“I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:14
Dear Faithful Seed-Sowers,
It with joy that I sit down to write a Seed of Faith. It is my prayer that during this time of uncertainty, confusion, doubts and fears that this message will bring you HOPE! I encourage you to read Ezekiel 37:1-15. Maybe your bones feel dried up during this time of quarantine and social distancing. During this time of staying home, I have had time to wait and read. I have been reading a book by Dr. A. W. Tozer, author, and pastor. Tozer wrote, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.“[i]
In my reading, I was struck by verse eleven in Ezekiel, “Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’”
Do you feel like Ezekiel? Are your bones beginning to dry up? Or are they dried up already? Is your hope strong or is your hope gone? Do you feel cut off? Just today I have heard from two other men who texted me and said, “I’m really struggling, Pastor Dave. Please pray for me.” I heard from two men yesterday. The world has been dealing with the pandemic since March? Four months and it’s not over yet. I don’t know the answers but I do know the ONE who knows the answers.
I remember a time in my first church when I was going through a difficult situation. To be plain honest, I was wondering why in the world I ever went into ministry. I had given up everything to follow Christ. I had planned to serve one church and retire in the Ozarks but things were not working out. The church I served was in conflict. Jac and I lived in southwest Missouri—30 miles from Silver Dollar City, which we dubbed “Steal Your Dollar City”. One thing about Jac and I, we love to escape and get away where no one knows our name (opposite of “CHEERS”!) We got away just about every Sunday night. One Sunday night as the park was closing, we noticed that there were as many people flooding into the park as out of the park. “Aren’t they closing?” Being the extrovert, Jac asked someone who was heading into the gate, “Where are you headed? Isn’t the park closed? Are you the clean up crew?” The woman explained that every Sunday night there’s an open-air concert. We Turned around and followed the other crowd! We made our way into the rock-cut amphitheater and sat down in the back row. Little did we know that God had a huge blessing/gift waiting for us as we waited for the concert. The group walked out onstage and played. They were great. And, as usual, for a Christian band, the leader of the group began to witness. He said, “We’re going to sing a song and I want to ask you to remain seated until you can honestly stand and say, ‘Jesus, MY HOPE IS YOU.’” I will never forget this moment as long as I live. The band leader talked about the hope he had in God the Father, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit. The leader said, “Please don’t stand until you are 100% sure that GOD IS YOUR HOPE” and they started to play, “My Hope Is You.” The scene was holy and humble.
One by one the crowd began to stand. Slowly at first. “My Hope is You” by Third Day, listen to the words.
TO YOU, O LORD, I LIFT MY SOUL.
IN YOU, O GOD, I PLACE MY TRUST.
DO NOT LET ME BE PUT TO SHAME NOR LET MY ENEMIES TRIUMPH OVER ME.
MY HOPE IS YOU.
SHOW ME YOUR WAYS.
GUIDE ME IN TRUTH
IN ALL MY DAYS
MY HOPE IS YOU.
I AM, O LORD, FILLED WITH YOUR LOVE.
YOU ARE, O GOD, MY SALVATION.
GUARD MY LIFE AND RESCUE ME.
MY BROKEN SPIRIT SHOUTS.
MY MENDED HEART CRIES OUT:
MY HOPE IS YOU…SHOW ME YOUR WAYS…GUIDE ME IN TRUTH…IN ALL MY DAYS…MY HOPE IS YOU.
I don’t know how many times they played the song. I was the last one in the crowd to stand. Yes, me, the pastor. I did not want to place all of my hope in God—I wanted to help God out. The Holy Spirit came into my life in a powerful way that night and spoke to my heart. Jac and I had given up everything we had, everything we knew in order to follow God’s call on our lives. I had actually been thinking that maybe I was not cut out for ministry after all. Maybe Jac and I should go back to selling trucks and tires. Keep our world small and comfortable.
And then the band played that song.
