Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday, January 31st

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 11-12, Psalm 24, Matthew 24
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 35-36

Ezekiel 35-36

English Standard Version (ESV)

Prophecy Against Mount Seir

35 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it,and say to it, Thus says the Lord GodBehold, I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you, and I will make you a desolation and a waste. I will lay your cities waste, and you shall become a desolation, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Because you cherished perpetual enmity and gave over the people of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of their final punishment,therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you. I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation, and I will cut off from it all who come and go. And I will fill its mountains with the slain. On your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those slain with the sword shall fall. I will make you a perpetual desolation, andyour cities shall not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
10 “Because you said, ‘These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will take possession of them’—although the Lord was there— 11 therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, I will deal with you according to the anger and envy that you showed because of your hatred against them. And I will make myself known among them, when I judge you. 12 And you shall know that I am the Lord.
“I have heard all the revilings that you uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They are laid desolate;they are given us to devour.’ 13 And you magnified yourselves against me with your mouth, and multiplied your words against me; I heard it. 14 Thus says the Lord GodWhile the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate.15 As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so I will deal with you; you shall be desolate, Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

Prophecy to the Mountains of Israel

36 “And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God: Because the enemy said of you, ‘Aha!’ and, ‘The ancient heights have become our possession,’ therefore prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord God: Precisely because they made you desolate and crushed you from all sides, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and you became the talk and evil gossip of the people, therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God: Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and the hills, the ravines and the valleys, the desolate wastes and the deserted cities, which have become a prey and derision to the rest of the nations all around, therefore thus says the LordGod: Surely I have spoken in my hot jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave my land to themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and utter contempt, that they might make its pasturelands a prey. Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, Thus says the Lord GodBehold, I have spoken in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the reproach of the nations. Therefore thus says the Lord GodI swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer reproach.
“But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. 10 And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt. 11 And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 12 I will let people walk on you, even my people Israel. And they shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance, and you shall no longer bereave them of children. 13 Thus says the Lord God: Because they say to you, ‘You devour people, and you bereave your nation of children,’ 14 therefore you shall no longer devour people and no longer bereave your nation of children, declares the Lord God. 15 And I will not let you hear anymore the reproach of the nations, and you shall no longer bear the disgrace of the peoples and no longer cause your nation to stumble, declares the Lord God.”

The Lord's Concern for His Holy Name

16 The word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. 18 So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. 19 I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them. 20 But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ 21 But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.

I Will Put My Spirit Within You

22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GodIt is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean fromall your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 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. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
33 “Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. 34 And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. 35 And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’36 Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places andreplanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.
37 “Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Accompanying Rayburn sermon

There is a lot of hope in this passage, and God makes a lot of promises to His people - not because they deserve (they do not!), but in order to glorify His name.

Just like the Israelites, we - all of humanity - are in trouble.

Our problem is not outside of us - it's inside of us.  We have bad hearts.  Our inner man is corrupt.
We also have a bad record before a Holy God.  We have grievously offended Him - we need forgiveness and righteousness, a new record.
We also have a bad lifestyle.  We need a new life.

Right here in Ezekiel 36, we see the gospel message.  God promises to give the Israelites, and us, a new heart, a new record, and a new life.  That promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ - partially at His first coming, and fully in His Second Coming.

Our greatest needs are spiritual transformation, forgiveness of sins, and empowerment to live a new and godly life.  Along with those promises, we are also promised earthly blessings.  But, most of the time, those earthly blessings have a New Earth fulfillment.  It is a picture of what's to come, and we can only see it by faith.  Just like our perfected spiritual transformation still to come.

We have the gospel here in Ezekiel 36: the glorious and immeasurably happy promise of a new heart and nature, of a new record, and of a new life to replace the sin-sick nature and the sin-soaked record and the sinful life of every human being as he is in himself or as she is in herself. But the gospel must be believed. This is truth that is known by faith and by faith alone.

It was hard for the Jews who first heard this prophecy to believe it. They were in exile, slaves in Babylon. Jerusalem and Judea lay in ruins behind them. It was no simple thing to believe that God would put them back in the land and make them the envy of every nation, just as it is no easy thing to believe that we are brand new people on the verge of inheriting the world. Do you believe it? Really believe it? Is there the spring in your step that proves you believe it?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 13-14
Sunday's passage: Exodus 15-16
Monday's passage: Exodus 17-18, Psalm 25, Matthew 25

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday, January 30 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 9-10; Psalm 23; Matthew 23
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 34.

Prophecy against the Shepherds of Israel

34 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. 4 Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. 5 They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6 My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’”

7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’”

The Restoration of Israel

11 For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. 13 I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord God. 16 “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment.

17 “As for you, My flock, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats. 18 Is it too slight a thing for you that you should feed in the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures? Or that you should drink of the clear waters, that you must foul the rest with your feet? 19 As for My flock, they must eat what you tread down with your feet and drink what you foul with your feet!’”

20 Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them, “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, 22 therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.

23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.

25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. 27 Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. 29 I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” declares the Lord God. 31 “As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” declares the Lord God.

When Ezekiel talks about shepherds in today's passage, he isn't talking about pastors, priests or rabbis, whom we often refer to as shepherds today.  He's actually referring to the kings of Israel.  We know from other readings that Israel had a great many wicked kings and a few righteous ones.  Here God tells them that one day they will have a shepherd who cares for the people and deals with the wickedness of their former shepherds.  Rayburn says the following:

He is talking to people whose life has taken a turn for the worse. Their circumstances are depressing. The world does not seem in any way weighted in their favor even though they are the people of God. And here they are being reminded that the Lord will have the last word. He has a plan for his people and for this world and that plan will come to pass. There is a king coming and his rule will be rule indeed even as it will be gracious, generous, and personal and it will provide unprecedented, unimaginable peace and plenty and prosperity to his people.

Now, ask yourself, are you and I not in need of this very same encouragement? Whether thinking of our own life individually or the life of the church and the kingdom of God in our day, do we not need to be reminded of the very same thing because there is so much around us and in us that tends to make us forget, that we who trust in the Lord will find vindication at the end of the day and that vindication will be perfect and complete and entire. Sin and injustice will not survive; it will be punished, it will be eradicated. And those who trust in the Lord will prevail.

Woody Allen in his God (A Play) makes the remark: “The trick is to start at the ending when you write a play. Get a good strong ending and then write backwards.” That is, the meaning of the play, the importance of the story, the impression and impact that it is going to have on you depends entirely on the ending, the conclusion, the result. The significance of everything that happens in the story is determined by how the story ends. And that is right.  Well the Bible is always looking at the past and the present in terms of the ending of this great drama of human history. And the ending it constantly reminds us is fixed. The Lord’s promises will be fulfilled, every one of them and gloriously; the Lord’s enemies will be judged and punished; and his people will be brought into a place of unprecedented joy, peace, hope and love. That is how it is going to end.

The moral power of that vision of the future has through the ages understandably proved itself to be very great. If such is the ending, we say to ourselves, and godly people have said from time immemorial, if that is the ending, then surely I should live in grateful devotion to this God and king who will do all this for me and bring me to such a place; if that is the ending surely I should repudiate in my life all that is displeasing to him and contrary to the great vision of human life and its consummation he has set before me; and if that is the ending, surely I should spend my days and my nights doing what seems most important to do given the way my history and the history of the world will come to its end.

How many times, when a matter is concluded, do we wish we had behaved differently? Once faced with the outcome, how many times have we wished we had said this or done that or carried ourselves in this way than in fact we did. If only we could have seen the end from the beginning we would have acted so differently. But, of course, we weren’t anticipating that outcome at the time. But there is no excuse for us as Christians in this regard. We already know the ending, we know the outcome. It is ours then to speak and act and carry ourselves accordingly. Square your shoulders, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you belong to the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ and that the day is soon to dawn when all will be well with the world. Live for the day!

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Ezekiel 35-36
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Exodus 11-12; Psalm 24; Matthew 24

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday, January 29th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 7-8, Psalm 22, Matthew 22
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 33

Ezekiel 33

English Standard Version (ESV)

Ezekiel Is Israel's Watchman

33 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.
“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

Why Will You Die, Israel?

10 “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GodI have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways,for why will you die, O house of Israel?
12 “And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses,and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. 13 Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. 14 Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.
17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. 19 And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

Jerusalem Struck Down

21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been struck down.” 22 Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came; and he had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.
23 The word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, the inhabitants of these waste places in the land of Israel keep saying,‘Abraham was only one man, yet he got possession of the land; but we are many; the land is surely given us to possess.’25 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord GodYou eat flesh with the blood and lift up your eyes to your idols and shed blood; shall you then possess the land? 26 You rely on the sword, you commit abominations, and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife; shall you then possess the land? 27 Say this to them, Thus says the Lord GodAs I live, surely those who are in the waste places shall fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in strongholds and in caves shall die by pestilence. 28 And I will make the land a desolation and a waste, andher proud might shall come to an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that none will pass through. 29 Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have made the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations that they have committed.
30 “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. 32 And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. 33 When this comes—and come it will!—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Today's passage, according to Rayburn, is about the individual and his responsibility and his opportunity to respond to the Word of God with faith and obedience.

We see here, as we do throughout scripture (isn't it amazing how the entirety of scripture, written over a time span of over 1000 years, remains to consistent in theme and doctrine?!), two sides of a similar coin. We are considered righteous when we turn to God (in NT terms, when Christ's righteousness is imputed to us), and we are considered righteous when we live righteously in response to that turning.

a man’s righteousness is not a matter of the accumulated acts of his life, the sum total of his good deeds, as we do in vv. 12-16; when we read that long life of sinfulness can be made righteous by a turn to God or that a long life of ostensible righteousness can count for nothing if it does not continue in faith, repentance, and love.... A long life of sin is not an insurmountable barrier to salvation and to peace with God precisely because the righteousness men need and can acquire is not a certain proportion of good acts among all the acts of an entire life. If it were, 50 years of sin could not be overcome by turning to God and to holy living at the end of or near the end of one’s life. As Ezekiel makes clear, it is the state of a man, not the accumulated record of his life that tells for life and for eternity.

But just as surely, the character of a man’s life, his ways as we read in v. 20, tell the tale. Here in chapter 33 we don’t read, to be sure, of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. Actually we will get to that subject in a few more chapters, but here it is perfectly clear that the “turn” that God is after in human beings is a turn in behavior, in one’s way of life. The wicked are wicked because of the wickedness they practice, the bad things they do. The righteous are righteous because of the good things they do....

faith and works in a godly life is a tangle, they are so entangled that it is difficult to treat them as separate things or even precisely to define their relationship. We become righteous before God because Christ’s own perfect righteous life is reckoned to us as if it were our life and not his and that happens when we trust in the Lord, turn from ourselves to count on him. But we are also righteous before God because we live righteously. We are changed from bad to good at the very beginning, at the very outset of faith. Christians are believers; they are also livers of a new life. That is often said in the Bible and at very important junctures not least in descriptions of the last day and the vindication of people before the final judgment of God.

Sometimes the relationship between faith and works is explicitly described, as when Paul summarized his message by saying that he preached that people “should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds” or when Paul says that “faith expresses itself through love,” or when James says that “faith without works is dead” because, as he goes on to say, good deeds are the proof or demonstration of faith. More often it is simply stated either that Christ is our righteousness or that righteous people live righteously, often with no effort made to relate the one righteousness to the other.

As Ezekiel puts it in vv. 12-16, a righteous man is one who lives righteously. He even is willing to speak of a man living righteously and then becoming wicked. We might well think, well, if he became wicked later, they he was not truly righteous before. And that would be true enough. But Ezekiel speaks phenomenologically, according to what can be seen of a man’s life, of how we observe it, of what we can know about it. And it is certainly the case that we can sometimes think a man is righteous because he seems to be living righteously – he is in the ways that we can observe – and then, to our chagrin, we watch him begin to live unrighteously. From the vantage point of our observation he has changed from righteous to unrighteous. And the Bible often speaks this way. The secret things belong to God – what the true state of a person’s heart maybe at any time – we can judge only what we can see. And by that standard men are righteous if they live righteously.

Two sides of the same coin.   Both are true and repeated numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments.  Indeed, both are inseparable.  You cannot turn to God in faith and remain unchanged.

And the turning is the key.

Call it the new birth or the new creation from God’s side or conversion from man’s side. Think of it in terms of putting faith in Christ or think of it as a transformation of one’s way of life. It matters not. The point is: there must be this turning. The people of Judah had not turned. Nothing the Lord had done or said had brought them to turn. No matter their circumstances they continued in the same direction they always had. They wouldn’t turn. All God required of them was that they turn. But they would not....

The history of the world is the history of men and women turning or refusing to turn, choosing to live or choosing instead to die, answering the Lord’s appeal or turning a deaf ear to it. Most magnificently it is a history of vast multitudes of lives that changed, root and branch, and became something very different, more beautiful, more worthy than they were or ever could have been had they never turned...

in Chronicles, their righteousness and their salvation upon their repentance is described in terms of the Lord’s forgiveness of their sins. Here in Ezekiel, it is put in terms of the transformation of “their ways,” their behavior. Both, of course, are true, part of the same grace and the same salvation.

But here in Ezekiel, we are reminded .... that God is summoning us to live a beautiful life, a good life, a kind and loving life, a reverent and devout life, a generous, gracious, loyal, faithful life. That too is salvation. That too is the will of God. That too is righteousness. All of you know very well how your lives ought to be different than they are: how you ought to be righteous, how your “ways” should change. Well it is high time. Turn to God and change then. You can, life is before you; choose it! As we rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins, we must not forget that we are forgiven precisely to live a new life, a different life, better by far.

Choose life, and then live out that choice.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ezekiel 34
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 9-10, Psalm 23, Matthew 23