In Ezekiel 37, the Prophet Ezekiel has a vision. Notice Vv. 1-2, “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.He had me pass among them all around, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and behold, they were very dry.” What is the meaning of Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones?
When Ezekiel was given this vision, the Babylonians had come in and conquered the Israelites. Those who died in battle were left unburied, just a large battlefield of dry bones from the exiles in Babylon. It was not uncommon in biblical times to see a valley after war filled with bleached bones from the sun. The Lord asked Ezekiel a question in verse 3, “Son of man, can these bones live?” A person with common sense would respond, “of course not, that is impossible.” However, Ezekiel knew who was talking to him. He responds with assurance God can make the impossible, possible, “Lord God, you Yourself know.” The Israelites had been slaughtered, and they lost hope. Notice what God states in Vv. 4-6, “Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones and say to them,’ ‘You dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’This is what the Lord God says to these bones: ‘Behold, I am going to make breath enter you so that you may come to life.And I will attach tendons to you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in you so that you may come to life; and you will know that I am the Lord.’” If man were to say such a thing, we would know he was insane. But the same God of creation was able to raise these bones and make them alive again.
At times we may feel as useless and dead as dry bones. We may feel so defeated in life that there is no hope in a world filled with such sorrow and sin. And at times it can appear the message spoken lands on deaf ears (Isaiah 6:10). What we can learn from Ezekiel’s vision here is that God energized His dead people (Vs. 12), He taught them that He is their God, and He restored them to be a nation again. First of all, there was physical restoration, secured by God when He raised up the dead Israelites. Second, we see they were able to come to God again and be spiritually restored to Him (Ezekiel 36:27).
The application we can draw from Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones is we serve the same God who loves us. So, when we feel as if we are like dry bones, longing to be set free from sin, we can be encouraged to know God is able to raise us up and restore us again to be His people.” - Matt Threlfall
Have you ever told someone something that you wanted to be kept between you and them? This was a secret very important to you that needed to be kept but the one in whom you trusted to keep it, told someone else? Although it has been said, certain secrets are made to be revealed at a later time, one should be trustworthy to “keep it quiet” in regards to the one who trusted them.
Jesus often told His disciples to not let others know about who He was (Matthew 16:20). He also told those whom He healed to keep it between them. For example, he said to a leper, “See that you tell no one, but go your way...” (Mark 8:4). This is known as the Messianic Secret. Jesus used this on His disciples as He performed miracles. Why would Jesus not want anyone to know that He is God’s Son and has the power to heal? First of all, Jesus knew that it was not time for them to know. They were not ready for it. A good example of this is Peter. See, the apostles did not understand certain things yet, especially the spiritual things in which Jesus had to do, such as how He was to go to Jerusalem to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes and be killed and raised the third day. Peter even pulled Jesus to the side to rebuke Him that this should not happen (Matthew 16:21-23). This was one of the reasons as to why they needed to not tell anyone. Second, in the case of the leper, such a miracle being revealed would hinder Christ’s mission and divert public attention from His message. Imagine how many would flock to see Jesus to be healed? This actually was the case after the leper could not keep quiet. His disobedience of telling others Jesus healed him, caused Jesus to move His ministry away from the city to the desert regions (Mark 1:45). Revealing a secret can have major implications.
God expects us to not keep Jesus a secret (Matthew 28:19). The word “go” here means, “as you are going” make disciples of Christ. We are expected by God to share the good news. However, we need to be wise in doing so. Most people we come into contact with are not ready to be taught about Jesus. There are people who if you bombard them with the spiritual things in which they do not understand, in which they are not ready for, you can lose them. I know, because I have done so. The best way in which we can go about sharing Jesus at first without keeping Him a secret, is to shine Him in the way in which we live. We may be the only Bible others will ever “read.” May it be in such a way that they long to know who this Jesus is.
These are some of the last words written by one of the greatest men who ever lived. He wrote them while in prison, waiting to die for his faith. He has just spoken of people he trusted who had deserted him. He is lacking even the bare essentials. A man, knowing how difficult his life was, had done additional great harm to him. No wonder he would open this window into his suffering soul and let us all look inside. Despite all this, he was not bitter.
Have you ever felt mistreated, even felt like people were actively against you? Or perhaps felt like people you count on abandoned or neglected you when you needed them? Maybe you have suffered for your faith. It is tempting to become bitter, even to lash out against the church and God. Paul is a great example of how to think when you feel unsupported and deserted by those you count on. After making that statement in 2 Timothy 4:16, he says some other things that can help us when we feel, at least in a small way, the way Paul felt.
