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Friday, August 26, 2016

Spiritual Captivity (Ezekiel 33:31)

 "My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain."

Spiritual captivity is symptomatic (present and demonstrating symptoms). The lack of joyful obedience, the greedy grasping for things, and the "going through the motions" of worship characterize spiritual captivity. Joyless and fearful people fill the pages of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Lamentations. Why? They are either in exile, in a destroyed Jerusalem or on the run to Egypt because of their continued resistance to the Word of the Lord and to His prophets.

Several of the obvious indicators that I am not living the Spirit-filled life are joyless worship (going through the motions) and discontentment with my lot in life. People walking in spiritual freedom have a jump in their step, a song in their heart, a positive attitude, and an obedient walk. Some "presenting" symptoms of spiritual captivity--thieves of joy that grieve the Holy Spirit and hold Christians captive:
  • Unforgiveness toward another person
  • Inappropriate conversation (gossip, lying, embellishment, crude language, etc.)
  • Competing with others in ministry, child rearing, career, etc.
  • Discontentment with personal possessions (wanting more)
  • Compromising with the world
  • Accumulation of stuff while others do without
Spiritual captivity is treatable. The Bible urges believers to confess their sins to the Lord and turn from them to Him; He will then forgive and cleanse from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Clean people experience joy and freedom.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Ezekiel 27, 28; 33:21-33
  • Why does Ezekiel take up a lament against Tyre?
  • Describe Tyre.
  • What is Tyre known for and what characterizes her as a nation?
  • What characteristics do Tyre and the United States share?
  • What influence does Tyre have with Israel and Judah?
  • What will become of Tyre's wealth?
  • What has wealth done for Tyre as a nation?
  • Read the following passages and make a note of what wealth does to people: Proverbs 10:15; 18:11; 28:11; 1 Timothy 6:9,17,18; James 2:6; Revelation 3:14-22
  • Describe Israel's neighbors (28:24)
  • What does God promise to do to Israel's neighbors?
  • What does God promise to those still dwelling in Judah?
  • Why will the land lay desolate?
  • What does today's reading reveal about God? About wealth?
Turning truth into prayer
Read over Proverbs 30:7-9 and pray this prayer back to the Lord. Ask the LORD to help you recognize areas in your life where you are bound up.