THE DRY BONES! Part 2

To continue with Ezekiel 37, I will do a very short review of the devotional I shared in DRY BONES part 1. You can scroll to the July devotional and read it to get the full context of the passage.

In the book of Ezekiel, we read that the children of Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity. God had chosen Ezekiel as a prophet to call the nation to repentance, and that judgement had come upon the nation due to the sinfulness prevailing in Jerusalem. The first half of the book is pronouncing judgement. However, after the word reached Babylon that Jerusalem had been destroyed, Ezekiel began to proclaim a new message from the Lord, a message of hope and restoration!

Ezekiel 37:1-6 The Lord has Ezekiel sit down in the middle of a valley filled with DRY SUNBLEACHED HUMAN BONES. The Lord asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” “Oh Lord You know.” Let’s be real, how many times we are faced with that same question about our loved ones, our country, or even our own lives. Will things get any different? Can these bones live? God says, “I WILL,” three different times in verses 1-6 to remind Ezekiel and the dry bones that He is the Lord (the Sovereign Ruler). A good reminder to us as well.

As we continue in the passage for today’s devotional. In verse 7, we see the power of God to do what He says He will do. So, Ezekiel prophesied and there was a great thundering and behold a shaking, a trembling, and a rattling as the bones came together. Oh my, what it must have been like seeing and hearing that happen!

Verse 8… I looked, and behold, it was done, but no breath or spirit was in them, however. They had form, but no LIFE.

Verse 9…Prophesy to the breath and spirit and say, Thus, says the Lord “come from the 4 winds, Oh Spirit and breathe, and these bones will live.”

This is what the bones said, “We are all dried up and all hope is lost.” Once again, how many times have we been guilty of saying that about unanswered prayers?

Verse 10…So I prophesied as God commanded me, and THE BREATH AND THE SPIRIT CAME INTO THESE BONES, AND THEY LIVED, and stood up upon their feet, a great army.

That says to me that our Heavenly Father has the POWER and PROVISION that is needed in every situation in our lives and our loved ones. We are also reminded in this passage that we all must have the breath and the Spirit to truly have LIFE.

Isaiah 46:11 “Yes, I have spoken, I have planned it, and I will bring it to pass.”

Joy

Phyllis

QUALIFICATION FOR ENTRANCE INTO GOD’S KINGDOM!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3b) “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5b,6) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Through the ages men have sought to establish standards for entrance into God’s kingdom.  A Jewish official named Nicodemus seemed qualified by race, religion and reputation, but Jesus Christ laid down the one qualification the Lord requires (v 3b), and Nicodemus did not qualify!  As the reigning King of the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ demands two births! The fact the Lord made the qualification known to one respected by his community emphasized there are no exceptions!  This is not a recommendation, but a requirement!

After demanding two births, Jesus went on to describe both births in verses 4 and 5.  One is a birth of water, and the other is a birth of the Spirit (v 5).  A couple readily recognizes that a fleshly birth is near when the expectant mother’s “water breaks”.  Likewise, when Jesus uses the phrase “born again” (v 3), the alternate translation for “again” is “from above”!  Just as no one ever lived physically without being born physically, the same is true spiritually! 

Next in His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus defines the two lives that come about as the result of the two births (v 6).  Quite simply, a physical birth results in a physical life (6a), and a spiritual birth results in a spiritual life (6b).  The Lord uses the wind as a great analogy to clarify His meaning (v 8)).  The Greek word translated ‘wind’ can either be translated ‘wind, breath or spirit’!  Just as the wind is not seen (although it’s effects can be seen), so the inner work of the Spirit can’t be seen with the human eye, but the outer difference can be observed.  Only the life that is spiritual in its origin can be spiritual in its operation and effectiveness!

Only the King of the Kingdom of God may determine the qualification for entrance into His Kingdom, and Jesus does that in his conversation with Nicodemus.  Early in that conversation (v 3) Jesus said, one must be “born again!”  So the question becomes, “How?”  Later (v 16), Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life!”  There are four Greek words in the New Testament translated “believe”.  They mean, “To trust in; To cling to; To rely on.”  If you will “trust in” what He has done for you: “Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6  If you will “cling to” who He is in you: “Christ in you, the Hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27  If you will rely on what He has said to you: “I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3.  Have you been “born again?”  If not, trust in Christ, cling to Him and rely on Him today and every day!

