Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Hey, all. I pray that we all have a very happy New Year, not just tonight, but that this whole year of 2006 is overflowing in the favor of God. Personally, I believe that this year is going to be the start of great things that God has put inside of me. How about you?

I've been thinking today about Jonathan, the son of King Saul. In 1 Samuel 14, we see this man taking a step in faith, and doing a great work for God. Jonathan and just his armor-bearer took a step out and fought the Philistine army. Did Jonathan hear from God? The Bible only says this in verse 7:

Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, "Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few."

All Jonathan went on was that word, "perhaps". He had no direct word from heaven. He took a chance, and stepped out in faith, and God honored it. Jonathan was a risk taker for the Lord.

This is what I want to be. God has given me dreams and a vision. Now is the time to see it take shape. How about you? Perhaps it's now time to take that first step toward God's plan for you. Yes, it may seem too hard, even impossible. But remember, our Lord Jesus said that with God, nothing is impossible.

It is my prayer that this last post of mine in 2005 has encouraged you, and hopefully lit a fire under you to begin chasing that God-given dream. God bless you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What is Relevant Ministry?

Hey, all. I'm going to shift gears today from my usually devotion style blog. I have mentioned before about the call to start a church. That call has led me in recent weeks to really dive headfirst into examining ministry, as to find a good method of reaching out to people with the Gospel. Of course,we know that the message of Gospel must never change, but the method we use to serve it up does.

About a year ago, I was about halfway into the Minsterial Internship Program, a nine-month program designed to give practical experience to new ministers. I was beginning put together the one paper we were required to write, called the Theology of Ministry (Henry, Darrell and Neil, I'm sure you remember!). For my topic, I looked at the ministry of Jesus as our example of truly Spirit-led and Spirit-filled ministry. I looked at three aspects of His ministry, His preaching/teaching, His miracles, and His sacrifice. Some scripture I used for this study included Isaiah 61, Acts 10:38 and Hebrews 9:14.

My point is that Jesus was the prime example of what we call "relevant" ministry. He engaged the culture of His day, which appeared to be poor and working class people. He didn't hang with the "important folks" the religious people. Our culture today is a Post-Christian culture. So here's my question to you: what does relevant ministry look like in post-christian and postmodern times? I've read the articles, but nothing communicates like person experience. Share your stories, share your ideas and methods. I look forward to the responses. God bless.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Some More Pics

I know it's late, but I finally figured out how to add photos! These are from Christmas at Grandma's house (my mom). The little guy on the left is my nephew Tyler. The bigger girl on the right that is halfway cut off is my niece from Milwaukee, Melissa. My son Timmy is concentrating hard on his present, while my girls Machaela and Gabbie are unwrapping their Barbie Dollhouse.

The Joys of Fatherhood

*I thought I'd experiment with a recent picture of the kids, actually sitting still! Left to right is Machaela, Timmy and Gabbie.

Hey, all. I'm just sitting here in front of my computer holding my almost 4 year old girl (in picture above, she is the one on the right). She was supposed to be asleep a couple of hours ago, but she came to the stairway and quietly said she wanted me to rub her head. Sometimes, when trying to get her to fall asleep, I will sit beside her bed and gently brush her hair back with my hand. As I sit her typing this, she is falling asleep in her daddy's arms. I think there is a message in there somewhere, but I'm not going to preach it.

When Gabbie (her name) came downstairs, she had 2 of her "Doodle Bears" she got for Christmas, and her "blanky", a ragged blanket she's had since she was just a few months old. She only seems to find comfort in it by sucking on it. Problem is, the darn thing gets stinky in a real hurry, and we have to sneak it to the laundry room while she's occupied with something else.

My other 2 are also asleep now. Peace at last!

His Faithful Love Endures Forever!

As I was reading the Bible last night before bed, this portion of Scripture jumped out at me. The 136th Psalm is a passage in which every verse ends with the refrain, “for his mercy endures forever”. Every verse tells us of an act of God, and then declares his mercy, or faithful love to us. Today, my focus is on verses 7-9.

This section is praising God in his creation specifically of the great lights he created, the sun, moon and stars. Let’s read these verses.

“Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights-
His faithful love endures forever.

the sun to rule the day,
His faithful love endures forever.

and the moon and stars to rule the night.
His faithful love endures forever.”

