SPOKEN PRAYER: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
The Wanna Factor
by Pastor Dave Mann
The people of Israel (including Ezekiel) have been sent into exile—most to Babylon, but some fled to other neighboring countries. Why did God allow this to happen? Because the people of God were unfaithful, worshiping idols and ignoring God’s laws.
Now, that they have been scattered among the nations, God is making a new promise to bless the people of Israel – to bring them back to their home country. Why such grace? Because Israel is such an obedient and faithful people? No, God is doing this extraordinary thing for the sake of his holy name and that the nations may see and believe.
Verses 26 and 27 are the key points.
"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 will change the inner person (heart and spirit) of the people of Israel, changing their heart of stone into a heart of flesh -- from a rigid, obstinate heart to a willing and obedient heart. And most importantly, God will put his own Spirit inside of them. This prophecy, given hundreds of years in advance of the Day of Pentecost, is found elsewhere in Ezekiel (37:14; 39:29) as well as in Joel 2:28-29, which the apostle Peter quoted in his Pentecost sermon.
What does this mean for us? Originally, the Law of God was given in a Thou-shalt format. The onus for obedience to God’s good law was laid upon us. But now, with the power of the Holy Spirit within, we have been given the “wanna factor.” We have not only been given the Law and told to obey it, but we have also been provided the motivation to obey – the “wanna factor” -- to desire to follow what God has said is good for others and good for us.
St. Augustine (354-430) wrote, “O Lord, command what you will and grant what you command.” Our full obedience is only possible when the Spirit gives us the ability.
O Holy Spirit, we need your power – the power to desire what you command – to power to love you and to obey you with our whole heart. Come, Holy Spirit, fill me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.