Stop Making Excuses

‘Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.’ Romans 12:2 NLT

Sometimes our culture markets misinformation and half-truths. And since our parents grew up in that culture, they usually took it on and handed us the same distorted guide for interpreting life. As a result, we may have arrived at these three mistaken conclusions:

(1) There’s a special person out there who will make me happy. Only God can do that! Hurting people only hurt other people. ‘The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’ (Luke 6:45 NIV)

(2) When I attain a certain position or accumulate a specific amount of money, I’ll be happy. That’s the old ‘as-soon-as’ myth, and it breeds a life of discontent (see Luke 12:15).

(3) I can’t help it; it’s just the way I am. That’s the ‘I’m-not-responsible’ lie, and it will stop you dead in your tracks. If you want to be happy, examine the excuses you keep coming up with to justify your behaviour. Here are a few of them:

‘I’m not the only one!’ Yeah, so what? If everybody does it, does that mean God doesn’t take it seriously? Like group-sin is ok?

‘I don’t see any harm in it.’ Who gave you the authority to write the rules about what’s harmful and what’s not?

‘I’ll just try it once.’ So if you do, does that mean there’ll be no consequences?

What are the lies behind your excuses? Examine them. They keep you in spiritual captivity, and they must be chopped down and removed! The Bible refers to this as the ‘renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Jesus said once you know the truth, you’ll be set free (see John 8:32)—because your old belief systems will be exposed. Imagine being free to become all God wants you to be! Isn’t that worth pursuing?

SoulFood: Ezek 40:10–42:20, Matt 24:15–25, Ps 78:17–31, Pro 20:15–19

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Ezekiel 40:10–42:20 ()

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10 And there were three side rooms on either side of the east gate. The three were of the same size, and the jambs on either side were of the same size. 11 Then he measured the width of the opening of the gateway, ten cubits; and the length of the gateway, thirteen cubits. 12 There was a barrier before the side rooms, one cubit on either side. And the side rooms were six cubits on either side. 13 Then he measured the gate from the ceiling of the one side room to the ceiling of the other, a breadth of twenty-five cubits; the openings faced each other. 14 He measured also the vestibule, sixty cubits. And around the vestibule of the gateway was the court. 15 From the front of the gate at the entrance to the front of the inner vestibule of the gate was fifty cubits. 16 And the gateway had windows all around, narrowing inwards toward the side rooms and toward their jambs, and likewise the vestibule had windows all around inside, and on the jambs were palm trees.

17 Then he brought me into the outer court. And behold, there were chambers and a pavement, all around the court. Thirty chambers faced the pavement. 18 And the pavement ran along the side of the gates, corresponding to the length of the gates. This was the lower pavement. 19 Then he measured the distance from the inner front of the lower gate to the outer front of the inner court, a hundred cubits on the east side and on the north side.

20 As for the gate that faced toward the north, belonging to the outer court, he measured its length and its breadth. 21 Its side rooms, three on either side, and its jambs and its vestibule were of the same size as those of the first gate. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 22 And its windows, its vestibule, and its palm trees were of the same size as those of the gate that faced toward the east. And by seven steps people would go up to it, and find its vestibule before them. 23 And opposite the gate on the north, as on the east, was a gate to the inner court. And he measured from gate to gate, a hundred cubits.

24 And he led me toward the south, and behold, there was a gate on the south. And he measured its jambs and its vestibule; they had the same size as the others. 25 Both it and its vestibule had windows all around, like the windows of the others. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 26 And there were seven steps leading up to it, and its vestibule was before them, and it had palm trees on its jambs, one on either side. 27 And there was a gate on the south of the inner court. And he measured from gate to gate toward the south, a hundred cubits.

28 Then he brought me to the inner court through the south gate, and he measured the south gate. It was of the same size as the others. 29 Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and both it and its vestibule had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 30 And there were vestibules all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits broad. 31 Its vestibule faced the outer court, and palm trees were on its jambs, and its stairway had eight steps.

32 Then he brought me to the inner court on the east side, and he measured the gate. It was of the same size as the others. 33 Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and both it and its vestibule had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 34 Its vestibule faced the outer court, and it had palm trees on its jambs, on either side, and its stairway had eight steps.

35 Then he brought me to the north gate, and he measured it. It had the same size as the others. 36 Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and it had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 37 Its vestibule faced the outer court, and it had palm trees on its jambs, on either side, and its stairway had eight steps.

38 There was a chamber with its door in the vestibule of the gate, where the burnt offering was to be washed. 39 And in the vestibule of the gate were two tables on either side, on which the burnt offering and the sin offering and the guilt offering were to be slaughtered. 40 And off to the side, on the outside as one goes up to the entrance of the north gate, were two tables; and off to the other side of the vestibule of the gate were two tables. 41 Four tables were on either side of the gate, eight tables, on which to slaughter. 42 And there were four tables of hewn stone for the burnt offering, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high, on which the instruments were to be laid with which the burnt offerings and the sacrifices were slaughtered. 43 And hooks, a handbreadth long, were fastened all around within. And on the tables the flesh of the offering was to be laid.

44 On the outside of the inner gateway there were two chambers in the inner court, one at the side of the north gate facing south, the other at the side of the south gate facing north. 45 And he said to me, “This chamber that faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, 46 and the chamber that faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who alone among the sons of Levi may come near to the LORD to minister to him.” 47 And he measured the court, a hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits broad, a square. And the altar was in front of the temple.

48 Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple and measured the jambs of the vestibule, five cubits on either side. And the breadth of the gate was fourteen cubits, and the sidewalls of the gate were three cubits on either side. 49 The length of the vestibule was twenty cubits, and the breadth twelve cubits, and people would go up to it by ten steps. And there were pillars beside the jambs, one on either side.

41:1 Then he brought me to the nave and measured the jambs. On each side six cubits was the breadth of the jambs. And the breadth of the entrance was ten cubits, and the sidewalls of the entrance were five cubits on either side. And he measured the length of the nave, forty cubits, and its breadth, twenty cubits. Then he went into the inner room and measured the jambs of the entrance, two cubits; and the entrance, six cubits; and the sidewalls on either side of the entrance, seven cubits. And he measured the length of the room, twenty cubits, and its breadth, twenty cubits, across the nave. And he said to me, “This is the Most Holy Place.”

Then he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits thick, and the breadth of the side chambers, four cubits, all around the temple. And the side chambers were in three stories, one over another, thirty in each story. There were offsets all around the wall of the temple to serve as supports for the side chambers, so that they should not be supported by the wall of the temple. And it became broader as it wound upward to the side chambers, because the temple was enclosed upward all around the temple. Thus the temple had a broad area upward, and so one went up from the lowest story to the top story through the middle story. I saw also that the temple had a raised platform all around; the foundations of the side chambers measured a full reed of six long cubits. The thickness of the outer wall of the side chambers was five cubits. The free space between the side chambers of the temple and the 10 other chambers was a breadth of twenty cubits all around the temple on every side. 11 And the doors of the side chambers opened on the free space, one door toward the north, and another door toward the south. And the breadth of the free space was five cubits all around.

12 The building that was facing the separate yard on the west side was seventy cubits broad, and the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits.

13 Then he measured the temple, a hundred cubits long; and the yard and the building with its walls, a hundred cubits long; 14 also the breadth of the east front of the temple and the yard, a hundred cubits.

15 Then he measured the length of the building facing the yard that was at the back and its galleries on either side, a hundred cubits.

The inside of the nave and the vestibules of the court, 16 the thresholds and the narrow windows and the galleries all around the three of them, opposite the threshold, were paneled with wood all around, from the floor up to the windows (now the windows were covered), 17 to the space above the door, even to the inner room, and on the outside. And on all the walls all around, inside and outside, was a measured pattern. 18 It was carved of cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Every cherub had two faces: 19 a human face toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side. They were carved on the whole temple all around. 20 From the floor to above the door, cherubim and palm trees were carved; similarly the wall of the nave.