Now, several weeks ago I wrote about the sun, moon and stars, but something else jumped off the page that caught my attention. That is, God’s creation was an act of his mercy, his faithful love. When God was creating the world, it was out of his faithful love for us. As he placed the sun in its place and the moon in its place, it was out of his faithful love for us. The amazing thing is that when God was creating these, Adam hadn’t been formed of the dust of the earth yet. He was still just a thought in God’s mind. What that tells me is that if God was good to us before we were even formed, how much more will he be good to us in the here and now?

In the earlier entry, I related the sun and moon and stars to the things God is doing in us.
The things we see in the daytime sky and the nighttime sky are absolutely breathtaking. So is all that God has done in us, which should shine to out to be seen by those around us. As God’s original creation was an act of his faithful love, so his working in our lives in an act of his faithful love. Friends, this is something to rejoice in today!

The Bible tells us to give thanks to God for the great things that he has done (118:1). Look back on your life and see what awesome things that the Lord Jesus has done. I look back on my life with Christ, and I have to praise him. Friends, he freed me from the bondage of alcohol instantly. He released me from years of addiction to pornography. He took an angry young man that could lose control in a rage and cause damage to things, and brought me out of that. He started to work his Holy nature out in my life. He called me into the ministry of his Holy Word. The Lord has been so good to me!

Look back on your life. What has God done for you? Give him thanks, and remember that his faithful love for you endures forever! God bless.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to send a shout out to everyone this Christmas Eve. To all who read this blog, and all who contribute, Merry Christmas and God bless you!

And for those who pop in and check out this site, or if you are simply blogging around randomly, remember the greatest given ever given wasn't found under the tree. The Bible says that God so loved the world, that's you, that He gave His one and only Son, so that those who believe in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, won't persish in Hell, but have eternal life with Christ! If you haven't trusted the Lord Jesus and committed your self to Him, I encourage you today to turn from your sins and commit your life to him. God bless you this Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another Stone in the River

Joshua 4:9 “And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.”

First of all, thanks to Pastor Neil for getting me focused on this particular topic. Neil mentioned in his blog the need to get rid of stuff that hinders us. Well, that reminded me of a message I preached a few years back, but it’s pertinent to the discussion we’ve been having over on his blog site. I thought I'd bring it up here. Now, let’s get into the Word!

I want to give a little background information on this passage. God had now begun leading His people into the land of Canaan, the land He had promised Abraham that his descendants would live in. They were actually situated east of Canaan, modern day Israel and Palestine. Right off the bat, these folks are faced with problem number one: the Jordan River. Now, any other time of year, this would be a cakewalk. But this was harvest time, and at harvest, the river overflowed its banks (see Josh. 3:15). I suppose the word “overflow” is something of an understatement. You see, history tells us that at this time, it was over a mile wide. Normally, it was a small river, easy to cross. God miraculously caused the river to part, kind of like the Red Sea, so they could cross over on dry ground by foot. Joshua had one man from each of the twelve tribes get one stone out of the riverbed, and set it up on the other side where they were camping, as a memorial to what God has done. That’s another message for another day, and I’ll wait till then to talk about those stones. But then, while the water was still held back by God, Joshua took twelve more stones himself, and piled them up in the middle of the riverbed. Now, I understand why God had them pile the stones up on the other side, but why in the riverbed, since the water would begin to flow soon at flood stage, and the stones Joshua set up would be covered? I believe the reason he set up those stones in the riverbed was he was making a declaration that the people those Israelites used to be were gone now. You see, these people grew up in the desert hearing nothing but grumbling and complaining. They heard their parents voice their unbelief. That had to rub off on them, at least in part. I believe the attitudes and unbelief had to die. That’s what those stones in the Jordan represented.

