March 1 – Devotion

Date: March 1, 2017 (Ash Wednesday)

Scripture: Ezekiel 12—13

 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezek. 11:19-20, ESV)

Today we begin our Lenten devotional journey as a church. This journey is designed as an extension of our two-year Bible reading plan. During each day of Lent, various FBC Clinton members will interact with one of our Bible readings for that day.

We begin this journey not in the expected Lenten terrain of Jesus’ life and ministry, but rather with the prophet Ezekiel. (Yes, you read that right—Ezekiel). Rabbis actually discouraged their students from studying Ezekiel before the age of 30. So it’s not surprising that this is a neglected book for Christians. What does Ezekiel really have to teach us in 2017?

When you travel to an amusement park, you get your bearings by finding a map that displays “You are here.” Before you know where to go next, you have to figure out where you are. So where is “here” in the story of Ezekiel? Ezekiel was an Israelite priest and prophet who was taken to Babylon among the first wave of captives from Judah in 598 BC. He prophesied the fall of Jerusalem as a consequence of their rebellion and idolatry. Ezekiel’s message is completely foreign to our “feel-good, self-help” culture.

But Ezekiel doesn’t leave his hearers with just a damning word of condemnation. Rather he points them beyond judgment to a day when God will restore their land and dwell with them. This is a message that is both far from us and near to us today. The historical circumstances are far from us, but a principle implicit in the message still speaks to us.

We too stray from God’s plan and design for our lives. We are “prone to wander” (Robert Robinson, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” 1758) and lose our way, just like His chosen people. We hear and heed the siren song of sin in both hidden and evident ways in our personal and professional lives. While we might not struggle like the Israelites with the call to bow before foreign gods, we are tempted by the “gods” of materialism, gossip, apathy, and seduction that still call for our attention and ultimate allegiance.

Lent is a time of confession and repentance. The prophet Ezekiel called his own people to turn from their idols and to turn to the one true God. This call to repentance is the first step in any Lenten journey. Today is Ash Wednesday, which is a time where believers across Christian traditions place ashes on their foreheads and say, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Ezekiel’s message is relevant to us. We as believers today are called to heed that call of repentance and look anew and afresh to our source of forgiveness and grace—the finished work of Christ.

As we begin this journey toward Easter Sunday, my questions to you are, “What do you need to leave behind? What is robbing you of the joy of your salvation? From what in your life do you need to repent?”

Prayer for the Journey: Lord, grant me the strength to repent of the sins that are robbing me of joy. Allow me to rest this day in the assurance of your forgiveness and grace.

Prepared by David Eldridge


8 Responses to “March 1 – Devotion”

  1. Gloria laird says:

    Everything you say is so true and inspiring

  2. Linda Hankins says:

    Enjoyed your devotion this morning,very good .

  3. Glenna Pearson says:

    I am thankful that my church is providing these devotions again this year. I received so many challenges and words of comfort. I need both. Glenna Pearson

  4. Christine Morrow says:

    Amen thank you Pastor David god bless you.

  5. Kaye Roper says:

    Your words have blessed my day!!

  6. Bill Hilbun says:

    Pastor David. Thanks so much for your sharing with us your keen insight! May God continue to bless you & your family.

  7. Debbie Keen says:

    Thank you, Brother David. Wonderful, insightful devotion

  8. Marlene Amick says:

    Brother David, thank you for allowing God to use you in such a powerful way to inspire us through the preaching and teaching of His Word. Devotional was great!.

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