All posts by Robert Eckhard

Why the divided heart necessitates a new spirit?

‘I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.’ (Ezekiel 11v19)
Have you ever wondered what it means to have an undivided a heart? In this context it meant being so inclined towards God that you make His objectives your own. And of course, to do that you need to have a heart that is set on His will and purposes – and here lies the problem:
Oscar Wilde is  quoted as saying that he could ‘resist everything except temptation.’ In other words, he had no problem resisting those things that didn’t tempt or lure him but as soon as  he encountered something he desired, he would yield in an instant.
Why? Well, our human ability to exercise will power is insufficient because sooner or later we will slip up and give in to temptation. Hence, God’s promise to gives us an ‘undivided heart.’
Q) So how does God achieve this?
A) Well, by putting a ‘new Spirit’ within us. In short, the verse is a prophetic (future) telling of the time when Jesus will return to heaven and  the Holy Spirit will be sent upon all the believers. Does this mean we will no longer be tempted? No- we will – and at times we will fail. Thankfully, God’s forgiveness covers that! However and quite  incredibly, God’s Holy Spirit that”
  1. hovered over the water that existed from the beginning of time(Genesis 1)
  2. was instrumental in Creation and Trinity agreeing  that creation was good
  3. and fell in tongues of fire at Pentecost after Jesus returned to heaven

…now lives and resides in you and me to guide us so that we won’t have divided hearts.

Be blessed.

.

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Are you allowing God’s Holy Spirit to access and influence your life?

‘Then the Spirit of the Lord came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, you leaders in Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.’ (Ezekiel 11v5)
In this verse, there are three things that strike me about the Holy Spirit’s influence over Ezekiel in that:
  1. It is immediate! No sooner has the Spirit come upon Ezekiel then he is ready, willing and waiting.
  2. Ezekiel – like all prophets – is a conduit that God can use to speak to the leaders.   (note that when receiving a word or revelation, prophets are often burdened until they reveal it to others. Sometimes, verbal; other times as some sort of living metaphor [Hosea 1])
  3. The spirit discerns the heart and actions. That’s why God (and Ezekiel by extension)  is aware of how God’s words to Israel’s leaders is fallingl short when it comes to eliciting their action because he knows they are conflicted to do what God tells them.
Of course, this verse has application for us today as we (if we’re honest) also can be rebellious, holding out for what we would like to see happen rather than seeking God’s will in a situation. Understanding this and applying it in our lives is the beginning of spiritual wisdom. Be blessed!

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Unable to hear or be convicted by God?

‘There at the entrance of the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. The Lord said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city. They say, ‘Haven’t our houses been recently rebuilt? This city is a pot, and we are the meat in it.’ Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.”Then the Spirit of the Lord came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, you leaders in Israel, but I know what is going through your mind. You have killed many people in this city and filled its streets with the dead. (Ezekiel 11v1b-6)

Continue reading Unable to hear or be convicted by God?


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Empty God or full to overflowing?

‘When the cherubim stood still, they also stood still; and when the cherubim rose, they rose with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in them. ‘(Ezekiel 10v17)
In this verse, we encounter an issue of semantics. We are informed that when the cherubim stood still so did those other things in their proximity. Likewise, as the cherubim rose, so too did these other things with them – all of which is explained as happening because the spirit of the living creatures was in them – but what does this mean?
Years ago – while doing my theological training – I came across the term ‘Kenotic Theory’ in a book by Keith Ward. Hopefully, I remember the definition correctly here but it meant something along the lines of ‘God emptying Himself’ which is useful because it facilitates our human understanding of  why and how humans are enabled to possess freewill. A feat that is only permissible because God creates and facilitates a universe in which humans are able to obey or go against God’s perfect will (should they so choose) because God allows them the opportunity to deny His existence should they so choose.
In a world in which God – in his love –
  • can’t be seen
  • doesn’t retaliate against words made against him
it is easy to imagine that God is either not there or (at the very least) concerned by our antics. However, the act of emptying oneself is not a permanent state of existence but rather a temporary one. In the blink of an eye, God could reveal himself to the nations, creating turmoil for people who now have to face up to the existence of God and how they have or haven’t responded to Him.
Why did the cherubim and the other creatures in God’s presence  respond in tandem as ‘one’ to the movement of the Spirit? Because in the heavenly realm, the necessity for human freewill is superceded as here the divine presence of God is not empty but full to overflowing. The cherubims and other creatures could not help but respond to God’s Presence as this is the zenith of their existence and raison d’être – and so too it one day will be ares also as we thrown our golden crowns before Him.

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When you’re tired, sleep. When you’re weary…

‘Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house.’ (Ezekiel 3v24)
As always, context is everything. We pick up this verse after God has appointed Ezekiel to be a watchman for the people of Israel, relaying to them God’s warnings. As such, in v24 we see the term ‘Spirit ‘ which refers directly to the God who causes Ezekiel to:
Rise to his feet (then)
Listen
What I love about this verse is the model that it establishes for how each of us can best make ourselves  available and attentive to the leading of God.
Years ago, a christian friend spoke an adage into my life, telling me that ‘when I was tired I should sleep but when I was weary, I should pray.’ That advice has remained with me all my life and I tell you this because while the physical rising to our feet shows a willingness to meet and engage with God (rather than slouch around on a sofa), it is the fact that this action is the prelude to listening to God that is the most interesting part of this verse for me.
Obviously, I can’t speak for anyone other than myself but my experience is that an overly relaxed posture is more conducive to me being drowsy and falling asleep than being receptive to God and what the Divine might be saying to me or instructing me to do.
In summary, all of us can and will fail to live up to being available and receptive to God – thankfully, the Divine is gentle, kind, gracious and understanding . Even so, we each have a responsibility to do our best to make ouselves available to God so that when moved by His Holy Spirit, we will rise and listen to what He has to say.

