Dry Bones Bring a Message of Hope!

And the journey continues…..into Ezekiel. Ezekiel is known as one of the major prophets due to the length of the book, 48 chapters. Ezekiel prophesied during a time of great upheaval and unrest in Israel. The northern kingdom had fallen to Assyrians and Judah was besieged by Babylon. Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C. to King Nebuchadnezzar’s army and many of the Jews were transported to Babylon where they lived in exile for 70 years. Ezekiel was among the Jews taken to Babylon and there he received his call from God as a prophet. He was from a priestly family and was able to serve as a prophet-priest during this time.

Chapter 37:1-14 tells of Ezekiel’s vision and conversations with Sovereign God that were to give hope to God’s exiled people. The vision and restoration of ‘dry bones’ has a message of hope for us today.

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” 10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!

God was giving the exiled Israelites hope of their coming restoration and return to their beloved homeland. God promised to accomplish the return through His Spirit and bring new life to them. Where are you in need of restoration today? Do you have insurmountable problems that need to be overcome? Do you have broken relationships or projects that seem too big even on your best days? Ezekiel knew that only God had the answer to their exile? Only God could restore them and make them a nation again. God assured Ezekiel that He would indeed bring them back and restore them.

Have faith today that God is greater than any problem you face and can indeed bring about restoration of your mind, heart, body and soul. He is Almighty God and nothing is beyond his ability to bring restoration and reconciliation. Walk in faith trusting Him for the answers.

Linda

Wow! God loves me THAT much!

And the journey continues….I am intimidated by the book of Romans yet, the more I’ve studied it, the more I’ve grown to love and understand it. I have 2 favorite chapters in this complex book that speak to my heart. Today I’m focusing on Romans Chapter 5 later in another blog, I’ll get to Chapter 8. Here are the first 5 verses and verse 8 from Romans Chapter 5.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us…..but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

By chapter 5 Paul has reached a conclusion in his arguments as he uses the word therefore to begin this chapter. Because of what he has written before, he then concludes the following and what a conclusion it is! We are justified (declared not guilty of sin) by our faith in Jesus. We have peace of heart and soul because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Through faith in Jesus, we now have eternal hope and stand in a position of grace (unmerited favor) before God. Paul tells us that our character will change as we accept Jesus in our life! Knowing Christ brings a life of faith trials which Paul calls sufferings. The suffering we do for and with Christ produces character we could never achieve on our own. We will have endurance, hope and God’s love in our hearts. Even though we are sinners, we can be cleaned up and declared not guilty before God because of Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Wow!

I also chose verse 8 because it shows how undeserving I am. As a sinner, I cannot find a way to God but through Christ. God knew my sinful state and loved me anyway. He loved me enough to send Jesus to died for me. That is amazing love!

Paul continues on in verses 9-11 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Paul also concludes that since God has declared us not guilty of sin through our faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, we are new in character and no longer enemies of God. God is holy and cannot abide sin so faith in Jesus saves us and brings us into a relationship with God, reconciled to Him. God desires a relationship with you and me. So He made a way through Jesus for this reconciliation to take place.

I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love, His sacrifice on my behalf and the character changing process He has begun in me through faith in Jesus the Son. Let these words of life, love and hope sink deep into your soul today and be encouraged because you are loved by God and your faith in Jesus can and will transform you! Praise God!

Linda

Faith, what is your confession?

And the journey continues…. into Deuteronomy. This book is filled with encouragement to live by faith in God. Moses wanted to impress upon the Israelites, and us by extension, that God is the only God and that we need to remember what He has done in our lives to help us remain faithful especially when times get difficult. I love the portion in Chapter 6: 6-9 which is called the Shema in Hebrew. It was/is their confession of faith in God.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

**God is God alone, there is no other besides Him. Psalm 72:8 “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.” Isaiah 37:16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.”

Devoted Jews in Jesus’ day recited this confession daily. Many take the words literally and wear lacteries upon their foreheads with verses inside and many have a mezuzot ,which is a small wooden or metal container with passages of scripture inside, attached to their door frames. The words are precious and filled with direction and meaning for us today. Examine the lessons and truths contained in this confession and ask yourself- is this what I believe with all my heart? I have included other scriptures that confirms the principles found in this confession for your meditation.

