And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people."
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)
Recently, this verse came to my attention … again! It is a verse that offers comfort and the assurance that God is and will always be there with us. Whether we are in the valley, the desert, the wilderness, or even the mountaintop, goodness and mercy are right behind.
I recall David’s life filled with challenges and disappointments. Yet, in spite of it all, he penned songs or psalms that offered hope and encouragement in times of distress. He knew his God intimately and consistently leaned on His strength and love to see him through every situation he encountered. He watched God deliver him time and again. Whether he was fighting against and defeating a giant that even the experienced Israelite army refused to face or running from a jealous king Saul who was determined to destroy him, David trusted that his God was always with him. He heavily relied on his God to protect him, fight for him and deliver him from impossible situations.
I used to believe that verse to be futuristic in nature. In other words, goodness and mercy would follow me at the end of a season of trial and testing. It would finally come after I had been through a difficult battle. But it finally dawned on me that my circumstances do not dictate the presence of God’s goodness and mercy. As a child of God, I am entitled to that goodness and mercy in both the good times and the bad times. As David put it, they would follow me all the days of my life, not just the good days but all the days both good and bad. In short, they would follow me to keep me, to make sure I am okay, to let me know that I am going to make it. They watch over me to ensure my safety and to help me make it through every situation I face. They don’t leave during tough times, they are right there with me!
The word mercy usually gives the idea of showing forgiveness to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Yet, according to Strong’s Concordance, the word “mercy” in Psalm 23 implies kindness. At the end of the day, goodness and kindness are attributes of God and once you are His child He will never leave you nor forsake you, His attributes will always be present with you. In Psalm 27:13 David says: “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” David was constantly challenged yet, his confidence was in the fact that, in spite of it all, God’s goodness and His kindness were ever present with him.
It can be difficult to see good in bad situations. It can be difficult to find hope but we can be encouraged by David who knew that even in the dark times goodness and mercy were right there following him, watching over him even when he couldn’t see or feel them. They were not in front of him or even beside him but behind him like his own personal bodyguards ensuring that he would make it through every trial.
We don’t have to wait for the battle to be over or for the storm to end to experience God’s goodness and mercy. These are what God uses to give us the strength to ride the storms of adversity and to face insurmountable challenges that cross our path along life’s journey. God is faithful and the tools we need to survive and thrive are well within our reach. At the end of the day, like David we can be confident that our God will never leave us nor forsake us. He has ensured that we have all we need to strengthen and keep us in the good times and in the bad.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as personal Lord and Saviour I encourage you to make that step today. God is a very personal God and never far away. He will be right there with you, guiding, directing and protecting you through every valley, storm, challenge that comes your way. Just trust Him.
One night Sean, a canine police officer, was on duty working with his partner, Jax. It was about 3am when he approached a criminal who had managed to evade arrest a few hours earlier. As he made an attempt to arrest him, a fight ensued. Although he was able to call for backup, help was several blocks away. On top of that, he was unable to release his dog to come to his assistance because the button on his vest was malfunctioning. During the fight, he was shot in the face. He knew it was bad because bone and blood were spilling out. He was a Christian and he prepared himself to die. However, an image of his wife and two sons gave him the motivation he needed to fight to live. As the criminal fired at him again, he reached out to grab the gun but the bullet hit his hand. As he hit the ground, police and ambulance arrived and he was rushed to the hospital where he underwent surgery. The criminal was arrested a short while later.
Sean went on to have a dozen surgeries to reconstruct his jaw and left hand where he lost a finger. Through it all, he gives God thanks for putting everything and everyone in place that night to save his life. He and his canine, Jax, retired from the police service and he went on to serve as a chaplain for a Christian organisation. He sees his experience as an opportunity to bring honour and glory to God. He is thankful that he can be with and enjoy his family and that he can share his experience with others and encourage them to put their faith in Jesus Christ.
As I listened to this testimony I was encouraged. This man was thankful to God even for what he had been through. He recognised that had he not gone through this, he would not be having the amazing opportunities he is having now to share his faith in God with others. He could be complaining, he could be bitter against God but he isn’t because he sees God as bringing good even out of a bad situation.
