Tag Archives: Ezekiel

Ice Cream

Despite how your GPS led you down a dead ended dirt road, the day is coming when cars will know how to take you from Albuquerque to Alberta.  Or to the store to pick up milk.  But automated controls on cars will be no substitute for what happens when you go for a drive in the country.  Computers won’t be able to spontaneously pull over at an ice cream stand, or slow down to enjoy a view.  That kind of driving takes a real person behind the wheel, one who can think and feel and decide.

That’s what makes God’s decision to change how He directs our paths so exciting.  He began by telling us His laws, His rules..  But rules are clumsy guides.  Think of the toy car that heads in some random directon until it runs into an obstacle, turns and heads out in another direction.  A life lived by rules resembles that.  You crash into some “thou shalt not,” dust yourself off and change course.  But God’s new arrangement is to come live within us and interactively steer us.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone [i.e. a dead, unresponsive heart]  from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [one that is alive and responsive]. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezkiel 36:26-27  with my explanations added)

When God’s Spirit is behind the wheel, instead of robotically going from point A to point B in life, we can stop for ice cream, so to speak.  We can spontaneously enjoy the ride while safely remaining in the center of His will. As Paul wrote in Galatians 5:18,  “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under  [you don’t need to be controlled by] the law.”

How did God accomplish this new system of control?  Through Jesus.  He came and did everything necessary to install God’s Spirit in us.  Trust Him and enjoy the ride!

What Can I Expect?

A buddy of mine asked, “I hear so much about the Holy Spirit: Who is He and what can I expect if He comes to me?” The first answer is the Holy Spirit is God. He is the form in which God lives inside humans, enabling us to know God and respond to God. That’s the second answer. It’s kind of like this: Satellites send an invisible, wave of energy to your GPS device, that enables it to be a GPS, to become more than just a dead box of hardware and software. When the GPS gets the signal, it becomes fully alive, which means it is now able to operate the way it was designed to operate. God sends His Holy Spirit to those who will receive Him, so that we can operate the way we were designed to operate.

This is not some new change of plans for God; He has always had it in mind to do this. 700 years before Jesus, He told Ezekiel about His plan:

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:28)

God’s plan is to to put His Spirit in us and make us fully alive. Religion tells us to try harder to obey the rules. God tells us, “I will put My Spirit in you and cause you to live as I have designed you to live” (my paraphrase of Ezekiel 36:27-28). When we operate as we were designed to operate, we become fully alive. In other words, God’s Spirit is our life.

Jesus once shocked and startled people by saying:

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53b)

But then He explained what He meant. He said:

“Does this offend you? … The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. (John 6:61-63 – excerpts)

The Spirit of God, living in us – guiding us, empowering us, connecting us to God in real time – is our life. With Him installed, we become fully alive. With that idea in mind, chew on these other quotes from Jesus:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b)

“…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. … Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:16b-20 excerpts)

Obviously, my friend needed more of an answer than those short tidbits. And we will go into it further in future posts. But, if this is new to you, chew on it. It is the essence of the fresh bread of life. Perhaps if you chew on it, one day you will be ready to swallow it.

Jamming in God’s Band

If you have been following these posts, you know I’ve compared “dead” humans to dead cell phones that have lost their signal. (You can read all the posts in the right order HERE. In Isaiah 57:15, God said He wants to connect us to the signal of His Spirit and “revive us,” bring us to life.  (See “In a Nutshell”)  The problem with that analogy is that humans think and decide; cell phones are machines and only do what they are told.  God did not create us to be robots who blindly follow rules, but to be connected to Him by His Spirit in a harmonious way.  Here’s how He described the process of “reviving” us to Ezekiel:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27

God’s plan is not to control us like machines, but to “move us,” from the inside out, by giving His Spirit in us to motivate our new, responsive hearts.  See that?  Here’s how Paul describes it:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will,  Romans 12:2

The end result of this process of being “revived” by God’s Spirit, is not to become automatons who woodenly follow God’s rules, but living beings who, by being in tune with God, act in sympathy with His principles.

A shot from a 2006 performance by Peter Brötzm...

A shot from a 2006 performance by Peter Brötzmann, a key figure and doyen in European free jazz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time for a different analogy:  Beginning music students study and practice scales, because in music, scales are the “rules.”  Accomplished jazz musicians improvise in harmony with one another, not by playing scales, but by following the principles of the scales to make their music “work” together.  When a jazz musician plays a solo in a particularly harmonious and exciting way, the others say “That was righteous!”  God isn’t looking for robotic obedience to the rules, He’s looking for people who are in harmony with Him and with His principles, so much so that the way they improvise in life is “righteous.”

Chew on that…