Monday, July 27, 2009

UPDATED Re-posting is better than No posting :)

UPDATED:
I have had some questions about the Philippians Bible Study (wanting to know if it is another Conference Call). It is not BUT now I am praying about doing a conference call in addition to the one at my house. It would probably be Sunday night again.
We will go line-by-line, verse-by-verse through the book of Philippians and memorize some as well. Don't worry, you won't have to talk... unless you want to or unless I call on you to recite your memory verses ;).
I am thinking it would be 4 weeks long. Would you please let me know if you would be interested as I pray about doing this?
tsblackiston@comcast.net







Hey everybody. Life is going good. Hard still, but good. Tim has been busy putting up a basket ball goal in our driveway and painting rooms (then re-painting) for me because my nesting has already kicked in!. Hopefully, we will start the bunk room soon. I can't wait.
I will find out if baby is a boy or a girl in less than a month now! Everybody wants this to be a girl. Tim and I joke with people that we just had to try for a FOURTH BOY.
Between nausea, exhaustion, and chasing a curly headed-2 year old- maniac, I don't have many creative thoughts these days. I am re-posting a couple posts I did about a year ago. Many of you may remember them but some of you may have never read them. I hope you are all blessed and encouraged in the Lord!
Blogger still won't let me edit my posts so I am sorry they are hard to read.
Love,
Steph

ps Will be starting the Philippians Bible Study in a few weeks. Email me for details...
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Have you ever read something so cool in the Bible that you felt like Jeremiah when he said, "his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in: indeed, I cannot." Jeremiah 20:9 ?

I have felt that way since finishing the book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was a prophet being held captive that God chose to reveal really awesome things to. The book begins with Ezekiel having a vision of the glory of God. I believe this vision also revealed the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
"the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" 2 Cor. 4:6.


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It is so cool when you see Jesus in the Old Testament.


Jesus said, 'Behold, I have come--In the volume of the book it is written of Me--Hebrews 10:7.
He is not just in the new testament. Jesus said we can find Him in the whole of Scripture. The whole Bible is pointing to Christ.
"These are the Scriptures that testify about me." Jesus speaking in John 5:39
"If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." Jesus in John 5:46
Do you get that? Jesus said Moses talked about Him hundreds of years before He was born in a manger!!
The book of Ezekiel is a prophecy about the restoration of Israel. That is the literal interpretation but it doesn't mean that there is no application for us today.
The first application I thought of is this... if you are being held captive by a trial, open your eyes for God will reveal Himself to you in a powerful way as He did with Ezekiel. You may not have prophetic visions but I know God will reveal Himself to you in your trial. Be ready to receive amazing gifts while in your captivity.
It is also a picture of how all of us have sinned against God and how Christ pursues us in righteousness so that we are made right again with God.
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The section of Ezekiel that I can't stop thinking about is in chapter 47, verses 1-12.
This is going to be a long post, but hang with me because I think you will be blessed.


The River From the Temple
1 The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side.
3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live... 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing."


Wheww!, that was a lot...
What is it talking about??? Well, this is a prophecy about a real river in the millennial reign of Christ that will flow out of the temple in Jerusalem into the Dead Sea and bring it back to life (verse 8-"when it empties the Sea, the water there becomes fresh" cool!).
But let's see what it says to us today. Where is this water coming from? Verse one says out of the temple and verse 12 says it comes from the sanctuary. So, we know it is coming from God's dwelling place. I believe we can see a neat picture of salvation in this passage. When you receive Christ as your savior, you tap into the living water...
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:38
The river flows past the ALTAR (v1) in the temple which, I believe, is another glimpse of Jesus. Our one true sacrifice, the spotless lamb on the altar that opened the gates so that we could be forgiven and so the water could rush over us and make us alive.
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The prophet is first led in ankle-deep water in the passage. He doesn't go in very far. This makes me think of a Christian who has believed in Christ but has not decided to go very deep. He is holding back and fighting going in any further. He wants to hold on to comfort and security near the bank. This is where a lot of people stay in their relationship with Christ. It seems safer on the banks but you have no idea what you are missing if you stay in at ankle-depth.
Then, he is led into knee-deep water. Let's compare this to someone who is beginning to hunger and thirst for more. He is not satisfied with just being born again. He knows there is more out there.
Next, he is led into waist-deep water. God proved Himself faithful in the knee-deep water so the trust is growing and the person wades further into his relationship with Christ.
Finally, he goes a step further and "now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in..." This is what can happen when we are completely surrendered to God and in over our heads. We have let go of control and learned to completely trust God to sustain us. What is so cool about this place is the effect that this type of surrender can have on everything around it. When the prophet looks around, he sees LIFE all around him. He saw "a great number of living trees on each side of the river." "Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them." Do you see this? Do you see what happens when you go in over your head and allow the water to sweep over you? ABUNDANT LIFE!
This makes me question, where am I in the water? How do I get deeper in the river?
Am I producing life all around me because the water from the sanctuary is gushing over me?
Let's get practical...
First, if you don't know Christ as your savior from your sin, GET IN THE WATER.
(See previous post about Repentance or email me about how to get in the water. :)
You don't have to start at ankle-depth and make your way in. Hold your nose, trust Him to save you and JUMP IN OVER YOUR HEAD. He is trustworthy, believe me and believe the Scriptures. Start reading your Bible and ask God to reveal Himself to you, Obey His Word, and ask God to use your gifts for His glory.
If you do know Christ and you are in at ankle, knee or waist deep, do those same things and figure out what is holding you back?
Ask God to show you. I cannot describe how these verses have compelled me to do that in my own life. I want life all around me for God's glory. I don't want my sin or disbelief to keep me in shallow water. I want to fully trust God and I want Him to use me for His glory so others can come to know the God that lives in this sanctuary so THEY can feel the rush of His mighty, living water in their lives.
Rush over us, mighty Spirit of God, so that we may know the depths of your love!
Be blessed.
Steph
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13
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Repent...the big, scary church word.

