Tag Archives: Zechariah

Zechariah 4, 6; Revelation 18

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts…Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. Zechariah 4:6, 8-10

I just finished reading a book called “Return to Me” by Lynn Austin. It is a historical novel based on the life of Zechariah during the years that God called His people back to Jerusalem, after having been exiled for 70 years in Babylon, and commanded them to rebuild His temple. After many years of disobedience, rooted in the fear of man, the people opened their eyes to God’s glory and were reminded once more that when God puts something in motion, nothing will stop it from happening.

I love reading the Bible, and yet sometimes, especially when I am reading from the Old Testament, I have a difficult time connecting to the story. Today seems so distant from the happenings that are shared about in the Word, and when I have so much going on in my present life, the past doesn’t always seem relevant to what I need right now. But the truth is that the past can teach me so much; the lessons that the men and women of the Bible learned are the same things that I need to understand for my own life.

Books that are Biblically and historically based, though of course mostly fictional (because no one alive today truly has a firsthand account of the actual moment by moment events), help me put a face on the impersonal stories that I have read over and over. They help me connect to the ‘person’ of the story and help me understand even better that they weren’t people who should be placed on a proverbial pedestal, people who never had problems, never had struggles or crises of faith. They were just like me.

One of my favorite parts of ‘Return to Me’ is when Zechariah is coming into his gifting as a prophet to the people of Jerusalem. God gives him the Word “Not by might, nor by power – but by My Spirit.” This is something that I have often needed to remember, especially in the midst of trials, when I start believing that I am all alone in my battles.

Everything that I do, everything that I accomplish, is because of God’s Spirit within me. When I do anything in my own strength and by my own power, it amounts to nothing. But when I fully rely on God to help me achieve what I know He has called me to do, trusting Him to complete a good work in me, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are I will always be successful. I don’t need to fear anything, I just need to depend on God and believe in His Truth.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your Spirit within me, always giving me strength and always giving me power. Thank You for never leaving me alone. And, thank You for bringing Your Word in my life to pass. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Return to me book image

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Chronicles 29; Revelation 15; Zechariah 11; John 14

I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire. All of those who had won the victory over the beast and his idol and over the number of his name were standing by the sea of glass. They had harps that God had given them. They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

“You do great and wonderful things,

Lord God Almighty.

Everything the Lord does is right and true,

King of the nations.

Everyone will respect you, Lord,

and will honor you.

Only you are holy.

All the nations will come

and worship you,

because the right things you have done

are now made known.” Revelation 15:2-4 (NCV)

I’ve got to admit. I’ve been having a difficult time ‘getting into’ the Christmas season this year. It is tough to be listening to holiday songs that are singing about the snow and the cold when it is in the low- to-mid 90’s during the day. It is tough to be decorating a tiny, fake tree with tacky plastic ornaments when sweat is rolling down my back from the heat. It is tough knowing that my extended family and my friends will all be gathering together while I am feeling lonely on the opposite side of the planet missing everyone, missing the holiday rituals I grew up with. It is tough knowing that tomorrow, instead of spending time with our little family of four celebrating, we will be spending the day at church ministering to the widows and orphans.

Oh.My.Gosh! Even as I write this I am feeling selfish and shallow. I know that songs I sing in the season, trees that I decorate, and family and friends gathering together isn’t remotely what Christmas is really about. I need an attitude check…Right! Now!

I adjusted my Pandora station and changed the holiday music I was playing to carols that honor Christ – O Come, O Come Emanuel, The First Noel, Joy to the World, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Angels We Have Heard on High, Away In A Manger, Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus, O Holy Night (my all-time favorite), etc. I spent the first half hour with tears in my eyes, singing lyrics celebrating Jesus, remembering the true reason for the season.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me…Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them.” John 14:1, 6, & 21 (NCV)

I celebrate Christmas because it is the day all believers celebrate His birth. I celebrate Christmas to recollect His life, His miracles while on Earth. But most of all, I celebrate Christmas to remember the gift He gave to me. The real gift was, and is, and will always be His death and resurrection, His sacrifice, His grace, His mercy, His love. It is a gift that I don’t deserve at all, but it is a gift that He gave to me willingly and without reservation. All He asks is for me to trust and obey.

Hezekiah said, “Listen to me, Levites. Make yourselves ready for the Lord’s service, and make holy the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove from the Temple everything that makes it impure…My sons, don’t waste any more time. The Lord chose you to stand before him, to serve him, to be his servants, and to burn incense to him.” 2 Chronicles 29:5; 11 (NCV)

And so, I choose to offer myself as a living sacrifice, good and pleasing to the Lord, because He chose me for this work. I will make myself, my heart ready for His purposes. I will honor Him by honoring others. I will serve Him, by serving the widows and the orphans. I will minister God’s never-ending love to them in the spirit of giving freely, as I have freely been given. I will lay down the Christmas customs of my childhood and alongside my husband and my daughters, create new traditions that will teach my children the real meaning of Christmas and strengthen our faith in the Joy of Our Salvation.

Yesappa, Thank You for coming to set me free from my fears and release me from my sins. Thank You for giving me rest and bringing joy to my longing heart. Thank You for coming to earth to taste my sadness and to give me gladness. Thank You for being my Redeemer, my Shepherd, my Friend. You were born to deliver me. You were born a child, and yet a King. You were born to reign in me forever, to rule in my heart alone.* Thank You for showing Yourself in the midst of my bad attitude and helping make change in me. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*Based on the lyrics of “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley

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2 Chronicles 19, 20; Revelation 8; Zechariah 4; John 7

…The Lord says this to you: ‘Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of this large army. The battle is not your battle, it is God’s…You won’t need to fight in this battle. Just stand strong in your places, and you will see the Lord save you. Judah and Jerusalem, don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord is with you…” 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17 (NCV)

Sometimes I have a difficult time keeping my focus on God. The busyness of life, the day-to-day hustle of caring for my husband, kids, house, ministry, etc., swiftly steals my attention. I soon find myself in crisis mode, overwhelmed by the never-ending to do list and exhausted by nonstop tasks.

