November 18, 2016
Everywhere we look—in our lives, our families, our church, community or nation—it is possible to see darkness. It's easy to spot, because it is actually there. We live in a sin-wrecked and sin-damaged world.
This reality became clear to a prophet named Ezekiel. God took him to a valley and all he saw was death; the dried, decaying bones of a once-great army that had perished.
Ezekiel would not have seen the nation of Israel in such stark terms, but God did, and he wanted His prophet to understand the actual spiritual condition of the people.
""The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones ... and they were very dry."" (Ezekiel 37:1-2)
But with God, there is always more to the story.
God's prophet, (and all of us for all of time), were about to learn a lesson in spiritual physics.
CAN DEAD THINGS LIVE?
""Son of man, can these bones live?"" God asked the prophet. ""O Lord God, You know."" (vs. 3). God did know and only God knew.
But Ezekiel was wise enough to believe that God could do anything. He deferred the answer back to the Creator of every bone and sinew upon the earth. The Author of life and death.
God asks the same question of us. ""Do you believe that something completely dead can be resurrected? Do you believe in Me? Do you believe that there is a realm that is greater than the physical? A realm in which I can make dead things come back to life?""
Let's make this personal: Do you believe God can bring a godless, sinful person back to spiritual life? Do you think He could bring your prodigal child home? Do you believe He can resurrect a hopeless marriage? A lifeless church? A nation that has turned its back on God?
Here is the heart of the question: Do you believe in SPIRITUAL AWAKENING? That a sovereign God can move upon the dead—with no help whatsoever from those who are about to be resurrected—and make them live?
If God finds you unbelieving, then your usefulness to Him and His purposes has just been capped. For everything on our side of spiritual equations operates by faith. ""He could not do many miracles there because of their unbelief,"" the Bible sadly records regarding the people of Christ’s home town (Matthew 13:58).
I wonder what history will record about my city, and yours. And about each of us and the level of our faith in spiritual awakening.
PROPHESY OVER THESE BONES
... God said to Ezekiel. The Lord needed a vehicle, a human instrument who would so believe in Divine power to awaken the dead that he would actually stand and do the seemingly ridiculous.
""Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.' ""Thus says the Lord God to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.'"" (Vs. 4-6)
God needs believing prophets, but also proclaiming prophets. Men who will stand with such faith that they can look a dry bone in the eye and confess that God is going to raise them up!
Are you that man? Is God calling you in this day of such incredible spiritual darkness, to stand over dead things and, in pure faith and obedience to God's prompting, proclaim to dead things that they are about to come to life?
If you are not willing to step out in such seemingly foolish proclamations, you will, again, be unusable in God's hands. God needs men who will believe Him for the impossible. Who operate with confidence in God's ability to do the miraculous. Men who will pray like this and proclaim like this. Prophets who understand that bringing spiritual awakening to a city is just as possible in our day as it was in Ezekiel's. He is the same resurrecting God.
BODIES WITH NO BREATH
But there was one final part of the physics lesson that Ezekiel needed to see.
""So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them.
“Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Come forth from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.’ “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army!"" (Vs. 7-10)
Every man of God has seen this equation before. Seemingly healthy bodies, but no breath. No life.
There are people like this. We call them ""lost"" people. Paul said they are ""dead in their trespasses and sin."" This, of course, was all of us until the Breath came.
And there are churches like this. Mechanically functioning, programs whirling, bells and whistles firing off in every direction, but no life. They self-proclaim that there is life, but discerning believers know that something is off.
The greatest heartache of such churches is that they have ""zeal, but no power."" They give a false impression to a desperately thirsty world that they are flowing with living water, but lives are not being changed. People are being sanitized on the outside, but not sanctified on the inside.
Jesus was even harsher. He called such religion ""whitewashed tombs, full of dead men's bones"" (Matthew 23:27).
Do we see this reality? Do we recognize the difference? Or do we go on, propping up lifeless corpses, hoping that our church can get just a little bigger and look just a little better than the one down the street so we can feel good about our activity?
Or, do you long for the Breath?
Are you that singular prophet in the midst of a valley of dry bones, who has the spiritual tenacity to finish the job? To pray and proclaim and believe until the Breath of God comes? Slowly at first, but then sweeping like a north wind into your family, your church, your community and our nation? Until God comes and brings spiritual awakening to the land, and raises from the graves an ""exceedingly great army.""
And then, all the world will know that only One could do so a thing—no man, no church, no human machinery. ""Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,"" declares the Lord (vs. 14) and He will be adored.
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March 02, 2021
Jealousy is always viewed in humans as a horribly destructive trait. Daniel Webster described it in his original 1828 dictionary as “the apprehension of superiority.” For instance, a person is jealous when they fear that someone has taken something that they want or may think they deserve for themselves; a position, an affection, an opportunity.
But is jealousy always wrong? Is it possible to be jealous for the right things? Is there a holy jealousy?
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