so unlike anything they’d ever heard before. Nothing He did strayed from the foundation of the law, but it loosened the law’s tie, and put on a pair of work pants instead of a suit! We need to get busy working for the Kingdom of God instead of the formality of service. Amen?
Purpose:A purpose driven life should have God in the driver’s seat, but not as a chauffeured driven limo as if we’re some hotshot star, but more like the Amish that worked on my house a few years ago. They had a driver that dropped them off on the job site and they worked until He returned… That’s our purpose. Work until He returns, which could be very soon! That heart of flesh is one that feels… genuinely feels. A heart of compassion that realizes we are all sinners saved by Grace and in need of mercy.
Get your gear! And let’s do some serious traveling in 2015!!!
Writer, Speaker, Singer… but most of all, Servant of Jesus Christ