Stand Up, You Dry Bones

2-24-2000

Stand Up, You Dry Bones

 

TEXT:Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. (Ezekiel 37:9)

 

To be read before Sermon: Ezekiel 37:1-10
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.  And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.  Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.  Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.  So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.  And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.  Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.-Ezek 37:1-10 (KJV)

 

There are many interpretations for the scripture which I just read, but for my purpose today, I want to use these verses to give you an explanation of how lost men and women are saved, and brought to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

But first, I want to say, WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT.

I believe that there may be some here who carry a heavy burden for a child or grandchild who is without Christ or perhaps they are saved, but not living as a Christian should. 

I confess that I have children and grandchildren who may be lost. 

Maybe, you have come to realize as I have, that despite all your efforts to bring them to faith in Christ that the fact is, it is impossible for you to do it. 

We can, with God’s help, tell them about Jesus, but that doesn’t save them. 

At times it seems like we are talking to dry bones, or to the wind. 

But we are not afraid to appear foolish to them, because we know that, when, "the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." 

But when we tell them about Jesus and the love of God, and as a result we expect them to be saved, and to give us evidence of their salvation, we are stopped, because it just doesn’t happen. 

They are still in darkness, even though we feel a great burden for them to receive the light that brings salvation. 

We cannot make them believe. 

There are a great many things that we can do, but as far as birthing a new Christian, we are unable to enter into the realm of miracles, where the Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme. 

It is God’s prerogative to give life and to take it away. 

We know from experience, that apart from the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. 

If the Holy Spirit doesn’t come and drive home the Word of God in the heart, we might as well save our breath.

But how should the fact that we are powerless affect us? 

Should we just fold our arms and give up? 

We can’t do that, because it’s our heart’s desire to see them saved. 

We cannot set still. 

We can’t command the Holy Spirit to use His mighty power and we can’t direct where He should use His great influence, but we can make use of Him, because even though we are unable to save anyone, we can turn to God and lay hold of His power.

Then, what should we do? 

We have come face-to-face with a loved one who is spiritually dead, and we are helpless to do anything about it. 

And we know that only the Holy Spirit can bring life to dead souls, so what should we do? 

Well, there are certain ways in which we can act properly toward God; and there are certain attitudes which it would be well for us to take up; and from these we may gain the approval of God and get His help with our case.

First, we must feel deeply humbled, and then we must be emptied of self-centered thoughts. 

I may stand up here and preach the gospel to the best of my ability, but no matter what I say, it’s not enough to raise those who are spiritually dead. 

There’s another voice that must be heard. 

There’s another power, which is greater than my thoughts and persuasion, that must be brought to bear; or nothing will happen. 

No matter what you or I do, nothing will come of it, if the effort stands by itself. 

Only the Spirit of God can bless men and women, and He will do it through you. 

No matter what experience or ability you have, it is the Spirit of God that must bless your witness. 

Therefore, never boast about what you can do, or believe that you have any power in yourself, because if you do, you will prevent the Holy Spirit from working with you or through you.

I hope that you will never think much of me or of anyone who preaches to you. 

If you ever believe that any preacher is so blessed by God that he can bring your loved one to believe in Jesus, you are attributing something to a mere man, which only belongs to the Son of God. 

I am nothing and they are nothing. 

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts,” is a message that should make us lie down in the dust, and realize that we can’t do anything in and of ourselves. 

We need the power of God. 

Next, because we need the Holy Spirit, we must give ourselves to prayer, before we tell others about Christ, and also afterwards.

I will never attempt to preach to you without first going to God in prayer and seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. 

Anyone who preaches or teaches God’s Word should pray over every sentence, and ask for wisdom to rightly divide His Word, and ask for the hearts of the hearers to receive it with understanding and faith. 

But that’s only the beginning, because when he is finished, he needs to pray some more. 

He will pray that those who are without Jesus will eventually believe; he will pray for those who are already Christians that they will live for Jesus; and he will pray that God will anoint him to preach effectively. 

And if you believe what I just said, you will always pray for the preacher; never let him go to work, without your prayers. 

And I implore you to always pray before you do anything for God. 

Make it your habit to begin any service for God with prayer, and to pray when you are doing your work, and pray when you are done; ask the Lord for his Holy Spirit to make your work effective by His almighty power.

Since everything depends upon the Holy Spirit, we must be very careful to be the type of men and women that the Holy Spirit can use. 

We are not to judge others, but I know that you have met men and women whom the Holy Spirit can bless with saving faith. 

If a man or woman is self-centered, can’t the Spirit of God bless them? 

If they are proud and boastful, can’t the Spirit of God bless them? 

If a man or woman curses God, or commits adultery, or is a liar, or is a thief, or if they are guilty of any one of a thousand sins, don’t you think that they may need to repent and be saved. 

So, tell them about Jesus, but pray for them first, and for yourself. 

And what about us? 

If we become proud, will God continue to bless us? 

