November 16 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!’” ~Ezekiel 14:6

OLD TESTAMENT

It is not true, as some assert, that the Old Testament emphasizes outward conformity to the law while the New Testament emphasizes the condition of the heart. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The emphasis of Scripture from beginning to end is the heart. Yes, actions are important, but they flow out of the heart and expose its real condition to the world.

In Jerusalem and in Babylon, most of the so-called prophets and priests are telling the people what they want to hear. They are preaching “peace” when there is no peace! They claim everything is going to be okay when they should be calling people to repent. Their sermons are all about having the best life now without making a single change. The people had fallen in love with the pagan cultures around them, and their leaders seemed to think this was all right.

If God seems oddly fixated on things like fashion and building projects in today’s passage, do not be fooled. It is not these outward trappings that angered Him. He was provoked by hearts that turned from Him to adopt idolatrous symbols as jewelry or to build idols both in the courtyard and in the heart’s own secret recesses. There was visible evidence of idolatry everywhere and even more evidence in places only God could see.

The greatest command in the entire Old Testament (or in the Bible for that matter) has to do with the heart: “Love the Lord with all your heart,” Moses told the Israelites before they entered their new land (Deut. 6:4). Now Ezekiel calls them back to that first love and to repentance. He urges them to save themselves from the impending doom.

Do you have idols in your heart? Is there something in this world that you love more than God? Is it money? Sex? Power? Ease? Pleasure? Family? Friends? Popularity?  Not all of these things are wrong, but they can become idols. Repentance begins not with actions, but with a heartfelt change in priorities. When we give God first place, there is hope for us, even if the world around us is in for judgment. I like what John Eldredge has to say about this: “I find it almost hard to believe that a case must be made that the heart is . . . well, at the heart of it all. Of life. Of each person. Of God. And of Christianity” (John Eldredge, Waking the Dead).

God, we repent now of the idols of our hearts. We vow to love you with all our hearts. Help us to do what You call us to do. Amen. 

NEW TESTAMENT

Faith moves people to action! Yes, we are saved by grace through faith, but the faith that saves us also prompts us to act. That’s true for every one of the saints who lived before us. It is worth pointing out that no one whose name appears in Hebrews 11 was perfect. From Noah’s drunken stupor to Moses’ anger issues, from the prostitute Rahab to the murderous philanderer David, these were flawed people. However, they were also people of courageous faith who acted on their faith.

Matt Chandler once explained that “God keeps his promises in ways that sin cannot.” Faith says that I believe the rewards from God are better than the rewards from sin. And this faith (a loving trust in God) springs from the heart in bold action. Believe that God has your best interest at heart now and forever, and do what He says.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.