The not-so-popular side of Passion Week

Palm Sunday. It’s a great day of celebration.

And examination.

The King has come into his Temple and it’s not a pretty trip.

Part of the reading of Holy Week can really grate on a person!

“Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
    against the man who is close to me!”
    declares the Lord Almighty.
“Strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered,
    and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In the whole land,” declares the Lord,
    “two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
    yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will put into the fire;
    I will refine them like silver
    and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
    and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
    and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” (Zech. 13:7-9)

The King has come to take care of his people… and that includes taking care of business. 

We need his fire refining us because we need to come out as something ready for his use.

Surprised by answered prayer

Luke 1 begins with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were getting along in years and had no children. It was a constant prayer, but one that by this time they offered up without much hope.

Then, the answer comes.

13 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John.” (CEB)

John would be a child of promise and one who had a purpose in the Kingdom of God.

All those years. All those prayers. The answer was here!

And Zechariah hesitated.

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.” (CEB)

Zechariah had an angel standing in front if him giving a response directly from God, and he decides to scratch his beard and say, “I wonder if this is really God.”

Gabriel struck him with silence as a lesson. I think one lesson would be, “You speak one more word of doubt, you may just pray your way out of this one!”

We need boldness in our prayers. We need to ask and then NOT be surprised when something great comes from God. Too often, though, I find myself surprised by answered prayer.

Lord, help me in my doubt. Help me in my wavering. Help me to keep pressing in, and when the answers come, let me answer like Mary, who simply said, “Be it done according to your will.”

Help me ask and wait on you, and when the answers come, let me respond with thankfulness.

Is it YOUR vision or GOD’s vision?

Preparing for my message today out of Zechariah, this thought occurred to me: You can’t analyze your way to the fulfillment of a vision. It is GOD who fulfills the vision.

We need God-sized thoughts and dreams that just can’t be fulfilled in our own power.

I am praying for breakthrough in our lives for something so incredible, we will stand back after it’s completed and think, “THAT was God.”

 

It’s easy to have faith when the building is full

Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?

The New International Version. (2011). (Zec 4:10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

In a day of mega everything, people find it easy to jump on board the train that is already moving.

Who will stand in faith when the building isn’t full? Who will stand in faith and believe God for something powerful when there may not even BE a building?

Why jump on when the train is full steam and things are really humming?

God may be asking for something different. To step out when nothing is there and see something in faith. Or, to join something “small” and see something larger. He may ask you to call out in faith for something great when nothing is in front of you.

Don’t despise the day of small things.

Being Willing to Prophesy

I am beginning my look into the life of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, in Luke 1. When the angel first appears to him and Zechariah voices doubt, the angel strikes him with silence. I am not sure why Zechariah voices the obvious (“I’m an old guy’) and gets this treatment and Gideon is on a fool’s errand and is allowed to get away with it… twice. 

Go figure.

But when Zechariah does speak, WOW! He lets loose with praise and brings words of hope over his newborn son. His doubt is removed. His heart is full of faith. The dam breaks, so to speak.

We need to be willing to bring out words of hope into the lives of people. We need to be far more willing to speak hope and Kingdom power into the lives of people around us.

It might do some people good to go quiet for a time and be forced to think about the words that come out… and the meaning of those words.

Dare to speak Kingdom power into the lives of those around you.

Keeping It Simple: Just Do What He Says

9 The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims:

Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to each other! 10 Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other! 11 But they refused to pay attention. They turned a cold shoulder and stopped listening.

12 They steeled their hearts against hearing the Instruction and the words that the Lord of heavenly forces sent by his spirit through the earlier prophets. As a result, the Lord of heavenly forces became enraged. (Zech. 7:9-12, CEB)

Israel’s issue was simple. Keep the instruction of the Lord. And the instruction isn’t that difficult to understand.

— Make just and faithful decisions. Got it.

— Show kindness and compassion to each other. Check.

— Don’t oppress the margins of society. You bet.

The problem was that Israel chose to ignore what was said. They refused to pay attention.

This is our issue. God’s best is in front of us. He wants what is for our good. And we decide… not to pay attention. We know better than God. We’re smarter than his Word. We make all kinds of excuses.

This is not a great position in which to find ourselves. But we seem to be as hard-headed at times as Israel. God isn’t particularly favorable toward those who call themselves his people and they keep ignoring him.

It is simple. Not easy. But simple. And we keep rejecting what is for our good.