CLICK HERE FOR AN INCREDIBLE STORY OF A YOUNG WOMAN NAMED "ABBY" WHO RECEIVED A HEART TRANSPLANT!
The first two-thirds of the Book of Ezekiel largely details God's judgment upon the Southern Kingdom of Judah because of her following after other gods and having a corrupt, diseased heart.
God called upon the prophet Ezekiel to be a "watchman" and to sound the alarm about the impending doom, giving them warning signs about their "heart disease" with a series of bizarre behaviors including:
These heart attack warnings, of course, went unheeded, and Judah was carried off into Babylonian captivity. But in the latter third of the book, God begins to give Ezekiel visions of hope and revitalization of his people.
In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God makes this promise to his people:
"26 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. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
God's people have been unwilling and unable to follow him and keep his commandments due to their heart condition. And so God says, I am going to give you a heart transplant. I am going to give you a new heart, a new spirit--so that you can keep my commandments.
What God is promising is not just forgiveness for his people, but transformation. He will help them become what he calls them to be--a pure act of grace.
In the above video, a young woman named Abby tells of needing a heart transplant--and talks about how someone's son had to die in order for her to receive her new heart. Abby was incredibly grateful to this family's son because of what he gave her through his death.
I thought that this video was touching and filled with obvious Christian parallels. Christ died not only for our sins, but for our transformation. And through his death and the sending of his Spirit, we have received a new heart. Now, may we live our lives in gratitude to this Son who died for us and gave us a heart transplant!
What do you think of the heart transplant metaphor and video above? How does Ezekiel 36:26-27 give you hope and encouragement in your desire to follow God? How else would you approach this passage in preaching?
Honoring your father and your mother is one of the “big 10.” It was blazed into stone tablets by the finger of God. In the Old Testament we see that disrespecting your father or mother was so serious that it resulted in stoning (Lev. 20:9). In the New Tstament, we see Jesus show great honor and respect for God the Father—a relationship that is particularly brought out throughout the gospel of John. The apostle Paul writes that children are to obey their parents, and yet he also gives instructions to fathers to not “exasperate their children” (Eph. 6:1f). Fathers are to be honored for many reasons—first and foremost because they give us life (John 5:26). We can also look at the gospel of John and find many characteristics of God the Father that good earthly fathers also have as well.
What other characteristics of God the Father do you see in good earthly fathers?
Back in the 1950s and 60s there was a popular television show called “Father Knows Best.” In this show, Robert Young played the role of Jim Anderson, the father in the show’s Anderson family.
Wikipedia characterizes the Jim Anderson role as “that of a thoughtful father who offered sage advice whenever one (or more) of his children had a problem. Jim was a salesman and manager of the General Insurance Company in Springfield, while Margaret was a housewife.” A to the Anderson family, “One history of the series characterized the Andersons as ’truly an idealized family, the sort that viewers could relate to and emulate."
While today there is a diversity of thought even among Christians as to what the “idealized family” ought to look like, there is no question that few positive role models of either fathers or families exist on television today. Whereas many of us grew up with shows like Family Ties, Growing Pains, and The Cosby Show, these types of shows are long gone.
Furthermore, a modern day show entitled “Father Knows Best” would be a satirical punchline, for fathers/dads are portrayed today on television as lazy oafs and “not so bright” buffoons. The idea that “Father Knows Best” is utterly foreign and laughable in today’s society. And for much of recent decades, the role of fathers in children’s lives was written off as relatively unimportant. In custody battles it went almost without question that children should go with their mothers, rather than considering both parents equally. As Rodney Dangerfield would say, “Fathers don’t get no respect.”
This modern day view of fathers is in stark contrast to both historical and biblical views of fatherhood. Human fathers, while not perfect, are to be honored (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16; Eph. 6:2), as is our father in heaven (Mt. 6:9f). Fathers for all that you do, we honor you this Father's Day!
Why do you think that fathers are so little honored today? How can we show more honor and respect to fathers?
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Dr. James Nored (Doctor of Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a preacher, evangelist, church consultant, writer, and missional leader located in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
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