Links to encourage your “Living Bones”.
Today I’m sharing a couple of links that have been a great blessing to me. I hope they will also bring you joy and remind you that God is able to put life back into dry bones!
The Bible texts for this week at http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=28#hebrew_reading , took me back a few years to a day in 2008 when I preached a youth message on the topic of “Living Bones” at Weyman Chapel AME Church in Dayton, Ohio. I’ll paste a portion of that message in the text below. I hope this will be a source of encouragment to those who find this blog post.
To prepare for listening in context, I encourage you to check out a creative overview of the prophetic book of Ezekial at this site: https://www.bible.com/videos/2002/series .
If the links give you trouble, please copy and paste them into your search bar.
The prophet Ezekiel lived more than 2,500 years ago. Ezekiel was a priest, a preacher, and a prophet. He was captured by the enemy and taken to Babylon with other priests and leaders. Up until then he seems to have been a lot like other priests, serving according to the law.
After he was taken to Babylon, he was called to prophesy in a new way. He saw visions of what would happen if people did not realize that God is Lord and stop worshipping idols. He tried very hard to get the people to listen. He became like a performance artist and acted out what was about to happen. He drew pictures of what was going to happen. He tried to show the people that following these false gods (those things made by human hands) leads to death, but most of the people didn’t pay attention. Many people grew old and died in captivity and many died in war.
Ezekiel kept telling them to turn to God and God would help them. The people had given up hope. All that they held dear was lost, they could see no way out.
Then-Ezekiel had a new vision. This story about the vision in the valley of dry bones has something to teach us about LIVING BONES.
We read about this vision-this hopeless place of dry bones-sad-helpless-lifeless bones lying in a valley- what a sad-sad hopeless place- God showed Ezekiel the valley of hopelessness and sadness that the people were in. But the vision did not end there.
God told Ezekiel to prophesy-preach God’s Word to the hopeless-dry-lifeless-sad old bones- What happened then? Did Ezekiel say-OH NO God, I can’t do that, those bones are dead and dry they will not hear me prophesy? Folks will think I have lost my mind if I start preaching to bones and talking about hope in the middle of this valley of hopeless bones.
NO! Ezekiel did not say that. Ezekiel said-Yes Lord, Yes! Ezekiel obeyed God.
Ezekiel told the bones they were to Stand Up! And God-being God-kept the promise Those bones stood up. They made noise. Flesh and skin and tendons came on them. But they were not yet alive. God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind.
Did Ezekiel say Oh No! It makes no sense to prophesy to the wind. The wind cannot hear me? No, in this vision Ezekiel obeyed God.
Ezekiel prophesied and spoke the Word of God to the wind, and God- being God- kept the promise and put the breath of life into the bones so the people would know that God is Lord!
Today some of us might not be paying attention to what God is trying to tell us in Ezekiel’s story. Some of us are worrying about getting more money or things or clothes, or thinking about oh the places we will go. Some of us have our minds on a fight or an argument that we have going on. Some of us are in a hurry to do so many things that we aren’t paying attention to what is important.
When we have our minds on things and worries instead of on hearing God’s Word and trying to understand it, trying to do what God is calling us to do, we can find ourselves in over our heads, confused, depressed, hopeless and feeling as if our situation is impossible. We might feel like giving up and giving in.
Today I am here to say that nothing is impossible with God. Just as God promised Ezekiel that the nation of Israel would rise again and that they would know it was because God did it, God is saying to you today that you are being prepared to do incredible work beyond your wildest dreams, and you will know that God has done it.
You need to listen to God’s Word and Do What God is calling on you to do because today you are the living bones. Know that it is by God’s power, mercy and grace that we are here together today with life and breath and freedom in Christ. I bear witness to you that no matter what our problems may be, where there is the breath of life there is hope and indeed God has given us life.
Just in case you might doubt it, feel your arm and touch your knee, I assure you there are living bones in there. Look at your skin and feel the muscle underneath. Absolutely there is flesh and muscle and sinew (tendons that hold the muscle to the bone). What we need to be sure of today is that we know and understand that it is God who gives us life. When we get confused about this basic point we lose our way.
The same God, who brought the nation of Israel out of Babylon, can bring us through any situation we face today. Whether it is the fact that we feel overwhelmed with the demands of school, a job, a family or friend situation. There is nothing too big or too small for God to take care of. Any pain that we have, any worry on our minds, God can see us through.
Ezekiel listened and did what God told him to do. Then the story tells us what it all meant. It meant that the nation of Israel that had been captured and destroyed was going to rise again. It meant that those who had given up hope were going to have their hope restored.
God still speaks to us through Ezekiel’s visions and stories, and we still need to listen carefully and comprehend what God’s Word is telling us.
If there is anyone today without hope, sad, discouraged and ready to give up. Understand, God is telling us that nothing is impossible with the giver of life.
You are the living bones, God gave you life, and God is in Charge, Listen and Obey God’s Word God has breathed life into you. (Feel your breath, go ahead, and breathe in and out.)
You are being called on to stand up, like the bones in the valley, to be a mighty army on behalf of the Kingdom of God. You are being called to be teachers, and judges, presidents and leaders of all sorts, musicians and lawyers, coaches and accountants and financial advisors (you fill in the blank). You are being prepared to be trustees and stewards and deacons and pastors.
Know that God gives you breath and will supply your every need. Stand up and prepare yourselves to be a blessing to your community. Stand up no matter who tells you that it is impossible, or that you can’t do it. What God says is possible is possible.
God set the captives free and God breathed the breath of life into you. You are the living bones!
God asked Ezekiel in the vision: “Son of Man can these bones live?” and Ezekiel answered: “Oh Sovereign Lord, You alone know”. God alone knows, God alone decides.
Give your life to God. Let God use you, develop and prepare your mind with study and your heart with service and you will be blessed.
Let Us All Give God the Glory In Jesus Name Amen!