If you’ve never felt unsupported and deserted, you probably will at some future time. The temptation will be great to let it become a spiritual problem for you. Why not remember Paul’s response when he was in his deepest valley? It’s the way up to the spiritual mountaintop. - Neal Pollard
In the late 1970’s to ‘80s, there was a popular commercial on T.V. for a brokerage firm, E.F. Hutton. Their motto was "When E. F. Hutton talks, People listen!" This usually involved a young professional making a remark at a dinner party that his broker was EF Hutton, which caused the moderately loud party to stop all conversation to listen at what E.F. Hutton had to say. I have had to endure watching that commercial so much (we did not have DVR, where I could pause it and fast forward); that phrase is engrained in my mind. The stock market crash of ’87, bad business dealings, and mergers and acquisitions, silenced E.F. Hutton.
As Christians, we must never forget, when we pray, God is always listening. In Revelation 8, we see that prayer is the Christian’s avenue of direct participation to God’s throne. Notice the words of John in Revelation 8:1-4, “When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
In the court house, before a jury’s verdict is read, there is silence. A significant announcement is about to be made, lives are going to change. The silence here has to do with delay. Rev. 10:5-6, the angels states there shall be no more delay, “Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer.” Why the delay? Why the silence? Habakkuk wrote, “But the Lord is in His Holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him” (Hab. 2:20). At times, heaven calls for silence, so shouldn’t we at times be silent? We are often so caught up in our busy lives and schedule, we rarely ever stop and spend some time in delay, in silence. We need to be on blended knee more.
What are the 7 Trumpets? The blowing of the 7 Trumpets is God’s warning judgements, giving the oppressors time to repent. Our prayers for those to repent do not go unheard, or unanswered. God not only listens to our prayers, He delivers results. Now of course, the answer will not always be yes. But to know we have a God in heaven who we can go to in communication by the avenue of prayer is most comforting. James states, “the effectual prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16). David poured out His heart in prayer in Psalm 55. He reached to God, “As for me, I shall call upon God, And the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:16-17).
Are we calling upon God in effectual prayer? If you are suffering, if you are thankful, if you just want to praise God. Whatever it may be, take time to delay, and go to Him in prayer!
Many feel they are not leaders in the Lord’s church because they do not hold a title, such as an Elder, Deacon, or minister. Many women in the church may not see themselves as leaders because of what the Bible teaches concerning who are the ones to have authority as teachers and spiritual overseers in the church in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. We must realize we are all leading somebody. Parents lead their children. Grandparents lead their grandchildren. Bible class teachers are leading their classes in God’s Word. If we are serving, teaching, guiding, helping others, we are leaders. The question is, are we being good and effective leaders?
Here are three essential qualities a leader must possess to be effective.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY #1 – A Good and Effective Leader has CHARACTER
How can any organization, group, or church for that matter, thrive without having character? They cannot. Leaders are men/women with vision, tenacity and skill. They are the ones who communicate with their people in a way that inspires. They find ways to solve problems. However, what do those qualities matter if they cannot be trusted? If one has an exciting vision, yet, they lie, make empty promises, have agendas to satisfy self, and don’t practice what they are “preaching,” they will fail, they will have no influence as a leader. When one has integrity, he/she will live and lead with a moral and ethical principle. They do not just comply to the “rules,” they understand how essential it is to carry these principles and inspire others to reach for them. They also realize that living and leading in life with integrity does not mean they will never fail to live up to these qualities at times. What matters is having the strength of character to learn from making mistakes and seeking to continually improve themselves. Paul wrote, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” Romans 5:3-4.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY #2 - A Good and Effective Leader has COMPASSION.
When I hear the word, compassion, I think of Jesus! He showed compassion to ALL He came into contact with. The meaning of compassion is to recognize the suffering of others, then take action to help. We are to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves ... defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). Leaders are moved with compassion to help others. If we do not have the love for souls, then why are we here? Let us live and lead with compassion.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY #3 – A Good and Effective Leader has COMMITMENT
Committing to someone or something is much more than being interested in something. It is defined as “lay something down before, to deposit, to trust.” Jesus was so committed to saving souls, He laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13). The Bible often relates the word to giving. If we are to be committed as leaders (and Christians in general), we should be giving of ourselves fully to the cause we believe in. Are we so committed to our faith that we are willing to lay down our lives?
We are all leaders, so let’s be good and effective ones!
13397 West Ripon Road, Ripon CA 95366