Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Bethany Bullet - Week of April 2, 2017

Sermon: “Take a Deep Breath”
Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-23

Take a deep breath! Feels good, doesn’t it. You probably weren’t thinking about the fact you were breathing before I asked about it; your autonomic nervous system was taking care of the inhale… and the exhale… without even a bit of conscious though…until now. 

Now you are aware of it, aren’t you?  There are times when we ARE keenly aware of our respiration. 
Bound up a few flights of stairs and most of us will be huffing and puffing pretty quickly. 

The moments…
  • before the big test at school 
  • or the huge presentation at work 
  • before you sing a note or snorkel in the ocean 
  • and almost always before we do something important we take a deep breath

Friends, take a deep breath, because together we’re about to do something very important: This coming Sunday we are going to make a commitment to the future of our congregation.  The future renaissance of hearts and sacred spaces here on this campus.     

As we approach that moment we’re going to ask the Lord to bring new life to us, to breathe into us once again so we can become all he has envisioned us to be.

The breath of God is important as we make this step because often times we are as lively as the bones Ezekiel encountered in the desert.

You heard the account earlier in worship from Ezekiel, God said He was going to “breathe on these who were dead.” It wasn’t the first time nor would it be the last time that God has done that when dealing with humanity.

It was a breath that began life back in the garden.  The Lord breathed life into the nostrils of Adam and he became fully alive. 

In our Gospel reading from Sunday, the resurrected Lord breathes into the disciples and gives peace that night when they cowered in fear behind locked doors Easter Sunday night.

The people of God were barely alive because time and time again they had not taken a deep breath of what God had to offer.

The question one might ask is, “What did God want them to breathe in?”  The answer?  His Word.

So, before we go any further in this process let’s stop and ask our God to resuscitate us.

You have heard a lot about the Renaissance project, hopefully you have come to understand that this is not a cute marketing ploy, but a program filled with the breath of God so that he may make many alive through this place. 

We pause today to ask God to resuscitate us thorough His Word. 

Now is the time for us to give thought and energy to how God might use our time, talents and treasures to bring new life to a community that desperately needs it and a renaissance to our campus.

So we look to the Word today as we embark upon our commitment to this project.

In 2 Timothy, chapter 3, Paul talks about the Word as being “God-breathed.”

We are given the Word, so that we may be energized to live for Him, just as those dry bones Ezekiel saw were “breathed into” in order that they would live.

When the Word first does its work, our hearts are confronted by the power of the law.  God’s law reveals us as lifeless, helpless, desiccated disciples, literally dry bones, unable to live on our own.

But our Lord wants to renew our dry bones by His Word, to transform us into a living, breathing, disciples filled with vitality and purpose.  In so doing things will be different, you may feel a bit out of your comfort zone.  God desires to transform us…

  • From people who are comfortable with the status quo and what God has done to people who yearn to experience the next thing God wants to do with them. 
  • From people who by nature resist change and feel they don’t need growth into people who resolve to never stop growing. 
  • From those whose desire is to be served, to be catered to, to have their needs met, into people who are so full of the Holy Spirit that their desire is to serve others. 
  • From people who believe their best days are in the past, into people who know that their best days are still to come, and the best days of their church are yet to be.

So, we hold our breath in eager anticipation of what He will do to us, through His Word.

When your child or grandchild is going to sing a solo in the school play…when your son is pitching that fastball…when your husband is about to fix that pipe under the sink…when my wife opens the Visa card bill…we tend to hold our breath.

What happens when the Word of God goes to work? Ezekiel saw it with his own eyes.  I imagine he held his breath as he followed the Word of the Lord, “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them. Then they came to life and stood on their feet. There were enough of them to form a very large army.”  (Ezekiel 37:10)

Can you imagine Ezekiel’s hair standing on end? As he prophesied, the Word of God did its work as the dry and lifeless bones were gathered together. He saw the dead come back to life and they stood up on their feet like a vast army.

Remember in the Gospel reading: The disciples on the night of Jesus’ resurrection are spiritually exhausted, all hope for future gone, life is uncertain, and they are emotionally drained and full of fear because their Lord had died. They too were dry bones.

Jesus comes to them and His first word is: “Peace to you.” That peace He won for them on the cross is now the same peace He invites you to have, to transform you into people of life and purpose.   
In fact, Jesus breathes into them, just as God breathed upon the dead bones in Ezekiel’s vision. Because on the cross Jesus breathed His last, now, He breathes into us . . .  and His first word is “Peace.”

He fills you with forgiveness and life on account of what took place on the cross and in so doing implants in each of us a longing and a desire to reach out in faith.  And when we inhale we too “receive the Holy Spirit.” 

God will equip us for the vision He has for life here, in our congregation as we move forward in the Renaissance project.

Each of us will be invited to respond with a financial commitment. Let’s not think “what can we do?” or “What can we manage?” but rather “What will God do in this place?” How will God make His will possible through us as He gives us life?

And then, let’s rejoice because it is God who is doing something amazing through us, and including us as His mouthpiece to bring peace to those who are in fear and life to those dried up in sin. 

May this place be a place where God’s breathe brings life from death, just the same as what happened in that dry valley of bones with Ezekiel so many years ago, or in that upper room on the first Easter Sunday.

So we take a deep breath and step out in faith, and let God lead. 

If you have not picked up a commitment card or an affirmation of commitment, you can get one from the church office, bring it back to our ONE service this Sunday at 10:00AM on the grassy field and get ready to witness how God brings life to all who are dead, including you and me. 

So before we go any further in this process, let’s take a deep breath, and pray…

Heavenly Father, we ask for you to breathe new life into us here at Bethany.  As we begin this important step in the renaissance of souls and sacred spaces here on our campus, we ask that you move us to see You at work in the gifts of our time, talents and treasures.  We ask that as we make our commitments, Your name would be glorified and many more may come to the knowledge of Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Amen.
-Pastor Seth Moorman


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