READ: Ezekiel 33-34
THINK: Do you enjoy going to church, listening to good preaching, participating in vibrant worship? Hopefully you do. But do these things change you? Do you practice what's preached and walk according to your worship? Some people in Ezekiel's time listened to his message, yet they refused to change their attitudes and lifestyles. They viewed Ezekiel as if he were an interesting sideshow who was performing for their pleasure (v. 32). We must be careful not to turn worship services into performances staged for entertainment. Such events and activities don't truly honor God or do justice to His Word, and the Holy Spirit won't reveal His powerful presence in this kind of "worship." We must not only hear God's Word; we must put it into action (cf. James 1:22).
RESPOND: How are spiritual leaders like watchmen? (See 33:6 note, subpoint 1.) In what way do all followers of Christ share this responsibility? (See 33:6 note, subpoint 2.) How does God feel about the death of wicked people, and why (33:11)? (See 33:11 note.) What responsibility does this put on Jesus' followers? What does 33:12-16 tell us about our accountability to God? (See 33:12-20 note.) What does 33:12-20 indicate about the importance of your current relationship with Him? (See 33:12-20 note, subpoint 3.) What news came in 33:21, and how did Ezekiel's ministry change after that? (See 33:21 note.) According to 33:30-32, how did people respond to Ezekiel's message, and what can you learn from this? (See 33:31 note.) Who were "the shepherds of Israel" (34:2), and what had they failed to do (34:3-4)? (See 34:1-31 note.) Because the leaders were unfaithful, what did God promise to do (34:11-16)? (See 34:11 note.) Who is the "one shepherd" (34:23) God would place over His people? (See 34:23 note.) How did God establish a covenant through this Shepherd, and when will it reach ultimate fulfillment? (See 34:25 note.)
PRAY: Ask Jesus to help you fulfill your responsibility to spread His message of forgiveness, hope and new life. Pray that you'll never dwell on past failures or successes, but that you'll stay fresh in your relationship with Jesus.
ACT: If anything in the past-hurts, failures, joys or successes-is hindering your current relationship with God or your pursuit of His purposes, leave those things behind, start living in the present, and move forward with Christ. Also, be faithful to reach out and, if necessary, to graciously warn those close to you who don't know Jesus.
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