Jon Moore

THE DRY BONES! ( Part 1 )

Have you ever asked yourself, “will things ever change in that person’s life?  I have prayed and prayed, but I never see any difference.”  Have you ever said that? Of course, we all have, or if we have not said as much, surely thought those concerns. Maybe it is not others that concern us, but it’s our own lives that are all dried up. Can things ever change for them or for me?

In the book of Ezekiel, we read that the children of Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity. God had chosen Ezekiel as a prophet to call the nation to repentance and that judgement had come upon the nation due to the sinfulness prevailing in Jerusalem.  The first half of the book is pronouncing judgement, however after the word reached Babylon that Jerusalem had been destroyed, Ezekiel began to proclaim a new message from the Lord. A message of hope and restoration!

Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Lord has Ezekiel sit down in the middle of a valley filled with DRY SUNBLEACHED HUMAN BONES. The Lord asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” “Oh Lord You know.” Let’s be real, how many times we are faced with that same question about our loved ones, our country, or even our own lives. Can these bones live?

Verse 4: Ezekiel prophesy to the dry bones, “Oh you, dry bones, hear the WORD of the Lord.”

Verse 5: Thus says the Lord God to the dry bones, “I WILL cause breath and spirit to enter you and you shall live.”

Verse 6: “And I WILL lay sinews upon you and bring up flesh up on you and cover you with skin.   I WILL put breath and spirit in you, and you, dry bones will live. I AM THE LORD SOVEREIGN RULER.”

Verse 7: So, Ezekiel prophesied and there was a thundering noise and behold, a shaking, a trembling and a rattling as the bones came together. Wow! (That would scare the bejabbers out of me, how about you?) Be real now.

The thing that spoke to me in these first few verses of chapter 37 is how many times God said, “I WILL!” Many times, we feel the need to manipulate the situation or try again to change others, or even we try in our own strength to change ourselves.  If we would remember only the Lord can make DRY BONES live!

 We will end part 1 of this devotional with the challenge to read over and over the “I WILL” that God speaks in His Word. It is surely a message of HOPE and ENCOURAGEMENT to us. Look for Ezekiel 37 part 2 of THE DRY BONES in September.

JOY

Phyllis

THIRSTING FOR LIVING WATER!

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…”  Psalm 42:1,2a 

“Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father, Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up…”  Genesis 26:18

Many identify with the psalmist, thirsting to see the reality of God today!  Some have changed churches seeking.  Others have left local churches entirely.  It is an often-used Biblical analogy, the ongoing need for water to sustain life!  The old-testament man Isaac needed water for his household and herds (Genesis 26:12-25), and his need tells a spiritual story of this generation’s desperate need as well!  The need for “living” water is there, but the question is, is there a thirst?  And if so, how is it being attempted to quench?

The old wells of blessings had been covered (Gen 26:18a,b).  Note one of the meanings of the term Philistines=“Rolled with dust!”  Even though the origin of Isaac’s blessings was the Lord (Gen 26:12-14a), the occasion caused bitterness (Gen 26:14b-15).  Just as in ancient days, an over-emphasis on earthly life diverts attention away from preparing for eternal Life!  It reminds me of a comment and question an old minister asked a younger man, “You are going to be in eternity a whole lot longer than you are going to be on earth!  Which side of the grave are you giving the most attention?”

The old wells of blessing could be uncovered-(Gen 26:18a).  This is the history of revival through the ages!  Born again believers in Christ eventually have the thirst for the Person and power of God after an extended absence!  Yet, it requires effort of both time and energy to seek the Lord (vv18-22a), and it will almost certainly result in contention with the devil himself, or through some of his henchmen (vv20-21).  It is true that things truly worth having are worth the energy it takes to have them.  As far as the business world is concerned, research reveals that 80% of all new sales are closed on the fifth sales call.  The same research shows that only 10% of all salespeople make more than three sales calls!

