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Tag Archives: love

Ezekiel: Valley of Dry Bones

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; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I 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.” So 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. I 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. Then 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.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then 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.’ Therefore 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. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 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 37:1-14, NRSV)

Mortal can these bones live?

I think I would have responded, “Uhm sure if you say so.”

Right because obviously God can do anything, and they do. The bones shake and come together and the sinews on them and muscle and flesh. Then the ruach came and they lived.

The Spirit of God entered the dried up bones and they were revived!

You see with God all things are possible, the dead are made alive and they will fill the world with His love!

Let His breath fill you so that you too might live!

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Daniel and his Friends Promoted

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshiped Daniel, and commanded that a grain offering and incense be offered to him. The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery! ”Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court. (Daniel 2:46-49, NRSV)

The king worshipped Daniel for the interpretation of the dream.

He then gave him many gifts and promoted him.

Daniel, who is not known for being shy, asked that his friends be promoted too, and they were.

Be bold in the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever!

 

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God Reveals Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Then Daniel went to his home and informed his companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions with the rest of the wise men of Babylon might not perish. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel said: “Blessed be the name of God from age to age, for wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him. To you, O God of my ancestors, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and power, and have now revealed to me what we asked of you, for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.” (Daniel 2:17-23, NRSV)

Daniel went and prayed to God along with his friends, and God listened to their prayers and revealed to Daniel the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and the interpretation of it

God is to be praised for His steadfast love and care for us. Daniel was set to be killed, but God gave him the answers he needed to appease the king.

God will always provide us with what we need!

 

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Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed such dreams that his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. So the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had such a dream that my spirit is troubled by the desire to understand it.” The Chaldeans said to the king (in Aramaic), “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will reveal the interpretation.” The king answered the Chaldeans, “This is a public decree: if you do not tell me both the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you do tell me the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time, “Let the king first tell his servants the dream, then we can give its interpretation.” The king answered, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see I have firmly decreed: if you do not tell me the dream, there is but one verdict for you. You have agreed to speak lying and misleading words to me until things take a turn. Therefore, tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.” The Chaldeans answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can reveal what the king demands! In fact no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king is asking is too difficult, and no one can reveal it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.” Because of this the king flew into a violent rage and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. The decree was issued, and the wise men were about to be executed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions, to execute them. Then Daniel responded with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the king’s chief executioner, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon; he asked Arioch, the royal official, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. So Daniel went in and requested that the king give him time and he would tell the king the interpretation. (Daniel 2:1-16, NRSV)

How many people are able to tell someone what they dreamed last night?

King Nebuchadnezzar asked for the impossible to be done. He wanted those he had summoned to tell him what he had dreamed and then what it meant.

They asked the king to tell them the dream, but he would not.

When the enforcers went out to kill all those that the king ordered killed, Daniel asked the king for a little more time.

Would you be brave enough to ask for more time from the person who ordered you killed?

What do we await this Advent?

A Prince of Peace that will reign in our hearts. So does He reign in your heart?

 

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Daniel: The Fiery Furance

 

King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue whose height was sixty cubits and whose width was six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Accordingly, at this time certain Chaldeans came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, shall fall down and worship the golden statue, and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These pay no heed to you, O King. They do not serve your gods and they do not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought in; so they brought those men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:1, 8-30, NRSV)

What would you have done? If the king were to set up a great statue of himself and say that you must bow down and worship it. Would you do it, or do as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did?

Because of their defiance to the king, and their love of God, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and thrown into the fiery furnace that was 7 times hotter than normal. So hot in fact the guards that threw them in were killed because of the heat.

But then the king sees in the fire 4 unbound men walking around.

You see when we trust in God and worship Him alone, He will provide for us and protect us.

Know that God is always with you!

 

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The Joyful return of Exiles

At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 31:1-6, NRSV)

I have loved you with an everlasting love and have continued in my promises to you.

I have restored you to the land you were exiled from, I have restored the hope you once had.

My love had never faded nor left you.

Come in with joy to the land I have given you and live with me in my unfailing love forever!

 

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Holiday Bucket List

I shared this picture on Facebook and have seen it several places. I think it is a great way to orient ourselves at this time of year. But it also reminds me that sometimes we fall short of the mark.

Some of you may be aware that St. John’s received an anonymous letter early in early November. This letter was from a family that has visited us here at St. John’s several times and wanted us to know that they did not feel welcomed at fellowship or a “part of the gathering after church”.

I have shared this letter with council and a few or our committees and all seemed to wonder how this could happen, but have also shared with me similar things that have happened. I know of members of the congregation who voiced to me concerns about feeling welcomed. Just the other night at a committee meeting, a member of the committee shared how they sat at a table and those who were already sitting there didn’t even make eye contact with them.

One of the things that drew me to St. John’s was the welcoming open atmosphere and the genuine concern this congregation portrayed. We are open and welcoming in worship but the fellowship time has seemed to have taken on a time for sharing with friends and catching up from the past weeks. And don’t get me wrong we all need time to do this, but we as members of the congregation need to be aware of the perceptions that are happening in our building. People are leaving our congregation on Sunday morning feeling alone. People are sitting at tables and being shunned. And I know, as you know, we are better than that.

And I am at fault here also. I do not spend a lot of time in fellowship because I am usually in Adult Sunday School. Should I be in fellowship, yes I should. However, I should also be at Adult Sunday School. I’m not pointing fingers at others, I am saying I am at fault here too.

So what do we do about this?

We be present and talk to people. Make a conscious effort to say hello to someone you are not sure who they are. Ask them there name and chance asking if they are a visitor. I have done that to members of all the congregations I have pastored because I haven’t seen them in a while and just plain forgot. We are human.

Give hugs and spend time with friends. Fellowship is about building up the body, including new people and fostering lifelong relationships.

Send love to those around you. Seek out someone who looks down and see if you can help. Be the presence of Christ in the moment for someone.

Be the light in this place and everywhere. God has given us a wonderful place to call home in St. John’s! Let us share that with everyone and open ourselves up to the new and the old and embrace where God is leading us.

So be the light and welcome the stranger in our midst and let us build the body of Christ!

 

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