Week of Monday, April 19 ­– Sunday, April 25
Call the Expert – Man as a Chaplain

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. — Ezekiel 36:26-28 ESV

Whether you keep your garage orderly or messy, you probably have at least one broken item stored there, but with good intentions of fixing it at some point. We don’t want to trash something we think we can repair, and us guys typically think we can repair anything! Maybe you need to replace a part or need a special kind of tool for the repair, and you just haven’t gotten around to doing anything about it yet. Regardless of the reason, you’ve probably been storing that item in your garage because you believe you can restore it to working order again.

Sometimes we take the same approach with our broken relationship with God. We think we can tinker around and fix things on our own.  Maybe if we start doing one or two good things—and stop doing one or two bad things—then somehow we can patch everything up with God. But it doesn’t work that way. That’s because our hearts don’t need to be repaired; they need to be replaced—and this is exactly what God does for us. Only He can graciously remove our stubborn, rebellious hearts and exchange them for responsive, obedient hearts. That is His New Covenant promise here in Ezekiel 36.  We read more about it in the New Testament. In John chapter 3, Jesus compared this work of spiritual transformation to being “born again.”  The Apostle Paul spoke of it in terms of a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17).

The point is this: We can’t do what only God can do, and it’s foolish to try. It’s sort of like the difference between trying to tackle a complex repair project for which we have no expertise or ability and calling a professional who can easily take care of it.  On our own, we are not capable of right relationship with God or living the life He wants us to live. The apostle Paul put our impossible situation this way, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:18, 24-25).

That last part is the key.  When we turn to Jesus—the One who has already paid the price to restore our relationship with God—He makes us capable of doing the impossible: living life God’s way through His Holy Spirit.  God promises: “I will put my Spirit within you” (v 27) and that happens the moment we turn from our sin and put our trust in Jesus.  God declares that His indwelling Spirit will “cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

Take that as some good news when you think about your role as Chaplain. You can’t fix other people any more than you can fix yourself. But you can lead them to the Expert who can!  Are you worried about your adult child who is living in rebellion? Ask God to give him or her a new heart and a new spirit. Are your grandkids being beaten down by the bombardment of worldly influences? You won’t win that war by means of a few good granddad standard issue proverbs. Lead them to the One who alone can help them win the war through the power of His word.  Tell your friends and family members to take their impossibly broken lives to the Lord and say what I heard a WWII combat veteran and British Bible teacher Major Ian Thomas say: “Lord I can’t, never said I could.  You can and always said you would.  And I am going to let you.”  Tell them to call on the Expert.
  • Have you ever tried to fix a spiritual problem, either yours or someone else’s, on your own? How did that turn out?
  • Is there something going on in your life right now that you believed you could repair on your own? What does this passage tell you to do instead?
  • Thank God for His grace and willingness to replace the broken parts of your heart and life as you turn in faith to Him. Ask Him to show you where you’ve been trying to do repair-work on your own and to help you give those areas over to Him for true restoration.  Submit to the Spirit of God and allow Him to do what only He can.