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A Vision of New Life

And God said to me, ˝Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Ezekiel 37:3 

The year 2020 is over and we are settling into 2021. We have come through what could be seen as a valley of dry bones, as the death toll increases daily, soon to reach 2 million worldwide. Even as we work to deliver a vaccine to everyone, we are aware that takes time and the virus is still spreading. Ezekiel’s vision seems appropriate to what we are facing. 

Israel was living in exile and the prophet is told to share God’s message. But God puts a question in his mind: “Can these bones live?” The verse comes from the narrative found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. The prophet Ezekiel is confronted by God and taken to the wilderness in a vision. The vision God gives is of a valley full of bones, dry and lifeless. As the prophet speaks what God commands, the bones come back together as full skeletons, then flesh comes on the bones, then breath to give them life. At the end of the passage God declares, “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.” 

Yes, I realize this is a word given to people long ago and far away. But the thoughts here seem to fit our circumstances too. Even though the way looks bleak, God wants us to hear again, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live.” This word of encouragement is not new to our faith, as God throughout history has always taken care of the world. It is up to us to claim the newness of life that God offers and live as people who have hope in the present and the future. 

I’m glad that 2020 is over, even though some of the challenges remain. We will be okay if we keep the faith. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. 

Posted by Bob Winstead
Tags: devotion
in Church

Redeeming the Time

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 

We are just a couple of weeks into the new year and we are returning to the routine we practiced before the holidays. Schools are back in session, holiday decorations have been put away for another year, and we are hoping that the pandemic will begin to lessen as persons get vaccinated. Those I talk to are feeling hopeful about this year, especially if you contrast it to the struggles and complications of last year. 

This verse in Jeremiah points to a hopeful tomorrow. Jeremiah affirms that God is in control and has good things in store. This is a powerful promise, but we must be careful to read and understand the context of the promise. Sometimes well-meaning Christians believe this is a guarantee of worldly success, with health and welfare our lot in life. Some think that all we do is claim the promise and all will be well with us. That is not what it says. 

Jeremiah ministered before and during the Babylonian exile when the kingdom of Judah suffered expulsion from the promised land for their unfaithfulness. Jeremiah had warned them and pleaded for repentance, and when they did not change, the King of Babylon conquered them and took them off into exile. It is during the exile that Jeremiah writes to them, encouraging them to build houses, settle in the land, and seek the welfare of all. 

The verse above comes next as a promise from God that one day they would return to Israel and their home. God was not done with the people, but also did not protect them from the consequences of their actions. The Israelites would return to Judah eventually, and God would help them rebuild their lives. Here we have the assurance that God will take care of us and that, despite the trouble of today, better days are ahead for those who trust the Lord and follow in faithfulness. 

Yes, the past year has been difficult and threatening. Many among us have lost loved ones and livelihoods. We grieve over these losses, but we know that eventually things will get better. The lesson is this: Even when the way is tough, our God is with us, and in the end all will be well. All will be well. 

Thanks be to God. 

Posted by Bob Winstead
Tags: devotion

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