Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Comeback"

"I am bringing you back again but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, which you dishonored while you were scattered among the nations" (Ezekiel 36:22). I AM BRINGING YOU BACK AGAIN! What an amazing promise. God's people had been taken into captivity and they had literally lost it all. God is setting them up for blessing but he wants them to know for a fact that the coming blessing has nothing to do with their earning it or deserving it. In fact, to make the point, the prophet repeats, "But remember, says the Sovereign Lord, I am not doing this because you deserve it" (36:32). This means a great deal to me personally because I have experienced a sort of exile only to be brought back again by the grace of God. And though at this point in time, I recognize that I don't deserve to be brought back, the day may come when I forget the pain and I forget the exile. In the day of plenty, I may become proud.

How does God restore us from our place of exile? "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean" (Ezekiel 36:25). God begins by cleaning us up. He washes away the sin and guilt with his clean water. It's a baptism of sorts. Don't miss the point that we can't clean ourselves up--only God can do it with his sprinkling. I have spent the last year working on me through Celebrate Recovery, through counseling, through learning how to be me without the need for pretense. None of these things though has made me clean. I was made clean when God put me in the shower and washed me with his water. He declared me righteous!

Next the prophet Ezekiel says, "And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command" (Ezekiel 36:26-27). The heart is thought to be the seat of desires. It's the place where our "want-to" lives. Once God cleans us, he changes our desires. The desire of sin is taken away and the desire for obedience is put it in its place. "I want to sin" is replaced with, "I want to obey God". It's not intellectual and it's not willpower--it's a complete change of desires. My "want to" is transformed.

Finally, Ezekiel declares, "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am ready to hear Israel's prayers for these blessings, and I am ready to grant them their requests" (Ezekiel 36:37). As a washed and transformed servant of God, I am ready to pray for the blessings that God is just waiting to pour out upon me. I don't know for sure what God is wanting to do in the way of blessing but I can tell you what I am praying for. I am praying that Grace River Church becomes a safe place for ANYONE to come and find hope and healing. I am praying that God will provide us with the space to do week day ministries and AWANA. I am praying that God will give us the resources to be able to meet real and relevant needs in our community. I am praying that each week, people will find new life in Christ Jesus as happened last week in our worship service. I am praying that signs and miracles will become the norm for the people of Grace River. I am praying that our church will be come vital in the communities throughout northern Colorado. I am praying that God will be glorified!

1 comment:

Bradley Maston said...

Amen! I am proud to agree with you in prayer over those goals. May the Lord continue to bless and keep your church, providing for the ministry and healing that comes only through Jesus Christ.

Thank you for the teaching!