Staying Focused Despite the Distractions

A family was driving through the back country roads enjoying a fun day out and Dad was driving while looking for a particular county park to picnic at.  As he drove down the county roads they became more and windier and narrow and as they drove down one of these back roads, he saw a sign that read, “Naturist site ahead.”  Now, Dad had a problem, for the lane was too narrow to turn around; he didn’t want his children to see things they shouldn’t see.  Unable to turn around and unable to back up in reverse, the car carried on forward.  Then suddenly it happened!  Out of nowhere appeared 4 adults on bikes, ALL NAKED.  Before Dad could call out, “Don’t look, kids,” one of his young children beat him to it and called out, “Dad, look!  Those people aren’t wearing cycle helmets!”

Now that’s what I call being focused!

Scripture Study:  2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Despite all the distractions those kids in the backseat of the car were, they focused on one thing!

In this chapter in 2 Corinthians, Paul stayed focused despite the distractions!

Those distractions came in the form of the Apostle’s opponents.

One of the themes found in this second letter to the church at Corinth is the apostle Paul having to defend his apostleship.  Since Paul left this Church in Corinth to go on his third missionary journey other people had come onto the church.  These others came into the Church with their own agenda (false ideas).  They were mixing the old way (Judaism) with the new way (the Gospel of Christ).  So they were altering the message of the gospel from FAITH alone in Jesus to FAITH in Jesus plus works.  Those works taught that a person had to adhere to certain Jewish laws, rituals, and customs if they wanted to be truly SAVED.

Now as soon as you ADD anything to the gospel, it is no longer the gospel!

The emphasis changes from Christ alone, to Christ PLUS…

  • The book of Mormon
  • The teachings of the Watchtower Organization
  • A need for our own good works
  • To man-made rituals and religious ceremonies.

The GOSPEL is complete in itself!  It cannot be improved.

That’s why it is the Gospel (‘Good News’), because it doesn’t rest on us, it depends on Christ.

And when we mess up and fail time after time, Jesus never did and never will!  So we are always accepted in Him and have all that we’ll ever need in Him alone.

Defending the MESSAGE/GOSPEL

The Apostle Paul defends his message/gospel:  We are SAVED by GRACE through FAITH in Jesus Christ alone!  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

And in defending his message, he will need to defend his authority, his apostleship.

I Follow Christ’s Example (vs. 1):

“By humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you…”

The apostle Paul was from Christ, and therefore acted like Jesus.  But his critics (false teachers), and we all have critics, loved to boast in men. [i.e. 1 Corinthians 1:21]

And then in 1 Corinthians 3:21…

[21] “So then, no more boasting about human leaders!  All things are yours, [22] whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas…”

The Church at Corinth had been “swept off its feet” by the personality and charm of false teachers.

These preacher/teachers were teaching that Paul was weak and unimpressive.  But they had the real power!

Notice Paul’s response to these accusations:  “By the humility and gentleness of Christ.”

He tells them that he’s not weak, but meek (gentle).

Only once in the Bible does Jesus describe Himself.

It’s not a claim such as “I am the…etc.”, but an actual description of His inward character.  The encyclopedia has devoted over 20,000 words to describe the person of Christ, yet Jesus used just TWO WORDS:

“GENTLE AND HUMBLE”

Paul, like his master, demonstrated an attitude of meekness (gentleness). 

MEEKNESS means “strength under control” (The Examiner – meekness-strength under control – March 26, 2017).

It’s kind of like a wild stallion that has been broken and now tamed.  It still has as much power as when wild, but now that power is bottled up for the master’s use.

The apostle Paul was never weak!

Paul had risked his life for this Church!  But he was meek (gentle), and he didn’t lord it over the people, he served the Church.

The imposters wanted to dominate, to be seen and recognized as important.  They were what I might call, “Power-house preachers.”  But that in itself didn’t mean displaying the power of God.

So what is the challenge for all of us at this point?

To be MEEK like Jesus, to control our power for a greater blessing of others.

I Use Spiritual Weapons (vs. 3-6)

Deception has always been featured strongly in warfare.  And the purpose is simple.  It’s to gain an advantage so that you can take more ground.

