Luke 1:67-80 – What a Prophecy!

Read Luke 1:67-80

What powerful words God gave to Zechariah. It’s almost like an answer to the question in our previous passage. You will recall the people were amazed at the events and wondered what John would “turn out to be”.

After Zechariah, the priest and father, spoke, the people gathered knew exactly who John was and what his destiny was to be. They also knew that their Lord and Savior would soon be on the scene.

This is the second of four “songs” in the book of Luke. Like Mary, Zechariah speaks of God’s marvelous deeds. Both make reference to the covenant promise with Abraham.

Did you have a favorite line from this one? I liked vv. 74 and 75, We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.”  In those days, there was a fear of God that we don’t see much today. The people had not yet met Jesus, God in the flesh, and gotten to know the true heart of God. Yet even knowing how much God loves us, so much  that he sent his one and only Son, we sometimes discount the immensity of that very act. We downplay God’s power, his might, and sovereign rule over our lives. The fear is gone.

The mere fact that he has rescued us over and over again from our enemies has also gone unnoticed. God works behind the scenes to keep us safe. When we stumble or find ourselves under enemy attack, many times it is because we have stepped outside of God’s will for us.

Being a follower doesn’t mean life will be easy. It means we have a protector and friend walking beside us. It means we are doing our best to stay connected and be righteous despite the obstacles.

Zechariah’s prophecy is beautiful in it’s form. It exalts God, lifts up his own child’s destiny as intended by God, recognizes God’s perfect plan, and assures people of God’s peace.

Take a moment to rest in God’s peace today. Let your heart reflect on God’s goodness around you.

Let’s pray. Lord God, I thank you for your promise to protect me and redeem me. Thank you for accepting me despite my failures and flaws. Use me and my story to reach others for you. Give me a bold spirit to stand unafraid before my enemies. Clear my vision so that I can see what you intend for me. As John’s destiny was set even before his birth, I know you have a plan for me, too. Help me to stay on the path you have for me. Bless all that I say and do this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Zephaniah 3:1-13 – God is Waiting

Read Zephaniah 3:1-13

The focus is now on Jerusalem, the holy city. The Lord was hopeful his people would see the light and repent. Yet he calls out the leaders as totally corrupt, treacherous. The people didn’t have a chance if they were putting any trust at all in their leadership. God wanted them to fear him and self-correct their evil ways. They did not. His anger burned.  

This passage holds hope and promise to follow God’s wrath.  In verse 9, he says he will “purify”….so that all can “worship the Lord together”. Just like a loving father who gets angry with his child for wrongdoing. It is the “wrong” that angers, not the child. God loves us despite our failings, despite our tendency to stray, despite our sin.

He loves us so much that he sent Jesus for our redemption. We are then truly purified, and we should at all times and places now worship God together. Why don’t we? What is holding us back? We can point fingers at those who are influencing us, but God has planted his seed in our hearts and he is eagerly waiting for us, too.

Did any of the prophesies in today’s reading strike a chord with you? Sometimes we struggle with passages like this and want to gloss over them, thinking they don’t apply to us. When we hear the phrase, “fear of the Lord,” it is an example like this that should come to mind.

God has given us a life to live and choices to make. Sometimes our choices are good and pleasing to God, and sometimes they are not. We need to be careful of the latter. God is a jealous god. God desires for us to be in relationship with him, therefore righteous or right with God. Too many people today do also rebel, like the nations in our readings from Zephaniah, and want to deny God.

What about you? How does God fit into your life? Are you living for him and making choices that honor him?

Let’s pray. Father God, forgive me when my selfish heart clouds my perspective. Help me to discern your will for me and live it in a way that is pleasing to you. In this fallen world, I am sometimes overwhelmed with all the corruption and evil. The goodness in people seems to  be so clouded. Use me God to help people realize their need for you is greater than their need for possessions or fame. Lord, please bless our business as well so that it can be a vehicle to help others who are struggling. May it be God honoring and draw people to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Zephaniah 2:12-15 – Whose Power?

Read Zephaniah 2:12-15

The prophecy of God’s wrath continues and includes Ethiopia and Assyria.  Ethiopia, also called Cush, was controlled by Egypt at the time. They were the large nation to the south, while Assyria was large on the north. You may recall Assyria was also a strong military force at that time.

For a little back story, Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, and you can imagine that to be like Tokyo, Moscow, or even  New York City in today’s world. It was known for it’s beauty, technology, with vast irrigation for gardens. That city wall was 60 miles long, 100 feet high, fortified with 1500 towers. All that, reduced to rubble. God’s power, indeed.

These predictions were God’s plan revealed. I’m guessing the people of that time were a bit amazed by Zephaniah’s (God’s) words. It would seem almost an impossibility.

Even today, our culture has become complacent in trusting God’s messages to us, and the tendency is to exist on our own strength. Who are we in the scheme of things? We are God’s prized possession, but we should not become lazy in our faith.

This passage should clearly alert us that having pride in our own goodness shall surely be counterproductive. Our trust should be in God alone. He is in control, and we need to let him be. That can be easier said than done, especially for so many Type A personalities walking around. There must have been many in Bible times as well.

In what ways are you taking the lazy way out in your relationship with God? What can you do to up your game?

Let’s pray. Father, you have always meant business and your power surpasses our understanding. You have promised we can have access to that power when doing your will, and I thank you for that great privilege. Forgive me when I misuse the gifts you have given me, or don’t use them at all. Help me to be mindful of how I can help make a difference in this world. May I lead by your example to change the world. May I walk boldly and proclaim without hesitation that YOU are my God and YOU are the one I follow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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