112715: Leave Different
In the book of Ezekiel, God gives the prophet all kinds of specific details about the temple and how the people of God should act in relation to it. Ezekiel 46:9 especially caught my attention. “But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate” (NKJ).
Every Sunday after the sermon, when my pastor extends the invitation for people to come into a saving knowledge of Jesus, he says, “We don’t want you to leave the same way you came.” Until reading Ezekiel 46:9, I took those words to apply only to those people who were realizing a need for a new relationship with Christ, or to those who had fallen away—the backsliders—and now wanted to renew that relationship. But now I see my pastor’s words in a new light.
None of the altar call invitations may apply to us, but we all “shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate.” In other words, I believe this is speaking to us today to say that every time we read the Bible, hear a sermon or read a Christian book, we should be changed because we have been within earshot of the Master’s voice.
Let’s listen for the word from God every time someone’s preaching or teaching. We can make it a habit to listen with our ears when someone is speaking the message, with our eyes when someone has written the message, and with our hearts in both circumstances. And after we’ve heard, may we leave different.
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