Now the apostle Paul didn’t use carnal (fleshly, worldly) WEAPONS.  He didn’t rely on a ‘strong personality’ or on ‘manipulating’ people.  Instead of relying on human wisdom, human abilities or physical ability, Paul used the WEAPONS of Christian character and the truth of God’s Word.  If you want to show that a stick is crooked, just place it next to a straight stick.

Paul warns them that when he returns, he will smash their clever arguments, smash their false doctrine, and bring to God anyone led astray by false teachers.

NOTICE verse  5:

It’s not performance but obedience that God wants from us.

So the apostle will turn back people’s hearts and minds and place in OBEDIENCE.  And just a note here:  Paul was out to build up and not tear down (vs. 8).

BUILDING UP IS A SIGN OF CHRISTIAN MATURITY…

Tearing down, destroying, is a sign of immaturity.

I remember when my children were little, crawling around on the floor when I would sit down with them with their building blocks, building a tower in front of their eyes.  Then, as I pretended not to be watching, they would crawl over to the tower and knock them down, giggling as they watched them fall and then we would play the game all over again.  But over the months the game changes.  Instead of destroying, knocking the tower of blocks over, they wanted to help me build one.  And why the change?  Because Building Up, creating was a sign of their maturity.  Tearing down, destroying, was a sign of their immaturity.

The Sign of A Healthy Leader In Their Concern to Build Up

Anyone can tear down, anyone can find fault, anyone can become a critic.

But it takes effort and character to build up people and churches.

I Don’t Judge by Appearance (vs. 7-11)

Don’t be fooled by appearance.  Appearances can often be deceptive!

Have you ever wondered what the apostle Paul looked like, what he was really like, in person?  I certainly have!  I think of him as a cross between Clint Eastwood and Tom Cruise– a tough, no-nonsense type of guy!  In my research, I have found it remarkable that only one description I could find of Paul in history and it wasn’t in the Bible.  It was in debatable writing called, “Acts of Paul and Thecia.”  (the work is not inspired, so it may/may not be a true description of him).  [See footnote [t].]

“A man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace.  For sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes he had the countenance of an angel”

You get the impression the apostle Paul wasn’t a looker.  His physical appearance wasn’t too impressive.  And that idea is backed up in this chapter, verse 10:

2 Corinthians 10:10 (NIV)

[10]  For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing”

To paraphrase:  “His letters pack a punch but he isn’t much to look at and his preaching is boring!”

Paul knew this is what his critics were saying and so he picks up on this and plays on it in verse one:

I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!

The apostle Paul didn’t judge by outward appearance.  The opponents of Paul did!

They said he doesn’t have the physical presence of a Peter or the eloquent speaking skills of an Apollos.  He hasn’t the dynamism we have when we preach, he is just ordinary!

God is never impressed with outward appearance.  But sadly, so often we are!  We need to constantly be looking deeper at people!

A classic example that comes to mind is 1 Samuel chapter 16.  When David, the skinny runt of the family, was chosen by God to be king over his bulky battle-scarred brothers!

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I Let God Do the Commending (vs. 12-18)

‘Check-A-Trade’ is an organization and a resource for local trades in the area i.e. builders, roofers, etc.  And whoever uses their services can give feedback on the ‘Check-A-Trade’ website.  The idea being your customers are the ones who commend you to other people looking for a reliable and good tradesperson, rather than you choosing them because of their advertising and good publicity.

That principle of being COMMENDED by another is what the apostle Paul has in mind here.

The critics and opponents of Paul were part of their own mutual appreciation society who thought highly of each other.  But all they do, says the apostle, is “boast” about themselves.

The word “boasting” is used 12 times in this letter (2nd Corinthians) to the church, which is far more than any of Paul’s other letters,  And it literally means “to glory in.”

While his critics “glory in” their wisdom, accomplishments, and judgments, Paul says in verse 13, that he will only “glory in” the tasks that God has given him.

The apostle Paul goes on to subtly remind the readers and his critics the ultimate goal of the Church…

Not to sit around admiring one another’s assets but rather to see the kingdom of God expand!

Paul reminds us that a Christ-focused ministry is about the gospel going forth into new territories and not about “reworking” something already established.

He put himself out to start a Church in Corinth and now he wants that Church to help in sharing the gospel message in the region beyond (vs. 16).

Missionaries David Livingstone, Robert Moffat, and the Apostle Paul

They all had one thing in common:  A Desire to Share the Gospel to Those Who Had Never Heard!