I am linking this testimony to a verse in the song “Praise” by Elevation Worship which says:
I’ll praise in the valley, praise on the mountain
I’ll praise when I’m sure, praise when I’m doubting
I’ll praise when outnumbered, praise when surrounded
Cause praise is the water my enemies drown in.
Sean was certainly outnumbered and surrounded by evil forces that night. Everything seemed to be going against him, yet He saw God in it orchestrating everything for his good. When we can be thankful in the valley just as on the mountain, God can do great things in and through any valley situation we might be going through.
Yes, it may feel like hell while we are going through. Some days we may wonder if we will ever make it through alive. Other days we may wonder how long it will take before help comes. But, at the end of the day, we praise God because He will use that same negative situation to bring honour and glory to Himself and to do great and amazing things in and through us. We will be able to look back and realise that some of the great things we are accomplishing now are as a result of that one negative thing we desperately wanted to do without!!!
God’s ways and thoughts are still higher than ours. His ways are past finding out. Sometimes they simply baffle our finite and limited minds and understanding. So, the next time you get the opportunity to praise God, just praise Him, just be thankful even in those negative situations you want so desperately to change. At the end of the day, God’s purpose and plan for everything we go through is perfectly designed for our good!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so today. Life is filled with unexpected ups and downs that we can’t always avoid. But, when Jesus is in it with you, rest assured that He is orchestrating everything to bring about that perfect plan He has ordained and designed just for you.
I’ll praise ‘cause You’re sovereign, praise ‘cause You reign
Praise ‘cause You rose and defeated the grave
I’ll praise ‘cause Your’re faithful, praise ‘cause You’re true
Praise ‘cause there’s nobody greater than You…
(excerpt from “Praise” Elevation Worship)
Over the years I have learned to praise God when things were going good and when they were not. I learned to push through in praise when my natural eyes were not seeing how things could possibly work out in my favour. It was certainly not always easy but it was worth it. Choosing to praise God not only shifted my focus to God but my heavy spirit was lifted and refreshed.
What I like about that verse is the focus on all the things that we can be thankful and give God praise for. The interesting thing is that all of it focuses on God and what He has done and can and will do. None of it is about man’s ability or accomplishments. It’s all about God and God alone. This is encouraging because I don’t have to rely on myself to make it through or to make it happen; I don’t have to depend on my ability or my strength or my accomplishments. It’s all about the Sovereign God who can do all things.
When you look at all the miracles in the Bible, God performed every one. There was no miracle performed that allowed man to say that he had done it. God did it and He continues to do impossible things to this day.
I am reminded of the testimony of Glenda who was miraculously healed from a brain bleed. She went to bed early one night with a piercing headache. Sometime during the night her husband was awakened by her convulsive movements in bed. He tried to calm her telling her she was having a bad dream. However, when she did not respond he became concerned and told their son to call 911. Glenda was taken to the hospital where it was discovered she had a 6cm brain bleed from a ruptured blood vessel. The doctors planned to put her in a medically induced coma and wait for the bleeding to subside. They were not sure that she would survive. After the doctors left, Glenda’s husband, Greg, asked their son to pray. Moments later she awoke and asked them what had happened. She felt fine and was ready to leave the hospital. The doctor was in shock because they had not even had a chance to touch her. There was no longer any need to put her in a coma. By the end of the week the brain bleed and slight memory loss she had experienced had resolved. After a brief stay in rehab she was able to return home.
I love the fact that the doctors had not even gotten the opportunity to touch her to do what they had planned to do to help. God did it all by Himself!
How could we not praise such an awesome God as this? He didn’t just perform miracles many years ago, He continues to perform them even today. He is truly the same God yesterday, today and forever.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour I encourage you to do so today. Jehovah God is worthy of all the praise, honour and glory. There’s nothing too big or too small that He can’t or won’t do. He is God all by Himself. We can trust Him, He never fails!