So, what does that mean for us who belong to Christ? It means that we also must get rid of the stuff that holds us back in our walk with Christ. We have stones that most be piled up in the riverbed, too. Just listen to what Hebrews 12:1 has to say.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

What hinders you today, friends? What is it that is holding you back from all that Christ has for you? Yes, it could be some besetting sin. It could just be “stuff”, things that aren’t really sinful, but aren’t helping you either. That word, “encumbrance” in the Greek literally means “bulk” or “mass”. It’s the stuff that weighs us down, and keeps us from effectively running this race. Here’s an example from my life. I grew up in the eighties, and I am a child of the video game. I had the Atari 2600. I had the Nintendo Entertainment System. I had computers with great video games. Now, I have my brother’s Xbox game system, because he isn’t using now. If I’m not careful, I will let myself do nothing but play games. I love it! I will stay up until very late at times with that thing and I have to be up before first light. Now, the games I play aren’t bad or evil. I don’t have Grand Theft Auto or anything like that. Is there something inherently evil about video games? That depends on the game, but with the games I have, no. The problem comes when the games start taking from my time with God, from prayer and times of Bible study and worship. The Xbox becomes a weight that is holding me back.

I like what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3: 13-14:

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We have a mark we are pressing on to, and stuff is going to have to be dumped and forgotten. In Paul’s case, it was his religious upbringing, his pride as a Pharisee, the pride associated with his national identity, and his vile hatred of Christ and His Church prior to his own salvation. He said of it all, “it’s all just dung”.

So be encouraged today, friend. The Lord is on your side, and He is doing a work in you that you can’t possibly do in your own strength. And be encouraged as He asks you to lay aside stuff, He will also give you the grace to do so. I leave you with one of the great promises of God in Philippians 2:12-13:

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure

God bless, my friends!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Don't Just Stand There, Do Something!

"Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the LORD brought about a great victory." 2 Samuel 23:11-12

In my last entry, I spoke of knowing God's calling and purpose for oneself, yet having a sense of missing God about that purpose. That even though I am certain of my call to pastor and shepherd the flock, I still at times feel like I missed it somewhere. Today, I want to talk with a different group of people. I want to talk to those who, though they love the Lord Jesus, still are unsure of the call and purpose.

Much of my ministry has been to young people. Though I haven't been the Youth Pastor, I have worked closely with youth. One thing I have found to be common with teenagers is that they are unsure of what their God-given purpose is. It's not just teens that feel this way. There are many, both young and old alike, that are trying to figure out what God has for them to do. Tonight, let's focus on this statement: If you don't know what to do, do something.

In the scripture above, the Philistines had again, like many times before, come against Israel. People started to panic, and everyone fled. Everyone, that is, but a guy named Shammah. He was one of David's "mighty men", a warrior. The Bible says that they were in an area with a piece of ground for growing lentils. When everyone fled from the enemy, Shammah decided to stay and fight. Because he stayed and fought, the Bible goes on to say that the Lord brought about a great victory.

What I love is that this hero of the Bible has no real mention. It doesn't tell us that he had some blessed experience of being called out by God's prophet and anointed, as David had. He simply decided that he was not going to retreat in the face of danger. When everyone else did nothing, he did something.

This past Sunday, I spoke on this subject to the Youth Sunday School Class. The majority of those in the class admitted to not knowing what God had in store for them. So I put the question to them. Is it easier to just sit on your hands and do nothing when you're unsure of God's call? Or is it easier to take the initiative and do something? Overwhelmingly, they admitted that it was easier to sit down and do nothing. Friends, just because God hasn't made clear to us our calling, doesn't mean that He wants us to sit around and do nothing till He tells us. When you don't know what to do, do something. Maybe you can start a lunchtime Bible study at work. Perhaps it's getting together with another believer to pray for your work or school. Start going door to door, sharing Christ with your neighbors, or passing out Gospel tracts in places where larger quanities of people gather. Perhaps your church has an outreach ministry that you can get involved with. Many times, while I was trusting God to clarify my call, I would hit the streets to walk, pray and witness to those I passed.

