Dream word – METTLE
“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, You know.’ Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’” NKJV
When Amzi looked longingly over his trailing flowered wall
Today in 1854, Amzi Clarence Dixon, that is, AC Dixon, was born on a plantation in Shelby, North Carolina. Amzi and his brother Thomas both followed in their father’s footsteps as Baptist preachers. Whilst the life path of Thomas zigzagged its way in preaching, politics, law and lecturing, it is his writing that is now very far behind the racial acceptances of today. Indeed, Thomas Dixon even advocated white supremacy, especially in the form of the Ku Klux Klan. His brother Amzi on the other hand, was a straight career preacher, a “pulpiteer” of power and eloquence, a graduate of the Southern Baptist Seminary, even pastoring such famous churches as Moody Bible Church and Spurgeon’s metropolitan tabernacle.
I am sure having Thomas as a brother was an ever-present challenge for old AC Dixon! There’s a couple of lessons there for us for sure, but not for tonight. No, tonight I want to suck on some of Amzi’s comments from his sermon entitled “The Raising of Dry Bones”. Regarding Israel of old, decay and disintegration surely did ride on the coat tails of sin. Ezekiel’s vision of a valley of dry bones was truly all that was left of them and that is where Ezekiel dwelt.
Amzi says this, “The temptation is for us to seek the garden with its flowers rather than the valley with its bones. The prophet also responds when God's hand sets him down in the midst of the bones. Dwelling with the bones is more trying than just going to them on a temporary mission. To have bones for neighbours and companions may not be pleasant. We have a taste for the company of living people.
But unless we are ready to respond to the hand of God which would lead us to the bones and make us dwell among them, we are not prepared for the work of raising them to life. The work cannot be done at a distance. The millions who throng the streets, crowd the theatres, drink in saloons and revel in dance halls, shunning the church as they would the pest house, cannot be reached by the pastor in his study making eloquent sermons for his cultured congregation, nor by the Christians who meet in parlours, halls and churches for fellowship and Bible study. Thank God for the men and women who gladly respond to the hand of God leading them to the most sinful and hopeless.” Amen! I believe this statement of Anzi’s was quite revolutionary for his time and I tell you what, the Southern States of America and in most Southern Baptist Circles down there, his statement is still a revolutionary one today!
We need to preach the Word of God to dry bones and to do this, the hand of the Lord will take us and push us, shake us and place us, right there in the middle of those valleys of dry bones and command, no, demand, that we should preach His word to them. It’s as simple and as scary as that.
So where has God’s powerful hand been leading you today? As for Amzi, despite his powerful message, he was nevertheless placed in the flower garden’s of cultured congregations and the pansy’d parlours of plump pastors’ wives, yes, Amzi could only preach about such a courageous and honoured placing! I wonder tonight if despite his honoured pulpit, Amzi often stood on his tippy toes and peered over the wall and looked longingly down into the valley of dry bones and wished he had both the bottle and the mettle to be permanently placed amongst them. How about you?
Listen: “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:5-6 NKJV
Pray: Give us the willingness O Lord, to be placed amongst the long gone dead and the faith and courage to speak Your word to them. Allow us then O Lord, the tenacity to stick around to see you rattle them together and put life both on them and in them and all around them dear Jesus. Amen!
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