On Life Support

 untitled (2)And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20 so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Ezekiel 11:19-21, NLT

This is one of those complex portions of God’s scripture where several ideas overlap. In our English translation, we read compound sentences and knotty syntax. But the thoughts are God’s, and therefore significant. Without these truths though, I believe that we can quickly slip into a ‘comatose’ condition.

First we must consider who is involved.

  1. God [speaking through the prophet] declares His intentions.
  2. His repentant people [Israel] are acted upon.
  3. But there is a third bunch, those unrepentant ones who have decided within themselves that they will stick with their idols.

God is very decisive by this point. The prophetic ministry was supposed to work, many prophets and teachers have been sent out. But with very limited success. If we pick one out, it would have to be Hosea; his ministry was dramatic– but ultimately fruitless. The only real successful prophet was Jonah– preaching to Ninevah, ironically a pagan people. But God’s own people are living in flagrant sin. They remain untouched. They’ve chosen to remain in their sinful condition.

A solid and clear promise has been given. An interior work has been promised by God, if they can only show a minute sense of life. The nation is on “life support.” The prophets attend to the needs before them. They are very far from the virile and robust nation– they are in the ICU and are showing only scanty signs of life.

This promise is that a special work will be done inside. They will become both tender and responsive again. A new receptivity and awareness will come into being. The ability to obey will ignite within. We call this “revival.” Revivalists throughout history have carried this to every generation.

As I scan over my Christian life of more than 30 years, I simply see my own “cycles” of sin and revival. I wish I could have been more consistent. But I cling to the faithfulness of God. He stays true even when I’m not. He has promised me. I’ll take Him at His word.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Philippians 1:6, NLT

God will do what He can, His efforts are heroic. He fully intends to change us— if we’re only willing.

“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.” 

Charles Finney

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Can These Bones Live?

 1Some time later, I felt the LORD’s power take control of me, and his Spirit carried me to a valley full of bones. 2The LORD showed me all around, and everywhere I looked I saw bones that were dried out. 3He said, “Ezekiel, son of man, can these bones come back to life?”

   I replied, “LORD God, only you can answer that.”

    4He then told me to say:

   Dry bones, listen to what the LORD is saying to you, 5“I, the LORD God, will put breath in you, and once again you will live. 6I will wrap you with muscles and skin and breathe life into you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

    7I did what the LORD said, but before I finished speaking, I heard a rattling noise. The bones were coming together! 8I saw muscles and skin cover the bones, but they had no life in them.

    9The LORD said:

   Ezekiel, now say to the wind, [a] “The LORD God commands you to blow from every direction and to breathe life into these dead bodies, so they can live again.” 10As soon as I said this, the wind blew among the bodies, and they came back to life! They all stood up, and there were enough to make a large army.

    11The LORD said:

   Ezekiel, the people of Israel are like dead bones. They complain that they are dried up and that they have no hope for the future. 12So tell them, “I, the LORD God, promise to open your graves and set you free. I will bring you back to Israel, 13and when that happens, you will realize that I am the LORD. 14My Spirit will give you breath, and you will live again. I will bring you home, and you will know that I have kept my promise. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

Ezekiel 37

 

Ezekiel is transported to a place where things like this happen and are not considered overly exotic or strange.  He is not freaked out with this, or the transformation of bones to people.  (Although I’m sure his blood-pressure went high for a bit.)  Ezekiel looks over this valley of human bones that are beyond the point of decay.  In a moment of time there is a reanimation, bones get connected with other bones, and scattered remains become complete corpses.

Ezekiel is obviously astonished.  He extrapolates off of what he sees, and it is indeed a complete army, and it is ready to step out to do God’s Will.  It is critical to see that there is no apparent effort, no real perspiring by God to energize these bones.  God wills it, and its done.  No fuss, no muss.  It just— happens.

As we consider our own transformation  (and it really is that) we can be confident that it presents no great issue to our Lord to bring you life.  We view His promises from our personal perspective.  But that is all wrong.  Often we nullify many good things because of our issues of personal doubt.

Resurrection life is offered to us, if we will just reach out and take it.  It’s not rocket science, ‘presto-chango.’  But it is sufficient to put the resurrection into these hard, dry hearts.  The track record of the Kingdom of God has a phenomenal growth pattern.  (You could grow hair on billiard ball if God enabled it!)

“Your body will always be dead because of sin. But if Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life, because Christ made you right with God. 11 God raised Jesus from the dead, and if God’s Spirit is living in you, he will also give life to your bodies that die. God is the One who raised Christ from the dead, and he will give life through[a] his Spirit that lives in you.”  

Romans 8:10-11, NCV

Confidence in His ability is desperately needed in the Church right now.  Life in a resurrection sense has to be returned back into our fellowships.  People are waiting, in skeletal piles, for God to do something amazing again.  So many wait, and we are the Ezekiels.  We do not have the power to resurrect anyone.  But we do have the power to pray.  And we know Jesus’ has the power to raise the dead.

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