July 5

Ezekiel 1-4, Psalm 32

Though I have mentioned before how and when I first was led to Christ, I just wanted to mention it once again from a slightly different angle. My mother was dying in the hospital where I was going to medical school (SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn) and we all knew that she was there to die. When she indeed did die, the phone call went to my father who did not want to upset me before my big test (Part 2 of my board examinations). I was already married at the time. But when I went into the room and found her dead and ready to go to the morgue, I sat by the bedside and cried. It was then that this woman entered the room and simply placed her hand on my shoulder and recited Psalm 23 from top to bottom. She said nothing else. No platitudes that she looked at peace or was in a better place. She simply spoke the word of God lovingly. Normally, when discussing my testimony I next discuss how I got a Bible from the hospital chaplain, etc. But let's focus instead on what exactly this woman did. She didn't know or care whether I was Christian, Jewish, Muslim or an atheist. She didn't know if I was straight or gay. She had no idea how I might respond to her approach. I could have yelled at her, or went to the front desk and complained about her, etc. But none of that stopped her. She had a message to deliver and she faithfully did so, no matter the consequences. I am forever grateful for her boldness in presenting a message from God, using God's Word, in a loving way.

Ezekiel was told to present only what was given to him by God. He was also told that it would not be received well by his fellow Jewish captives in Babylon. God gives Ezekiel his commission in Ezekiel 2:3-5, "And he said to me: "Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse-for they are a rebellious house-yet they will know that a prophet has been among them." Like every prophet, Ezekiel was commanded to simply speak forth God's Word, no matter what the personal cost or the response. We get more of a description in Ezekiel 33, but in 3:16-21 we get our first description of Ezekiel's role, and for that matter our own role to be faithful watchmen who are willing to send out the message warning others to come to faith before it is too late. Notice the interesting message in 3:26-27, "I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth,...". How often do we speak in our own power, employing our own reasoning, when the true message that others need to hear is the Word of God.

We are called to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). Jesus did not call us to be defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, juries and certainly not the judge. Armed with our testimony and the Word of God we are commanded to faithfully state God's perfect truth to a world that is often resistant to His message. Nothing should interfere with this clear calling. Gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc should not alter our desire to reach out. Everyone needs to hear the gospel truth, without exception. We read in John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." The world might like to paint a different picture of many paths, but Jesus, Himself, says otherwise. His message is exclusive and is the same message that needs to be heard universally. We must remember as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Like the hospital worker who reached out to me when I was 27 years old and crying at the bedside of my deceased mother, may we all open our eyes to the countless opportunities that God presents to us, and unashamedly tell others the only message with the power to save.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster