Dangerous Devotions

by Joseph Franks

Today is Sunday; could going to church and listening to the minister bring you curse instead of blessing?  This week, could another visit to the Christian counselor harm you?  Could reading this blog do you in?  Can tomorrow’s personal devotions be dangerous?

Consider the decree made in Ezekiel 14:1–8:

Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.  For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the Lord will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

Israel’s leaders paid a visit to Ezekiel.  As of late, things were not going so well for their families.  They were running out of options and reasoned that a conference with the Holy Man might be of some value.  However, the Lord made it very clear they would not be blessed but cursed.  Why the cold reception?  These religious men wanted to worship something or someone other than God, and yet still receive the blessings that come through his worship and Word.  However, God was not interested in sharing soul-space with idols.  God was interested in blessing those who loved him with all their hearts, souls, mind and strength; those who had no other gods before him.  So, until things changed and they repented of their idolatry, devotions would be dangerous.

Consider friends, why would we anger him with our idolatry, and then request his wisdom and blessing?  Perhaps this is why we fall asleep in worship, or get irritable and cannot wait for the sermon to be over?  Perhaps this is why our prayer life is so dry, dull and apparently useless?  Perhaps this is why the biblical prophets (inspired writers of Scripture) make no sense to us or seem to have little application to our daily life?  Perhaps God is setting himself more and more against us until we repent, purge our heart of idols, and come to him like an open vessel waiting to be filled and enlightened.

Therefore, let us go to the Lord and do some spiritual purging.  Let’s ask him to reveal to our minds that which competes with his glory.  Let’s make things right with the Heavenly Preacher so his scriptural authors and earthly ministers might be of some incredible benefit to us.  Then, let’s do something honorable with the revelation he gives us through his Word.

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