Daily Dose, Jan. 8 — Ezekiel

  Therefore, say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. “I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 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. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. “Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleannesses, and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field abundant, so that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. “Then you shall remember your evil ways, and your dealings that were not good; and you shall loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds. It is not for your sake that I will act, says the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and dismayed for your ways, O house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 36:22-32)   True religion is about getting your heart in the right place. Israel’s heart was in the wrong place, and Ezekiel told them so. Their heart had turned to stone. They stopped listening to God and became stubborn as a mule. They did not pay attention to the commandments of God. They failed to honor the sabbath and lost touch with the sacred stars that guide us into green pastures. They neglected to love one another as brothers and sisters. The poor, the widow and the orphan were left to fend for themselves. Compassion evaporated like rain on the August asphalt. So God let them suffer the consequences of stone-hearted living. But, the mercy of the Lord endures forever. So God -- for the sake of his own name -- gave them a new heart, like a gift under the Christmas tree. They did not deserve it -- they had not earned it -- but they got it from above. Let’s call it grace. We read Ezekiel today, so we won’t get a strong heart. We read and think and say our prayers and open our hearts to the Lord. We want to be God’s children -- led and empowered by the Spirit. We live ready to do God’s will. -- Y’all come, Dr. Don