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June 2021 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article: Made Alive in Faith

 

Made Alive in Faith

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 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 37:1-14)

 

            Ezekiel was called to prophesy to the nation of Israel while they were in captivity under Babylon. It would soon be time for their restoration, when God would bring them out of captivity and return them to their land. For some, that’s all they hoped for. But that wasn’t God’s main objective. God wanted the people to look forward to a completely different restoration, one that would bring new and everlasting live, a return to faith.

            God used nations like Assyria and Babylon to stress the dire urgency to return to faith. Israel, as a nation, had abandoned the LORD for idols of all kinds. Some were of their own making and others were the gods of surrounding nations. In either case, the people no longer worshiped the one true God. As an earthly consequence to their actions, God gave them over to their enemies so that they could see that none of these false gods could save them.

            But he did so with the intent of delivering them himself. This vision of the dry bones coming back to life was to declare their deliverance from Babylon, but even more importantly, from the devil! Think of the imagery here. God used something that had absolutely no life, something that was completely dead. He took something that had no hope of ever again knowing life, and he gave to them what only he could, new life!

            This was the state of Israel’s faith

. Their faith, as a nation, was gone. They were spiritually as dead as could be, and there was nothing they could do to revive their faith. But God could. And he did! Through Ezekiel, the LORD promised to restore Israel by breathing into the Holy Spirit. “I will put my spirit in you, and you will live!” (vs. 14)

            He took their fears and their insecurities, and he set them aside so that they could see the greatest gift he had ever given, eternal life through faith, faith worked in through the Holy Spirit. God does the same for us! Every time that we hear the Word of God, the Spirit works through it to work faith into our hearts. When he first brought us to faith, he took us out of and inescapable death and brought us into everlasting life!

            Let us not return to death by ignoring God’s gracious call. Israel returned to idolatry almost immediately after this prophecy of earthly deliverance was fulfilled. But God’s grace was so strong that many of them will rest forever in the fullness of that grace in heave because he fed and nourished their faith through his Word. Let us not be like those who have turned away from it or found excuses not to take part in God’s Word or in worship.

            There’s always the age-old “I’m too busy to make it in,” or “I can’t get off from work.” When this persists, such reasoning exposes a lack of priority when it comes to worship and creates an idol out of a blessing that God has provided, the ability to work and earn wages. Today, there’s a new excuse being used. “I can’t come to worship because of the potential exposure to COVID-19.”

            Yes, there is a risk and we should not be reckless. Some, while being cautious, have continued to worship either in person or in various other manners for the time being. However, for those who are using this reasoning to avoid worship altogether, that fear or justification has become their idol. They refuse to see the blessings God has provided in caution and medical means. For those that claim this as their reason for not returning to worship, but have returned (or never stopped) other daily and special activities involving the community, this is their new idol. Let us as a church help to overcome all earthly fear and reasoning so that we might support one another in growing in the Word of God and not that of men.

            Come! Hear the Word! Only then will the Spirit who brings life be able to revive and strengthen your faith. Turn from idols of all kinds and hear the call of God to receive the Spirit, through whom you also receive new life. “Dry bones! Come alive!” Amen

 

                                                                                    In Christian love,

                                                                               Pastor Wolf B. Parsons

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