I'm reminded of a parable that Jesus told. In Matthew 25, Jesus told the parable of the talents. In this story, a wealthy man was preparing to go away for a while, so he called his servants, and put each in charge of something. In Luke's version of this parable, he tells the servants to "do business" till he comes. Two of the servants did good work, and they were commended, but the third, fearing his master, decided to bury the money entrusted to him, and did nothing. Upon his master's return, an account of his work was required. What strikes me is what his master said. "Why didn't you at least put my money in the bank? Then at least I would have earned interest on it." In other words, he should have done something. Now, while this man's motivation was fear, yours may just be that you don't know what you are supposed to do yet. But be encouraged, friends. There is always work to be done for the Kingdom of God. So whether it's hitting the streets and witnessing, or hitting your knees and praying (or both!), find a place to work, and plug your self in. God bless!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lost! (At least it seems that way)

“And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel [was] established [to be] a prophet of the LORD.” 1 Sam. 3:19-20

Have you ever felt that you somehow missed God concerning His purpose for your life? Have you ever felt like you were trying to wedge yourself into a spot that God never really intended for you to go? I know I have. Yet, I am confident in my call. I know what God has called me to do, at least I know in part (1 Cor. 13:9). I want to speak to those today who for whatever reason are struggling with what they feel God has purposed for them. Let’s recount this story from 1 Samuel.

Samuel was a miracle child, born to a couple who could not have children. God had heard the prayer of Samuel’s mother, and graciously opened her womb. She conceived, and Samuel was born. As soon as she weaned her young son, she took him to the tabernacle, and “lent him to the Lord”. She took young Samuel to live there at the tabernacle, where he trained for the priesthood. Yet, because of the disobedience of his mentor’s house, Samuel was raised up by God to be a new priest, judge and prophet to Israel. Even though he must have been quite young, God began to use Samuel. As our text today says, God didn’t let any of his (Samuel’s) words “fall to the ground”. In other words, when Samuel spoke God’s Word, not one word failed. All came to pass. Everyone knew then that God had “established” or confirmed Samuel as a true prophet.

Now, not everyone has been called to be a prophet. But we all have some purpose here on this planet. There is some job that the Lord Jesus has for us to do. As the Bible tells us, we are all part of the Body of Christ. We each have a function. But just as God confirmed Samuel in his role, so He will confirm us in ours. For me, there are times where I will struggle with the call of God as a pastor. It sometimes seems that it’s an impossible dream that, like the proverbial door at the end of the hallway, seems to get farther away with every step I take toward it. You know, that can get depressing. It can be discouraging. Sometimes it seems like I’m simply sitting on my hands, with no doors opening. I pray, study, and fast (okay, sometimes!). But sometimes, it just feels like He’s dropped me in a spiritual closet and told me to just sit. Other times, I struggle with God’s timing. “When God when?” It seems easier sometimes to just chalk it up to mishearing God. But these are times when I must hold out in faith, and press on, being faithful.

Yet, I can see where God is using me in my particular role. I begin to see where He uses me to “shepherd” those he sends me. I see where He is using me as an “equipper of the Body” (see Ephesians 4:11-12). Hey, He has even used this blog to remind me of His purpose for me. Yes, He is steadily showing me and others that I will not “fall to the ground”, that He is confirming me in my place in His plans.

Let me encourage you today. Be faithful to do what you believe God has called you to do, even if it seems futile. God will confirm your call. He will show you the ways that He is establishing you. And remember, no matter how small or unimportant it may seem to you now, press on. As Jesus said, those who are faithful in the little things will entrusted with more. God bless!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Somebody's Watching Me Again!

1 Sam. 2:12; 17- Now the sons of Eli [were] sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.” “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.”

In, my last blog, I wrote of the need to remember that there are people around us who are watching how we live our lives. I spoke specifically about how we are to live our lives through the storms that life often throws at us. Today, I want to speak about how to live our lives above reproach, for the same reason that as those around us watch our lives, our actions can make or break their faith.

In this passage, we read of the two sons of Eli the priest, Hophni and Phinehas. They were priests at the tabernacle, but we read that they were corrupt; in fact, the Bible says that they did not know the Lord. Here were these two brothers, working as representatives of the Almighty, yet they did not know Him personally. They had no relationship with God, and so they lived unholy lives. These men were known for taking much more than the priest’s share of the offerings made. Imagine that you are waiting with your family and friends, in a joyous celebration of God’s goodness, and you are waiting for your portion to the sacrifice to eat, and these priests suddenly send in one of their servants with a special fleshook, or fork, to take your food, just so they could fulfill their greed. They even had the nerve to rob God of the offering before it could be burnt, so they could have a fresh roast (vs. 15-16). These priests were also known to commit sexual sin with the women that came to the tabernacle. Even their dad Eli, who had grown spiritually dull himself, called his sons out on their sin, but to no avail. The Bible calls them “Sons of Belial”, literally, “sons of destruction, worthless, good for nothing, and unprofitable”. Needless to say, not the kind of boys I want my girls to bring home!

