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This was the sermon I preached this past sunday, the one I had y'all praying for me for. (Thanks, by the way!) It preaches so much better than it reads, but I guess that's true for a lot of things. I look forward to your thoughts! I will be posting soon about this whole process of my personal call and my thoughts on this past sunday.
Good morning! Sure is different being on this side of the pulpit. A whole lot more terrifying. Although being on that side can be just as terrifying. You never know what the Lord is going to say, how He will convict or how he will make you uncomfortable. That's how I ended up here speaking to you now. He called me one sunday morning, through the word of His servant in my comfy seat to stand up, speak His word. And that is why I stand before you now.
Today is Thank Bank Sunday. The in-gathering day for all the little thank banks you see around. Grace Pierson, the founder of the Thank Bank believed in Missions, believed in the word and the life changing power of the word. So much that she started the Thank Bank program.
Ah, the word, the bible, the canon, it is our life! So even though today is a different sunday we will not deviate from what we are here to do. Cuz it aint church unless you open the word. And if there is one thing I've learned from sitting under my husbands preaching is that if you are going to preach the word you'd better talk to the Man who wrote it first. Let's pray.
It is no secret in scripture that God calls us to tell others about Him. We see it everywhere. From Noah, to John, God called people to tell others about Him. Our relationship with God was damaged in the garden and it has never been the same. Since that time God has been calling us back to peace with Him. He has made a way. He has prepared a road for us to walk on in order to return to Him. Only many don't even know the road exists. He knows this. So he tells us, who know the road, know how to get to the road, to tell others about the road.
One such person in scripture is Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet of God, a spokesperson, a mouth piece, a bull horn. He carried God's messages to His people. The book of Ezekiel is full of so many wonderful beings and scenes. Many are hard to comprehend or imagine. Just before God speaks to Ezekiel to call him to be his prophet, he sees a vision of God. He sees the four winged creatures, the strange wheels with eyes all over them. He hears the noise that comes with these creatures, loud like an army he says. Then, he sees God.
Ezekiel 2 – 3:11
Ezekiel's response is appropriate. In the presence of Holy God, the only response sinful man can have is to fall! Sin cannot stand in the presence of God. Ezekiel probably thinks he's a dead man. But God has something different in mind. He has a mission for Ezekiel. Here he is, a captive priest among family and friends standing on a riverbank in a foreign land and God appears and speaks to him. Isn't that like God? He speaks to us at the most unassuming time. I'm sure Ezekiel had other things on his mind at this point. He probably thought that God had abandoned them, I'm sure he wasn't expecting God to show up, at least not in enemy territory. And not only does God show up, but he has a job for him to do.
God is calling Ezekiel to speak for him amongst the captives. He tells Ezekiel that it will not be an easy job, mainly because they won't listen. He says that if he had sent him to a foreign people his job would be easy because they would listen! God says “Heck, they won't listen to me, you shouldn't expect them to listen to you. But I want you to go, I want you to speak, so they will know that I have spoken to them”. Basically they have no excuse for the muck they got themselves into. That's probably how they got themselves into this mess in the first place, weren't listening to God, weren't following God and so God passed judgment on them.
So God tells him to speak, God tells Ezekiel they won't listen, but the Lord says he wants him to go anyway. And I think the Lord tells Ezekiel they won't listen as encouragement. Because in verse 6 he says don't fear them, don't fear their words or their looks, because they are rebellious so naturally they won't listen.
And then he says, but don't you be like that. You listen to me. Take my word, take it into yourself, make it apart of yourself. And he hands him the word. Ezekiel eats it, even though it is full of lamentations and woe. It's written full of the terrible things that are going to happen to Israel. Who wants to read the terrifying things of revelations or Daniel? But yet, Ezekiel eats it and says that it is sweet like honey. That is the word of God! Sweet to those who take it in. Sweet, filling, satisfying and life giving.
