Nov 5, 2014
11th track on Don Moen’s album “Hymns of Hope.”
Nov 5, 2014
11th track on Don Moen’s album “Hymns of Hope.”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Ezekiel 37:7
Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones is a dramatic picture of the restoration of the nation of Israel, and it’s one of the most important prophetic chapters in the Bible. But behind the prophecy is a biblical reality. God can resurrect the body—perfectly, completely, and supernaturally.
In this vision, Ezekiel was carried to a great valley littered with dry bones, baked white by the sun. As he watched, the bones began to reassemble themselves into complete skeletons, and then bodies appeared around them with sinews and flesh and skin. Breath entered them, and they stood up, alive, a mighty living army.
Though the application of the vision involves the restoration of the nation of Israel, there’s reality behind the image. The omniscient God knows the location of every bone, every fragment, every molecule, and every grain of dust of all the saints of the ages. One day He will supernaturally bring our human bodies together, breathe into us His Spirit, and equip us physically for eternal life. Because of the resurrection of Christ, the process of death will one day be reversed, and death will be swallowed up in victory.
Our old history ends with the cross; our new history beings with the resurrection. Watchman Nee
As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, countless people go through life feeling empty, which is contrary to God’s design. The account of the Samaritan woman in John 4 teaches several important points about fulfillment.
Filling our emptiness is important to the Lord. As they journeyed, Jewish people bypassed Samaria because of their intense hatred for its inhabitants. Yet Jesus, a Jew, chose to travel there because He knew a hurting Samaritan was ready to hear about the Father’s love.
Our attempts at happiness often leave us feeling hopeless. The woman at the well had been wed five times, but all of her marriages had failed. Whether or not the problems were her fault, she was left without the love she sought. Most likely, each broken relationship left her feeling lonelier than before.
God knows our pain. When the woman admitted she didn’t presently have a husband, Jesus revealed that He already knew she and the man living with her were not married. By demonstrating His awareness of her hurt and pursuit of fulfillment, He helped the woman recognize her need for a Savior.
Jesus can satisfy our yearnings. Once the Samaritan woman realized what was missing, Jesus revealed how to live a full life: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst” (John 4:13-14).
Do you ever feel like the Samaritan woman—dissatisfied with life and thirsty for love and fulfillment? Surrender to God, and allow His love to flow through you. Only then will you experience abundant life.
“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. . . . and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:4-5)
The Greek word usually translated humility occurs seven times in the New Testament, implying self-abasement and suggesting a meekness of spirit. In Greek literature, it was used to describe a slave’s demeaning of himself before his master—an outward prostration, not an inward character trait.
The idea that a master would set aside his status and voluntarily become a slave was probably incomprehensible to the world of Jesus’ day. Yet, we are enjoined to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who . . . took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). He defined humility by His actions, as in our text, and now we are to voluntarily take up His attitude and “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [we] are called, With all lowliness [humility] and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Christian humility surpasses all other virtues. Expressing itself as more than acting in a humble fashion, it consists of an inward habit of self-abasement, showing consideration to all others.
This characteristic in God’s eyes is seen as one of great value. “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6). JDM
Grace enabled Joseph to make the best of his position, and to be amiable, industrious, and useful. This was as it should be. A child of God, even as a slave, should honour his religion, and God will bless hint in so doing.
This shews that Joseph did not fall into Egyptian idolatry, but avowed his faith in Jehovah, so that his master saw that Jehovah was with him.
The fear of God leads to honesty and faithfulness, and this is often the road to promotion even among men. Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is.
This became a trial to him. Personal beauty is a dangerous gift: we must not be proud of it, but be the more guarded in our conduct if we possess it.
Joseph found a tempter in his master’s wife, who would have led him into great sin. He refused to listen to her disgraceful request, and said, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” The wicked woman again and again sought to lead him astray, and at last seized him, and held him, so that, to escape from her, he had to leave his garment in her hand. Then her wicked heart turned to malice, and she charged Joseph with being guilty of that unclean action which he had so earnestly refused.
Thus she convinced her husband by showing the garment, which, could it have spoken, would have declared his innocence. A great deal of evidence may be brought against a perfectly innocent man. Let us, therefore, be slow to condemn persons of unblemished character.
Genesis 36:19, 20
Here his feet were hurt with fetters, and the iron entered into his soul.
God is as much with his servants in a prison as in a palace; he does not desert us however low we may be brought.
When a good man is thrown down he is soon up again. Truth ever floats where sin is drowned.
May each youthful descendant of godly parents be so kept by God’s grace that the Lord may always be with him. Keep God’s favour, and nothing is lost. Lose that, and all is gone.
Endow me, Lord, with godly fear,
A quick discerning eye,
To look to thee when sin is near,
And from the tempter fly.
Create in me a holy mind,
A sin-abhorring will,
That tramples down, and casts behind
The baits of pleasing ill.
