Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood?
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
I want to tell you a story of the time Randy and I accepted a request to come as speakers for a church youth camp in another state. This camp was located much farther north from where we had directed camps in our home state. We were accustomed to teens behaviors and the need for fun as they learned, so we thought we were prepared. We completed directing the camp in our home state with a bevy of incredible staff around us. So sure, going to do what God gave us to do in another state seemed fun.
However, we learned quickly, in the first hours of arrival, that we (the two of us) were the “staff” over all their teens. This meant that our work was to not only be the speakers but included being with the teens 24/7 as counselors in the dorms, prepare other games and activities during the day, lead worship and watch over them as they ate their meals. This was not fully disclosed in the original “ask.” But, no problem, kids are kids, God gave us lessons we had used for the youth in our home state, so we were armed and ready to do the work. Then we met the teens.
Most of the teens brought (or dumped in some cases) by extended family expected us to “save their souls” and make ‘em behave. Alrighty, then. The attitude of both teens and family were going to be a challenge. Still, not to worry, Randy and I were public school teachers, we know challenging circumstances. We took this in stride and adjusted our plans–greatly. Because of past experiences as youth workers and school teachers, God had given us an arsenal of activities in our life time of service to Him.
Then we met them as a group. They had looks that could kill on their faces that would challenge any teacher. They pushed each other around as the “pecking order” for the week was being established. This happens in any group of people you put together. That was expected. What was not expected was the level of meanness and the darkness that seem to come in the door with most of them. Being a “sheltered” servant, I suppose, Randy and I agreed this was our first experience of being in a small room with a clear and present Darkness of evil face to face. It threw us, but it did not overwhelm us. As we worshiped together the first night, it became evident we were entering a war with Satan and his demons for the souls of these teens. Obscenities became louder than worship.
After the service, Randy and went to a room to pray, to cry out to God, actually. Lord, what have we gotten ourselves into? Why did you send us here? What are we to do, how are we to say what you want to those who refuse to hear? Everything changed—first in us. This was lesson one for us. Never assume that what you have prepared for one group, even though effective, will be “just as good” for another. We took the basic elements and changed how we presented it.
Darkness had a hold on these kids. Even as we worshiped, one young lady at the back mocked all the words of the songs of worship we sang. This is just one example, so you can get a feel of the room. The second night we challenged the Darkness. We saw a glimpse of “Light” from the eyes of a few gathered there. We zeroed in on their Light, though dim. They seemed to be begging for help and we wanted to reach out to them. Randy ended his talk that night, not with a warning or punishment but with a call to learn and grow, while dismissing those who did not want to be there. “Leave, go away, for right now.” “We see God in some of you who want more, so stay for a few minutes and let’s talk.” I know this sounds like a weird “call to meet Jesus,” but it worked.
Darkness was asked to leave and it went out with the mockers and bullies. We stayed with the “remnant” who cried and thanked us. (I’m tearing up in emotion just to remember this time of challenging the Darkness!) We prayed together for God’s intervention to deliver us from the Darkness that presented as “bullies” of our faith in Him. We prayed for words of wisdom and insights for our behaviors as representatives of our Savior, Jesus.
After prayer and talking for over an hour, the remnant, “marked” as God’s Light, became more confident. Their timid, bowed heads, turned upward with smiles on their faces. God reigns, no matter the number, and His glory was seen that night. We took them on as “staff” for the week. They faced the bullies with strength because of knowing Jesus was living powerfully in them. Interestingly, The teens who left looked in the windows from the outside wondering what was going on.
Sometimes you just keep doing what God asks, and you wait. We did what God asked us to do, said what He wanted us to say, even when it surprised even us. We loved on the bullies prompted by the Darkness (which threw them off guard) while we encouraged the “children of Light.” The last night of camp together in worship, we provided the opportunity to wash each other’s feet as Jesus did and took communion together. Randy explicitly gave them a choice without cause for reprisal or reprimand. “Do this only because you want to and because you love Jesus and want to become like Him.”
As those “of the Light” came to sit in the circles, one for boys and one for girls, we waited for others to join. We went on with the service of feet washing, explaining why Jesus washed the dirty feet of his disciples. One by one, those from the Darkness timidly got up from their chairs and joined the circle with tears rolling down their faces. God was in charge. God was honored. Jesus was declared King above all! Hallelujah!
I must ask, are you “marked” for Jesus? I pray you are and that people know you are marked as one of His.
Ezekiel 9, The Message
A Mark on the Forehead
Then I heard him call out loudly, “Executioners, come! And bring your deadly weapons with you.”
2 Six men came down the road from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying his lethal weapon. With them was a man dressed in linen with a writing case slung from his shoulder. They entered and stood by the bronze altar.
3-4 The Glory of the God of Israel ascended from his usual place above the cherubim-angels, moved to the threshold of the Temple, and called to the man with the writing case who was dressed in linen: “Go through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is in anguish over the outrageous obscenities being done in the city.”
5-6 I listened as he went on to address the executioners: “Follow him through the city and kill. Feel sorry for no one. Show no compassion. Kill old men and women, young men and women, mothers and children. But don’t lay a hand on anyone with the mark. Start at my Temple.”
They started with the leaders in front of the Temple.
7-8 He told the executioners, “Desecrate the Temple. Fill it with corpses. Then go out and continue the killing.” So they went out and struck the city.
While the massacre went forward, I was left alone. I fell on my face in prayer: “Oh, oh, God, my Master! Are you going to kill everyone left in Israel in this pouring out of your anger on Jerusalem?”
9-10 He said, “The guilt of Israel and Judah is enormous. The land is swollen with murder. The city is bloated with injustice. They all say, ‘God has forsaken the country. He doesn’t see anything we do.’ Well, I do see, and I’m not feeling sorry for any of them. They’re going to pay for what they’ve done.”
11 Just then, the man dressed in linen and carrying the writing case came back and reported, “I’ve done what you told me.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Not all the teens at that camp came forward. Not all were saved from walking in Darkness but they were presented with the Light that dispels darkness for life. Most received Jesus and decided He was better than walking in darkness. We pray and obey and God does the rest.
Ezekiel’s message, and delivering it must have broken his heart. After reading the Book of Lamentations and seeing how thoroughly the Lord “dealt in fury” with His people we feel his broken heart. Jeremiah was an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem, and what Ezekiel predicted, Jeremiah saw fulfilled.
Lost people in our world should break our hearts. Pray for the lost. Be the Light of Jesus who reflects from our being so they will know and be drawn to Him, too. Never give up. Be marked for Christ forever!
This is my prayer, In Jesus Name, Amen