But here’s the point: these were priests. They were representatives of God. A minister of God must be above reproach. Just look at 1 Timothy 3 for a list of qualities necessary for a minister. These men were the exact opposite. Their actions caused the people to “abhor the offering of the Lord”. As the people of Israel would near the time of sacrifice, I can almost hear them mumbling, “We’ve gotta go up and deal with those rotten guys again”. And who could really blame them? The actions of these men caused others to not want to offer sacrifices to God.

I suppose I could talk about the flamboyant hucksters out there on late-night infomercials that promise God’s blessings for a “seed faith” offering of $50. But that’s another topic, though it would preach. I want to focus on our everyday lives, and how we conduct ourselves. Others are watching us, and we need to set an example of Godly behavior. People need to see that not only do we profess the Lord Jesus Christ verbally, but our lives demonstrate the truths we speak of. You see, we are exhorted in Romans 12:1 that we must “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God”. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called on by God Himself to lay ourselves “on the altar” so to speak, to realize that we are not our own, to reckon our will and desires as dead. And that is where we find true life! I’m reminded of a modern worship chorus that says, “The Wonderful cross, bids me come and die, and find that I may truly live”. But when those in the world see a believer acting no different than them, it causes them to “abhor the offering of the Lord”. They may say things like, “That Christian doesn’t live any different from me, why do I want what he’s got?” or “Christians are all hypocrites”. We must watch our lives, and guard our testimonies. Others are watching.

King David had a similar experience. We know the story, how he alone one day saw a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop, as he was on his. He found out about her, and sent for her. Even though he knew that she was married, and to a loyal solider at that, he slept with her. When he found out about her now being pregnant, he sent for her husband from battle, to cover his track, and everyone would think the child was his. But that plan didn’t work, so David sent him back to battle with a letter to the commander to put him at the front of the heaviest battle. It worked, as the man was killed. The “man after God’s heart” had done evil, and soon, he was called on the carpet by the prophet of God. David repented, but he was told that his actions had caused the enemies of God to blaspheme Him. God’s name had been attacked because the “man of God” had sinned grievously. David’s actions demonstrate my point today.

Let us live our lives in such a way, that those we work with, and interact with, be it friend of family, see the nature of Christ displayed before them. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify God in heaven! God bless.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Somebody's Watching Me

2 Corinthians 1:3-6 (AMP)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God. For just as Christ's [[a]own] sufferings fall to our lot [b][as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them] abundantly, so through Christ comfort (consolation and encouragement) is also [shared and experienced] abundantly by us. But if we are troubled (afflicted and distressed), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement) and [for your] salvation; and if we are comforted (consoled and encouraged), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement), which works [in you] when you patiently endure the same evils (misfortunes and calamities) that we also suffer and undergo.

As I was reading this passage today in the Amplified version of the Bible, I began to think not about suffering and times of trial and affliction, as is the context of this passage, but the fact that as believers of Jesus Christ, others are watching us. I was reminded of an old song from my childhood called, “I Always Feel like Somebody’s Watching Me”. Now, I don’t remember at all what the song was about. I am certain that it had nothing to do with being an example to those who watch us. But it reminded me that my life is being watched. I’m being watched most definitely by at least three pairs of little eyes, my kids. They watch my life, my attitudes, my demeanor, and my reactions. They see me at my very best, and at my very worst. Others watch me as well, such as my unsaved loved ones, coworkers, and fellow believers. That’s why it’s so important to that we live our lives in a way that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.

That means in the good times as well as the bad. I know that the recurring theme of my blog is valleys and trials. We tend to write and speak about what we know, and hey, it’s what I know. Here, the apostle Paul speaks of his own afflictions for Christ’s sake. He first makes it clear that we as Christ’s disciples will experience suffering. Look at the fifth verse: “For just as Christ's [[a]own] sufferings fall to our lot [b][as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them] abundantly, so through Christ comfort (consolation and encouragement) is also [shared and experienced] abundantly by us” (AMP). We will go through times of affliction and distress. Yet, in those times, we can be assured that the Lord will console us and encourage us. Why, we can simply look at His example. “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). That is what Paul did.

