Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dry Bones

Submitted by Lara Cook
And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”  Then he said to me, “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, and you shall live.”  Ezekiel 37:3-5

Israel was in ruins.  Their enemy, Babylon, had defeated the nation and there was nothing left of the army but a valley of dry bones, with survivors in captivity.  Ezekiel wanted to see revival in the land but the people wanted no part of repentance.  God gave Ezekiel a vision so he would know that revival would one day come to Israel. This vision seemed impossible at this point in Israel’s history because of her present condition: dead, both physically and spiritually. Ezekiel was given the vision of dry bones as a sign. 
The verses above tell the story of Ezekiel’s vision that came to him when God took him to the valley of dry bones.  This vision was symbolic of Israel being restored through the leadership of David as king.  In his vision, Ezekiel found himself in a valley full of dry bones, where God told him to speak to the bones. He was asked to tell the bones that God would breathe life into them and they would come to life. 
First the bones came together, then muscle and flesh.  But the bodies were not alive until God breathed His spirit into each one and they were revived.  This act symbolized God’s plan to restore Israel and showed that Israel’s revival solely depended on God’s power alone. Without the breath of His spirit they were still dead.
There are so many days that I feel like a broken heap of dry bones with a dead heart.  The enemy is so good at making us feel defeated and hopeless.  Those are the times that I can do nothing in my power but wait – wait for the breath of the Holy Spirit to breathe life and renewal into my heart and soul.  Only by His life-giving power can restoration, healing, and renewal come.  When we lay in a heap of sin and transgressions, bitterness, anger, etc… He comes to us with hope.  Because of Him, we can have hope when revival seems impossible. 
I am thankful that God is able to resurrect my dry bones and dead heart the way He did in Ezekiel’s vision.  He can revive us when we are dead in sin or just plain defeated by the enemy. Just when there is no hope and no end in sight, we can be assured that the breath of God will come to us like a sweet cool breeze, flowing over us and through us, to bring us back to life. 

Scripture to Claim:
I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.  Ezekiel 37:14

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Faith Like the Others

2016 By Sam Nobles
“…Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35b NKJV)

Hebrews chapter 11 is filled with those who we would call “Great Heroes of the Faith”. The entire 11th chapter of Hebrews compiles a list of guys and gals who experienced God’s miraculous hand in life changing ways. For example, Abraham and his wife became parents when he was 100 years old. Moses led the Israelites across the Red Sea when God divided it in half. David defeated a giant named Goliath with just a stone and a sling. One man named Samson defeated 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. Truly, these are amazing exploits of faith.

As I read down through Hebrews 11 there is one group that catches my eye. There is one group which seems to possess something about faith that many believers lack. That one group is called the “others”.

The “others” were men and women who were tortured and did not experience the victory on earth like Abraham or David did. The others didn’t see God’s miraculous hand move upon them like Samson or Moses did. The “others” simply believed even though they were beaten, martyred, and put in prison without release or relief. Why? Or better yet how? They endured such agony for a better resurrection.

For the “others”, better than the miracle of the moment was the hope of eternal life. For most believers, faith is what you cling to for victory over adverse circumstances. For “others”, faith is what you cling to for victory in your circumstances.

Perhaps faith like the “others” is the best faith of all because it is not based upon having to see anything in order to strengthen my belief. There are many, including myself, who can boast in the Lord for healing, mended relationships, divine opportunity, unexpected finances, etc. Then there are “others” who have not seen those things they have been praying for, but they still hold on in their faith.

Maybe God desires to do more for today you than resuscitation. Maybe he wants to ready you for a resurrection…a better resurrection. God give me faith like the “others”; the ability to see the big picture of eternity clearer than my momentary afflictions.

Scripture to Claim:

“Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29 NKJV)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Here Today, Gone to “Marah”

By Sam Nobles
Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you." (Exodus 15:23-26 NKJV)

When Israel came to this pool they couldn’t drink of the waters; therefore, they called Marah, which means bitter. The same thing happens to us. We come to our own “Marah”—a situation, a relationship, an occupation, or even a ministry we think will be cool and refreshing – only to find it bitter, not what we thought it would be. Why did the Lord choose Marah as the first stop for His people after Egypt? I believe it was to teach us at least three lessons…
If you were living on an island in Hawaii, being waited on hand and foot under swaying palm trees and setting sun with no money problems, no physical pain, no marital stress, no child-rearing difficulties, you would probably want the Lord to hold off on His return for a little while longer. I am convinced that hard times will never come to an end because God knows they’re the only way we’ll long for heaven and fix our eyes on eternity. I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t talk about heaven while sitting on the beach, overlooking the ocean. He talked about heaven in the same passage where He told His disciples that one of them would betray Him, one of them would deny Him, and He Himself would die (John 13-14).
Although the Bible said that Israel murmured against Moses, in reality, they were murmuring against God for bringing them to Marah in the first place. Sadly enough, the same is true of me and you. You will never know what’s in your heart until you dive into something, expecting one thing and find out it isn’t what you thought it would be. People and situations are not the cause of your bitterness; they simply reveal what was already within. I know this because, looking at Jesus, I see that, although He was spat upon, cursed at, and nailed to a cross, He said, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34). No bitterness came out of Jesus because there was no bitterness within Him to start with.
When did the bitter water become sweet? The water became sweet when the tree was placed in it its midst. Likewise, the bitterness that we’ve experienced in life can only be made sweet when the tree of the Cross is placed in its midst. “But what she did to me was awful,” you say. “What he said about me was unforgivable,” you say. “How they hurt me was incomprehensible,” you proclaim. I know your hurt is real, but so is the forgiveness and love of God. The Cross enables me to realize that not only are my sins washed away, but that the one who hurt me, who abandoned me, who disappointed me is forgiven as well by the same blood that cleanses me. Place the tree of the Cross of Calvary in the midst of your bitterness, and drink deeply of sweet water once again and receive healing in your mind, emotions, and body.

Scripture to Claim:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV)

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