If we become glum and have little faith in what we preach or testify to, will the Holy Spirit use us, or will God bless us? 

Listen to this. 

If we are to be a vessel fit for the Master’s use we must be very clean. 

Our vessel doesn’t need to be made of silver and gold, it can be of common clay, but it must be very clean, because our God is a jealous God. 

He’s aware of every thing we do and say, and He can spot even the tiniest sin. 

He will not use us if we have been used for our own selfish interests or if we have allowed the world to use us. 

This is not a small thing; we must be clean in what we do and say. 

Our blessings depend upon it.

Next, since we depend wholly upon the Holy Spirit, we must be anxious to tell others about Christ, and to live close to Him. 

The Word of God is the Holy Spirit’s sword. 

Therefore, we should place a high value on the inspired Word, because with it we will defeat our opponents. 

So, be wise, and don’t rely on your own wisdom, but instead depend on the Word of God, to which you can add, “Thus saith the Lord.” 

Even Jesus said that the words He spoke were God’s words. 

As He went out of the Garden of Gethsemane, He told His disciples, “The word which I hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” 

Let’s be like Jesus and speak those words that are not our own, but are those which God will give to us. 

Perhaps we can say, “I would rather speak five words out of the Bible, than fifty thousand out of a text book. 

I would rather be a fool with God, than to be a wise man with the cleverest philosopher, because, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 

You cannot work for Christ, unless you have the Spirit of Christ; and you cannot teach for Christ unless you teach Christ. 

The work you do will not be blessed, unless it is God’s word that you speak to other men. 

If we want revivals, we must have a respect for the Word of God. 

If we want to see more people saved, we must put more of God’s word into our sermons and into our witness; it must be his word that we rely upon, because the real power is in His word. 

It is God’s word that saves souls, not what we have to say about it. 

Therefore, let’s honor the Holy Spirit, by taking the weapon He has prepared for us, and let’s believe in the inspiration of every word of scripture. 

And let’s expect that God will prove their inspiration by the effect they have on the minds and hearts of men and women.

Since we are nothing without the Holy Spirit, we must avoid bringing to our work, anything that is not from Him. 

We want to see people saved, but we can’t do it; only the Holy Spirit can do that. 

But we have a part in it, because God uses us to give out the gospel, but let’s be very careful not to do anything to grieve the Holy Spirit, or cause Him to leave us. 

You must have the Spirit of God, if you are going to do anything for Him, so don’t do anything to cause His power to leave you.

Furthermore, we must always be ready to obey the Holy Spirit’s influences in our lives. 

By that I mean the light we gain from reading God’s word, and the internal whispers He speaks to those who are in Christ. 

I believe that the Holy Spirit still does speak to those who are His, in a very remarkable way. 

Some will make fun of this, and we don’t talk much about it, but the child of God knows that there are times when distinct movements of the Holy Spirit on our minds leads us to do a certain thing. 

Listen for these touches, and do what He says. 

Some people don’t feel these movements, but perhaps they would, if they lived closer to Him, and showed God more respect. 

Let your spirit be little before God, and easily moved, so you will recognize every urge that the Spirit gives you, and then obey it at once, whatever it might be. 

Yield yourself totally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Now, in dealing with people, be like Ezekiel as he stood before the Valley of Dry Bones. 

Before you speak, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and He may work through you to raise the dead; to give life to one who is dead in sin.

Just one more thought on this topic: since we are powerless without the Holy Spirit, we must appreciate every movement of His power. 

Notice, that in this account of the vision in the Valley of Dry Bones, that Ezekiel draws attention to noises, and the shaking of the bones, and how the muscle and flesh begins to cover the skeletons, even before there was any sign of life. 

I think if we want the Spirit of God to bless us, we must be vigilant, so we are aware of everything He does. 

Watch for the first desire, or the first fear. 

God wants us to be alive to the touch of the Holy Spirit, and then He will make others alive by us. 

Before we move on to the second point, let me repeat the first great truth, and that is: we are nothing without the Holy Spirit.

Now, the second thing that we can learn from Ezekiel’s actions on this occasion is that, WE ALL CAN KNOW THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, IF WE ACT IN A CERTAIN WAY.

When he saw the dry bones for the first time, there wasn’t any wind, or breath; nevertheless, he obeyed the voice of the Lord, which came in the vision, and then the breath came, and life followed. 

But how should we act? 

Let me give you just five things that can be observed from this incident.

If we want the Holy Spirit to be with us, and to bless us, we must by the power of the Spirit, be conscious of the setting in which we are to work. 

On this occasion, the Holy Spirit carried Ezekiel to the valley, and set him down in the midst of this valley which was full of bones. 

This is just an example of what will happen to every man that the Spirit intends to use. 

Do you want to lead people to the Lord, right here in this nursing home? 

Then you must go to them, and get to know them, and be able to sympathize with them. 

I don’t believe that anyone can witness effectively to people they don’t understand. 

If you have been through the same problems that others have, then you can say to them, “I’ve been there myself: I know all about it; God willing, I will lead you out of this mess.” 