Last week I shared on the power of praise and thanksgiving. This week, I still find myself motivated to have that attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God. I must admit, however, that it’s an attitude we should always have. Life is already difficult as it is and we need something powerful to keep us and sustain us.
I found myself this evening listening over and over to a song by Elevation Worship called “Praise.” It kept playing in my heart and I believe God was simply reminding me that He wants me to praise Him no matter what.
The pre chorus and chorus say:
As long as I’m breathing
I’ve got a reason to
Praise the Lord oh my soul
Praise the Lord oh my soul
This is a reminder that the best time to praise God is when you’re alive. Once you are alive there will always be something to give God praise and thanks for. Every day He gives us breath, He chooses to give us life; His blessings are new every morning. He chooses to love us even when we are not very loveable; He chooses to give us His very best … even when we know we don’t deserve it. Yes, there is always something to praise and thank God for.
The Bridge of this song also catches my attention because it says:
I won’t be quiet
My God is alive
How could I keep it inside
Praise the Lord oh my soul
This Bridge reminds me of king David (2 Samuel 6:12b -22). When the ark of the Lord was brought into the city of David, the people rejoiced. King David, dressed in a priestly garment, danced before the Lord with all his might. He did not care who was looking at him, he did not care what anyone thought, he was going to praise the Lord with everything that he had. He refused to keep his praise to himself and he simply let it out with everything in him. Sadly, his wife, Michal did not understand his expression of praise and thanksgiving and she scorned him. He replied that he was willing to look even more foolish even be humiliated in his own eyes (v. 22a).
Sometimes we just have to praise God with everything that we have. It doesn’t matter what others might think or say, we know what God has done for us and we know what we want Him to do for us. Our praise may not make sense to anyone else, but our God honours it. Think about it, when we are willing to go to this level of praise, I don’t think there is anything God will withhold from us! He understands the power behind it.
Years ago, I learned that there is not only power in prayer, there is power in praise. When we praise God and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, as I said last week, miracles can happen. I think it has to do with the fact that when we praise, we take our eyes off our problems and put them on God instead, the One capable of solving those problems. And, as we put our eyes on Him, we magnify Him not our problem.
Our God is still bigger than the biggest problem that may come our way. When we praise and choose to be thankful, the burdens are lifted because we have that confidence that our God will do what we can’t do.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so today. One of our most powerful weapons is praise. When we choose to praise God in spite of how we feel or what we see, God steps in and fights on our behalf. We are victorious through praise!
It is the easiest thing in the world to be thankful when things are going favourably. No one has to prompt you, it just seems to burst forth without much effort. But, what about being thankful in the midst of adversity, when all you want to do is grumble and complain?
When I awoke a few mornings ago, I was not in the mood to be thankful. Interestingly, however, I felt God directing me that day to not just be thankful but to give Him praise. To be honest, all I could see with my natural eyes were things that incited fear and discouragement. Yet, through more than one source, I felt that God was clearly telling me to be thankful and to give Him praise.
As I recall my experience, I remember the story of Paul and Silas in Acts chapter sixteen. As they went about their business, they were followed by a slave girl. She kept crying out: “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation” (v.17). When Paul could take it no more he cast the evil spirit out of her and she was delivered. Her masters became angry because she was a fortune-teller and brought profit to them. They subsequently had Paul and Silas beaten and thrown into prison. When given the command to secure them, the jailer put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks (vv. 16-24).
According to research, the inner prison was a room, possibly below ground, with an unbearable stench, damp, and without ventilation or light. To add to their discomfort, Paul’s and Silas’ feet were fastened in stocks. This made movement uncomfortable. As if that were not enough, their bodies must have been sore from their beating so that even if all they could do was lie back, the pain of that would have been unbearable.
Sometimes our situation can feel exactly like that inner prison. It’s uncomfortable, unbearable and we may feel as if we will never be able to escape. We have been praying, we have been trusting God but nothing seems to be happening. Like Paul and Silas, we feel beaten and the pain is so poignant that no matter what we do, discouragement seems to be sucking the life out of us. Yet, in the midst of that, God may be saying to be thankful, to give Him a sacrifice of praise. It’s a sacrifice because nothing about our situation is motivating thanksgiving.