*We must love God with all our being. Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

*We must commit ourselves to Him wholeheartedly each day. Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this”

*We need to teach our children about God as we live our daily lives. Psalm 34:11 “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

*We need to show others we believe the Holy Scriptures and their truths about God. Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” James 2:18 “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

Can you make this profession of faith about your love for Jesus? Are you committed? Do others see Jesus in your life in how you speak and act? Food for thought as you meditate on God’s Word and commit yourself to Him. Talk this confession of faith over with God, claim it as your own and ask Him for the strength and endurance to live for Him each day.

Linda

P.S. Before the protestant reformation began, Martin Luther arrived at the following statements of faith from his study of Romans. The 5 Solas- Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, Glory of God Alone, Scripture Alone. May you proclaim Christ in your life today!

On My! Titus is a Gem

And the journey continues…. into Titus. The book of Titus is a letter written by Paul to his young convert and coworker for Christ. They had traveled together preaching and teaching and when they came to Crete, Paul left Titus there to carry on the work of sharing the gospel. When I visited Crete recently, they still revere Titus and his work of bringing the gospel to their island.

Titus 2:11-14 “ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” The grace of God=Christ who came bringing salvation to all people. Through Christ we can be trained to reject godlessness and sin in our lives. We can wait expectantly for Jesus’ return knowing He has created us through faith to be His people! Thank you Jesus!

Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” God is so good. He knew us and our sin filled nature and sent Jesus anyway to save us and clean us inside and out. Now we are renewed in Jesus, redeemed and saved to be heirs of His kingdom forever! We serve and amazing Savior and God who truly loves us.

May you know that God loves you and has given you a way, through Christ, to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

May you know that you are redeemed, clean and filled with His Holy Spirit.

May you know that you are co-heirs with Christ and have hope of eternal life with Him.

May you know that Christ will return and bring us to be with Him for eternity!

Have a blessed day filled with this knowledge.

Linda

Working with God, No Fear!

And the journey continues….. to the small book of Haggai in the Old Testament. Haggai was a prophet God sent to encourage and motivate the returning exiles to Jerusalem. The king in Babylon, King Cyrus, had released Jewish captives to return and rebuild the temple which was destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army had ransacked Jerusalem and carried many Jews to captivity in Babylon. The work to rebuild and restore the temple met with opposition and ground to a halt. When Darius the Great became king of Persia he renewed the efforts and at this time Haggai and Zechariah began to preach and encourage, motivate and pressure the Jews to get going with the restoration.

I am drawn to Haggai 2:4-5 “But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.

Haggai is delivering a message of hope and courage from the Lord Almighty (El Shaddai, the All Sufficient One) that we too can take heed of and apply to our lives.

Here are some lessons and truths we can take away from this passage: 1. God promises to be with them, me and you, and He will never leave us or forsake us. That is a repeated promise throughout the Bible. I memorized Deuteronomy 31:6 and say it to remind myself of God’s presence with me at all times. 2. God is unchanging and eternal. What God promised and did when He delivered the children of Israel from the hands of Pharaoh in Egypt, He can and does still promise to for us as He sustains and helps us. 3. Fear does not come from God. His Holy Spirit is with us and will dispel our fears if we turn and focus upon Him. 4. I am to put my mind to the tasks God has given me and not waste time with fearful living. 5. God desires that I be strong and rely upon Him for my strength.

Haggai repeats over and over in this little book that God is God Almighty, the All-Sufficient One , who can be relied upon to carry us to victory. Where are you living in fear today? Haggai would say- get up, walk with God and trust Him to bring whatever you are afraid to face to completion. We need to remember His promises and move forward claiming His strength, courage, and hope as God will never leave you nor forsake you. God is Almighty!

Linda

Walking in the Light

And the journey continues… into 1 John Chapter 1. This letter was written by the Apostle John and shares the same style as the gospel of John. He wants to assure the readers that he has seen Jesus, experienced his life and death, and wants to share Christ with us. Sharing Christ with us will make his joy complete.