"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and Live."


Ezekiel 18:32
I have shared part of my testimony with you about giving my life to Christ my junior year in college. It wasn't like I hadn't heard the gospel before then, I HAD. My parents had taught it to me, my church, my Sunday School teachers, my Young Life leaders and on and on... The problem I had was an unrepetant heart. I did not want to let go of the life I was living and stop doing things that I knew weren't God-pleasing. I also didn't want to surrender my life to God because I didn't know what He would want from me. I had a twisted image of a god who would take things away from me. What if he called me out of my comfort zone?
Even though my sins were destroying me, I hung on to them with all of my might. I just didn't know the truth about God and His character.


Everything changed on November 1, 1996 when I surrendered my life to the control of God. I repented. The word, repent, really isn't a scary word at all. The original Hebrew word in this verse from Ezekiel is "shuwb" which is defined to turn back, return or to show a turning away. Webster's definition includes this... to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one's life for the better.
Did you see the end of that?? FOR THE BETTER. It wasn't until I prayed to receive Christ's forgiveness and committed to stop doing the things that I knew to be sinful, that I received assurance of my standing before God and the refreshment that is found from living your life in the presence of the Lord. That is when my life changed FOR THE BETTER. I knew that Christ had died in my place and had given me life... abundant, eternal LIFE.


I have to clarify that this wasn't a one-time deal. I am constantly repenting and asking the Lord to help me do better and to sin less. We are never sinless but we can, by the power of God,
SIN LESS.


Again, "repent", the big, scary church word is not really scary at all. It is a gift! That we may turn away from things that will ultimately hurt us and run back to the God Who never will.
Repentance is always life-giving.
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."


Acts 3:19


"...the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."


Mark 1:15


“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”


Matthew 3:2
If you are just beginning a relationship with Christ and want to know more about walking with Him, please email me... tsblackiston@comcast.net

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Hey guys, it's Tim. Steph really did a good job describing repentance, I just wanted to add a quick thought. It is impossible to repent on your own (like the new year's resolution that lasts 6 weeks, but worse) because what you're trying to do is do a U-turn away from you. It's only possible with God's help, which He wants to give. But you know what? Once you do things His way for a while it actually becomes what you want to do - it becomes increasingly obvious that it's a better way. As you walk together with Him through some life you'll see what I mean. Like Steph said, if you have any ?s feel free to ask, we certainly want to be available for you.

5 comments:

Angela said...

So good to see you (even briefly) yesterday. I'm still loving your shorter hair!!!!

Can't wait to start Philippians soon.

a. ann said...

"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:38

i have been encouraged all the more w/ what HE was showing me this past week ~ praise God. Thanks for reposting true living water :)

blessings and prayers for u and baby!

lys

HIS Child said...

Steph,

I love your heart and the need to share Jesus. He is awesome that way, really getting into a daughter's heart and working all things for the good. I would so love to hear from you. How you are doing and what I can pray for you, Tim and those beautiful boys.
Much love to you and that beautiful blessing that you carry.

God bless you and give those boys a hug and a squeeze from me.
Celeste

Erin said...

Man! I have missed so much around here! I would love to do the conference call on Phillipians if you do it! Count me IN!

Erin said...

This is the first time I've read your post on Ezekiel and I know I will never forget it. It makes me think of so many other parts of scripture-

"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus."
Matthew 14:29

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you." Isaiah 43:2

I'm not sure I know where I am in the water until a tidal wave comes and I either sink (scared that the water is more than a comfortable knee deep) or swim-clinging to God's Word as a life presever! I am so glad that I survived the waves of a difficult year so that his presence is now filling me with ABUNDANT LIFE.

So glad you re-posted this Steph.