Zechariah 11:1-3 – Oracle of Doom

Read Zechariah 11:1-3

Chapter 11 is going to speak to the judgment of God promised against the faithless shepherds earlier in the book. These short verses do not paint a very pleasant picture to be sure but will set the tone for what is to come.

Did you know that the majestic cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, and the thick forests are all prophetic symbols of pride? Keeping that in mind, this reading makes a lot more sense and may even speak to us today. That is, if pride is one of those sins that infect your life.

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Zephaniah 2:4-15 – I Will Survive

Read Zephaniah 2:4-15

The universal judgment is spelled out in a little more detail here. It is thought that the nations mentioned represent the whole world, each being in a different geographical direction (Egypt/Ethiopian to the south; Assyria to the north; Philistia to the west; and Moab/Ammon to the east.) What did the other nations do? They disrespected their creator. You can’t taunt or insult God or his people without consequence. God will have the final word.

Pride is another divisive quality that God will punish. “They will receive the wages of their pride, for they have scoffed at the people of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Here we see that those people who look down on us for our faith and ridicule our belief system will see consequences. We don’t have to fight that battle; God has our back!

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Judges 15:1-20 – Too Much Pride

Read Judges 15:1-20

Samson was a little like a loose cannon, don’t you think? He had gone home to cool down after the wedding fiasco, but it appears he thought he was still married. Imagine his surprise when he found out his wife was no longer his wife. That surprise sparked more destruction of Philistine property. Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.”

Samson truly believed that he had proper justification to sacrifice those foxes and burn down the grain fields, the vineyards, and olive groves. All over a woman! His pride had been damaged after all. He needed to show who was in control. That did not end well for his wife or her father.

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Proverbs 27:1-16 – No Bragging Allowed

Read Proverbs 27:1-16

The nuggets of wisdom continue. I’m sure if I read this same passage a week from now a different proverb would speak to me. But for this reflection let’s look at verse 2. It says, “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips.” I have always struggled with tooting my own horn. It’s also hard for me to accept praise from others. What about you?

Do you have a hard time accepting compliments or praise? We all know people who don’t seem to have any trouble telling others how awesome they are. In fact, you may even be picturing a few of them this very moment. It’s not attractive is it? When we see others applauding their own success it can be intimidating, too. It’s much more acceptable when another person is praising them for their good deeds.

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Mark 14:53-65 – Fake Trial

Read Mark 14:53-72

Jesus is on trial, but what a laughable trial.  No preparation, only jealous rage. So much perjury. But, I suppose you can’t lie under oath if you don’t swear an oath in the first place. Where did all these witnesses come from? And, when truth was spoken by Jesus, it was deemed blasphemy. Jesus was in no way insulting God, his Father!

How does it make you feel to knowing how our Lord spent his final hours on earth? He warned us, as the prophets had, it wouldn’t be pretty. Despite the heads up, it’s still hard to imagine.

Meanwhile, the text says, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard of the very house where Jesus was being assaulted. It sounds like he just sort of cozy-ed up to the guards to keep warm by the fire. Did he think he’d go unnoticed? What was he thinking? That could be the topic for a whole devotion in itself.

Then it happened. Jesus’ prophetic words came true. Peter must have had an evil spirit overtake his words on his final, very strong, denial of being associated with Jesus. Almost like a dream where you see yourself saying or doing something, but you’re only watching from a distance. But it wasn’t a dream. Jesus was right. Peter denied him and the despair at the thought left him sobbing.

Have you ever had a moment like Peter just did? Have you said or done something for which you would give anything to take back? Maybe you’ve wished for a do-over? We’ve all done those things. And, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. It happens, yet we don’t like it.

God doesn’t either, and that’s exactly why he sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus is the bridge that brings us back to the father when we are separated by our sin. It’s better to focus on what God is doing for us, loving and forgiving us, then to dwell on the bad stuff. Ask for forgiveness, and be done. Forgive others, and be done. Simple but not easy.

Do you feel separated from God right now, or are you on fire and burning bright? Maybe somewhere in between? Doesn’t matter. God’s got your back. Relish this true with a grateful heart.

Let’s pray. Lord I don’t like when I feel apart from you but I know that you are always there to reel me back in. Forgive my heart when it is selfish and self-serving. I don’t want to be caught up in the world’s trap. Restore my servant heart. May it beat along with yours. Guide my steps this day, and I thank you for your protection. I am safe in your arms, and safe as I fall at your feet. What peace you give. May I spread your peace in this world for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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