Listen

Pay Attention To The Message (Zechariah 1:1-3) Now Zech is a Priest and Prophet who is born during the exile of captivity, where God is rehabilitating His Israel children to live in fellowship and fidelity with Him. As we grow up in the Lord we encounter some pretty wonderful examples of faithful men and women who truly walk with God. These individuals can have a really big impact on our faith life. For Zech this individual who is a real source of strength and helps to shape his journey through life and faith, it’s the elderly Haggai. Haggai will have a great influence on young Zech, who is brought up during the  Babylonian captivity and is moved to God’s holy city of Jerusalem. 

When God calls Zech to be a prophet for Him to the nations, he comes early to begin the process and his message is to rebuild the Temple. Think of him and his words as a spur for Nehemiah the rebuilder and Ezra the true and faithful scribe. This allows us to see the bigger picture, though not as clearly as the Lord. Zechariah 1:3~Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you…(ESV) The Lord is always interested in our return. What God wants from you is a personal relationship. Why else would He send Jesus to die on the cross, to expunge our sins and provide a way for us to become a person of right standing, washed in the precious blood, and ready as a bride for her wedding day?

Now when we read through Zechariah he is very apocalyptic and yet also very encouraging to the post-captivity Jews. He signs saying his message from God in 520 BC, which we can read as a proclamation of Jesus Christ’s advent. Another thing we notice about Zechariah is, his book is the longest book of all the Minor Prophets, 14 chapters. Though this is the same number of chapters Hosea has, Zech’s longer with more words. His message is like that of Daniel’s and John the Revelator. Zech is especially apocalyptic in speech, which means he speaks of Christ coming to catch the bride away, the closing of our world, and the end of days. The New Testament word for these events is the parousia. Which occurs 24 times in the New Testament, appearing only 4 times in the gospels, all of which are in Matthew (24:3, 27, 37, and 39) in reference to the little Apocalypse as Jesus discusses the signs of the times using symbolic language. 

Zech does the same thing as his prophecy takes place at two different points in his life. Chapters 1-8 are concerned with the first two years of his ministry While the last 5 Chapters, 9-14, come at a later point. As we read our way through the Old Testament scriptures we encounter the phrase, the Day of the Lord’s appearing, as time divine judgment. When people are called to account for what they have done. This would summarize the imprisonment or exile of the two nations, Israel and Judah. Moreover, it can also be at the end of history on that great and terrible day. Joel 2:31~The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. (NIV) What you need to know is Our God Reigns!

Today, does Jesus reign as the Lord over all of your life? Something all believers, myself included, can struggle with from time to time is what is Jesus saying or speaking into my life? That’s why we must carve out time to sit down, with uninterrupted time, and pray. We pray about everything that we can think of and then when we are completely empty. We listen. This is called Lectio Divina, listening to the divine or divinely listening. So, now you ask why pray and empty first? Well, if you’re like me and have something to say, I am not a very good listener if I am trying to speak. If we will pray and empty ourselves there won’t be all of our words to get all jumbled up with God’s. So, pray and then listen. Because God is speaking to you. Pay attention to His message.


To Him Who Is Able

For the last 2 months, we have been looking at some of the minor prophets whom God sent to speak to the nations. They share a major message of fidelity and turning back to God. Today we consider Zech’s message. Zechariah 14:1~Behold, a day is coming for the Lord…(ESV) I believe that day is fast approaching. When we read a Biblical story we discover God’s mercy and fingerprints all over the lives of individuals, tribes, and nations. Yet when we fail to heed or plainly ignore, God’s generous offer of mercy, our heavenly father steps in to educate us like the growing child we are, faltering in our foolishness, refusing to let go, like a child.

Then here comes the boom. Proverbs 22:15~Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away. (NIV) In our last installment of the prophet series, we turn our attention to Zechariah and our God’s just reign. Do or have you ever worried about God’s kingdom? How it is going to come to pass or how it grows? In the New Testament Jesus speaks of God’s Kingdom a whole bunch of times, in fact, 66 times he plainly references the Kingdom but what we often fail to remember is that the Lord will establish His Kingdom in its fullness. Right now we only see part of His Kingdom. Zechariah 14:9~And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. (ESV)

Paul echoes this in Ephesians 4:5-6~There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. (NLT) While Jesus did come to earth sharing hope, offering redemption, and meditating the sacrifice of the shalom of God, giving us great joy and the best gifts, it’s not yet complete. (Ephesians 4:8, Hebrews 11:40) John 3:29~The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. (NIV) 

John the Baptist says I am a believer in Jesus. We must never forget the hope we have in Christ. Romans 5:5~And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (NIV) Our hope in Jesus is placed in His great love for us and it is also in His Kingdom that has come near. That is what Jesus tells His disciples to say. Luke 10:9~Heal the sick…and tell them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. (NIV) 

Are you seeking to bring the kingdom of God near, everywhere you go, near to everyone you meet? This is part of the Great Commission and it is the work of all believers. I would be willing to be that some of the people who played a major role in your salvation and growth and development as a believer was probably not your pastor. It was likely a friend or relative who shared with you and lived a life that caused you to take notice of God and how He changes everything for His good. Why not become that person in someone else’s life. Before you say I could never, you can and you are perfect because God knows all things and He took the time to create you to go places, and meet people, and help others like nobody else. All that it is going to take is the greatest ability of all, availably. So, why no go and do the good that God has planned for you today, and share the gospel along the way.



The Great Awakening

Who loves a good sequel? (Nahum 2) Yeah, they can really be hard to come by. But that is precisely what we find when we read the book of Nahum. As the late Paul Harvey would say, now for the rest of the story. When we ignore God’s gift of mercy He raises up a means to punish. Israel gets it from the Assyrians acting as the rod of correction. Then the Assyrians will get it from the Babylonians. What does this reveal to us? Proverbs 22:15~Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away. (NIV) When we consider Israel, it can help to think of them and their life as a person, a child of our heavenly Father who is educating His children to live right and walk in fidelity. Soly the wise says in Proverbs 16:18~First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (MSG).

When Jonah comes to town people respond, mercy is heeded. However, after the revival has won hearts, over time the passion wains. How is your passion level for the Lord today? See, Nineveh is a tale of two cities, revealing both the best and worst of times. Jonah witnesses from his perspective an unwanted revival while Nahum speaks of what’s next. Nahum 2:8~Nineveh is like a pool whose waters run away. (ESV) Reminding us that if we are not careful to stoke the passion of our love for the Lord, we too will fall away. Listen as Paul encourages his young protege in 2 Timothy 1:6~For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (NASB) 

Church, this is why having a quiet time of personal devotion is so vital in the life of a believer. Not only does it bless our lives by cultivating love, but a devotional time allows for spiritual growth, revealing to us and those in our lives how God speaks to us and shapes us, especially speaking to our kids. Who had a praying mother? I still remember her praying in the room and the neighborhood kids were like what’s she doing? Practicing our spiritual disciplines makes an impact both on us and those around us. Nineveh’s sequel comes about 100 years later, and it falls on deaf ears. No one seems to be seeking the Lord’s guidance and the call rings out brace for impact. So, how do can we avoid this impact today?

We do so by cultivating a meaningful quiet time. Where we take time to pray, to worship, to sit and meditate on what we have read in the Word of God, as we listen to His voice. In fact, science has shone that prayer and meditation on God can actually grow our grey matter. So, don’t lose your mind, instead, find time for God. Amos 5:4-6~This is what the Lord says…Seek me and live…Seek the Lord and live…(ESV) As you head out into the wide world about you today, let your second act of life, be one of greater depth, where we do not make the same mistakes twice. Seek the Lord!