3 John 2 – “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
The word ‘Prosper’, means to do well on your journey, to travel successfully, to bear fruit, to advance and to progress towards completion. The point is, our entire walk through life is a journey where we will never feel as though we have reached the zenith. However, if we are continually growing and progressing forward we are prospering. This is the will of God - that we continue to grow and bear fruit.
This will be reflected in our circumstances. I wouldn’t say this guarantees that nothing will go wrong, but we will cope with those moments of disaster far better if our soul is in good shape. We should be able to say, ‘It is well with my soul’. If your soul is healthy there is a far better chance that your body will be also. Stress is definitely responsible for increased susceptibility to illness as it weakens the immune system. Unforgiveness, anger, hatred, guilt, all contribute to life threatening diseases such as coronary illness, heart failure, mental disorders. If we are clean, free, bright and shiny on the inside, this will reflect in our bodies and in our circumstances.
The Church is joined together by what each person supplies to the other. Every person has something to bring to the Body. We serve one another when we serve the church. The body is effective when every part does its share. The church is made stronger when it grows. Isolated people don’t grow up. The fight to grow and change is the fight to remain connected. If you just keep turning up, 50% of your problems will be solved.
We are called to grow, to progress, to increase. This is the walk we’ve been called to. We can’t afford to stop the walk we’re called on.
In Ezekiel 37 we read of an entire army that had become a pile of bleached bones in a valley in the desert.
Ezekiel 37:1-12 The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel.
Growth is not an option. It’s an imperative. It’s imperative that we keep walking. The reason these bones were scattered over the floor of the valley is they stopped walking through the valley. When the going got hard, when they were feeling low, they gave up and simply stopped taking steps. What next step are you going to take today? If you have stopped moving forward then I believe today the power of the Spirit can help you give you momentum back again.
Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.
The bones needed someone to believe in them, someone to speak to them, someone to give them hope again that they can make it. Verse 11 tells us why they were in a disjointed, lifeless, completely ineffective position. They were dry, without hope and cut off. They were dehydrated, visionless, and severed from their life source. They were parched, despairing and lonely. They were hard, depressed and isolated. Their condition was similar to many people in church who have gone through a rough time and have ceased soaking in worship, stopped being refreshed with fresh oil, letting the rain of the presence of God saturate their spirit. They have become disappointed with other Christians, with the church, with God, with themselves, losing hope, losing faith and simply lapsed into complaining. They have stopped fellowshipping feeling alone and lonely, not belonging anywhere, cut off from the life of God.
That’s why the bones are not connected, why there’s no skin or muscle on them, why they are not fulfilling what they were designed to do. The difference between what Ezekiel could see and what God’s intended them to become was vastly different. Jesus saw them as His army. Once they were connected, they grew muscle and skin, then they stood up together, then they were filled with the breath of God and became a mighty army. This is the church - completely unstoppable. Completely unlimited, because our God is unlimited and unstoppable.
The word of the prophet was about to be spoken and as he spoke the wind began to blow, bones came together in correct formation with rattling sounds. A new wind is blowing through our congregations, God moves as a wind. The connection of believers is where there is growth. This is what causes the growth of the body. This is why we have connect groups – these are where we pray together, fellowship and bring friends who are searching, and multiply so we develop more and more disciples for Christ.
If you have been stuck in a valley and are looking for a way through, we would love to meet and pray with you. Click here to find a way to visit us on campus – or see our global website to find a C3 church near you.
See you in church!