I was thinking today about the prophet Ezekiel and his experience in the valley of dry bones, when the Lord told him He would give those bones new life. So I thought I’d share a poem the Lord inspired on the subject. The Scripture reference is Ezekiel, chapter 37.
THE SAME GOD TODAY
Bones in the valley,
Worthless and dry,
Bleached by the sun and
The wind blowing by.
God to the prophet
Did speak and did ask,
“Can these bones still live?
Is it too big a task?”
“Lord,” said the prophet,
“Only You know.”
“I’ll show you, Ezekiel;
My Spirit will blow.
“And cause them to live
And give flesh and skin;
They’ll rise like an army,
Give Me glory again.”
When our problems seem hopeless,
Too dead to restore,
We can look to Ezekiel
And his word from the Lord.
For the God who breathed life
Into bones dry and dead
Is the same God for us
If we’ll trust what He’s said.
I’m working on creating a ministry podcast channel. We have a lot of interaction with our YouTube channel, but many people still want to be able to listen to the messages while they are driving or cleaning house or carrying out some other chores that don’t allow them to look at a screen while listening. So this post is step one in getting the new project underway. The podcast episode below is the first in a series of messages titled Know The Word; Experience The Power. This first episode — “Drawing From God’s Well” — is one of my personal favorites, so I’ve used it as my tester. If things go according to plan, we’ll be uploading a number of episodes soon, both here on the website and on several other podcast platforms across the Internet.
If you have time to listen, let me know — in the comment section below — if you have any thoughts or advice concerning making this venture a success.
In routine life on Planet Earth, there’s one rather ordinary looking piece of equipment that is used by thousands of people every day. It’s called a compass. Hikers, hunters, military personnel, navigators on ships and planes, and even 12-year-old boy scouts and girl scouts out on field trips use a compass as a normal part of their activities. Most of us have used one at some point in time, or at least played with one just to see how it works. Its job: to make geographical directions clear so that we can find our way safely and expeditiously from one point on this earth to another.
But that compass will not help us — it will, in fact, lead us the wrong way and get us into trouble — it is fails to point its arrow accurately to the North. It it’s off just a tiny bit, it can cause us to go miles in the wrong direction and totally miss our destination. That compass must point its arrow to TRUE NORTH, or it does us no good at all.
Now for individual journeys from one geographical place to another, any average compass in good working order is good enough. But what about our life-long journey — our time from birth to death — when we make our way along the road of life with all its twists and turns and possible detours? What provides our source of accurate directions for that journey? Well, there’s only One who knows for sure how to navigate that life path successfully and wind up at the right places at the right times — as well as how to wind up in the right place at the end of the journey — and that person is our Creator — the One who made us to live this life in the first place.
We hear people today talk about how different people have different “moral compasses” — to each his own — everyone lives by his own standards. But the truth is that all moral compasses that don’t point to Jesus Christ are extremely faulty and will lead the followers into trouble — and eventually into destruction.
Jesus Christ is the only TRUE NORTH. If our life compass focuses on Him, we will be able to stay on course — with joyful results. It if does not point to Him, we’re lost — in more ways than one.
I hear people say things like this: “Well, there are people who do good an live right in this world who aren’t Christians.” And i agree that I know some people who love their families and who try to live by rules that are, for the most part, kind. But the fact is that the only reason those people act as positively as they do is that they’ve been taught the basic rules of God’s Word.
Now they may not recognize those words as coming from the Bible. And they may not have learned them in a church. But they were influenced by others — even by the laws of the land — to understand a lot about what’s right and wrong. Every law of the land in any nation that protects people and guides them to act in ways that avoid hurting someone else came originally from the plans for living right laid out in God’s original law.
The truth is that the only foundation any society — indeed any human being from Adam and Eve down — has for determining what’s right and wrong is God’s Word. That’s why God gave the original ten commandments: so man would know what was good and what was evil. And all the civilized nations in the word have laws that follow those ten commandments. No human being came up with those ideas on his own. His Creator taught him right and wrong.
Why did the Creator need to teach man? Because the only good there is in the universe is in God Himself and what proceeds out of Him.
Let me say that again: There is no good in this world except what proceeds out of God. Man is born sinful — selfish, self-centered, and out for himself alone. Prove it you say? Look at any little baby. He wants his needs met, and when they’re not met, he cries — and cries — and cries — until Mom and Dad stop whatever else they are doing and give baby whatever it is he wants. And as a child grows, he knows to focus on his own needs and wants without being taught. His wants come first.
Most parents — if they are responsible in their child rearing — begin teaching their children about kindness and consideration for others at an early age. But those things have to be taught. They never come naturally to any human being. Goodness, kindness, and generosity are learned behavior — coming either from instruction or environmental influence. There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own.
The Word of God says it simply and succinctly when it says, “There is none good but God.” (Luke 18:19) and “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10 and “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own. He must receive his goodness from God.
