Monday, January 6, 2014

Breathing life into dry bones...

     As we begin a new year I take stock in the year that has passed and the new year that is before us.  As I read the news, follow friends on Facebook and Twitter, and evaluate where our country stands in the midst of the world stage, I am saddened.  I can't say that I am shocked because that would indicate that we, as a nation, somehow didn't see the mess that we are presently experiencing coming our way.  I use the word saddened because I believe we did see it coming we just didn't do anything to stop it from happening.
     As I look at America in the year 2014 I see a country that has lost its way.  I see a moral footing that is slipping in the mud of mediocrity, humanism, and appeasement.  I see a country that has done its very best to take God out of the equation that equals a successful nation.  And through all of this the one thing that has saddened me the most is that I have seen Christians losing hope.
     Whether it be Phil Robertson, an attack on traditional marriage, the fear that the speaking of one's belief will someday be declared hate speech, pot in Colorado and Washington, or the replacing of  baby Jesus with Trayvon Martin, I see Christians losing hope in America.  I can't blame them.  I must confess that, at times, I have dropped my head in despair and wondered if things could ever be right again.  Yet, in the midst of my despair I have been reminded of the awesome workings of God in this world.  I believe that we, as Christians, can once again find hope in our nation. And I believe that that hope can breathe new life into the dry bones of the body of Christ.
     Let's face it, we Christians are back on heels, we are reeling from the progressive changes coming into our society, and we, frankly, are just letting it happen.  We have taken a hit and while we take time to gather our senses our country's road to destruction continues to be paved.  It is time for us to get up off the mat and get back in the game.  Now, after mixing as many sports related metaphors as possible I will end this paragraph as succinctly as I can.  Hope in God sometimes calls us to action.
     For Christians, hope is not about wishing, it is about believing and it is about knowing.  We can't stand around wishing our nation would once again be blessed by God.  We have to believe that it will be and then do what is necessary to make that a reality.  We have to become involved in what is going on in our country and not just complaining about it on Facebook.  Christians need to be willing to stand up for what they believe, not just so Phil Robertson can be back on Duck Dynasty but because no one should be allowed to take the word of God from our mouths and expect us not to do something about it. We have conceded to the world that we are the dry bones lying on the floor of the valley and it is about time that God breathes life into those bones.
     It is time for us to be confident in our beliefs, courageous in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and hopeful in God's plan for this nation.  It is time for us to stand up and be counted speaking the truth in love.
This country was once a great nation not because of its power and might but because of God's.  I believe it can be that again.  I leave you with the words of the prophet Ezekiel chapter 37:

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. 2 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. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 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.’”7 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. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.9 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.’”
15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding,[b] and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”