Pastor Keith’s Blog

Eat First

“Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NKJV‬‬  Before Ezekiel was to go and speak to the people, he needed to eat what he could find, to eat that which God had provided for him.

Note that Ezekiel do not choose when he was to eat, God did.  God brought the food, the nourishment, the situation before Ezekiel.  Yet with the situation that God had brought before him, Ezekiel needed to find food in that.  As Christians we need to be able to find strength in God in every situation that we are in.  Somewhere in what is before us there is strength that God has for us.  Psalm 23 says that even in the presence of our enemies the good shepherd will prepare a banquet for us.

Many times the things that we learn, as we choose to eat in the times which God sets before us, provides the very strength that we need for ministry to others.  When we have learned to feast in our situations then we will have the strength to minister in the next opportunities that God brings before us.

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A Strong Face

In Ezekiel chapter 2 and 3, God is challenging the prophet Ezekiel to speak, to the people of Israel, the words that are set before him.  However at the same time God says that these people will not hear, they will not respond, their faces will be obstinately against the words spoken.  Though Ezekiel is speaking on behalf of the Lord God, the house of Israel will not listen to Ezekiel, just as they would not listen to the Lord.   They would not only refuse to listen to Ezekiel but their returning words and actions would be so vicious, cutting and venomous that it would cause these people to be like briers, thorns and scorpions (Ezek. 2:6) .

When people viciously attack, gouge and poison us by their words and actions there is a natural tendency to defend ourselves.   To protect ourselves from their outward resistance we become thick skinned so that their rejection does not personally hurt us.  Just as constant pressure upon sensitive areas of the skin can cause those areas to become calloused to protect the tender areas, so also, the constant pressure of their resistance and provoking attacks cause us to become calloused or thick skinned in the very areas that we are to be sensitive and tender.  When our words or actions are not applied, instead of continuing to be kind and gentle we easily throw up our hands in disgust and dismiss the people who rejected us.  Closing our hearts to the needs of the people, we give up on them for “after all they have done to me.”

However as God’s people we are required to have a gentleness of heart towards individuals, to not be calloused towards them or insensitive to their situations and needs. We are to always be loving, kind, long suffering, bearing all things (1 Cor. 13: 4-7).  In our lives people are to constantly experience joy, peace, gentleness, goodness and self-control (Gal 5:22,23).  Yet it is always a challenge to have these soft and tender attributes before the Lord and before people, when these same people are attacking, rejecting and deliberately hurting us.  How is it possible to constantly exhibit the soft loving nature while at the same time protecting ourselves from the harshness of the people around us?

As God speaks to Ezekiel and other prophetic people in the same situation, God declares that He will put a protective hardness or wall around the ones who minister on His behalf.  We do not need to harden ourselves to protect ourselves, we are to remain soft knowing that the Lord will help, He will protect and cause us not to be ashamed (see Is. 50:7; Jer. 1:18).  With whatever hardness of face or head others have against you, with whatever attacking, gouging, bitterness or poison is shot against you, God will enable your face to be substantially hard and protected.   “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.” (Ezek. 3:8,9 Message)

When God is our protector, then we can continue to be soft and gentle for He is the one exhibiting the hardness and not us.  Take a moment to examine where you need to rest in the protection of our Lord so that you do not become hardened or calloused towards others. In prayer yield that situation to the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Where Is This Hidden Life?

People are searching for something that will bring lasting satisfaction.  Though we are alive i.e. not dead, people as individuals and as a larger society are desperately trying to find the source of life and purpose.  In the movies a predominant theme is that sexual fulfillment, experiences or money will bring life.  When those desires are not obtained then frustrations, depression and discouragement result.  It can seem like true life is unachievable and hidden from us.

The scriptures would tell us that true life is unattainable because we are looking at the wrong places.  Colossians 3:2,3 says that “Our life is hidden with Christ in God”, and that we are to set our minds on heavenly things above, not on the things on the earth.

We might think that in coming to Jesus He will enable us to have what we want to bring us life.  That in some way, He will give us riches, fame, good relationships or success, and He might do these things.  Yet true life might still seem hidden from us,  If so, it will be because we are failing to see that life will come through our walk with Jesus Christ and out enjoyment of Him.

Lord Jesus may we find true life, as it is based upon You.

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Get Dressed

“Keith, tuck your shirt in, for this occasion untucked shirts are out of style.”  I am so glad that my wife is knowledgeable on men and women’s fashions.  Working in public situations can sometimes cause one to wonder what is appropriate to wear and what is not.

One of the challenges of maturing is knowing how to get dressed, I am not talking about the ability to put socks, underwear, pants, shirts and shoes on, but rather to know what are the appropriate socks, pants and shirts.  Knowing and dressing suitably for the situation is essential.  If only the Bible could give some simple guidelines about what is the appropriate or what is not.

Wouldn’t you know it!  The scripture does give very clear guidelines on what to wear and what not wear.  Colossians gives us a list of appropriate apparel, “you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love (Ch 3:12-14 NLT).

Yes the physical clothes that we wear are important, but more important is that we live our lives wearing tenderness, mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love.  These character traits are not just to be worn once, then switched to another costume when needed.  We are to consistently be covered with all of these attributes at all times.

Depending on the situations, we constantly need to be wearing more of one of these attributes than others.  Take a moment to reflect which of these important virtues you need to wear more often this week.  Then ask our Lord for His strength so that this attribute will become a stronger part of your life.

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