New wells of blessing needed to be discovered (v22).  This required a new position(v22a).  As Isaac left the land of dust, he dug a new well he called Rehoboth!  Rehoboth means “open spaces”, and along with re-opening the old wells of blessing, we need to delve into the “new” wells of different cultures, different ethnicities and different generations!  Not just establishing new works of this or that ethnicity, but new works of mixed ethnicities!  New works of not just the “now generation”, but works of “all generations”!  Can that be successful?  Keep this always in mind, new challenges are simply new opportunities to trust the Lord and see what He can do!

Blessings,

Jon Moore]

The Red Robins

“Consider the birds – do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Are you not more valuable than they?”

Mathew 6:26

On this beautiful spring evening, as I was sitting on our patio, I noticed two Red Robin hopping in the grass.  They began to peck at the ground and started eating a worm.  After they finished eating, they both flew up onto the bird bath to flutter their wings and have a bath.  It so reminded me of the Bible scripture already quoted.  I love watching how carefree they seem to be. 

Seems that our world has been turned upside down. So many distractions that grab our attention and cause us to be anxious and worried.  At times it is so difficult to keep our mind and heart on the blessed promises of God. Yet, that is exactly what we must do if we are going to experience the peace that the Lord Jesus promises. John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in Me (Jesus) you may have peace.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 states, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at ALL times in every way.”

“Why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers in the fields. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty like these! So, forsake your worries! Why would you say? What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?  Doesn’t your Father in heaven already know the things you need?” Matthew 6:28 & 31-33.

We must learn to live out of every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God! He has given to us His love letter, the Bible, read it, obey it, but even more, draw close to the Lord and He WILL draw close to you. Commit yourself unto the Lord, trust in Him, yield to Him all that you are and all that you have. Spend time just loving on the Lord and let Him love on you. Be filled with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will experience the peace that He promised.  It is your birthright as His precious child.

Joy

Phyllis

OUR PATTERN FOR PRAYER!

“Pray, then, in this way…”  Matthew 6:9a

Just as a fountain never rises higher than its head, so a Christian never rises any higher than his or her prayer life!  Many years ago, S. D. Gordon in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, wrote, “A Christian has much to do after he has prayed, but he is not ready to do anything until he has prayed!”  The first time our Lord Jesus taught on the subject of prayer in His earthly ministry was in a part of what has become known as The Sermon on the Mount.  Sometime this portion is referred to as The Lord’s Prayer.  It is well to look at it as a model for a life of prayer, rather than an individual prayer.

The Lord not only instructs us how to pray, but first and foremost to be about praying!  Not if we pray, but when we pray!  Then He teaches us that the twofold purpose for prayer is first for the glory of our heavenly Father (vv 9b-10), and secondly for the good of His earthly family (vv 11-13).  Notice that Jesus introduces the term Father.  This is revolutionary!  In the Old Testament that term is not used.  God is referred to as holy, high and exalted.  Now Jesus tells us to understand that God is also our Father!  Prayer is primarily for obtaining something for our Father.  First of all reverence (Hallowed, revered, respected, feared).  Secondly, the advancing of His Kingdom.  As it was always Jesus’s ambition, so it is to be ours!  Thirdly, we should seek the will of our Father in heaven be done on the earth.  That brings up an interesting aspect…The will of God is always being done in heaven!  The idea is that when we pray about something, or someone, we need to find out what is happening in heaven in relation to that person, or situation, and pray that the heavenly Will will be done here on earth!

Prayer is secondarily for the good of the Father’s family.  Firstly, our provision (v 11). Secondly, our pardon (v 12).  Also, note the relation between our forgiving others, and the Lord forgiving us (vv 14-15).  It is possible to be in relation to God by faith in Christ, but be out of fellowship with him by refusing to forgive as we have been forgiven!  Thirdly, our protection (v 13).  Prayer is the Lord’s means whereby we as God’s children seek our heavenly Father’s glory and His family’s good.