This was their burden!!

What’s yours?

Verse 18:

As far as commendations are concerned, the only pat on the back the apostle Paul was looking for was from God.  Paul was never impressed by what people thought of him.  He only ever wanted ‘The Father’s approval’.

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CREDITS & FOORNOTES

Footnote [i] :  New World Encyclopedia.- Physical description of the apostle Paul.

Images/Photos Used:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New Living Translation (NLT); New International Version (NIV); New King James Version (NKJV); The Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

Caught Up to Heaven [A SERIES]

PART ONE – PAUL’S EXPERIENCE

[1]  I must go on boasting.  Although there is nothing to be gained.  I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.

[2]  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body, I do not know–God knows.

[3]  And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows– [4] was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

[5]  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

[6]  Even if I should choose to boast, I could not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do, or say…

[The New International Version Bible (NIV)]

What Paul says in verse 1, he is forced to say so that the Corinthian church members might look at him from God’s perspective.

Paul’s restraint increases as he discloses what was probably the most intimate and sacred of all his Christian experiences.  Paul repeats that he is speaking of himself only because circumstances have compelled him to do so.

What Does the Bible Tell Us About the Experience of Death and About What Happens Next?  [2 Cor. 12:2-4]

“The Journey to Paradise” – Revelations, and Visions:

Revelations are apocalypses, literally “to remove the cover, to unveil.”  It’s the unveiling of something hidden which gives light and knowledge to those who see it (Eph. 3:3; Rom. 16:25).  

Revelations are more general than visions.  You might have revelations without having visions but one never has visions without revelations.

Visions, dreams, and trances are hard to distinguish.  A vision comes to one in an ecstatic state (Isa. 1:1; Ezek. 12:27) and brings revelation knowledge.  The experience points to a special awareness of God concerning what He is doing or going to do.

Several years ago I was asked by a local pastor if I could write a play for the upcoming Resurrection Sunday.  I was given two months to put everything together.  And by the way…I’ve never done anything like this before.  So lacking confidence, not knowing where this was going, I began to pray for guidance.  NOTHING!

Then, perhaps out of desperation and lack of faith, I found myself lying face down on the carpet pleading for God to give me inspiration.  And then I heard in my spirit, “Mel, get up from the floor, and wait.”  “Wait?  I have a month to put this all together, Lord!”  His response was “Just wait”.

That night in my sleep, I felt a nudge to my shoulder and thinking that I was dreaming, rolled over to the other side.  Again a nudge, but harder this time.  As I sat up on the edge of the bed, the voice returned:  “Mel, get up and go to the dining room table.  Get a pen and a paper tablet and I will give instructions on what I want you to accomplish.”  This was at 5:30 AM.  Was I still dreaming, is this really happening?  I got up and followed His guidance and instructions and at 7 AM the outline was finished.  The storyline, the set design, the title….everything but a script!  Yes, God even took care of that.  Was this a dream, a vision, a revelation?  All I do know is, the experience showed me what He was doing and going to do!

Background To The Text [2 Corinthians 12] –

Most Bible scholars believe Paul had a near-death experience.  Paul mentions that at least on one occasion he was left for dead.  As he writes he speaks of this experience and says some guy he knew had it.  Writing about something that happened to an author and inventing a second person to deliver a message is common literary practice.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12 speaks from experience that there are events that follow our physical death.  The burden of this conversation prepares us, not for death, but for the events that take place between our dying and our final destination.

Caught Up To Heaven (verses 2-4).

One vision which Paul recounts stands out from the rest in its extraordinary character.  His ecstatic episode which he was transported to Paradise began in VERSE 2.

Paul is sure his remarkable experience occurred but uncertain whether the “caught up” [RAPTURE] experience was in the body or out of the body.

BODY RAPTURE is not regarded as impossible.  TWO instances are recorded in the Old Testament, Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5) and Elijah (1 Kings 2:11; Mk. 9:4) and in the New Testament, Jesus was bodily raptured into heaven.

At any rate, such a one was caught up (Gk. harpazo, “to snatch away”).  “Caught up” is a form of the Greek word harpazog, the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which in reference to the RAPTURE of the Church.

Paul was “raptured” to the third heaven.

