In the previous study we looked at how we can be affected by the world’s thinking with regard to the nature of god and how he relates to us, cares for us, judges us, and so many other different ways.
One thing is certain, the worldly way of thinking keeps god at a distance. But with Jesus in your heart, the Holy Spirit indwelling you and empowering you wherever you go and no matter how you feel, and the Father being a true father to you, it really is impossible for the Lord to be closer to you. The spiritual path is one of holding hands with the Lord our God, and knowing love and care and companionship.
This can even be a way of testing the spirituality of others that call themselves ‘Christian.’ So many talk about doing this and that placing a distance between you and God – but that is something in your imagination and not in reality if you feel that way. But to speak of this as being the curse and the judgement and to say that the Lord literally hides his face from you…. If you can say such a thing, you really do not know the Lord of the scriptures.
Moving onwards to the text of this study:
The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water. Say to the people of the land: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: they will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”’
Have you ever really worried about something? Have you noticed that anxiety often removes your sense of appetite? Or if you do eat, you find that it lies heavy, or that you have stomach pains or problems?
And did you know that there is often an emotional element behind many, if not most, illnesses. Yes – your emotional state directly affects your health.
Knowing the peace of the Lord in your heart is a beautiful thing for so many reasons. But if it is truly there – and you are not only ‘saying it in faith’ (in other words ‘faking it until you make it’ – which is a kind of dishonesty actually) – then among the many benefits is that of improved health.
Jesus said something interesting to help us see it the other way round. He asked the question, which of you can add a day to your life by worrying about it? He taught to live without anxiety or worry, and to trust God for food and drink and clothes.
This should be brought in practical ways into the modern world, because much of modern worry is centred around money. Why? For sure, many of us feel that we need some more. But this does not really change however much you may have. Even the wealthy seem to be dissatisfied and wanting more, as though they really need it. I have known, from personal experience, that this is all nonsense. You cannot love money and love god, and worrying about money is not believing the kinds of promises that Jesus was teaching about in, for instance, the Sermon on the Mount.
I am not saying that it is wrong to be wealthy, but it is interesting to read what Jesus said to the rich every time…(look this up for yourself). But I would say that it is wrong to desire wealth. It distracts from living your life for God, and it can become living your life for earning more and more.
If you need to pray and think about money, maybe it should be so that you can give it to a good cause, not only your pocket. But for the life that is committed and devoted to the Lord, there are the promises that you will not be without food, drink and clothing. I have known the loss of all, and yet since then it is as if the Lord has supplied me with more than I had when I was relatively wealthy.
And I am happier and know much greater peace in my heart.
And from that I have also known better health in general.
It really is worth it to know and to develop this attitude of trust. It can be hard – because you need to trust God without knowing where things will come from sometimes. But we have a God who keeps his promises.
The passage we have today speaks of judgement on the land because of the violence that exists in the land – the violence of the people living there. Is there something to learn here for our lands today? There is violence that comes into a land from outside, a violence that means we need protection, a violence that needs to be repelled.
But I do not think it is that kind of violence that is being referred to here. I think it is the violent nature of the people in the land. And this is where we need to take a look around us and remove the rose-tinted spectacles.
I don’t want to say too much about what has been in the news recently. It will sound like an Englishman criticising America – and probably bring me a lot of unwanted comments. But I will point out the attacking in the street and the killing in the clubs of LGBT people – and then the ministers who preach approval of such actions.
Excuse me, but is this showing the love of Jesus? I think not…
And I think of the gun manufacturer writing bible verses on the weapons. Is this an example of following Jesus when he said, if you are struck on the cheek, turn the other one. And if your shirt is taken, offer your coat also? Yes, Jesus was radical! But it only seems so radical because we, as human beings, get it so often so wrong!
If life becomes cheap in the land, then the Lord begins to think the same way as he was thinking of Israel in this prophecy. Because you are in a ‘Christian’ land does not make you immune, just as much as being Jewish does not make you immune. And then to carry this violence into other lands… I have to honestly say that when I look at governments on both sides of the Atlantic, I don’t know who is really the terrorist any more. I think my own nation is just as guilty as some of those sending their murderous killers here…
The result? Fear grows, people become anxious, just like in the words of this prophecy. I think these words through Ezekiel are very much alive and for today! These words drive me to prayer.
Dear Lord, thank you that you love your children and that you care for us with such wonderful and deep love. Help that love to flow through us and out into the world. Help us to demonstrate your love and peace, and to be salt and light in our homes, our neighbourhoods, our communities, our cities and our nations. Help us mend the wrong that is about us, to remove the violence that is prevalent in our modern society and government. There is a better way. The way of the Lord as revealed in the gospel of love. To your name be the glory. Amen.