21 The doorposts of the nave were squared, and in front of the Holy Place was something resembling 22 an altar of wood, three cubits high, two cubits long, and two cubits broad. Its corners, its base, and its walls were of wood. He said to me, “This is the table that is before the LORD.” 23 The nave and the Holy Place had each a double door. 24 The double doors had two leaves apiece, two swinging leaves for each door. 25 And on the doors of the nave were carved cherubim and palm trees, such as were carved on the walls. And there was a canopy of wood in front of the vestibule outside. 26 And there were narrow windows and palm trees on either side, on the sidewalls of the vestibule, the side chambers of the temple, and the canopies.

42:1 Then he led me out into the outer court, toward the north, and he brought me to the chambers that were opposite the separate yard and opposite the building on the north. The length of the building whose door faced north was a hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty cubits. Facing the twenty cubits that belonged to the inner court, and facing the pavement that belonged to the outer court, was gallery against gallery in three stories. And before the chambers was a passage inward, ten cubits wide and a hundred cubits long, and their doors were on the north. Now the upper chambers were narrower, for the galleries took more away from them than from the lower and middle chambers of the building. For they were in three stories, and they had no pillars like the pillars of the courts. Thus the upper chambers were set back from the ground more than the lower and the middle ones. And there was a wall outside parallel to the chambers, toward the outer court, opposite the chambers, fifty cubits long. For the chambers on the outer court were fifty cubits long, while those opposite the nave were a hundred cubits long. Below these chambers was an entrance on the east side, as one enters them from the outer court.

10 In the thickness of the wall of the court, on the south also, opposite the yard and opposite the building, there were chambers 11 with a passage in front of them. They were similar to the chambers on the north, of the same length and breadth, with the same exits and arrangements and doors, 12 as were the entrances of the chambers on the south. There was an entrance at the beginning of the passage, the passage before the corresponding wall on the east as one enters them.

13 Then he said to me, “The north chambers and the south chambers opposite the yard are the holy chambers, where the priests who approach the LORD shall eat the most holy offerings. There they shall put the most holy offerings—the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering—for the place is holy. 14 When the priests enter the Holy Place, they shall not go out of it into the outer court without laying there the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They shall put on other garments before they go near to that which is for the people.”

15 Now when he had finished measuring the interior of the temple area, he led me out by the gate that faced east, and measured the temple area all around. 16 He measured the east side with the measuring reed, 500 cubits by the measuring reed all around. 17 He measured the north side, 500 cubits by the measuring reed all around. 18 He measured the south side, 500 cubits by the measuring reed. 19 Then he turned to the west side and measured, 500 cubits by the measuring reed. 20 He measured it on the four sides. It had a wall around it, 500 cubits long and 500 cubits broad, to make a separation between the holy and the common.

Matthew 24:15–25 ()

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15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

Psalm 78:17–31 ()

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17   Yet they sinned still more against him,
    rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18   They tested God in their heart
    by demanding the food they craved.
19   They spoke against God, saying,
    “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
20   He struck the rock so that water gushed out
    and streams overflowed.
  Can he also give bread
    or provide meat for his people?”
21   Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath;
    a fire was kindled against Jacob;
    his anger rose against Israel,
22   because they did not believe in God
    and did not trust his saving power.
23   Yet he commanded the skies above
    and opened the doors of heaven,
24   and he rained down on them manna to eat
    and gave them the grain of heaven.
25   Man ate of the bread of the angels;
    he sent them food in abundance.
26   He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
    and by his power he led out the south wind;
27   he rained meat on them like dust,
    winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28   he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
    all around their dwellings.
29   And they ate and were well filled,
    for he gave them what they craved.
30   But before they had satisfied their craving,
    while the food was still in their mouths,
31   the anger of God rose against them,
    and he killed the strongest of them
    and laid low the young men of Israel.

Proverbs 20:15–19 ()

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15   There is gold and abundance of costly stones,
    but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
16   Take a man's garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
    and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.
17   Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
    but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.
18   Plans are established by counsel;
    by wise guidance wage war.
19   Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
    therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Sat 07 September, 2019


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