Week 26 Friday

Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones

Today’s scripture selection: Ezekiel 13-18

Key verse: Ezekiel 14:3

The ancient prophets were always providing their audience with choices.

Those choices were about happiness or sorrow; growth or stagnation; faithfulness or idolatry; life or death.

Sometimes the people chose correctly – too often they ignored the prophets’ pleading and chose incorrectly.

The book of Ezekiel speaks of such a choice in this way:

The LORD says, “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces.  Should I let them inquire of me at all?”

Stumbling blocks – that’s what the “idols” they had chosen for themselves were – nothing more.

But, along with the condemnation, came a word of grace and hope.  If they would put the idols aside – and return to God – they would be accepted again: stumbling blocks that could become stepping stones.

We are no different.

All of our life choices, especially our spiritual ones, can be either stumbling blocks or stepping stones; ways blocking our path to God or ways leading to Him.

I invite you to look at all the choices that present themselves daily – at least the major ones.

I doubt God cares too much about what you eat for lunch or what you wear to work or what football team you cheer for.  (Although I know a few sports enthusiasts who would disagree with me on that one.)

But I think God cares very much about whether you live out your personal, work, family life, and your life as a citizen according to the guiding principles provided in the Bible.

Stumbling blocks – or stepping stones – it’s all a matter of choice.

Prayer: Lord, may I set aside the idols of my heart that are sometimes tempting – choosing you instead.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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