November 23 “Dry bones & the devil’s bait”

Skeleton dry bonesOnly God can bring life where there were once dry bones. He not only restores our sinful lives when we repent and turn to Him, but when we belong to Him, He helps us recognize the enemy’s plan to lure us back into sin. Satan is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, but he has had a few thousand years to figure out what kind of bait we will bite! God’s Word helps us see it for what it is!

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 37 & 38
Psalm 132.1-9
Proverbs 29.4
James 4.1-17

 

Ezekiel 37 & 38:

Dry bones & God’s sovereign care

In chapter 37 Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley filled with dry bones. God tells him He is going to bring the dry bones back together, cover them with flesh, and breathe His Spirit into them.

The dry bones represent the Israelites who had been dispersed among other nations and whom He promised to restore to their land and give His Holy Spirit.

I can’t read this passage without humming the old song “Dry Bones” that many of us sang as children. As I was looking for a YouTube version, I came across this powerful video illustration of Ezekiel’s prophesy.

 

God also brings resurrection life to our sinful, dry lives. He redeems our pasts, restores where death and devastation has occurred, and breathes life into marriages and relationships that have fallen into disillusion or disinterest.

In chapter 38, God begins to speak to Gog and Magog, a powerful nation and its ruler, who would come against the Jews with great numbers of people after they had been restored to their land. According to Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible this probably took place sometime shortly after their return from captivity.

Even though God was assuring His people that they would be restored, He didn’t want them to believe they could expect complete rest from trials and tribulations in this life. Jesus told His disciples much the same thing:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Matt. 16.33).

While Ezekiel 38 had a near future fulfillment, it also speaks of a time that is still to come. Revelation 20:

7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.

After the millennial reign of Christ, Satan will be loosed briefly once more, so that those people who were born during that time will have a chance to either accept or reject Christ. Afterwards when he attempts to come against God’s people, he and his followers will be destroyed and cast into the lake of fire.

We should take great comfort in this portion of Scripture in Ezekiel 38 about God’s sovereign care. Although, God may use our enemies to test and strengthen us, we can be sure He will give us the grace we need, either to deliver us from the danger or see us through it.

 

prayerPsalm 132.1-9:

Pray for our pastors

Verse 9 begins, “Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness.”

What a great prayer to pray for our pastors and Christian leaders, that God would protect them and give them His righteousness.

 

Proverbs 29.4:

The importance of righteous leaders

“The king establishes the land by justice, but he who receives bribes overthrows it.”

A leader who seeks justice and righteousness brings stability to a nation, but one who seeks his own agenda can bring a nation to disaster.

 

fishing baits lures hooksJames 4.1-17:

The process of sin

There is so much in the book of James and this chapter is no exception. Verse 1 coupled with chapter 1.13-15 give us great insight into the process of sin in our lives. Verse 4.1:

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

We often point outside ourselves to other people and circumstances as the source and reason for our problems and conflicts. But James clearly tells us they come from our own sinful desires. We do what we do because we want what we want; the problem is not outside of us, but within us! Chapter 1.13-15:

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Sometimes we even attempt to put the blame on God for our sinful behavior. “I prayed and prayed for God to help me (deliver me, remove this sinful desire, etc.), but He just hasn’t.”

He sent His Son to die in our place; He fills us with His Holy Spirit, gives us His grace, blesses us above anything we could ask or imagine, and gives us instructions in living (v. 13). “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (1.14) It’s our own sinful desires which tempt us (4.1).

The passage from chapter 1 uses a hunting and fishing analogy. Each of us is lured or enticed by our own desires just as a fish is enticed to “take the bait.” And like the fish, we often fail to believe or see that the bait has a hook in it!

Next James uses a birth analogy: “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

First, there is the sinful desire. We start thinking about that man or woman at work. We justify it by saying, “There’s no harm in it. I’m not going to do anything about it!” Pretty soon we start telling ourselves things like, “Well, if my spouse paid more attention to me …,” “He makes me feel desirable,” “At least she respects me,” or a million other variations of the lie.

The desire has been conceived. It’s not full grown yet, but it’s already growing in the womb of our sinful hearts. And when it’s full grown it gives birth to sin. If we don’t stop it in its tracks, it will be followed by death: guilt, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, destruction, even divorce!

Of course, lust and sexual immorality are not the only areas where sin can entice us. It might be just one drink, lying to make ourselves look better, cheating, gossiping, or a million other things.

God included this passage in His Word to reveal the process of sin so we can recognize and avoid it. And if we are already nibbling the devil’s bait, or worse, so we would repent and cry out for His help.

 

Closing thoughts: Have you experienced times in your life where you realized God saw ahead and made provision for you? How does the passage in Ezekiel 38 bring you peace? Are you faithful to pray for our civil leaders, as well as those in your church? How does understanding the process of sin provide protection? Do you see some area of your life where you’ve been nibbling the bait and playing around with sin?

 

Blessings,
Donna

 

Two books that can help us have victory over the sin that so easily entangles us:

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

As Christians, we believe that all sins are considered equal in God’s eyes. Yet while evangelicals continue to decry the Big Ones—such as abortion, adultery, and violence—we often overlook more deceptive sins. It seems we’ve created a sliding scale where gossip, jealousy, and selfishness comfortably exist within the church. In short, some sins have simply become acceptable.

Bridges, bestselling author of The Pursuit of Holiness, believes that just as culture has lost the concept of sin, the church faces the same danger. Jerry writes not from a sense of achievement, but from the trenches of his own personal battles. Drawing from scriptural truth, he sheds light on subtle behaviors that can derail our spiritual growth. Throughout, Jerry encourages a victory over personal sin through the gospel’s transforming power, the perfect book for those who desire to thoughtfully examine their lives and discover a deeper walk with God.

A Fight to the Death: Taking Aim at Sin Within

According to the apostle Paul, either we destroy sin or sin will destroy us. In this waged war, A Fight to the Death holds the following biblical convictions:

  • continuing in sin is a serious and dangerous matter
  • true believers hate sin and want to overcome it
  • true believers want to put sin to death

In the first part of the book, the Macks explore why sin is so serious and why we should fight against it. In the second part, they present a biblical method for killing the sin within us.

 

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