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How God’s Holy Spirit motivates us to praise and worship

‘Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where it was standing.’ (Ezekiel 3v12)
In 1984, shortly after dedicating my life to Christ, I remember having a very distinct dream in which  I was seated in – what I can only describe as – a  large ‘aircraft hanger’ auditorium. Around me were thousands of other christians who were talking excitedly. Suddenly,  down below the elevated position where I and others were seated, someone walked onto the stage. What happens next is a bit of blur but a loud roar went up and as people rose to their feel they just as instantly fell to their knees in praise and worship – all except myself and a few others who blissfully lagged behind those who were on the ball. Falling to my knees, I remember my head being bowed and lips speaking praise as I joined with those around me
In Last week’s post – on Ezekiel 2 – we saw how the weary prophet was lifted and filled by God’s presence to the point where he was enabled to continue despite his fatigue.  In today’s passage, we see how the Spirit not only motivates humans to rise before God but the whole of creation as well for…
Thirty-five years on from my vivid dream – one truth remains standing in that just as believers are afforded a crown only to lay it before God, so too God’s Holy Spirit that causes us to rise will also cause us to find our knees in praise and worship to our Maker.

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Trusting and believing in God?

‘As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.’ Ezekiel 2v 2

In the New Living Translation,  verses 1 and 2 of Ezekiel 2 are phrased in this way:

‘”Stand up, son on man” said the voice. “I want to talk with you,” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet (as) I listened carefully to his words.’

In these verses, it is clearly God’s voice that calls and commissions Ezekiel. Indeed, no sooner does Ezeliel hear the voice then he is aware of God’s Spirit enlivening him to rise to his feet. Actually, what I love about this particular translation is the intimacy between God and Ezekiel in His words “Stand up, son on man. I want to talk with you.”

Surely this is a verse we should all hold on to in the midst of our fraught lives and busy days?  God knows our weariness: He is aware of our mistakes: those things that haunt us; the ways we have failed him now and will continue to fail him in the future; and our lack of strength to even rise before our Maker. And yet, God is always ready to meet and recommission us to do his bidding in the world. Such is the personal and active God we worship and His gentle way with those who believe and are receptive to God!


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Why you shouldn’t wait to be taught about spiritual gifts…

A few years ago, I taught a lovely group of people from a local church about primary and formational gifts. What was great was seeing their eyes light up as they discovered the different ways God had equipped them to be pastors, evangelists, prophets, teachers, preachers, servers etc. During the debrief afterwards, only a couple said they knew their primary spiritual gift prior to attending – the vast majority had no idea what their unique  spiritual gift was, which got me thinking….

Is it the case that there is not enough teaching on spiritual gifts within the church?

Now, although many churches extol the importance of spiritual gifts, few prioritise it in their teaching schedules. One reason for this I believe is a presumption by leaders that the flock will somehow discover their spiritual gifts for themselves. Aside from the reality that this is an unlikely outcome it also highlights the worrying reality of how not all church leaders are aware of the importance of exercising spiritual gifts – basic and supernatural.

There are many reasons why this happens. Sometimes, the minister may not understand the subject well enough themselves and avoids teaching about primary and supernatural gifts. Other times, the emphasis might solely focus on a reliance of  ‘supernatural gifting’  (tongues, prophesy, interpretation, etc) at the expense of basic spiritual gifts.

All of which means,  every christian has a responsibility to research and discover their spiritual gifts for themselves. When hungry, we don’t wait  for someone to feed us. Likewise, we shouldn’t wait for a minister to do it for us. Indeed, it could be the minister’s primary gift s not as a teacher which means  you may have to provide that particular sermon series. Okay, if you don’t know your primary spiritual gift and the others that accompany it, then take the free spiritual gift test now by clicking the link below. www.primarygift.co.uk 

All the best!


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Understanding Ezekiel?

‘Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.’ (Ezekiel 1v20)
It is of great benefit when reading Ezekiel to recognise this book is unlike any other. The verse – taken from Ezekiel’s vision- forces the reader to contemplate a scene so wondrous that it defies description. Or at the very least, our ability as humans to contemplate  the complexity of what is being viewed.
However, for the purposes of this series on understanding the Holy Spirit in History,  it will suffice to say that the ‘spirit’ as it is mentioned here falls into one of two explanations – these being:
  1. a supernatural occurence that facilitates the mechanism seen in Ezekiel’s vision?
  2. an unknown dynamic through which movement occurs that Ezekiel presumes spiritual?

From what is encountered later in  the book of Ezekiel, we realise that Ezekiel’s calling iand ability as a prophet is quite unique. However , for now, it will suffice to say his writing points to God who is  revealing what is to come through Ezekiel, his chosen vessel.

click here to read the context of v20 as it appears within chapter 1.
click here for a really interesting piece on Ezekiel

 


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Free but priceless?

Twenty years ago I started an Arts Cafe at the church. My minister asked  how much I would charge? When I suggested a small amount he told me to double it because when things are cheap, people don’t come because they imagine it  to be worthless. It’s the same with things that are offered ‘free ‘ on the Internet.

Now, until recently, my spiritual gift test was on sale as an app. However, with  the rise of 5G technology it  has become necessary to remove it from sale  for a number of reasons. Now, while the spiritual gift test that you and your friends can download on this website is FREEit is also PRICELESS as it has the potential to help people understand and discover their primary and formational spiritual gifts so they can grow God’s Kingdom!

Please do pass on this email to any who you think might benefit by taking this test and discovering their spiritual gifts and calling. Blessings, Bob

Take spiritual gift test


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