I knew that I knew that I knew that God had confirmed, yet again, our call to ministry. I was undone. Sitting and standing in a rock cut amphitheater, God reached down into my heart and said, “Your only job is to follow where I lead.”
I do not know WHERE your hope is. I do not know WHO your hope is in. I do know that many of us feel like the dry bones in passage from Ezekiel. The pandemic has shut us down. We can agree with Ezekiel, “Our bones are dried up. Our hope is gone. We are cut off.”
My prayer is that you will allow the power of the Holy Spirit to breathe life back into your dry bones. Here is a link for a YouTube for “MY HOPE IS YOU” by Third Day.
Sit down and listen…and do not stand up until you can say, “I believe that GOD MY HOPE.” Worship our God, the healer of our dry bones. Think about all of the blessings God has showered your life with. Think of your life. It really is a wonderful life. I will be praying for you as you listen. I’m praying now!
An American with an English gentleman was viewing the Niagara whirlpool rapids, when he said to his friend: “Come, and I’ll show you the greatest unused power in the world.” And taking him to the foot of Niagara Falls, “There,” he said, “is the greatest unused power in the world!” “Ah, no, my brother, not so!” was the reply. “The greatest unused power in the world is the Holy Spirit of the living God.[i]
Our reading of the prophecy in Ezekiel tells us that the power of the Holy Spirit can bring life into dead bones. Do you remember the last verse in our reading from Ezekiel this morning? “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”(Ezekiel 37:14)
The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring life! The big, theological word for the work of the Holy Spirit is “regeneration.” Regeneration: “to form again, to replace broken body parts with new growth, to restore spiritually.” For all you computer techies, “regenerate” means “to restore signals to original wave shapes.” I cannot tell you how to do that electronically but what I can tell you is that the Holy Spirit can! The HOLY SPIRIT’S JOB IS TO regenerate you! The Holy Spirit wants to form you into the image of Christ! The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken parts of your life. The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships between us…between you and God—all because of sin. The Holy Spirit wants to heal the broken relationships we have and wants to heal the brokenness of the world. And, BTW–by the way–regenerate is a verb so that means that the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit is not a noun (a thing, a place, a person) but the regeneration is an action! The third person of the Holy Trinity—the Identical Twin of Jesus—the promised Holy Spirit, wants to form us anew, wants to replace our broken parts with new growth, and wants to restore us spiritually! The Holy Spirit wants to bring life into your dry bones. Holy Cannoli—think about that!
The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of power! The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of fullness so that we can be God’s witnesses to others! The Holy Spirit is God’s promise of hope!
We started with A. W. Tozer; we will end with Tozer:
Ninety-five percent of what the early church did was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What if the disciples had not listened? What if they had not waited like they were instructed? What if they had gone out in their own power?
Here is the real “so what” for us: Put yourself in the story! You are there in the Upper Room. Plenty of your friends. You’ve just witnessed the crucifixion. Yet, Jesus has appeared to you in this very room. You were asked to wait.
What are you waiting for?
Remember the Holy Spirit? Remember the regenerating work?
And soon they all received the power of the Holy Spirit. They burned with a steady, inward fire. They were enthusiastic to the point of complete abandon. They turned the entire world upside down.
Will you? Will we? Will the church wait for the Holy Spirit’s wind and fire to fill them? The pandemic has all waiting in one way or another. I’m praying for the regeneration of our generation by the HOLY SPIRIT.
Join us for worship on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific time. You can go to theseedchristianfellowship.online.church at 10 a.m. Sunday and join in the fellowship with live chats and prayers. You can join in the worship and sing your heart out. You can joinin a study of God’s word. If you miss the live service you can always go to our YouTube channel at The Seed Christian Fellowship.
May the Holy Spirit fill your heart and your “upper room”/home/work with the fire and grace and mercy of God’s love. May the HOPE of the Lord be your strength and joy as your dry bones are healed.
God loves you and so do I,