Responding to Circumstances; March 7, 2018

Ezekiel 36:32 “I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel!”

God often had His prophets say things more than once, Just as Jesus also repeated the same teachings in different situations. The promise of a new heart and spirit in verses 26-27 is nearly identical, though not quite, to what the Lord said in 11:19-20, which I preached on this past Sunday. Something God stressed several times through Ezekiel, and through several other prophets as well, is expressed in this verse. That is, God’s blessings on His people aren’t because they are so deserving of those blessings, but because blessing is in keeping with His character, and He wants everyone to know that. I well remember Chris Christopherson’s song from over 40 years ago: Why Me, Lord? In it he expresses his amazement that God has been so good to him in spite of himself. That’s an excellent attitude to have! We tend to feel entitled to constant blessings, when actually the reverse would be more accurate, just as this verse says. When we think we deserve good stuff we fail to be grateful for it when we get it, and resentful when we don’t. That’s poisonous to our souls. Not all the bad stuff that comes our way is because of our own actions; we live in a fallen world, after all. However, plenty of it is, and we need to be open to the Holy Spirit at all times for Him to convict us of the sins we commit so that we may repent.

This certainly applies to me. I am incredibly blessed, and I can take credit for none of it. I enjoy generational blessings from multiple ancestors who were committed to God. I am to be grateful, but I didn’t choose my ancestors! God has also blessed me in various ways simply to prove to those around me that He can, so that they too may repent and believe. I haven’t had “easy street,” but then John 16:33 has long been something of a mantra for me: “In this world you will have trouble. But rejoice, for I have overcome the world.” I see so many people who are so focused on what they see as their “unfair” trials and tribulations that they can’t recognize and enjoy the many blessings God also gives them. They can’t seem to believe God isn’t picking on them! One of the blessings of my life is that I’m married to a woman who isn’t like that at all. She has a list of physical problems, starting with Parkinson’s Disease, that is daunting indeed, but she doesn’t let all of that get her down, or even slow her down very much. This morning she got up to intense pain in her hip, but rather than have a pity party, she got into the shower to let the hot water loosen things up enough for her to go to her regular rehab session later this morning. The staff and other patients at her rehab have said repeatedly, “Your God is strong!” That is reward enough for her to put up with a great deal, and if one of those people is born again, it will have all been more than worth it. She is an inspiration to me, and to many.

Father, thank You indeed for Your overflowing blessings. Help me not only give You thanks and praise for it all, but also help others recognize Your grace to them, so that they may escape the lying traps of the enemy to walk in all that You have done for them in Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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