Expect God to do something

Ezekiel 36:22-32

Entertainment star Mark Wahlberg recently appeared on television to talk about Lent. Great! What made us laugh was the lower third title that described the segment. It read: Mark Wahlberg’s 40-Day Challenge. Never mind that Lent probably began in the early 4th century! It’s Mark Wahlberg’s legacy now.

I’m sure he had nothing to do with that title. It was an unfortunate gaffe. But it does help highlight a spiritual thread we do well to acknowledge.

Many of us talk about what we’re going to do for Lent. We’re going to give up a certain meal each day. We gave up drinking certain things or participating in particular activities. Or we say we’re going to pray more. To be sure, these are appropriate and meaningful practices, for Lent or otherwise.

But what do we expect God to do?

No, praying is not a magic wand to sway God’s actions in your favor. Adding fasting to your praying doesn’t up the ante for the Lord. We don’t commit to spiritual disciplines to incite God to action. In part, we commit to better appreciate what God is already doing within us and around us.

Still, I want God to do certain things. I expect God to do certain things. Not in a proud or arrogant way. But, Lord, I know you’re true to your faithfulness. So, I need you to do certain things.

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God told Israel, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act but for the sake of my holy name.” Israel profaned God’s name. Now, God would restore it. How? Through the same people who profaned God’s name. The Lord said, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. “

God would make the people clean. And that would be enough!

Sometimes, I think of “my sermons,” or “my Bible studies.” But let’s not lose sight that the real work is God’s. The most freeing work comes from the Lord when we get out of the way to allow for the Spirit to make us clean.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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