Devotional on Ezekiel

A pastoral visit to the hospital
Ezekiel 13: They’ve said, “No problem, everything’s just fine,” when things are not at all fine.
Several years ago I was at the hospital visiting a friend who was having surgery the next morning. When someone came into the room to go through a pre-surgery checklist, I excused myself and was about to leave. However, my friend asked me to stay. I reluctantly did so (by the way, I still don’t recommend that the pastor be present for such an interview). As they went through the checklist I was amazed at how blunt it was. Every possible problem was explained. There was a 3% chance of this and a 5% chance of that. Really, it was enough to scare a person! As I reflected on that experience I made a decision to deal with spiritual realities with people in the hospital with the same frankness. Rather than only focusing on praying for them that everything will be okay, I decided that, when the situation was right, I’d find a way to ask them how it is between them and God and offer to help them pray. I’m not pretending that I always get that done. For one thing, so many surgeries are now outpatient surgeries and the opportunity for such a conversation isn’t there. Still, I’m reminded that we Christians aren’t to always tell people “everything’s going to be just fine” when there’s a real chance that it isn’t going to be fine. I don’t have to scare people to death to offer to pray with them about spiritual needs in their life. In fact, it may be the most comforting encounter of all.
Take Away: When the time is right Christians should be ready to have spiritual conversations with people they care about.

Devotional on Ezekiel

The mark of God’s people
Ezekiel 8: Don’t lay a hand on anyone with the mark.
In one of his visions Ezekiel finds himself back in Jerusalem. The Lord takes him on a tour of the Temple, giving him a spiritual view of what’s actually going on there. The sin is outrageous and disgusting. Anyone who loves the Lord and worships him would be broken hearted to see their precious Temple desecrated in this way. Then, Ezekiel sees a man on a mission. He’s to walk the streets of Jerusalem, putting a mark on the foreheads of those who are distressed at the sin of their nation. All others will be wiped out. I find it interesting that in Revelation we find the “mark of the beast.” In that case, it’s those who refuse the mark who are saved. Here in Ezekiel, we see the reverse. It is those with the mark who are spared from the judgment that comes. Comparing the two “marks” ought to cause some who subscribe to a “Left Behind” brand theology to pause and consider! I think of the mark of Ezekiel as the “mark of caring.” You see, God cares about people and righteousness and holiness. He’s always on the lookout for people who’ll join him in that concern. If that fellow with the writing kit passed by my life today I wonder if I would receive that mark.
Take Away: The sin of our society should break our hearts.