Friends, we must be sympathetic toward those who are lost. 

The Holy Spirit, when He uses us, sets us down in the midst of the valley full of dry bones, and he causes us to examine the scene, until we fully understand how difficult our work is going to be. 

Even Ezekiel said, “Behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry."

Next, if the Holy Spirit is going to be with us, we must witness in the power of faith. 

If Ezekiel did not have faith, he certainly would not have preached to dry bones; they were a pitiful congregation; and he wouldn’t have preached to the wind, because it is a very unpredictable listener. 

Would anyone besides a fool have acted this way, unless faith was involved? 

When we witness to anyone, it must be an act of faith. 

We must speak by faith, as much as Noah built the Ark by faith, and just as the walls of Jericho were brought down by faith. 

And men are won for Christ by faithful witnessing, that is, witnessing that is full of faith.

In addition to this, if we want to have the Spirit of God with us, we must act according to God’s instructions. 

We must state the message God has given us loud and clear. 

God will only bless the message He has given us, so we must stay clear of anything that is contrary to His Word. 

Our witness will be received when we are speaking the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Let’s be sure that before the Word of God leaves our mouth, that we have received it from the mouth of God. 

Then we can expect that people will receive it from us. 

The Spirit of God will only go with the Word of God, and nothing else.

The next thing that we need to do to have the Holy Spirit with us is to, be enthusiastic in our witnessing. 

The prophet was enthusiastic; he cried out, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live!" 

In his minds eye, he could see the people in front of him, and he makes a passionate appeal to the Spirit of God, to make them live. 

I believe that today, God uses those men who long to see souls saved.

Lastly, if we want to have more of the power of the Holy Spirit with us, we must see only God’s purpose, God’s power, and God’s working. 

God’s Spirit will go with those who see Him at work. 

In our text, God said, "When I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord." 

It is not my plan that God is going to work out; it is His own. 

The Holy Spirit is not going to carry out what I propose; He will carry out only God’s will. 

No one will come to believe in our Lord because of my power, or my experience, or by my way of thinking; it’s the Holy Spirit that will do it, and only Him. 

We need to adopt this way of thinking, and get to work in the Spirit, and then God, the Holy Spirit will be with us.  

Now I want to talk to anyone who is not saved, and to those who may be unsure of their salvation; I WANT TO GIVE YOU A MESSAGE OF HOPE.

If you are not saved or if you aren’t sure that you are, I want to urge you to listen to the Word of the Lord. 

Even if you think you are as dead as those dry bones, and in spite of that you want to be saved, listen to the Word of God as often as you can, because, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."  

And when there is a preaching service or Bible study, make sure you are there and listen to God’s word, and pray for God to bless you. 

"O ye dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!"

Next, I want to remind you, that you need to get life from the Spirit of God. 

Put it any way you like, but you cannot be saved unless you are born again. 

And the new birth is not by your power. 

"Ye must be born again,"—"from above," according to the third chapter of John. 

Religion will not save you, do anything you want; good deeds will not save you, religious ceremonies will not save you; the only hope you have is the Holy Spirit. 

He will do for you, what you can’t do yourself.

But, I want you to know what the Holy Spirit has done for others. 

There are those here, who have been born again. 

They were as hopeless as you are, but they are now saved. 

You know they are, because you have seen their lives. 

Listen; what the Holy Spirit can do for others, He can do for you. 

May I go just a little bit further now, and say that, I want you to examine carefully what is done in you. 

I think there are some here who have already undergone a change. 

You can’t say that you are saved, but you want to be. 

And even now, you are not what you used to be. 

Listen; I believe what the Holy Spirit starts, He will complete. 

What He has done for you already, should encourage you, because He will do much more, and He will not stop until you have eternal life.

What’s more, I want to remind you that, faith in Jesus is a sign that you have life. 

If you believe in your heart that Jesus can save you, and you trust in Him for salvation, you already have eternal life. 

The bible says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” 

If you can now, even though it’s for the first time, trust in Christ alone, you will be saved; and you will “have passed from death unto life” already. 

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” 

If you will put your faith in Christ, remember what is written in His Word, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned.”

Finally, I want very much for everyone here to be saved. 

I am praying that the Holy Spirit will come to every one of you. 

Ezekiel didn’t see just part of the dry bones live, but they all lived, and they stood on their feet like a great army. 

Many of you are saved; praise God. 

You are alive, but you can have even more life, because Christ did not came only so you could have life, but that you “may have it more abundantly.” 

Let the Holy Spirit enter into you even more fully, and you will know even greater joy. 

And I pray, that everyone in here that is dead, will feel the breath of the Holy Spirit, and begin to live. 

The Holy Spirit will lead you to Jesus, to be saved now, and to be saved forever. 

Amen.

 

Do you have any questions or comments?

 There are 5 websites by this author:

http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

Please review them and use them as the Lord leads you.

May God bless His precious word!!

 

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