Sunday, August 15, 2010

Valley of Dry Bones

Ezekiel 37

1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know."

This passage is one of the most familiar of the Old Testament. Ezekiel, however is not that well known, even though this book is about his ministry to Israel in a very turbulent time in their history. One of my OT professors called Ezekiel, "The 'nut' of the Old Testament". He meant this in two ways. 1) His actions and the way he illustrated certain things in his ministry certainly qualified him as being eccentric in his actions. Over the top. Outrageous. Crazy, some people might say and 2) This is a very complex man and a very complex message that he brought, and while the way he illustrated it, could be interpretted as complex and erratic, the message was clarion clear and unwavering.

In this passage, he presents all of Israel as dead. So much dead and long dead, that there was nothing left but dry far as Ezekiel looked in the valley. Scattered...dry...once human bones. Of course the reason they were like that was because of sin. They did not follow the LORD's commands and decrees. The very worse parts of the Old Testament had come true and now they find themselves in this predicament. Dry. Used up. Abandoned.

The LORD asks Ezekiel a simple question. "Son of man, can these bones live?" From a human perspective, the answer was clear. "No!" There was no way that these very dry bones could once again life. But Ezekiel was not having a conversation with a human. He was conversing with the LORD All Mighty. Maker of Heaven and Earth. Supreme in all the universe. The great I AM. Because of this, Ezekiel answers wisely. "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." Just because it was impossible from a human perspective, Ezekiel, knowing the true nature of the LORD, answers that he did not know, only the LORD knew the answer to that question.

I bet many of you feel sometimes that you are 'dry', when it comes to the spiritual things of the LORD. I know I have felt that way at different times in my life. You might even have felt that there was no hope for you; that the LORD had abandoned you, that there was nothing left.

But if you take the passage at it's face value, you see that with the LORD there is always Grace. Always Hope. No matter how you feel, God is still there. He still wants to use you. His Word can restore you. If He can raise the dead, He can certainly put a fire back inside you and give you Hope and a Mission. In this case, he not only restored Israel and made them live again, but he brought them together as a fighting machine for His Glory. He brought them to their land which they lost and he now restored their place in the world. Ezekiel is all about restoration. The LORD is all about restoration. Restoration and Mission.

How about you today? Where are you at in your walk with the LORD? Do you feel dry? Do you need restoration, life and purpose? That's what the LORD wants for you as well! If you have not been attending church, go out and find a Bible believing and preaching one where the people of God can minister to you and help restore you to the proper place in God's Kingdom. If you have abandoned reading the Bible, God's Word...start reading today. If you have stopped praying..start today. Let others pray for you...remember about getting to a good church...they can help. Don't waste another second feeling left out or useless. Get back into the ministry the the LORD wants for it today!

Blessings all!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Outward Appearances

Outward Appearances

1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I don't know about you, but I am glad the LORD does not judge me by my looks. One glance at my profile pic could mean a world of hurt for me. But the LORD does not look on the external things like we do. He looks at the heart.

We see that over and over again in scripture. In fact when the Nation of Israel was chosen as God's very own people, he said to them in Deuteronomy 7:7 "The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples." So it is clear that God does not take into account what the world calls great of good, but rather, by His own gracious choice.

We on the other hand, because we are human and fallible, often choose wrongly. It is in those times where we can learn the most. Not only about ourselves and our way of thinking but about others and what makes them precious. Probably most importantly, we get a glimpse of how God does it.

If we are diligent to realize we are flawed and that we need the help of the LORD to really see, we can take this opportunity to pray and ask Him for the true Eyes that only He can give.

So here is my prayer for all of us today:

Father, I ask in Jesus' name that you would help us all to see with Your eyes. May we not look at the outward appearances of people from this time forward, but may we look at their heart, their motives and their spirit. Help us to discern as you do. Above all Lord, we ask that we see people through Your LOVE and may you work in us to change us into the people you want us to be.


Blessings All!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Lessons from Jesus and Peter

I have been leading a small group discussion on the 12 Disciples of Jesus and how they interacted with the master.

We started out with Peter as he is portrayed in Matthew's Gospel. I think that since Matthew's Gospel is geared toward the Jewish mind, this would be an excellent place to start.

Below are some snippets ideas we have come up with so far.

1) Peter was curious and eager to learn.

Matthew 15:15
Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."
Jesus never discouraged his disciples from asking questions.

2) Jesus was not afraid to ask the hard questions.

Matthew 16:13-15
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

3) Jesus was liberal with praise for right answers.

Matthew 16:17ff Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

4) Jesus was not slow in rebuking incorrect thinking.

Matthew 16:23

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Interestingly this chapter juxtaposes Jesus praising Peter for his confession that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God." and Jesus smacking-down Peter for his incorrect thinking of why Jesus was here in the first place, "Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!..."

5) Sometime when Peter said something stupid, Jesus just chose to ignore it. He never purposefully tried to hurt his disciple's feelings.

Matthew 17:4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."

I probably would have said, "What? Are you that stupid? These are spirits and you are suggesting to make shelters for them? Come on Peter! Have you learned nothing?" Good thing I wasn't there, eh? :-)

6) Even when Jesus knew Peter would fail, he allowed him to make his own mistakes.

Matthew 26:31-32
Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
" 'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 32But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

7) Jesus not only allowed Peter to fail, but also allowed him to suffer the consequences.

Matthew 26:74-75
Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!"

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

8) Even though Peter failed, Jesus made sure to restore him in relationship.

Mark 16:6-7
"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

Jesus made sure to get the message to Peter that he was still loved and valued as a disciple. He still needed him and He still had a job for him to do.

How about our relationships with people God has put in our lives? Do we follow these principles of interaction in our small group setting and when we are one-on-one? Ought we?

Blessings all!