Return 

Zechariah 1:3
“Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,”’ says the Lord of hosts.”

After seventy years of captivity Israel was allowed to return to the land and begin to rebuild their broken down Temple. Millions had been taken captive and only a fraction returned to get the task started. Even those who returned had become discouraged and had forsaken the work. It is in this setting that Zechariah declares,
“Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,”
For some, returning to the Lord actually involved a change of their current location. If they were going to be obedient, they would need to pack up their stuff and make the long journey to Jerusalem. For others, returning meant getting back to the work in which they were once involved. Life had taken precedence over serving the Lord, and it was time to get things back in their proper order.

What about you? If God’s word is going to have its proper place in our lives, we need to examine how we should respond to its exhortations. In this case, we are exhorted to return to God. For some, that means we need to get back to the work in which we were once involved. I have noticed, over the years, that many families start out serving the Lord together, but as the kids grow and life gets busy, they begin to wane. Soon they are not only neglecting service, but even begin to neglect fellowship all together. Don’t wait until tragedy strikes, before you will reevaluate your spiritual leadership in the family. Take the necessary steps today to return to the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Meekness 

Zephaniah 2:3
Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger.”

Many things that are highly esteemed in our world have little value in the kingdom of God. We put such a high price tag on appearance, when God tells us that He looks past our temporal frame and into the heart. It use to be, countries were assessed financially by the amount of gold they had in reserve, but God uses that for asphalt in the new Jerusalem. Conversely, much of what is lightly esteemed by man is of the highest value to God. Here we are told of the great emphasis He places upon meekness and humility, two character traits that are not highly valued in our world today.

Meekness is often defined today as a form of weakness. In fact, one dictionary defined it as “spineless”, while another referred to the meek as “lacking strength or courage.” Biblical meekness is not a character flaw, but a strength exemplified in the life of Christ, and developed in the believer, as a fruit of the Spirit. It is perhaps best defined as strength under control. A few years ago I heard a friend of mine illustrate meekness this way. He described a time when he was sitting on a ferry, and across from him sat a man with a Great Dane. This massive creature was sitting quietly at his masters feet, watching him eat an ice cream cone. The man offered it to the dog and its massive tongue consumed the entire thing with one lick. A few moments later a woman approached carrying a little dog in her purse. No sooner had she sat down when the dog jumped out, ran toward the larger dog, and began to yip incisively. Without a sound the Great Dane, whose head alone was larger than the other dog, leaned forward and blew in the face of the intruder, who turned, ran and hid under the safety of its owners purse. Certainly, in that case, strength was kept under control. We exercise meekness when we do not let our emotions control our lives, but keep them in check by doing the right thing.

Humility comes from a word that means low. It is choosing to take the low place by exalting others above ourselves. It is thinking of the needs of another, above our own. In our world we are told to follow our dreams and not to let anyone stand in our way. I recently saw a post that read “19 reasons to follow your dreams and ignore everyone else.” In the economy of God we are encouraged to do the exact opposite and look out for the interest of others by exalting them above ourselves. This is one of the chief traits seen in the life of Jesus. The Son of God was ever the servant of man. Whenever we see Jesus in the gospels, He is lowering Himself for the sake of others. It is not even surprising that He gets down on the ground and washes the feet of the twelve. By the time we read that story, it is almost expected.

Let’s seek to follow the pattern of Christ and have lives marked by meekness and humility. Certainly those traits will make us stand out in a culture which glorifies self above all else.

Pastor Jim

 

Personal Devotion 

Zephaniah 1:5
“Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, but who also swear by Milcom”

Zephaniah was commissioned by the Lord to warn the people of coming judgment. In order to prepare the people for what was ahead, he explained the reason they were facing judgment. His message was both clear and simple, they must change their ways if they were to avoid what was ahead.

The first infraction the people were guilty of was worshipping the hosts of heavens on their rooftops. In ancient times rooftops were considered a part of the house and were used for family gatherings. It was on a rooftop where Bathsheba bathed, Peter rested and had a vision from heaven, where husbands are exhorted to flee from a contentious wife, and where the people of Judah were practicing idolatry.

Zepheniah’s ministry took place during the reign of King Josiah, who had brought about great reforms in the nations. Much of the idolatry that had plagued Judah for generations had been removed from the public sector. The problem was, while these idols had been removed publicly, they still remained in the private life of the people. God’s judgment would come because public reform was not affecting private living.

We are told the people continued to worship Baal, the sun, moon and stars, and Milcom, the false god of the Ammonites. Essentially, they were turning worship into syncretism by blending the worship of the true God with idols. Tragically, this is a common practice today. Many who claim to be followers of Christ, seem to pick and choose verses they like while ignoring others. By doing so, they are essentially creating a god of their liking, rather than submitting to the God of Scripture. This synchronistic idolatry ultimately caused Judah to turn back from following the Lord. When public commitment does not change private living, we will ultimately turn our backs on the Lord as well. It is in private where the real roots of the Christian life are developed.

What you do with your early mornings will chart the course for your entire day. Jesus rose a long while before daylight, departed from others, and spent time alone with the Father. His life was a pattern set for the rest of us to follow. It is important to begin each day with the Lord, in His Word, allowing Him to remove from your private life anything that does not belong.

Pastor Jim

 

Privacy Please

Zephaniah 1:5
“Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops;
Those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, But who also swear by Milcom”

IMG_1238.JPGZephaniah was commissioned by the Lord to warn the people of coming judgment. In order to prepare the people for what was ahead, he explained the reason they were facing judgment. His message was both clear and simple, they must change their ways if they were to avoid what was ahead.

The first infraction the people were guilty of was worshipping the hosts of heavens on their rooftops. In ancient times rooftops were considered a part of the house and were used for family gatherings. It was on a rooftop where Bathsheba bathed, Peter rested and had a vision from heaven, where husbands are exhorted to flee from a contentious wife, and where the people of Judah were practicing idolatry.

Zepheniah’s ministry took place during the reign of King Josiah, who had brought about great reforms in the nations. Much of the idolatry that had plagued Judah for generations had been removed from the public sector. The problem was, while these idols had been removed publicly, they still remained in the private life of the people. God’s judgment would come because public reform was not affecting private living.

We are told the people continued to worship Baal, the sun, moon and stars, and Milcom, the false god of the Ammonites. Essentially, they were turning worship into syncretism by blending the worship of the true God with idols. Tragically, this is a common practice today. Many who claim to be followers of Christ, seem to pick and choose verses they like while ignoring others. By doing so, they are essentially creating a god of their liking, rather than submitting to the God of Scripture. This synchronistic idolatry ultimately caused Judah to turn back from following the Lord. When public commitment does not change private living we will ultimately turn our backs on the Lord as well. It is in private where the real roots of the Christian life are developed.

What you do with your early mornings will chart the course for your entire day. Jesus rose a long while before daylight, departed from others, and spent time alone with the Father. His life was a pattern set for the rest of us to follow. It is important to begin each day with the Lord, in His Word, allowing Him to remove from your private life anything that does not belong.

Pastor Jim