I am reminded of a story I once read about ancient Rome.  After a great victory that was significant to Rome, there was a great celebration in the city, known as a Triumph.  When the battle was close to the city, the Emperor went to the battlefield to accept the surrender of the enemy.  Then there was a parade in the city of Rome with the Emperor riding on a gold chariot pulled by two white horses.  Surrounding the chariot was the Praetorian Guard, authorized to guard the Emperor up to cost of their personal lives.  As the parade passed through the city, suddenly a young boy broke from the crowd approaching the Emperor’s chariot.  The nearest guard drew his sword, telling the boy not to approach the Emperor.  The boy replied, “He’s your Emperor; He’s my Father!”  Jesus Christ is the Emperor of all the universe, and if you have put your faith in Him as Savior and Lord, God is your Father as well!  If you have not, you can put your faith in Christ right now!

Jon Moore

Courage

Bible definition of Courage:   The Hebrew word meaning, is to show oneself as strong.  We do not have to have a grin and bear it attitude.  Those that are God’s should fear not! The ideal for the Christian is based on the presence of Christ in our life.

Truly, today we can name many things in our life that can cause us to be fearful instead of being courageous.! Some 114 times the word COURAGE, COURAGOUS, OR COURAGOUSLY is used in the Bible.  It is meaningful when the Bible states something one time, but when it says something that many time the Lord is trying to get our attention.  Do you think the Lord would have told us to do something and not empower His precious children to do what He said?   OF COURSE NOT! The point of the Father sending His only Son to come to earth and die on a cruel cross was not only to get us to heaven when we die, but for us to have His resurrected Life to live in us and though us on this earth.

In the past few days, I have watched the news on TV and seen courage displayed in the face of overwhelming odds. Fighting against fear for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in the world’s unstable condition, I once again went to the Bible scriptures for reminders of my Sovereign Father, God. READ aloud just a few of the 114 verses and BE REMINDED!

Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God goes with you, and will never leave you or forsake you.”

1 Corinthians 16:13: “Be on your guard; stand firm in your faith; be courageous; be strong.”

Psalm 31:24: “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear. For I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”

Joy,

Phyllis

 

POWER OF THE TONGUE!

“No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse (revile) men, who have been made in the likeness of God; From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”  James 3:8-10 NASB

One of God’s greatest gifts to mankind is the gift of speech.  With it we pray, sing praises to the Lord, teach and preach the Bible and share the gospel message with those who are without Christ!  Yet, the Bible teaches, and our personal experience confirms, that the most difficult member of our body to control is the tongue!  One of the most practical books in the New Testament is the book of James.  In chapter 3:1-12 James points out three distinct powers of the tongue.  One is the power of direction.  He uses two analogies to illustrate (vv2-4).  First is the horse (on which usually one rides) into which’s mouth a “bit” is placed.  The pulling on the bit to one side or the other determines which way the horse turns.  The second analogy is that of a great ship (on which many usually ride).  As the ship’s rudder is turned the ship turns that direction.  The application is our tongue can not only dictate the direction of our personal life, but also have an influence on others as well!

The second power of one’s tongue is that of destruction!  Once again, James uses analogies to make his point (vv5-8). One is that of a grass fire.  Grass fires can be both wild and unruly.  One small match can unleash a magnitude of destruction, as well as getting quickly “out of hand”!  And all kinds of animals can be tamed by man, but not so the tongue!  Unfortunately, the rest of our body seems to follow wherever our tongue leads!  The tongue has the power to destroy a person, a family or a church.  No worse example can be found than that of the infamous Adolph Hitler.  He wrote an autobiography tens of thousands of words long of his life, entitled “Mein Kampf.”  It has been noted by researchers that for every word in his autobiography, 125 people were killed in World War II!

Finally, the third power of the tongue is the power of distortion, perhaps the most sinister and subtle of its powers.  If we are not watchful, even believers can be drawn into confessions and conclusions that are clearly outside of Truth (vv9-12)!  In such a place we both bless our Lord and Father, while at the same time revile men who have been made in the likeness of God!  Rightly, James exclaims, “These things ought not to be this way!”  When interviewed by Robert Frost concerning the Watergate break-in and the recorded tapes of President Nixon’s x-rated comments, the reverend Dr. Billy Graham stated, “The words were in his heart, or they never would have come from his lips!”  Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart a man speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)

As Christians, we need to make it our business to spend more time with those who encourage us in the things of God and less time with those who criticize, condemn and divide!