The Bible says that at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God (v. 25). They must have been loud because the other prisoners heard them! In spite of their painful, challenging conditions, you would think that they would be moaning and groaning in their pain and discomfort. But they were not! They chose to give God thanks and praise instead! They were in the worst of conditions but singing and praying with gusto to their Lord. Why? They made a choice. It was not any easy one, quite painful and uncomfortable actually. Their choice had nothing to do with their feelings. They chose to look beyond how they felt and where they were and focus instead on their God. When they did that miraculous things happened (v.26).
God is still good and still able to deliver. We could be in the darkest, deepest prison and God is able to reach us even there (see Psalm 139:7-8). We may not always be able to feel His presence when we are going through but He is there. Believe it or not, He is the One giving us the strength to keep going, to keep striving even when we want to give up. And, if He tells us to be thankful and to praise Him in the midst of that situation, it’s because He knows the good that is coming even though we can’t see it.
Interestingly, Paul and Silas did not wait to get out of their prison to start praying and singing. They prayed and they sang while they were there. They did it when it was difficult to do it. And, when they prayed and sang to God, not only were they set free, but they were able to lead others to their Lord! (vv.25-34)
When we choose to be thankful and give God the praise in the midst of our pain, disappointment and discouragement God steps in and does the unexpected. We are free even when we are in prison and we are able to encourage others who need it. With God there is always a bigger picture.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so today. Adversity is an unavoidable part of life. We can’t always escape it. Yet, when we choose an attitude of praise and thanksgiving in the midst of it, powerful things can happen, as God meets us where we are and does the impossible things that only He can do.
Although I have not personally checked it myself, I have read that the command, “Fear not!” appears in the Bible 365 times. It seems to me that God had a very good reason for repeating that command that many times, enough for each day of the year!
The thing is that fear is a very real for many of us. At some point in our lives, we will face situations that will cause us to feel very afraid and uncertain about our future.
I listened to one such testimony of a woman, Sonia, who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and had it gone undetected she would have had eighteen months to live. Interestingly, the verse that God gave her to hold on to during this difficult season was: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Right there, in that verse, we understand that there is really no reason to be afraid. If God did not deposit fear into us then we are not obligated to submit to it. Yet, that is of course easier said than done.
After receiving her diagnosis, her doctor recommended a treatment of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and finally radiation. This was her best chance of beating the cancer and preventing it from reoccurring. Sonia was not at peace with the idea of the chemotherapy and radiation and finally decided to only do the mastectomy. She was able to stand by her decision with the help of the verse God had given her in 2 Timothy 1:7. Although her family were not in agreement with the choice she had made, they chose to support her. After the mastectomy Sonia had to do another surgery to remove twenty-one lymph nodes. After her recovery, she had to do another mammogram a year later to see if the cancer had spread. During this season of waiting her faith was tested but she found encouragement in God’s Word and nature. She was reminded of the reality that He held nature together and He would do the same for her. When she reached the point of accepting the possibility that she might not be healed, God reminded her that the Father had left her an inheritance through His Son. Similarly, just as she would be happy to leave something for her children, the Father would be happy if she would receive what His Son had died to give her. At that point, she knew she would not die. When she finally did her mammogram and followup, there was no sign of cancer.
As I recall her testimony, I am reminded of the reality that our road can sometimes be a very difficult one, even more so when we can’t see what lies ahead and we are uncertain of whether or not we are going to make it. As I said, fear is real - the fear of not knowing what lies ahead; the fear of things not working out the way we would like; the fear of unanswered prayer. And yet, God tells us repeatedly, “Fear not!”