So God gives him a job as a prophet among his own people, he fills him with His word to speak and then He gives him the encouragement he needs to do the job. He says I have made you just as bullheaded as they are. I get the image of two rams butting heads when I read verse 8 of chapter 3.
Read Ezekiel 3:8
Ezekiels job is going to be hard! The people aren't going to listen, they are going to butt heads. It will be like talking to a brick wall. We've all had conversations like that. You sit there talking to someone and they just stare at you with that deer in the headlights look. Just blank. And God warns him about this. He says it's gonna happen! But don't let it get you down Ezekiel! Don't get discouraged. Because I told you it would happen. But you be obedient and speak to the people whether they hear or whether they refuse. Be obedient.
I believe this word is for us today. Grace peirson was passionate about missions. These little banks were originally designed to collect money for missions. And a lot of time when we think of missions we think of Africa, India, China, some place far away from here, far away from me. Some place where someone else goes and does the hard work. It's good enough for me to throw some money at it, pray some nice prayers for those people and be about my business. If you are a christian it is not enough to just throw money at it. God is calling us to a people that we know. And people that know us. He is calling us to a rebellious people. I need not tell you the state of our nation, we know it all too well. We've heard it time and again what our president has said. We are no longer a christian nation! He is blatantly turning his back on God. As a nation we have rebelled against our roots. We are much like the nation of Israel of Ezekiels time. And God is calling us, you and me, to speak His word to them. And he's telling us it's not going to be easy. They will scoff at you, they will laugh at you, look at you like you are from Mars and they will hurt you. And, worst of all, they won't listen.
The theme for the women's ministry for the past three years has been mold me, fill me, use me. It is a model of calling. God first calls us, then he fills us with his word and then we are ready to be used. We can see from Ezekiel's call that that process can be a matter of minutes.
So we know we've got the call. Throughout scripture God has been calling His people to tell others about Him. Jesus gave us that in the great commission in Matt 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Mark 16:15 – Go into all the world and preach the gospel. Acts 1: 8 – you shall be witnesses to me in jerusalem (your local neighborhood), Judea (the larger area like clearfield county) and samaria (the places and people you don't want to go to) and to the end of the earth. It's pretty clear that our first calling is to the people we know and who know us.
Second in this calling is the word. We can't preach the word of God to others if we dont' have it in our very being, our very souls. That means we need to be eating it every day like the food we eat. What would happen to our families, our churches, our neighborhoods if we devoured the word of God as much as we devour our breakfasts, lunches and dinners? Change. We would change as would our world. The word is our nourishment our life! So many christians are spiritually walking around gaunt, pale and near death all because they aren't eating up the word of God. They are spiritually malnourished. Barely alive in His word. He isn't kidding when he says it's the bread of life. Bread is the basis of food for many people in many nations. Without that bread they would die. It is so with our Christian life. We need the word of God. Everyday. Without fail. We cannot survive without it.
Then third in our calling is go, tell. You'll notice this is action! We can't spread God's word with closed mouths and stationary feet, we must move! And this action is simple: repeat what you read. That's all. The Holy Spirit will supply those words. You've been there, a conversation, a situation, and somehow a scripture comes up, that's the Holy Spirit. But He won't do that, or can't do that unless you've read that word. When that happens, repeat it. And be a witness: repeat the times that Jesus has been real to you. So going, doing, telling is just repeat the word and repeat when Christ was real. That's easy.
Those of us who are His Children, saved by His grace, in the family, whatever your choice phrase is for 'being saved' is, have a mission, a job given to us by the Father. We have been called to speak His word to the nations, but we cannot speak the word unless we know the word. So we must ingest it everyday. Eat it up, savor it like you would a good brownie, or cookie, or fudge. And then, once you have been fed and nourished, once the word has been given to you and become a part of you, then go, tell about that good word. And we must always remember that our sign of success is not how many people we 'save', but rather our faithfulness to the call that God has given us. Our obedience to His calling in our life is our measure of success. That is how He measures success.