The reason I love this chapter is the words of truth John gives us about the light we have in Christ, the contrast of life without Christ which in one in darkness and how to know for certain one has the light of Christ in their life! 1 John 1:5-10 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

This passage teaches us these truths:

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Believing in Jesus brings us into the light and allows us to have fellowship with God and be cleansed from our sins.

If we think we are sinless, we are not being truthful.

Getting right with God, being in His light, requires we confess our sins, accept His forgiveness in our lives.

God is always faithful.

If we claim we are without sin, we are calling God a liar and Jesus does not live within us.

I love this passage for it’s straight forwardness about who God is and what He does for me. 1 John 1:9 was one of the first verses I memorized long ago, and God brings it to my mind often as I need to continually repent and depend upon His faithfulness to forgive and cleanse me. May the truths of this passage sink in and cause you to see God through His light, Jesus, and may you know His love and forgiveness in your life anew today. May you also have joy in sharing the good news of Jesus with someone.

Linda

Summer Wanderings… in God’s Word

As I was praying about what direction to go with my blogs this summer, I was led to share with you my favorite passages from throughout the Bible. Each week I will seek to blog on one Old Testament and One New Testament passage. I am excited to glimpse lessons and truths from the whole council of God. He uses all His Holy Scriptures to speak to us so we can live full, fruitful and glorifying lives as we walk with Him.

This week I was studying in the book of Ruth. Calamity surely befell this young widow and her mother-in-law Naomi as they lost their husbands. Naomi seeks to send Ruth back to her family, but Ruth clings to Naomi and speaks from her heart. Ruth 1:16-17 “ But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” This pagan young woman saw love and faith in Naomi in spite of her circumstances and chose to cling to her and her God.

They return to Bethlehem where Naomi’s husband’s family lived and they owned land. Ruth was devoted to Naomi and went daily to glean in the field to provide their food. Boaz, a relative, sees her devotion, work ethic, and love for her mother-in-law even though she is considered a foreigner in their land and would be looked down upon. He treats her with kindness and Naomi instructs Ruth to approach Boaz and seek his aid in redeeming their life and their land. Through a series of events, Boaz cleverly presents the buying of the land to a closer relative but tells him thoughtfully that purchasing the land that belonged to Naomi’s husband would entail marrying Ruth, the foreign girl from Moab so that her husband’s line could continue. The closer relative refuses as it would put his own inheritance in jeopardy, so Boaz ‘redeems’ the land and marries Ruth. Boaz is the ‘kinsman’ redeemer which is a beautiful pictured of Christ.

Ruth and Boaz marry and have a son they name Obed. Naomi is uplifted and renewed by this new grandson to love and cherish. Ruth is cared for by a kind loving husband. Boaz is rewarded for his love and kindness by a loving wife and family even though he is older. God shows favor upon Ruth, Boaz and Naomi as Obed becomes the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of King David who are in the line of Jesus the coming Messiah.

What do we take away from this lovely story? I see God’s providential care of Ruth and Naomi who loved Him. There was no luck involved in their circumstances as God knew what they needed and provided for them in a miraculous way. I also see God’s Sovereignty over horrible things that happened to them in Moab, the death of her sons and husband, yet bringing good from all those hard times. Two promises come to mind as I ponder this story. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, “ Naomi and Ruth loved and trusted God and He worked the circumstances of their lives for their good as He cared for them. Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Really hard things happened to Ruth and Naomi and God turned the circumstances so that they were mightily blessed and provided for. Ruth, the pagan girl from Moab, finds God, His people and has her life redeemed. God is indeed good.

Where do you see God’s hand of care and love in your life? Is He moving and changing things so that you can see Him more clearly? He drew Ruth and Naomi closer to Him. How is God doing that for you? Has something difficult happened to you in the past that you can see where God brought good out of tragedy? Many times we will not see why the hard things in life happen to us, but one day we will see how God has woven our lives with the dark and light threads of life into a beautiful tapestry. Until then, we need to trust Him and cling to His precious promises with hope and reassurance that He is sovereign and loves us beyond measure.

Linda

Take some time this week and read the story of Ruth. It is only 4 short chapters and will surely bring you hope and blessing.