Jon Moore

TRUST and THE LORD WILL GUIDE

“Trust in the Lord completely and do not rely upon your own opinions. With all your heart rely on Him to guide you and He will lead you in every decision you make.  Become intimate with Him in whatever you do, and He will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all.” Proverbs 3:5-7 PTB

A new year is upon us, and so many things are happening in the world that seemingly overwhelm us.  What will 2022 hold for us as a nation, and more importantly, for us and our families personally? Bad news! Bad News! Lots of FEAR!! All we hear.

I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken. As one that has become old, and looking back on my life, I can testify that the Lord has always been there for me and my family in the good times and the seemingly bad times. 

Trusting in the Lord is a choice of the will.  One can get caught up in fear of what might happen in 2022, or take God at His Word. Stay close in the presence of the Lord, and He will guide you.

In World War 2 an American plane was flying a mission in Africa. Under the cloak of darkness they flew toward their destination of Benghazi in North Africa.  A strong tail wind pushed the plane much faster than expected.  When the instruments revealed they had reached their destination, the crew members kept flying in disbelief of what the gauges said.  They “felt” the instruments were wrong. They eventually ran out of gas; the plane crashed and all the crew were killed. 

We as God’s children need to stop trusting in our own judgements and feelings about the future.    Trust in the Lord and His Word!! He has given us His Word, the Holy Spirit and His promises. Surely that is ENOUGH!

 

Joy

Phyllis

THANKING GOD IN TROUBLED TIMES!

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:2-4

Let me be clear!  The Thanksgiving/Christmas season is my favorite time of the year.  I am grateful that I live in a country where our forefathers expressed there thanksgiving to God for His ongoing blessings, and though it may seem hard to believe today, elected officials of a previous day voted to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday!  However, there likely would be some today that would say, ‘We live in a different time, under different (difficult) circumstances.”’  What about the frustrations, anger, hostile words and actions; the increasing attack against Christianity and the Church?  The answer to our question, and the counsel for Believers in terms of our response is clearly to be found in God’s Word!  James under the guidance of the Holy Spirit gives us wise counsel in James 1:2-4.

He teaches us a systematic method of response in verse 2.  The Greek word translated consider is a bookkeeping term.  When we encounter circumstances that test our faith in God’s keeping, we should open our spiritual journal and enter that experience under the column titled “Joy”!  Note this will not be “if” these times come, but “when” they come.  The bottom line is that the Believer’s thanksgiving is not dependent on favorable circumstances, but by a free choice (Not a natural response, but a spiritual response)!

Be sure to recognize that this response is not just “hocus-pocus!”  It is affirmed by eternal Truths in verse 3.  The first Truth is essential.  God is in control of our situations!  One of the most mis-quoted, misunderstood verses in the bible is Romans 8:28.  This verse does NOT say, “all things are good.”  All things that happen in life are not good, but the verse says, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  The question in some minds would be, ‘Why does the Lord do things this way?’  Verse 3 gives the answer.  The Lord is building character in the life of His children using adversity.  He knows that we will need the quality of “endurance” in us if we are to finish the course.  Christian, do you have confidence in God?  You can only be thankful in the midst of trials IF you have complete confidence in God!

The Bible clearly reveals God as the God of order from Genesis to Revelation.  In verse 4 He says “let” endurance have its perfect result.  The Greek word translated perfect here means ended.  Don’t focus on the earthly problem, but God’s eternal purpose!  Of course the Lord wants an ended work so He can have a “perfect” worker.  The second time the word perfect is used, it is translated from the Greek as “whole”!  This is what God is after in each of His children.

Consider this bible Truth, “Jesus is Lord!”  If this true, and it is, He is in control of the so-called good, and the so-called bad.  The pleasurable and the painful.  If you have not trusted Christ with your eternity, I encourage you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved!  If you have trusted Christ for your eternity, trust Him now with your adversity!

Jon Moore