September 13th – At the end of our tether

If you get depressed about your church or chapel, if you feel that you simply cannot worship as you once did because it’s all so different, or so trivial and out of touch. If you feel that the music is inferior, the singing uninspiring, the tradition slap dash, and small-minded, and you are tempted to seek a church more to your liking, then first remember Ezekiel and the 10,000 hostages taken off to Babylon in the year 597 B.C. as prisoners, to be guarantors of Jerusalem’s continual submission to Babylon, who ruled the world.
Imagine their frame of mind. Captives, resentful and sullen, longing for home. How could they ever worship a God who had been defeated and let this happen to his people? How could they worship in this Godless place? How could they sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land? How could they worship an absent God who was hundreds of miles away? They had no temple to worship in, no organised priesthood to provide ministry, and no orchestra to lead singing – no choir, no liturgy, no animal sacrifice which was the only way they ever dared approach their God. How could they ever praise God again, unless they were released, set free to return home to join the big congregation at Jerusalem in its wondrous old temple? How could they have survived if they had been told that they never would go home (70 years prison sentence in Babylon at least), that their temple would be destroyed, their city rendered to rubble, and their friends and families butchered? Surely that would have been the end of all faith, all hope, all future dreams?
Well, that was precisely the situation which faced the hostages, and one of them called Ezekiel. God actually began to rebuild the nation of Israel inside a prison camp, where all they understood, all they could recognise as God’s presence, was back in another world.
If you look at your church and say, in despair, “things aren’t what they used to be”, remember two things – One be thankful that they are not; and Two, what God has done once, he can do again.
This is from Ezekiel, and God is speaking: (Ezekiel 36:24b-27)
“I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you”
A Prayer:
It is the cry of my heart Lord: Remove my heart of stone and by your spirit make me more truly human, and when I say “It is all going to come too late for me”, show me that I am not the centre of the universe.
Now read Jeremiah Chapter 29. It contains one of the world’s most awesome letters ever written.

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The worst thing that could happen to you is that God allows you to have all your own way.

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