Now, living on this earth in the right environment may help some people soak up understanding of some of that goodness. And they may exert some effort to make it active in their lives. Anyone who gets out in the rain gets wet. Anyone who gets out in the sun gets warm. But those conditions are superficial and temporary. So, in the same manner, anyone who is reared and nurtured in an environment of good, loving ways will, no doubt, soak up some of that attitude and that philosophy of life — and its accompanying behavior.
But as with the sun and the rain, those things are superficial and temporary. They will carry that person only so far and for only so long. He will ultimately fail in his morality and goodness. I have lived 72 years on this earth and been actively involved with thousands of people from all over the world, and I have yet to see an exception to this rule. Nor do I know any other people who have come across an exception. No human being other than Jesus Christ has ever lived without failing in morality and goodness. Until we receive Jesus Christ and put Him in control, everyone of us fails to live up to the goodness of God — the goodness required to be fit to live with Him for eternity.
The only good we know and do apart from Jesus is what we acquired by osmosis because God’s goodness managed to penetrate our soul a little. But without our spirit being born again by the entrance of Jesus Christ, that “goodness” is nothing but a garment we wear. What’s inside will eventually come to the forefront. And, yes, I realize I am repeating myself here, but with good reason. My experience with humanity has taught me that very few people can capture and hold onto a new concept the first time they hear it. And, for many people reading this article, the concept I’m sharing is new indeed. So explaining the same truth again — and in slightly different terms — is a safeguard and an insurance that more people will grasp this truth and let it help them move forward to what they need.
The exciting part of this truth is that once Jesus is allowed to come in and take control, His own righteousness is transferred into our being. At that point, we aren’t just trying to be good and do good because of some training that will eventually fail us. No. Jesus gives us His own inherent goodness and holiness. It becomes who we are because He has become the controller of who we are. We are one with Him.
And since He alone is TRUTH (John 1:17; John 14:6), He provides the infallible compass for our life from that point through all eternity. Do our souls and bodies sometimes fail to measure up? Yes, but Jesus, our unerring compass, lovingly points us back to the right direction, and the wrong steps we took gets corrected so that we don’t ever get completely off course again.
Jesus Christ is our TRUE NORTH. If you haven’t yet made Him the compass of your life, right now is the best time to do it. No matter how far off course you are at present, if you’ll turn your life over to Him, you will immediately see where “True North” is, and you’ll never have to worry about being lost again on this journey through life. Not only that, you’re guaranteed to wind up at the destination you were always intended to reach — in this life on earth and for eternity.
photo credit: Efraim Stochter (MW) @ pixabay.com
HEALING IS FOR YOU! — FREE TO READ ONLINE — or JUST $0.99 TO DOWNLOAD to your own digital device.
If you’d like to stay focused on healing and health instead of disease, let me remind you that my book “Healing Is For You!” is free to read online. I’ll put the link below. This book will strengthen and energize your faith for receiving healing and continued health from the Lord.
Also, I have arranged for the e-book version from Amazon to be available for only $0.99 through the end of April. That’s the lowest price Amazon will let me offer.
The book is available in paperback as well, of course, but that takes longer to get a copy than digital. The only difference in the digital is that it does not include study questions, and it has only 33 healing scriptures in the last chapter instead of the 100 scriptures in the print version.
If you do not have a Kindle, that’s no problem, because Amazon offers a free app for any digital device, and you can download it easily from the same page where you order the e-book. I’d offer the e-book free as well if I could, but $0.99 is as close as I can come.
Here’s the link for the free read version:
Here’s the link to the $0.99 e-book:
If you don’t feel that you need this faith encouragement personally, pass this post on to someone who does need it.
The following message is one my dad taught and shared on his own website several years ago. He’s gone on to be with the Lord now, but I decided to share this message here to encourage some of my readers as well.
“But I would that you should understand brethren, that the things that happened to me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel: so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, in all other places ….” Phil. 1: 12-13.
I suppose that hardly a day passes that we Christians don’t complain about something. We fuss about being handicapped in one way or another: that we are hedged in and are undergoing irritating and uncomfortable testing; or that we are tempted to the edge of our strength. Consequently, we grumble and are unable to do what we would like to do for the Lord.
The above Scripture text is one of many revelations into the ministry life of the Apostle Paul that proved the mettle of this man. His life as an apostle had been anything but easy. He was continually extinguishing brush fires of false teaching and practices in the churches he founded. He had problems with individual believers who were making a mockery of the Blood of Jesus. Add to that the repeated attacks of the unbelievers, Jew and Gentile, and you see a man who had plenty to complain about — but never did!
Are you contributing to, or hindering the advance of the Gospel? In the Scripture above Paul is writing to his beloved Philippians while a prisoner in Rome, and he is assuring them that his present circumstances are contributing to, rather than hindering, the advance of the gospel. What a remarkable statement
The key word in this Scripture is the word “furtherance.” I discovered that it was translated from a Greek word used in the first century to describe a company of woodcutters, who proceeded ahead of an army, and cut a road through a forest so they could advance. Paul is literally saying that his circumstances at the moment, were simply “divine woodcutters” cutting a path through the opposition so the Gospel might advance. Incredible! In prison, liberty gone, totally handicapped, chained to a Roman guard. But Paul says it is all God’s woodcutters making a road for the Good News!