Yet, Paul realized that the believers in Corinth were watching him. Undoubtedly, he knew that they were watching to see his reaction to his own distress and hardship. He gave them a great example, and here he expounded on that. Verse six speaks of his trials and afflictions as being for their good. But he told them in effect, “If I am troubled and afflicted, it’s for your comfort and encouragement. And if I’m comforted in these trials, it’s for your encouragement as well!” In other words, he was saying that the Corinthian Christians can rejoice and be encouraged, because if Paul can endure the trials and suffering, so can they.

Friends, we must remember this important fact. We will be watched. That goes for situations such as Paul wrote about here in 2 Corinthians 1, or making sure that we are living our lives in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel of Jesus. People are watching us, and our reactions to life’s circumstances can make or break their trust in Christ. So let us be mindful of those eyes that maybe upon us, watching our lives, so that we might show them the nature of Jesus Christ. God bless!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Can These Bones Live?

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord."'"
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live."'" So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Ezekiel 37:4-10

This passage of Scripture has got to be one of the most preached passages ever. It’s easy to see why. What a vivid prophecy. If this stands out so much to us in the 21st century, imagine what it must have been like for Ezekiel as he had this vision. This is a prophecy of Scripture that has been fulfilled. It was fulfilled on May 14, 1948, when Israel once again became a sovereign nation. God was bringing His chosen people back to their homeland. While this prophecy has been sealed, I believe that there is truth that we as the Body of Christ can glean from it.

1. Verse 7 tells of the miraculous rejoining of the scattered bones. What I take from this is that God does not desire for us to be or remain in a scattered state. Sin causes us to drift away from God, and we spend less time in prayer, less time in the Word, and generally neglect our relationship with Him. Hebrews 2:1 exhorts us to pay all the more attention and heed to what we’ve learned, so that we don’t drift away. Yet when we allow cares and worries take hold on us, that is exactly what can happen. From personal experience, I know the havoc that it causes. I understand the disconnectedness from God, a feeling of being lost, despair, etc. And in turn, when part of the Body is not functioning properly, it means the Body as a whole can't function as it should.

2. The next step was the flesh and sinews coming on the skeletons. It's important for structure in the Body, but there must be substance as well. How does one build up substance in his or her life? We do so by a steady diet of the Word of God. Whether it takes the form of milk for the baby Christian, or solid meat for a mature Christian, the Word helps to strengthen us. But in the prophecy at that point, these were just corpses without the breath of life. The Bible says that knowledge puffs up, or inflates us like a balloon. It also says that the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. I believe that there is a danger in simply knowing and learning what the Word says, without allowing the Spirit to make the word alive in us. The picture I have in mind is of the Pharisees, with simply an empty knowledge of the Word, but no Spirit to direct the knowledge they had. They were boastful in that they knew Scripture, and all they got was an inflated ego. In one confrontation with them, Jesus said, “Search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. Yet these are the scriptures that speak of me” (John 5:39). They knew the Word, yet when the “Word made flesh” stood in front of their faces, they didn’t recognize him. They didn’t even realize that they were the “living dead”, without the Spirit of God to make real the Word inside them. That brings us to the final point: the need for the Holy Spirit in our lives.

3. The Spirit gave these lifeless bodies life, and they became a mighty army (vv 9-10). We too are an army. An army has to function as one, with one purpose in mind. So the Body of Christ is to operate in one mind and accord. Our anointing (1 Jo 2:20) functions best in the Body. We need each other to minister effectively. Sure, we notice when God has gifted and equipped a person, but it's not for himself, because he is to function as another part of the Body. That is why unity is so important. Without unity, we can't function as we should. Unity of the Body is what makes our anointing most effective. That’s why it’s so critical to walk in harmony and peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul said in Ephesians 4:3 that we must endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, because there is one body, and one Spirit, as we are called in one hope of our calling. There is only one Lord, one faith. So let us keep in unity with our brothers and sisters, and there we will see God do mighty things.

I pray that this study has blessed someone out there today. Until next time, God bless.