Stop judging by the way things look, but judge by what is really right.” John 7:24 (NCV)

While concentrating on what things look like and how they feel, it is easy to forget that things aren’t always what they seem. The Lord is moving behind the scenes even when I am unaware of what is happening. He is maneuvering things into place, suggesting solutions, offering wisdom, providing for my needs, whispering peace to my spirit, and giving me strength to stand.

…‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful. Zechariah 4:6 (NCV)

In the midst of the struggle to balance everything, when I choose to worship the Lord rather than wallow in my misery, the Lord gives me His strength to do all things. The battle becomes the Lord’s, when my praises flow.

For me, singing is the quickest way for me to enter into God’s tangible presence. Worshipping the Lord takes me from a place of putting the spotlight on myself and on my problems to keeping my heart centered on Him. It opens my spirit to receive His ministry to my heart. It calms my mind to allow me to hear His truth for my life and His wisdom for my situation. It helps me taste and see that He is good. It reminds me that He is faithful all the time.

Jehoshaphat bowed facedown on the ground. All the people of Judah and Jerusalem bowed down before the Lord and worshiped him. Then some Levites from the Kohathite and Korahite people stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with very loud voices…

Jehoshaphat listened to the people’s advice. Then he chose men to be singers to the Lord, to praise him because he is holy and wonderful. As they marched in front of the army, they said, “Thank the Lord, because his love continues forever.”

As they began to sing and praise God, the Lord set ambushes for the people of Ammon, Moab, and Edom who had come to attack Judah. And they were defeated. 2 Chronicles 20:18-19, 21-22 (NCV)

The people of Judah and Jerusalem made the choice to worship the Lord. They chose to put their focus on the God of Israel, instead of the enemy that they faced. They praised Him with loud voices. A handpicked worship team actually went into the battle ahead of the warriors to sing praises to the Lord and to offer gratitude for His continuous love. And as a result, their enemy was easily defeated by God.

On the last and most important day of the feast Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says.” John 7:37-38 (NCV)

When I send praises up to God before going into my battles, He defeats my enemies too. When I believe in Him, trust in His goodness, I am filled with living water, my thirst for Him quenched. Gratitude flows from my heart and turns to joy. Despite the craziness of the day, I am strengthened. He gives me my piece of peace and shows me the path to take. His love casts out my anxiousness, my fear, and I am encouraged.

Yesappa, Praise the Lord, O my Soul and let all that’s within me praise His name. I will not die, I will live and I will tell of the works of the Lord, sing of His wonders. He’s a great God. I get to love You through, whatever comes. What a privilege. Oh how sweet it is. Nothing’s going to take Your praise out of my mouth as long as I shall live.* In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Lyrics from the song “Praise the Lord” by Kristene Meuller

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Gen. 47; Lk. 1:1-38; Job 13; I Cor. 1

Belief and unbelief.

Joseph trusted in God. His brothers trusted in their own plans (their plot to be rid of a little brother–good thing for them that God had other plans!).

Job was grappling with faith in the midst of an unimaginable hardship. His friends were at work to find his human flaws to justify punishment.

Zechariah asked a question of the messenger–Mary did too!–but what was at work on a heart level differentiated them. One, who was perhaps doubtful. The other, seeking.

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:1:38 NLT.

Paul talks about God using the least expected to confound the wise–and it’s splayed across chapters: a brother sold into slavery who becomes a leader … a wealthy man who loses everything in moments … a virgin girl and a barren, old woman to both conceive children who would change everything … and even Paul, hater turned lover of Christ.

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT.

Overall, a message of being chosen, and a reminder that nothing is impossible with God.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Zechariah 8-14

Scripture:

9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (ESV)

Observation:

The name of this blog is Sixty-six Books in a Year. Frankly we could have spent the whole year right here in these rich chapters of this great Minor Prophet Zechariah. However, having just one day, not 365, I need to look at just this one verse. If you wonder whether Jesus is who He said He is, here’s a verse that screams of His Messiahship.  Here 500+ years before the appearance of Jesus we have a detailed account of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jerusalem is commanded to shout aloud and so they did 500+ years later. What a profound foundation stone to the veracity of the gospel.

Application:

Do you ever doubt whether this whole God thing is true? I have. When I come across verses like this I am dumbfounded. This is one of hundreds of prophecies about Jesus and His ministry. Chapter 8 uses the phrase, “Lord of Hosts” seventeen times. This phrase refers to the fact that Jesus is the commander of the hosts of angels that are at His command. In Jesus’ first advent He didn’t beckon them, but rode on a meek donkey and gave Himself up for us all. Some day, and hopefully soon, He will return for us and His angels will be at His side. What a glorious day that will be.

What about that donkey? I’ve thought about that lowly animal that was used to fulfill biblical prophecy and who carried the King of the universe into Jerusalem that day. I want to be like that donkey. I want to be used by the King to bring glory to Himself, to further His Kingdom.  Just to be the donkey Jesus uses. That’s enough for me!

Prayer:

Father God I thank You for the veracity of the gospel message. Thank You that when I doubt there are great verses of Scripture that speak to the truthfulness of who You are. Help me to take great encouragement and strength from that. Also help me to be used by You — like that donkey was — to further Your Kingdom. I pray these things in the strong Name of Jesus, Amen.

dmbaldwin

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