You see, something was happening that the Roman government never anticipated: the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached from the pulpit of the Roman Empire. Detachments from the Praetorian Guard (the emperor’s elite unit of 10,000 palace guards) were the soldiers assigned to guard the Apostle 24 hours a day. As each detachment came on duty, Paul saturated them with the Good News, and they would in turn carry the message back to the palace barracks. Gradually the entire unit and the palace staff were soaked with the Good News.
And there were even more “Divine Woodcutters.” Brethren in Rome, jealous of Paul, were preaching the Message more energetically, simply out of envy. Other brothers friendly to Paul, out of love, began preaching with added enthusiasm. Paul’s response? “It makes no difference to me the why’s behind it; the woodcutters are at work, the gospel is getting out, and I’m glad.”
The Apostle’s message here refers to experiences that eventually come to the life of every Christian. All of us may not spend time in a prison or experience anything as drastic as Paul. But there are times when the walls seem to close in upon us, and barriers appear out of nowhere — things like difficult personal circumstances or physical problems. All such roadblocks, even though they are the work of the enemy, or even our own failure to heed God’s Word, can be turned into “Divine Woodcutters” contributing to the advancement of the Gospel … Through you!
Listen, Beloved, we do not glory in hardships and problems; but in the midst of them, we can become closer to Jesus and more dependent upon the Holy Spirit. When we do that, we ultimately overcome all of them and grow more efficient in proclaiming the Word.
Paul accomplished some of his greatest work when limitations upon him were the strongest. Listen to him as he speaks in Second Corinthians 12:9, paraphrased: “My weakness is no big deal anymore. I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power instead of showing off my own power and abilities. Since I know my whole life is all for Christ’s glory, I just get happy about it, and about all the persecutions, insult, hardships, and difficulties … for when I am weak then I am strong and the less I have the more I depend on Him!”
A few years ago, I heard Pastor Bill Winston, of Chicago, Illinois, sharing about his training to become a pilot. He talked about what he learned when going through his Instrument Flight Rules training, blindfolded. While working in the flight simulator, he thought that his plane was straight and level, but when he took off the blindfold, he discovered that it was actually upside down. That was when he learned just how important it was to learn to use – and to trust – the instrument panel on the plane. He then made this statement: “God’s Word is our instrument panel.”
As soon as he said those words, the Spirit of God just sort of leaped inside of me, confirming how true that statement was. And then I heard the Lord say this in my spirit. “Yes, My Word is your instrument panel, and the Holy Spirit is the control tower operator.”
Wow, that lit something up inside me. It was another great confirmation of how faith works and how completely we can trust the tools God has given us to get through this life successfully.
We are often navigating this life without being able to see things clearly enough to know what the next move should be. We cannot see what’s ahead most of the time, and we can’t see all the difficulties and enemies around us on all sides. Sometimes it’s like being in a storm, with clouds so heavy we have no idea which way is up, let alone north, south, east, or west. Sometimes our problems so overwhelm us that there’s no way to see the sun, the north star, or any lights on the ground.
But none of that matters. As long as we have an instrument panel in good condition, we can navigate this journey right onto the correct runway and make a safe landing every single time. We can find the solution to every problem, no matter how impossible it looks, as long as we follow the instructions for using that instrument panel.
And the first important point to be aware of is that we must trust that instrument panel. We must believe that what it’s telling us is the truth. If we do believe that, then, if we’ve spent time in training to learn how to use it, we know exactly what to do. And we get the results we wanted.
Let’s be sure we spend ample time training with our instrument panel – God’s Word. We need to read it, meditate it, pray over it, and let the Holy Spirit who wrote it help us understand it. Then we have to make up our minds that it is true – no questions, no doubts. When Pastor Winston was in that training session, his own intellect told him his plane was upright, straight, and level. If he had looked at his instrument panel, it would have told him the opposite. He would have had to make a choice at that point: trust his own intellect – and what he thought he knew – or trust his instrument panel. If he had been in a real flight situation, trusting his own thoughts and feelings would have meant certain destruction. But trusting the panel, which told him his own thoughts and feelings were way off, would have meant safety and success.
When it comes to a decision about whether what we see in God’s Word is true – or whether our own ideas, traditions, doctrines, or feelings are true – we’d better make the right choice. We’d better side with our instrument panel. And the great thing is that we don’t have to lean on those dials and gauges alone, because we also have a control tower operator – the Holy Spirit Himself – who will talk us through understanding those gauges even better and will help convince us that we really can trust what the control panel is telling us. Moreover, He’ll tell us how to apply what we are seeing there and how to respond for the best results.
So let’s practice every day using our God-given instrument panel. Let’s learn to trust it above all else. And when we find ourselves flying through a storm so dark and vicious that we can’t even tell which way is up, locking our eyes on that instrument panel will be second nature to us, We’ll read the gauges of God’s Word and tune in to our Control Tower Operator and let Him talk us right through that storm and into a safe landing every time.
photo courtesy of Holger Detje @ pixabay.com