One of the verses that has truly given me encouragement over the years is found in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” In this verse, God gives one of the best reasons for not being afraid - He is with us. Because He is with us and because He is our God we can be encouraged by the truth that we have the strength we need when we need it. He will help us. We don’t have to go through alone and in fact He promises that the battle belongs to Him so we don’t have to fight on our own, if at all. On top of all of that, He will uphold us with His righteous right hand. In short, He will protect, sustain, preserve and keep us. We don’t have to do it ourselves. He is the One who will do it for us!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to make that step today. Jesus has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. If that is the case, and we have His Presence with us 24/7, then indeed, why be afraid? He is El Roi, the God who sees me. He does not miss a thing. We are covered and we are safe because we belong to Him. Be encouraged.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus could impact so many lives in a powerful and mighty way yet He Himself was not negatively impacted by their infirmities? Jesus came into contact with so many people inflicted with contagious diseases as well as negative situations, yet, He was not negatively affected by what was afflicting them.
As I look back on His life, I recall that everyone who connected with Him experienced transformation, healing, deliverance and yet, He was not at all negatively impacted by their infirmities! He changed them from unclean to clean yet their situation could not change Him from clean to unclean. He connected with the woman with the issue of blood and instead of becoming unclean when she touched Him, she became clean while He remained clean (Matthew 9:20-22). He even came into contact with lepers and did not contract that contagious disease. In Genesis, after Adam and Eve sinned God prophesies this to the serpent and to Eve: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). To me that is simply confirmation that the enemy is under Jesus’ feet. Jesus has triumphed over all the works of the enemy. So, what is unclean or evil cannot prevail against Him!
I can also parallel here the book of Leviticus where the laws for the Israelites to live by are clearly outlined. In chapter eleven we see a list of animals that were considered clean and unclean, that could be eaten and that should not be eaten. One of those laws had to do with touching the carcass of an unclean animal. Whatever touched it or whatever it fell upon and touched was considered unclean. Interestingly, however, if any part of that carcass fell upon seed to be sown, the seed would remain clean (v. 37). It would not be contaminated in any way! In the New Testament the parable of the sower reveals that seed as the Word of the kingdom (Matthew 13:18-23). This caught my attention. It reminded me of the reality of the power of the Word of God. Not even something that is dead could take the life and power from it. It is that powerful and alive! Jesus Himself is that Word according to John 1:1-4,14 and whatever He spoke and determined had to come to pass!
When we speak the Word of God we should expect that it has the power to overcome that negative thing. It doesn’t matter what looks dead in your life, what looks as if it will never change or never work out, keep standing on the Word of God. Many of the people healed by Jesus were healed because of their faith. They could have focused on their dead situation but they chose to focus on the One who could reverse their situation and even bring it back to life. The One person who is not moved by what is dead is God because He has power over death, hell and the grave. So when we speak what He says, we expect that He can and will reverse even the most hopeless situation.
In my own life as I face various challenges, God has been teaching me an important lesson. When I stand on His Word, no matter what negative thing comes my way, that negative thing, cannot cancel out what God’s Word says. Where my health is concerned, any negative symptoms cannot cancel out the fact that God’s Word says that by Jesus’ stripes I am healed! Sometimes we get so distracted and discouraged by our “symptoms,” we tend to take our eyes off of what God has said and focus on the negative that we can see or feel.
What does God’s Word say about your situation, about your finances, about your family, about your marriage, about your health, about your deliverance? The Bible says that God’s Word is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89), that He watches over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12), that His Word will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He desires it to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11). God’s Word is steadfast and immoveable. Nothing moves it, nothing changes it, nothing contaminates it. We can depend on it! It may not move as quickly as we would like but it will fulfil itself in God’s perfect timing!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so today. Life can knock you down and try to keep you down but the Word of God has the power to revive, resurrect and sustain. It never fails and will always be the source of hope and strength needed in challenging times.
I have spent the last few weeks in Ezekiel 37 as I looked at the story of the valley of dry bones. As I said last week, various things were coming to my attention through this story and I have felt the need to share them.
Last week, I looked at the process God sometimes takes us through as we go through various seasons in our lives. We would like some things to happen right away but the process is important as there are things God wants us to learn during the process.
