March 28 – April 3, 2017

WORD

1The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  2He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.  3He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”  4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.  6I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”  7So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.  8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.  9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”  10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.  11Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel.  They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’  12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel.  13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people.  14I 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 37:1-14

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: The Lord said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?”

We live within the reality of resurrection.  In a matter of weeks we will pause to remember the resurrection of Jesus and celebrate the resurrection season of Easter.  Every day, though, is an opportunity to embrace the realities of the resurrection.  Every season is a season of resurrection.  We live within the reality of Jesus’s death-conquering life and our lives are pointing forward to our own experience of everlasting life through bodily resurrection.

We do not have to wait until after death and the return of Jesus to live within the power of the resurrection.  God’s constant offer to us is to die to sin and live in Christ.  Each day we are called to die to our pride, self-will, prejudices, hatred, etc., and be reborn in the love of Christ and the character of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes our sins, our failures, and our sorrows can make us feel as though we are dead with no hope.  However, resurrection remains our reality whether we feel it or not.  What about your life feels dead?  Are you living as merely a skeletal shell of your true self?  Do you desire for your heart, mind, spirit, and body to come alive in the power of Christ?  When you are lifeless, Christ is still alive!

God wanted to communicate a message of hope to the people of Israel through the prophet Ezekiel.  When you feel as lifeless as an old piece of broken, blanched bone (like the one pictured above), then God is ready to reform you, to wrap around you the spiritual muscles and tendons needed to engage in a life of faithfulness and joy.  God is in the business of resurrection; it is a true hope, not hype!  Allow God to reshape you and reanimate you this week.  Live within the grace and promise of new life in Christ – no matter how dead you might be feeling.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, March 28 – Colossians 4
  • Wednesday, March 29 – Ezra 1
  • Thursday, March 30 – Ezra 2
  • Friday, March 31 – Ezra 3
  • Saturday, April 1 – Ezra 4
  • Sunday, April 2 – Ezra 5
  • Monday, April 3 –  Ezra 6

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Then the Lord said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”  I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

There are many people we know who have been knocked down and who are trying to get back on their feet again.  Pray this week for those who struggle to find a foundation, those who have had the wind knocked out of them and who need some fresh wind from God to fill their lives.  Ask God to provide for those who have been abandoned and oppressed and to change the hearts of those who abandon and oppress others.  Pray for the addicted and overwhelmed.  Be a living prayer of gentleness and love for those you know who are gasping for God’s Spirit.

Meditation Focus: The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley.

What an amazing vision Ezekiel was given!  Or perhaps it wasn’t so much a vision as an actual experience of being taken up by God in the Spirit and transported somewhere else.  Such things happen elsewhere to Ezekiel and to others in Scripture – who are we to limit the powers of God?

Imagine God coming to you and taking you in the Spirit to a particular place to give you a particular message.  Perhaps it would be a place in which you suffered great loss and God wishes to offer you an experience of healing.  Perhaps it would be a place in which you experienced great joy and God wishes to offer you an experience of encouragement.  Or perhaps it is a place in which you struggled with sin and God wishes to offer you an experience of forgiveness.  Wherever it is, allow God to take you there in your mind.  What are your feelings upon “arriving” there?  What do you see?  What emotions or spiritual insights do you notice within you?  Where is God in this place and where are you?

Allow yourself to focus on a particular item in that place (like the bones in Ezekiel’s experience) and in silence wait for God to give you a message concerning that item.  What is its significance?  What is God saying to you in this place and through this item?  What experience is God offering you here?  How does God want to reform you through this encounter?

Journaling Focus: Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people.

Christians struggle with the concept of resurrection.  We are much more comfortable with talking about going to heaven as disembodied spirits after we die.  However, according to Scripture our final destiny is to be raised back to life in what Paul calls a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15).  We don’t know much about what this body will be like, other than the clues we get from Jesus’s resurrection.  We know that Jesus could be touched and touch others and that Jesus still bore the marks of the Crucifixion.  We also know that Jesus could eat and drink.  However, he could also appear behind locked doors without unlocking and opening those doors.  This week write about your understanding of resurrection and your feelings concerning your own eventual resurrection.  Then read 1 Corinthians 15 and journal about your reactions to this passage.  God has been leading us toward an understanding of resurrection in this pre-Easter passage from Ezekiel this week.  Now explore a little of the post-Easter conversation surrounding this reality.

Holy Action: 

Dream dreams this week.  What is dead in your life or community?  How might God transform those dead places in town or seemingly dead talents within you into living realities again?  How might God restore dead relationships?  Take a few moments to daydream this week about how God might be calling you or your community to an experience of resurrection.  Be crazy and bold – consider everything from old buildings falling into disrepair to life change in people whom others have written off as hopeless (maybe that is even you!).

Breath Prayer: Father, breathe life into us.

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