Summary: There are churches (and individual Christians) who look at the trouble and hardships their dealing with and feel that God has forsaken them. They feel like their spiritual life is being sapped right out of them, and are on the brink of giving up.
BREATHING NEW LIFE IN THE CHURCH
A. How is your WALK with Christ?
1. I think most Christians will answer that question with, "It’s good."
Deep down, however, something is MISSING. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but the JOY you once had in Christ is DIMINISHING. DESPONDENCY has crept in. You feel undue PRESSURE at WORK. You’re having TROUBLE at SCHOOL. Your MARRIAGE is not what you want it to be. You can’t GET ALONG with your PARENTS. You are on the verge of GIVING UP.
2. The way we FEEL as individual Christians effect the CHURCH as well.
Our PRAYER LIFE is not what it used to be. We quit READING our Bible. Our WORSHIP ATTENDANCE falls off. We QUIT going to Sunday morning Bible Class altogether. We DROP OUT of the MINISTRY TEAM we were part of. We no longer SERVE in the AREAS we once ENJOYED. We don’t even want to think about JOINING a SMALL GROUP BIBLE STUDY.
B. Many Christians don’t realize it, but they are GRADUALLY dying SPIRITUALLY.
Satan is SAPPING the LIFE right out of them. They are not HAPPY with the way they are, but they don’t see a WAY OUT. Many don’t even UNDERSTAND what’s going on. They just know that the JOY, the SPIRITUAL FERVOR, and the LIFE they once had in Christ is being SAPPED out of them.
C. In Ezekiel 37, we find the prophet being told by God to PROPHESY over a valley of DRY BONES so they can come ALIVE.
1. The Valley of DRY BONES represented the nations of Israel who, after being taken captive into Babylon, felt that they could never live as a NATION again.
God says to Ezekiel, "You tell them that is not so. Although everything seems HOPELESS now, they will become a GREAT and POWERFUL nation once more."
2. What Ezekiel sees is not only the NATION of Israel, but the Messianic Kingdom--the CHURCH!
The church is to be a GREAT ARMY for God. Sadly, instead of containing an EXCEEDING GREAT ARMY, many congregations contain ROTTING CORPSES! It doesn’t have to be that way, because God has provided everything that is needed to build and maintain a VIBRANT church.
3. Although we have seen NUMERICAL GROWTH in this church during the last two or three years, I sense a LULL--a COMPLACENCY--in our SPIRITUAL GROWTH. I sense a SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION in my own life as well as in the lives of some in this CONGREGATION.
However, the message of our TEXT today is that God can BREATHE NEW LIFE in this church and in us as individual Christians. Do you believe that?
I. LIFELESS CONDITION- vv. 1-2 (READ)
A. Israel is seen as having no LIFE at all. Ezekiel sees nothing but BONES scattered all over the surface of an OPEN VALLEY.
1. The picture brings to mind a GREAT BATTLE that has been fought where THOUSANDS of men have died, and their bodies were left on the ground where they fell.
a. Now there is nothing but BONES--very DRY BONES indicating that they have been DEAD for a long time.
b. I don’t know if Ezekiel understood that these BONES represented Israel’s condition--if so it must have been very DISTURBING to him.
2. Israel at one time was a GREAT and VIBRANT NATION.
They were God’s children BLESSED beyond any other people. But because of their WICKEDNESS and IDOLATRY, their LACK of FAITH in God, they were taken into CAPTIVITY. They felt that there was no more HOPE for them, that Israel would soon PERISH and never receive God’s BLESSINGS again. Israel didn’t realize it, but even while they were a STRONG NATION they were gradually DYING and being DRAWN away from God.
B. Today the Lord looks at many congregations and sees a valley of DRY BONES--no LIFE, no JOY, no DIRECTION, no FRUIT in their lives.
1. Often what the Lord sees are Christians who merely PLAY CHURCH.
Many Christians go through the MOTIONS--they come to Bible Class, they partake the Lord’s Supper, they SING the SONGS, they PRAY and GIVE, but there’s no LIFE there.
2. Maybe you have felt that way.
I don’t know about you, but lately I have been going through this SPIRITUAL SLUMP. It’s gotten better over the past few weeks, but it has certainly DIMINISHED my JOY in Christ. It has affected my PRAYER LIFE, my BIBLE STUDY, my MINISTRY. I have faced some CHALLENGES in my FAMILY that have been DIFFICULT to deal with.
I feel like the LIFE of Christ is gradually being SAPPED out of me by the PRESSURES of the WORLD.
I’M SURE THAT I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS OR HAVE FELT THIS WAY! I know that some of you have been going through your own STRUGGLES. You, too, have felt like you are SPIRITUALLY DYING inside.