The Call Of A Disciple

Saturday, April 6, 2013, 8:31 p.m. – the Lord Jesus has the song “Nothing Can Separate Us” going through my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Ezekiel 2-3 (NIV). [I will summarize the passages.];

Ezekiel’s Call

God told Ezekiel that he was to stand up on his feet and God would speak to him. To me, this is more than just a command to literally stand on his feet, but it is a call to action – to get up, get ready, take a stand and be ready to move out when God told him. This is not unlike a commanding officer calling a soldier to battle. God told him he was sending him to his people - his chosen ones - yet they were a rebellious (disobedient; defiant; stubborn and obstinate) people. He was to speak God’s words to them whether they listened or they failed to listen. Ezekiel was not to be afraid, “though briers and thorns are all around you, and you live among scorpions.” In other words, even if the people to whom he was being sent made life very difficult for him, he was not to fear them or their words against him.

God said that Ezekiel must speak God’s words to the people. It was imperative, necessary and essential that he speak God’s words to them. He was to listen to what God said to him, which meant he had to spend time each day in prayer and in listening to God’s words, so that he knew what to do and what to say. And, then he had to obey what God showed him. God cautioned him against rebelling like his other rebellious children were doing. The task before Ezekiel was going to be hard. God was not sending him to people who would listen, but who most likely would not listen and, in fact, would reject the words Ezekiel spoke, and some of that rejection would also be most unpleasant. Yet, he was not to reject the assignment just because it was going to be difficult and unpopular.

Then, God told him to open his mouth and to eat what God gave him. It was a scroll, and written on both sides of it were words of lament, mourning and woe. He was to eat it and then go and speak to God’s people. The scroll tasted sweet as honey in his mouth. This reminds me of words spoken in the psalms: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Ps. 119:103). Even words of mourning, woe, judgment, chastisement, correction, rebuke and calls to repentance can be sweet as honey in our minds and hearts when we take them in, because they are God’s words speaking, and because his words are filled with love, compassion, mercy and hope, if we will but listen, will heed his words to us, and if we will obey and submit to his will for our lives.

It was essential that before Ezekiel went and spoke to the people that he “ate” the words of God. This was not a casual read of God’s words or a five minute devotional and then “out the door.” Also, he could not do all the talking and God do all the listening. For Ezekiel to be prepared adequately for the task before him, he had to spend time with God drinking in his words, meditating on them, thinking about what his words meant, responding to them with his own heart, and making them personal in his own life. He had to inquire of the Lord as to what truths God had for him personally and then for him to share. And, he had to be in confession before God over any sin in his own life so that he was a pure vessel God could use in taking his messages to the ones to whom God would have him speak.

Then God said “Go now and speak my words to them.” He was prepared. He was ready. Yet, God told him ahead of time that the people would not listen to him, because they didn’t listen to God. The people of God were hardened and obstinate, so God would make Ezekiel as unyielding and as hardened as them, only not to the things of God, but to the resistance and rejection he would face from the people to the messages. Again, God told him to not be afraid of the people or to be terrified by them. So much of what God said to Ezekiel here reminds me of God’s words to Jeremiah, too (see Jer. 1). Ezekiel was to listen carefully to God’s words, take them to heart, and then go to his countrymen and tell them what God said to say to them, whether they listened or they failed to listen. And, Ezekiel did take God’s words to heart. He personally felt God’s heart and emotions as though they were his own. And, in the power and strength of the Lord he went forth and did as God directed him.

Ezekiel’s task was to be that of a spiritual watchman, giving warning to those who were acting wickedly in order to turn them from their evil ways, and to call the people to repentance. Each person was to be responsible for his own actions. Ezekiel had the responsibility to speak God’s words to the people, but each individual person was responsible to God for what he or she did with the words spoken. Some would listen, and others would refuse. Ezekiel was to accept that would be the case. He would not be held responsible for those who refused to listen.

Disciples of Christ

Jesus commissioned his disciples to make disciples of Christ (followers of Christ) of all nations, baptizing them in the name of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and teaching them to obey whatever Christ has commanded us (see Mt. 28:18-20). He told them that when the Holy Spirit came upon them that they would be his witnesses throughout the world (see Acts 1:8). We receive the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives. When we receive Jesus, we become his disciples. Making disciples means more than just seeing people come to salvation, but it means helping them to grow in Christ to maturity by teaching them Christ’s words to us, and by teaching them to obey his words. This is the calling of every follower of Jesus Christ. We are to be lights for the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world, yet we are also to help our fellow believers grow in Christ.

Christ Jesus is calling us to stand on our feet - to get up, get ready, take a stand and be ready to move out when he tells us to. We are to go to whomever he specifically sends us, yet it is the commission of each and every one of us not only to share the gospel with the unsaved, but to help nurture our fellow believers to maturity in Christ through encouragement, building one another up in the faith, edification, strengthening one another, turning sinners from their sinful ways, and helping restore a fallen Christian back to a right relationship with God. To encourage can mean to inspire, hearten, cheer and reassure, but it also means to urge, nurture, persuade, admonish and implore. As well, to edify means to inform, educate, instruct, teach and help improve. To build up means to inspire as well as to help develop, expand and enlarge. In other words, we are not here just to make everyone feel good, though that is really nice, but we are here to help others live holy lives pleasing to God, and we are to be Christ’s hands and feet in doing all the same things Jesus did.

Not everyone will accept our words, because not everyone accepts God’s words. We may face much opposition both from the unsaved and from those within the church who are, perhaps, just as stubborn, obstinate and rebellious as the people of Ezekiel’s day or, perhaps, we will face such disapproval from those who sincerely have just bought into lies of the enemy and think that what they have been taught is the truth. Yet, many of them stubbornly refuse to find out what the real truth is, or they reject it even if you show it to them, because they like the lies better. And, that is the sad reality of it all. Some will listen, but many will fail to listen, yet we are still to speak God’s words whether they listen or not, because we are not responsible for what they do with what they hear. They are.

Yet, even if we face much opposition, persecution, or rejection for sharing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and for teaching other believers to obey all of Christ’s commands, we are not to fear their responses to us, their words which may be spoken against us, or their attitudes and actions towards us, etc. We are to just listen to God speaking to us each day, take to heart his words and apply them to our own lives, and then we are to go and to share them with others in whatever way God would have us to share them. And, we need to rely upon the strength and power of the Lord to speak through us the words he would have us speak.

Jesus said we would be hated, rejected and persecuted just like he was, so we should not be surprised if this is the kind of response we receive for obeying our Lord. Yet, we should be encouraged to know that no matter what, nothing can separate us from God’s love. If God is on our side, then that should overshadow any who may be against us. And, we should know that God will supply everything we need, so we never have to be afraid.

Nothing Can Separate Us / An Original Work / March 28, 2013

Based off Romans 8:28-39

Nothing can separate us
From Christ’s love now within us:
Not trouble, hardship, nor famine,
Nor danger, nor sword.
No, in all of these things
We are more than conquerors!

For your sake we face hardship.
We are sheep to be slaughtered.
I am convinced that death,
Nor life, nor anything else
Will separate us from
The love of God now in Christ.

What, then, shall we say to this?
God for us: who against us?
He who did not spare His Son
But gave Him for us all –
How will He not, with Him,
Graciously give us all things?

Who brings a charge against us?
God justifies His chosen.
Who is He that condemns?
Christ Jesus; died, rose again.
He’s at the right hand of God,
Interceding for us.