WEEK 52, Day 1, Monday, 24 December 2018

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 24 December 18:

1. Zechariah 5:1-4 – “Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.’ Then he said to me, ‘This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side. I will send it out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.’” Those who disobey God’s laws are cursed.

2. Zechariah 5:1-11 – That which doesn’t meet God’s standards is wickedness and evil and has great destructive power that God must judge.

3. Zechariah:6:9-15 – “…if you will diligently obey….” God will bring peace through The Messiah who will rule in peace. While we await His triumphant return, diligent obedience is required of God’s people (v15). According to Webster’s, the word diligent means, “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort.” Is that how others would describe your obedience to God’s commands?

4. Zechariah 6:11-13 “Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’”

– We were already introduced the BRANCH in Zechariah 3:8 referring to the Messiah, Jesus. It is interesting to me that “Joshua” and “Jesus” are the same name translated from different languages — “Yehosuah,” “Iesous,” “Yeshua.” Setting the crown on Joshua son of Jehozadak was intended to symbolize the Lordship of Christ and this Crown was to be handed down from earthly king to earthly king as a visible reminder of who IS KING of kings and of the eventual physical reign of Christ on earth. “In the Hebrew text the prophecy begins ‘Behold the Man,’ the very words Pilate used to present the beaten Christ to the people of Jerusalem: ‘Ecce homo! (Boice)’ “ The Branch will rebuild the temple – not the same temple Zerubbabel worked on, but the temple of His people (Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:5). Note that the BRANCH “will rule on His throne [and] be a priest on His throne” — an unthinkable concept previously in Israel because priests did not sit on thrones and kings did not serve as priests. Remember when King Saul was cursed for overstepping his authority and serving in Samuel’s priestly role? (1 Samuel 13) As we see in Zechariah, Joshua son of Jehozadak served as priest while Zerubbabel served as ‘king’ (governor) in the line of David. However, under our Savior and LORD there will no longer be a need for separation of Church and State in God’s Kingdom (“Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”). We serve as Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Christ among earthly kingdoms which are doomed for destruction as described in today’s readings from Revelation: “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her…. (Revelation 18:3).” In Revelation, God commands His people: Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes (Revelation 18:4, 5).” I think it is important that the Church not become overly entangled with the corrupt systems of the world. We should also understand the tendency for governments to overstep their authority and seek to usurp priestly responsibilities and authorities, demanding allegiance to the government over God. This pattern is revealed in Daniel and Revelation with nations depicted as beasts. Will you follow the beast or the Lamb?

5. Zechariah 6:15 – “And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Many of God’s promises are conditional.

6. Proverbs 24:3, 4, 5 – “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled…. A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. Wisdom is the ability to rightly apply knowledge in accordance with God’s will. Wisdom must be the foundation of knowledge for knowledge to be valuable. Knowledge that is not grounded in wisdom is ultimately destructive. God wants His people to acquire as much knowledge as possible, but wisdom is more important than knowledge. There are may very knowledgeable people in the world, but few with wisdom.

— Psalm 111:10 — The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

7. Proverbs 24:10 – “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Internal strength must be built up before you need it or you won’t have it when you need it. Adversity reveals what you are truly made of.

8. Proverbs 24:11, 12 – “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” God expects you to proclaim His truth to those you know need it, and He will hold you accountable for neglecting to tell others the truth they need.

9. Revelation 18:3 – “For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” Sin and ungodliness is particularly associated with sexual immorality – sex outside the union of marriage between one man and one woman. How is the sanctity of marriage treated in America today?

10. Revelation 18:4 — “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.’” You must choose between the success the world offers or the final victory God promises. The church must decide between syncretism with the world along with the comforts it offers or fidelity before God and eternal life God promises. The world (‘Babylon the Great’ – the ungodly religious-political-social-economic systems created by humans contrary to God’s love; the ‘world’ which exploits and enslaves mankind) entices with offers of power, wealth, and pleasure. Are these your goals in life? God calls his people to purify themselves from the sinful world. How have you established a life-style that shows you are devoted to God and not to the world? The more entangled we become with the ungodly systems of the world, the more likely we are to compromise ourselves and lose our true power and the harder it is to free ourselves.

11. Revelation 18:5-6 – “…for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.”

– God does not forget unconfessed sin.

– God will treat you the way you treat others and then some. No Christian has the right to receive the free gift of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and then withhold forgiveness from anyone else.

12. Revelation 18:7 – “As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’” Glory in self is sin. Rebellious people put their trust in self rather than God, and rebellious nations to the same. Both are cursed.

13. Revelation 18:9 – “And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail.” In addition to sexual immorality, the ungodly are also associated with luxurious living. God gives us resources to take care of our basic needs and then to take care of others in need, not to live like kings and queens on earth.

– Isaiah 55:2 — Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

– Matthew 6:25 — “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

14. Revelation 18:11 – “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore.” The world will make money its idol, and God will tear their idols down.

15. Revelation 18:13 – “…cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.” Slave trade is part of the evil business practices of the world. Many Christians are enslaved in debt to bankers.

16. Revelation 18:14 – “The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!” If you focus on material things, life gets quickly out of focus.

17. Revelation 18:23 – “…and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.” Evil lives on deception.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 24 Dec 18: Consider what is motivating you to do what you are doing and will do today? Are you motivated mostly by fear, pride, duty, or by the greatest motivation of love? Are you chasing after worldly ambitions or are you truly following Jesus, one step at a time? What are you focused on today? Is is all about Jesus and fulfillment of the Great Commission and Great Commandment? Really? Take time throughout the day today to truly ask yourself, “Why am I really doing what I am doing?”

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