Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dry and Loveless

Dry and Loveless


“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” – Ezekiel 37:10

I remember a few years ago when I was looking for a church home, I visited many churches in my area.  But I specifically recall visiting a certain church.  I always sit in the back because you can tell the ‘temperature’ of a church by watching its people worship.  I sat there as their praise team sung beautiful songs to our God and watched. 
As they sang, “Holy, Holy, is our Lord Almighty, worthy, worthy is He”….nothing. 

As they sang, “Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing, power and majesty, praise to our King”… again, nothing.

And when they sang, “How Great is our God! Sing with me! How Great is our God! And all the earth will sing…”, but they didn’t sing.  They just stood lifeless, emotionless, expressionless, and stiff.
Then came the sermon, and it was a good sermon.  It was well rehearsed, well spoken, three points and a poem.  And the pews were silent.  No amen’s of agreement, and no oh me’s of conviction. 

I felt like I was sitting in someone’s formal living room.  You know the kind.  It’s the kind of living room that’s for show, always spotless, and never used.  It’s not for living in. No one is allowed to actually live in there.  It’s for showing visitors who come to the house.  There are ‘protective coverings’ on all the furniture, and the good old Family Bible on the coffee table.  But don’t touch it! It’s there for looks, not for reading.  It’s so that people who visit know we’re Christians.
My pastor reminded me of that visit this past Sunday when God spoke to him to read Ezekiel 37:1-10, the chapter about the valley of dry bones.  He spoke to Pastor Mike to change the word ‘bones’ to ‘church’.  It reads like this:

“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of CHURCHES. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.  And He said to me, “Son of man, can these CHURCHES live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these CHURCHES, and say to them, ‘O dry CHURCHES, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these CHURCHES: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the CHURCHES came together, CHURCH to CHURCH. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these DEAD CHURCHES, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.”
God’s house is not meant to be a formal living room, but to be a family room.  We can be who we really are when we are with our family.  With family we are open and honest.  They share our pain, our tears, our joy and our success.  They know our weaknesses; they know the cracks in our armor.  They’ve seen the skeletons in our closet.  And yet, they love us anyway.

We all worship and serve the same God, but for different reasons and in different ways.  Perhaps it is in the reasons we serve that we discover who we are.  We serve God based on three responses to Him.  We either serve out of fear of His anger, out of duty, or out of love.
When we serve out of fear of His anger, we are slaves.  Slaves are motivated to serve out of fear of punishment.

When we serve out of duty, we do it as a job, and employee to God.  Employees are motivated by wages, and seek a reward for their service.

But when we serve out of love, we do it as children.  We serve looking for nothing more than to show our love to the Father who loves us. 
If your dry bones are to live, you have to find the passion that comes from a relationship with God based on love.   Those who serve out of love serve long, strong, and without fear of losing that love.  They rise up like a great army ready to do battle at the sight of any enemy.  They are bound together with purpose, and relationships that run deep into the heart.  They encourage each other and help each other.  They are family, the children of God. 

Can these dry bones live?  Father God, you know.






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