Not DEATH, but LIFE…Think About Such Things!

I’ve been thinking a lot about death and life lately. With me starting to volunteer with hospice, death is now a bigger part of my life than it has been in the past. The first lady I worked with passed away and I have now been given a new person to help…How quickly things change!

I’ve experienced some loss too at school, which I won’t go into great detail about as I’m still in the midst of it. Things just don’t seem to be the way they once were, so I am grieving that too.

In the midst of these thoughts and experiences with death and loss, I am being reminded lately of the sovereignty of God. Our sermon this weekend was on Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones…if you’re unfamiliar with the passage, here it is…

Ezekiel 37: The Valley of Dry Bones

1 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. 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. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 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.’”

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. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

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.’”

This was a test of faith! God already knew the dry bones could come to life, but He still asked Ezekiel if HE thought they could come to life!

I know in my life personally there are several things that satan is trying to convince me are “dead”. God is asking me if I still believe that these things can have life and be fruitful, and I am choosing to say yes, just like Ezekiel did! With the faith of Ezekiel and his obedience, the valley of dry bones turned into a GREAT army! I find that so encouraging while facing my own valley of dry bones!

Our Pastor ended the sermon with this: God can bring the dead back to life, so live accordingly! He said something else that’s stuck with me during the sermon related to Easter…The resurrection and what we celebrate on Easter is less about the death and more about the LIFE!

I’ve thought about that a lot this week with Easter coming and how specifically in the Easter story, Jesus dying on the cross for us was less about Him dying, and more about Him living and US living too through His resurrection!

So I started thinking of Philippians 4 as I was challenged to ask myself these questions…

1) Do I believe God can bring the things I’ve perceived as “dead” in my own story back to life?

2) Am I so focused on things I perceive as “dead” that I may miss the things God is bringing to life in my story?

Here is part of Philippians 4…

Philippians 4: Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity

1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I find this passage to be so comforting and such a great reminder. We are called to stand firm in the Lord, not in our circumstances. We are to rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS! I am to remember that God is near…He is not far and He sees what I am going through. He calls me to not be anxious, but instead to PRAY! When I remember those things and shift my focus to HIM, He gives me His peace which helps to guard my heart and my mind. I’m reminded of how important it is to guard my heart…God’s word says…

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What things are you thinking on? Are you focused on complaining, wishing things went a certain way? Or are you focusing your thoughts on truth! On what is lovely and praiseworthy! God shows us the way to live and if we are reading His word and praying, putting into practice the things He teaches us, we will have peace, that is a promise of God! But if instead we are complaining, gossiping, ruminating on negative things or how we wish things were, then we can expect to feel anxious and miserable, consumed by our problems. Worse than that, we could MISS the very NEW thing that God is doing in our life!

Isaiah 43 says that very thing! God is doing something NEW! He has already begun…we may not see it yet. He is turning our dry, empty wilderness into a place of LIFE. He will create rivers in the wasteland!

I’ve been trying to be outside as much as possible lately with this amazingly warm weather we’ve been blessed with. While I’m outside, I can’t help but feel happy and content when I’m hugged by the warm rays of the sun. My Job Bible study encouraged me to write a poem similar to a psalm, taking notice of nature and seeing God in it. Here is the poem I wrote…

From the gray cloudy sky, to the clear blue…

both of whose creator is you.

From the blowing wind, to the swaying trees,

you orchestrate them and you created me.

You create every detail and delight us with each one…

IF we take time to notice & ponder.

Life & death…a delicate balance, that is yours alone to handle.

Leaves that once were green & blooming, now brown & on the ground.

But new buds are appearing now, do you not see them?

Trees that once stood tall, fallen.

But many trees stand strong & firm, do you not see them?

For everything there is a season…

It’s not the death, but the LIFE from death that mattered most.

This too, I will restore, for I am doing a new thing!

Wait and do not lost hope.

For though there is death, there is also life, growth, and change.

I control it all and I have you, too, in my hands.

Some things bloom now, others it is not yet time.

But at the sound of my voice it will be…

Will you be content while you wait on me?

It’s not the most grammatically correct poem, I am confident of that, but it’s from my heart and I believe it ties together the point well…Happy Easter everyone! Remember that God is sovereign over every detail of your life…beginnings and endings, both the pretty ones and the ugly ones too…He is doing something new! (I had to throw in one more rhyme :))

My God is able to save and deliver and heal and restore anything that He wants to!!

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