At the end of this story in Ezekiel 37, an army of men has been created out of these bones and as the breath of life is breathed into them, they stand on their feet. What comes to my mind is the reality that God does not simply create a band of men. They are described as “an exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). According to Strongs Concordance the word “army” denotes: “man of valor, force, strength, virtuous, worthy, riches, wealth, etc. As I look at this string of words, I see a contrast. Moments before we are told about a valley filled with dry bones. It was a valley of death and no hope lived there. Now it is filled with a mighty army, a group of men of strength, virtue, worth, wealth. God did not just give life to these dry bones, he deposited worth and value into them! He gave them purpose. They were no longer a tangled mess of dry useless bones, but an army energized with purpose and worth! On top of that, He removed their shame. They had not even received a proper burial but had been left in the hot sun where every hope of life and a future had been drawn out of them. God had now infused worth and value into them and also given them the ability to survive and thrive.
Here’s the thing - when God restores you, He will make you better than you were before! When He breathes life back into your situation - your marriage, your family, your finances, your health, etc. - He will make it even better than before. I think about the stories of Jesus’ miracles in the New Testament. Every one of those people He healed or delivered were living a below standard life before He touched them. When they came into contact with Him, not only did He heal and deliver them, but I am sure their lives overall were better than they were before. He gave them hope, value, worth and a future they could look forward to. The woman with the issue of blood could once again lift her head in society because Jesus restored her worth and value (Mark 5:25-34). When Blind Bartimaeus received his sight, he no longer had to wear his cloak, a symbol of his old way of life of being blind and a beggar (Mark 10:46-52). Jesus restored his worth and value. Each person Jesus healed was delivered from their shame and bondage. Jesus made their life better than it was before! And God wants to do the same for us today.
Here's another thing. In that valley of dry bones, God worked with what He had - dry bones. He went on to add what was needed - flesh, sinews, skin, breath. If you give God the little that you have, He will add everything else you need and so increase your worth and value. God knows what you need, even when you don’t. So, my encouragement to you is to give God the little that you have, no matter how little and insignificant it may seem. Remember, God sees what we can’t and He knows what we don’t. We see our present, pitiful, limited, hopeless state. God sees the bright, enriched future that He has in store for us. And as if that were not enough, He knows exactly what to do to make it all a reality - even when we don’t. He also has the resources needed to bring it all to pass. God is truly an awesome God!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to make that step today. God, our Creator knows exactly how to fix what is broken and to give it the value and worth needed to successfully live this life. God never leaves us undone and never does a halfway job. God always does a complete work. Trust Him today.
There is so much coming to me out of this story of the valley of dry bones. Last week I spoke about being careful what we speak over our situation. The Lord told Ezekiel to speak the Word of the Lord over the dry bones because God still had a future for those bones, He still had a plan for them and He was going to be the one to bring His plan to pass.
As soon as Ezekiel spoke what God told him to speak over those bones, things began to happen. God began to put those bones together piece by piece. But He didn’t stop there. He then put flesh on them and finally skin over their flesh. But before all of this took place, something noteworthy happened - there was a rattling sound. This valley of bones did not come together just like that. There was first an indication that something was about to happen.
I am reminded here of the story of Elijah and the drought that Israel faced in 1 Kings 18:41-45. The prophet Elijah announced to king Ahab that rain was about to finally come. After that he sent his servant to look for signs of rain. Six times he sent him but his servant saw nothing. The seventh time he saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising out of the sea (v.44). At this point he sent his servant to let king Ahab know that the rain was about to come. Sometimes, while we wait, we need to be aware of the little signs and indications God is sending our way to announce what He is about to do. We can become so focused at times on the end result that we miss the little things, even the small miracles that God is doing along the way. Maybe He wants us to be thankful every step of the way even when we don’t yet see our final breakthrough.
At the end of the day, I believe God is a God of process. He does things for us step by step because I think He is more concerned about the lessons we can learn while going through. It would be so nice for Him to bring us to the finish line in one step but He rarely does that. We have to run our race and face everything that comes our way during the race.
