God has divine connections lined up for your life. There is power in connection. Connections lead to life. When a husband and a wife come together, babies are born. When the spirit of a person and the Spirit of God come together, new birth takes place. When brothers and sisters come together in unity, God commands his blessing (Psalm 133). When the disciples came together on the day of Pentecost, there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The devil fears connection. His ultimate aim is to cut you off from God. He tries to split marriages, to split friendships, to divide churches, to divide denominations and to isolate people. Although our culture is more connected than ever before through the internet, phones and social media, people are more isolated and lonely than ever.
In 586 BC, Ezekiel had a vision of a battle scene; he saw Death Valley. The valley was full of bones; bones that were very dry because they had separated. They were scattered, fragmented, divided, cut-off, ‘abandoned’ and therefore dried up. The people of God were in exile and had been scattered by the enemy. They were saying, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off’ (Ezekiel 37:11). God asks Ezekiel, ‘Can these bones live?’ (v.3). The answer is yes, yes, yes.
Divine connection to GodPsalm 129:1-8
Do you sometimes feel kicked around by the enemy? Everything seems to be going wrong. You seem to be losing. You are experiencing the oppression of the enemy (v.1).
But victory rests with the Lord. The psalmist says, ‘They’ve kicked me around ever since I was young... Their ploughmen ploughed long furrows up and down my back; then God ripped the harnesses of the evil ploughmen to shreds’ (vv.1–4, MSG).
Jesus has made victory possible for you through his death and resurrection, which connects you to God.
Lord, help me to stay connected to you in spite of all the attacks.
Divine connection in a healthy communityJames 3:1-18
Dry bones can live again as the bones reconnect. ‘You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy the results’ (v.18, MSG). However, there are conditions, which the apostle James sets out.
He continues to warn about the tongue – especially for those of us who teach: ‘Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards’ (v.1, MSG). It is consoling that he adds, ‘we all stumble in many ways’ (v.2) – certainly I do.
The tongue is a powerful little instrument that can do so much good, and yet so much harm. It can unite or divide: ‘By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell’ (v.8, MSG).
Relationships, even marriages, often end because of things that have been said or not said. People lose their jobs, their reputation, start arguments or even wars by their words.
Harsh, unjust words have destructive power: ‘With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, who have been made in God's likeness’ (v.9). To curse means to speak evil. To bless means to speak well. Don’t speak negatively. Learn to control the tongue so that you speak words of blessing to people and about people.
Speak words of life. Your words have tremendous power for connection. You can bring healing, encouragement and edification. Your words can change a person’s day or even their life.
The apostle James goes on to speak of ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven’ (v.17). He writes, ‘Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts’ (v.13, MSG).
Get rid of all bitter envy and selfish ambition (v.14). They are unspiritual, from the devil and cause all kinds of disorder and evil practice (vv.14–15).
However, wisdom from heaven ‘is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness’ (vv.17–18).
If you live like this, your life will have great influence. This is ‘the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour’ (v.18, MSG). If you work hard at your relationships with those around you, then you will ‘reap a harvest of righteousness’, and you will have a huge impact on society.
Lord, help me to be a peace-maker who brings about connection; sowing peace and producing a harvest of righteousness.
Divine connection through the Holy SpiritEzekiel 36:1-37:28
Hope at last! Dry bones can live! We have read so many prophecies of judgment. But God is about to act. God speaks to his people and says, you are ‘coming home’: ‘I’m on your side’. Instead of death, there is going to be ‘life, life and more life’ (36:8–11, MSG). How is this to happen? In this passage we see three divine connectors – the world’s greatest wireless connectors:
The word of God
The word of God gives you connection with God and transforms your relationships: ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones hear the word of the Lord!”’ (37:4). In my own life, I was spiritually dry. In fact, I was dead. I had lots of friends but there wasn’t a deep connection. But then I read the New Testament. I heard the word of the Lord. I connected with God and I experienced a far deeper connection with other people. God’s promise of restoration is so powerful: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ (36:26–27).
God can revive things that have been dry and even dead. When the word of God and the Spirit of God come together, there is resurrection life and the knowledge of God. What is impossible with human beings becomes possible with the power of God. Without God, the church would indeed crumble away as the world tells us. But with God, these dry bones will live again.
The body of Christ
The unity of the church is so important. We need visible signs of this unity, divine connections between different parts of the church and within each local church. This is what Jesus prayed for in John 17. Here the Lord gives Ezekiel a visual aid, using two sticks to communicate the unity God is going to establish: ‘Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand… one king over all of them… one shepherd’ (Ezekiel 37:17,22,24).
This is a foretaste of the unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4–6). God promises, ‘I will be their God, and they will be my people’ (Ezekiel 37:27). The unity of the church will also lead to the restoration of the city (36:33–38): ‘So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people’ (v.38). This vision of restored unity gives me such hope for the church in our city, in our nation, and across the world. God never abandons his people, and his plans are always ultimately to restore and save us.
The Holy Spirit
The dry bones had ‘no breath in them’ (37:8), but the Lord said ‘“Prophesy to the breath… ‘Come… O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army’ (vv.9–10). No English translation can do justice to the Hebrew word ‘ruach’. It occurs 400 times in the Old Testament (and is translated as different English words in this passage – ‘breath’ (vv.8–9), ‘wind’ (v.9), and ‘spirit’ (vv.1,14). This Spirit brings new life: ‘I am going to open your graves and bring you from them… I will put my Spirit in you and you will live’ (vv.12,14). This resurrection power lives in you, bringing you new life: ‘the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you’ (Romans 8:11).
There is a rattling sound as bones come together. The sound of divine connections forming once again. The sound of God breathing new life into his church by his Spirit. The church is a rising giant, a vast army of Spirit-filled people, full of power, unified in purpose.
Lord, would you breathe new life into your people. From dry bones, raise up a mighty army so that all nations come to know that Jesus Christ is Lord.
‘I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’
We recently came back from the Alpha Weekend where we saw hearts of stone melting into hearts of flesh – an extraordinarily moving sight.
Verse of the Day
‘Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts’ (James 3:13, MSG).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.