Do you see the word “cloud” in the verse above? It is taken from the Greek word nephos. It describes clouds— just like the clouds you see in the sky. When most people read this verse, they imagine big, fluffy white clouds with Old Testament saints scattered mystically throughout the glorious white billows. But is this really the picture that Hebrews 12:1 means to convey to us?
The Greek word nephos, translated “clouds,” has an additional meaning that is very exciting when understood in this context. In ancient, classical Greek times, the word “clouds” was used to describe the highest seats in the bleachers of a stadium. The seats at the very top of the stadium were called the clouds because they were so high up in the air. If you had gone to a sports competition with a ticket for one of these seats, your usher might have said, “Your seat is in the clouds today.” This meant you’d be seated in the highest row available in the bleachers.
We have seen before (see January 24) that the phrase “compassed about” is taken from the word peikeimenai, which is a compound of the words peri and keimai. The word peri means around, as to be completely encircled by something. The second part of the word, keimai, means to lie down. When these two words are compounded into one word, they mean to lie around, as if something has been piled high and is lying all around you on every side. This portrays the idea of being completely encircled by something that is stacked high on every side.
Thus, this verse carries the following idea: “Wherefore seeing we have lying all around us on every side….” or “Wherefore seeing these biblical examples who are piled up and lying all around us….” But to make this point even stronger, the Holy Spirit uses the word “clouds.” Why is this so vital?
In Hebrews 12:1, the Holy Spirit is emphasizing:
“You’re not alone! The grandstands of Heaven all the way up to the ‘clouds,’ the highest seats in the bleachers, are piled high with people who stood the test of time and eventually saw their faith manifested….”
Let me stress again that the Greek word nephos (“clouds”) depicted the highest seats in a sports stadium. This is a powerful image because it jogs our memory to the fact that our walk of faith will remove us from the spectator sections and will put us right in the middle of the fight!
The devil hates it when people take a stand of faith or when they do something that benefits the Kingdom of God and drives back darkness. Like an opponent would do in a natural fight, Satan may try to wrestle you, pin you down, or even try to knock you out of the race altogether.
So when you have become illuminated with direction for your life, business, family, or ministry, you need to know that the contest has just begun. You are on the field. All eyes are on you. The fight of faith is on! But if you’ll look up into the bleachers of Heaven for just a moment, you’ll see that they are stacked all the way to the “clouds” with people just like you!
Just as you are taking steps of obedience now, the bleachers of Heaven are filled with people who have already faced the enemy and won their fight. They faced the impossible; they accomplished the unthinkable; and they stand as proof that you can make it too. They’re all cheering you on to victory! Just listen with the ears of faith, and you’ll hear them saying, “Go for it! You can do it! Your faith will carry you through!”
Lord, thank You for reminding me that I am not the first to walk by faith. Others have walked this walk before me, and they did it with power and with grace. If they were able to do it, I know I can do it too, but I must have Your assistance to make it all the way through. So today I look to You to give me everything I inwardly need to keep marching ahead in order to achieve the things You have ordained for me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I can do whatever God asks me to do! He wouldn’t ask me if He didn’t think I could do it. Rather than doubt my abilities, I confess that His ability is working inside me. I lean on the Holy Spirit—His mind, His power, and His grace—and these divine forces enable me to successfully achieve the things He has designed for me to do today.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
When you have become illuminated with direction for your life, business, family, or ministry, you need to know that the contest has just begun. You are on the field. All eyes are on you. The fight of faith is on! But if you’ll look up into the bleachers of Heaven for just a moment, you’ll see that they are stacked all the way to the “clouds” with people just like you!
Perhaps you recall in Gone With the Wind (1940) when Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara “Frankly my dear, I don‘t give a damn.” We all gasped in shocked disbelief, while today we yawn at four-letter words and explicit bedroom scenes.
The Law of Psychological Acceptance: “When, in our minds, we habitually tolerate sin, our senses become dulled, thereby diminishing our ability to discern good from evil. Consequently, when faced with choices between the two, we may well choose evil over good, without the slightest awareness of sin or tinge of conscience.”
Because of our magnetic attraction toward that which is depraved, God calls us to nip sin in the bud before we have time to embrace it:
“Abhor that which is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9b)
“Flee youthful lusts.” (2 Timothy 2:22a)
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13a)
But we live in an “enlightened age” where tolerance is a mark of sophistication. It seems so uncivilized… so dogmatic to “abhor” or “hate” anything.
Are you mentally tolerating evil by:
Remember the story of the camel, who on a cold night poked his nose under the tent and begged his master to let him keep it warm? “Surely allowing the camel to warm his nose isn‘t so terrible,” thought the Arab. Before he realized it, he was sleeping outside and the camel was in the tent.
THE LAW OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ACCEPTANCE.
QUESTION: Given the present TREND in your thinking of either toleration or abhorrence toward sin, what will you be doing a decade from now: LIVING IN SIN OR CONFORMING TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST?