Sermon Study for Sunday 04102011 – Ezekiel 37 vs1-14 Repent and Turn back to God: Can these dry bones live?

Season Theme Scripture – Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21 who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.

Call to Worship – Psalm 130 –
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive
     to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
     Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
     so that you may be revered.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
     and in his word I hope;

6 my soul waits for the Lord
     more than those who watch for the morning,
     more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
     For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
     and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. 
BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES –
John 11: 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” …
11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” …
32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Romans 8: 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
SERMON SCRIPTURE –
Ezekiel 37: 1 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. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 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.” 7 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. 8 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. 9 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.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 11 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.’ 12 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. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 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.”
Repent and Turn back to God: Can these dry bones live?
Notes for reflection: Sometimes things look dead, but they are not. Other times thing are dead, and look hopeless, but again, they are not. As we heard in 1 Samuel 16, man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. And Jesus said, “Unless a seed fall to the ground and die, it can not bear fruit.” (John 12:24)
1. When have you experienced something restored to new life? Have you ever restored a car, a house, a piece of antique furniture?
2. Do you recognize ‘a diamond in the rough’ – that thing which is truly valuable, but just needs to have the life breathed back into it?
3. What in your life looks like a lost cause? A relationship? A job? Health? A project? An organization?
4. When things look and feel hopeless, where are we looking as our source of hope? In what do we hope?

5. Read the story of Elijah, the widow of Zarephath and her son – http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/1-kings/17.html. What does it say to you? How can you serve another in your time of need?

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