In the case of the bones, God did not just create an army. He took His time to put each man together bit by bit. First, He brought the bones together, gathering each man’s bones from the mixed up heap. He then put the sinews or tendons in place to join muscle to bone, then the flesh and finally the skin to cover over everything. Yet, that was not the end. They each had a body but there was no breath in them (v.8). God then instructed Ezekiel to prophesy to the four winds to breathe the breath of life into the men (v.9). When this was done, this mighty army of men stood on their feet. They were ready for battle!
It is so important to be patient while God works. We would love for things to work out all at once, but that rarely happens. God chooses to take His time. He wants to fix everything that needs fixing, He wants to make sure that everything is properly in its place. And think about this as well - each person received individual attention from God and at the same time. God is capable of dealing with a whole bunch of problems at the same time, yet still pay individual, loving attention to EACH one. Only God! Never think that God is too busy with someone else to help you, or that your problem is not as important or that you are not as important as someone else. God loves each one of us and sees and treats each one of us with importance and honour!
If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so today. Never think that you are not important to God. He is concerned about us individually and is interested in fixing everything in our lives that require His attention. He is a thorough God and is quite capable of bringing to pass His purpose for our lives in His own way and timing.
Last week I started looking at the story of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-10. It was a place of hopelessness and despair where Ezekiel had to acknowledge that only God could do the impossible there.
The interesting thing is that after Ezekiel turns to God for the answer to this hopeless situation, God’s first instruction to him is to “speak” to the bones. Here is the reality, these bones have no life in them. In fact, they are dry which suggests that there isn’t any hope that life could ever return. On top of that, as I mentioned last week, they are a disconnected mess. No bone is attached to or even near a body to which it might belong. Yet, He tells the prophet to “prophesy to these bones…” (Ezekiel 37:4) I decided to look up the word “prophesy” and it simply means to “say that (a specified thing) will happen in the future.” God wanted him to speak to something that had no future!!!
Last year, after suffering a mild heart attack, I honestly felt that I had no future. I found it difficult to see myself back in my church and back on my job. I was honest with God about how I felt yet God directed me to do something specific: I had to see myself, in faith, back in church and back on my job and I had to declare it!!! Was that easy? NO! But I did it in faith. I chose to see it in mind and I chose to speak it. Additionally, God reminded me of a verse He had given me at the start of the year: “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God was going to be the One to give me a future when I could not see it. In fact, He is my hope and my future and that was never so clear to me as when I went through that challenge.
How many of us have been through situations that felt so hopeless we couldn’t even see past it, we couldn’t see ourselves making it, we couldn’t see any good coming out of it? Maybe some of us are going through that now. I am reminded of Jairus. He asked Jesus to come to his house because his daughter was dying. Jesus did not get there on time and Jairus lost hope. His daughter’s future had ended – or so it seemed. Jesus’ response to her death was simple: “Do not be afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36). Jesus saw the future that Jairus could not see. When Jairus believed it was over, Jesus knew that it was not. Maybe that’s what God is saying to someone today. It’s not over, there is still a future!
But my story for today isn’t over either! God told Ezekiel to say something specific: “O dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!” (v.4) Those bones were not going to come to life on the words of Ezekiel but on the Words of the Lord! God’s Word is alive! We speak words and don’t always back them up with our actions. God speaks His Word and actions follow. When we look at the creation in Genesis, from verse 3 to verse 29 there is a recurring line “Then God said…” and whatever God said, He did! God doesn’t speak idle, empty words like we do. When He speaks, He does what He has to do to back up His Words with action.
We have to be careful with the words we speak when we are going through challenges. Sometimes, we speak our own words of frustration, anger or fear but they don’t line up with God’s Words about our situation. We speak what we see in our present, God speaks what He sees in our future.
God wanted to give those bones a future. God wanted to give Israel a future. God wants to give you a future, not just a future but the hope that there is a future just for you. I don’t know what your situation is, but God does and to someone He is saying to you in your valley of dry bones, you still have a future! It wasn’t over for those dry bones and it’s not over for you. Listen to the voice of God and speak the words of life that He is telling you to speak. You may not be able, but God is more than able.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so today. The advantage of having God in your life is that no matter how bad things get, you have the God living in you that will give you a future when there seems to be none and a hope when all hope is gone.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.