The Third Heaven

The third heaven designates a place beyond the immediate heaven of the earth’s atmosphere of clouds and beyond; the further heaven of outer space and its galaxies and into the presence of God Himself.  (Heb. 4:14, 7:26; Eph. 4:10)

The FIRST HEAVEN is atmospheric, the SECOND HEAVEN is composed of the stellar universe, and the THIRD HEAVEN is the unique dwelling place of God–a different dimension.

In VERSE 3, Paul again clarifies his mystifying experience to his readers.  He’s uncertain if he was in a bodily or disembodied state.  Whether his soul was separated from the body for a time and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he wasn’t sure.

[3] “And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows–“

VERSE 4 teaches us that human words are inadequate to tell us about heaven.

[4] “was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things that no one is permitted to tell”

If the THIRD HEAVEN describes the place of his rapture, then Paradise specifies the wonder of his rapture.  [The third heaven of v. 2 and the Paradise of v.4 are one and the same.]

Paradise is a Persian word for an enclosed park, garden or pleasure ground used only three times in the New Testament.  In Luke 23:43 with the thief on the Cross, and in Revelation 2:7.  In the Old Testament, this term is used in Genesis as the Garden or Paradise or Eden.

I believe Paul witnessed the state of the spirit-souls of the redeemed who had died are “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8), but still in a “celestial body” so we won’t feel naked until the day when we are covered with the glorified and incorruptible resurrection body (2 Cor. 5:1-3. 1 Cor. 15:42, Phil. 3:20-21).  Then the REDEEMED of the Lord will shine forth with full splendor of eternal Christ-likeness.

Paul heard unspeakable (“inexpressible”) words.

Unspeakable word is an oxymoron, speaking which may not be spoken, for even in the heavenly state it is beyond words.

Human language is too inadequate to describe things that transcend all knowledge and understanding.

We often speak about Paradise trying to describe its state and heaven to define its features and whereabouts, but the truth is that we are stepping over the threshold into another dimension, a reality not of this world, infinite, spiritual and only distantly sensed by us in our earthly tent.  And yet as born-again believers in Christ, we know with assurance that one day we’ll be at our permanent home.

The Scriptures will occasionally part the mists of our earthly existence and grant us brief glimpses of the GLORY yet to be revealed.  (2 Cor. 5:11-12, 1 Corinthians 15:50; Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 1:21. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:8.)

From Paul’s experiences, we are granted a view of the indescribable GLORY that lies ahead and thereby secured him to patiently endure all the severe suffering in his ministry.  He thus knows that the sufferings of this present age were not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come (Rom. 8:18; 2 Tim. 4:18).

Someday we will arrive in heaven realizing that everything we see and experience is new and indescribable in earthly vocabulary.  I’m so thankful that God used illustrations that we could understand that gives us just a glimpse of eternity.

CURRENT EVIDENCE (verses 5-6)

Paul could have boasted, as his rivals do, of impressive religious credentials, experience, and achievements, but he doesn’t.  Instead, he speaks only of his weaknesses.

[5] “Of this same [man’s experiences] I will boast, but of myself (personally) I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses)”  [AMP}

Paul’s weaknesses, trials, and tribulations he went through for Christ’s sake, that had left him broken of body, mind, emotion, and spirit.  For these areas became the very places where God could do His greatest work in and then through Paul.

Paul wouldn’t be like his opponents who glorified in their earthly state or pride.  For God alone is due to all the glory!

Though boasting includes many lies, in verse 6 Paul affirms his trustfulness.

[6] “Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say”  [NIV]

Although all of Paul’s boasts were true and about true occurrences, not to mention all the other reasons he could boast, he didn’t dwell on those things.

And the reasons why?

Others might think too highly of him.  He didn’t want to be judged by the past, or what he said about himself, but that men should judge him by what they presently heard and saw.

[NOTE:  I will continue this study, being CAUGHT UP, with Part Two in the Series – The Leading Up To Our Final Destination.]

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CREDITS:

Dictionary:  VINE’S Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New King James Version (NKJV); or as noted.

 

 

 

SPIRITUAL “Sclerosis”

Before going on in this POST, I thought it important to give you first, definitions of the word “Sclerosis” –then, explain how it fits in with our spirituality in life and in the Church as a whole.

“SCLEROSIS” or “hardening”:  (See Footnotes [i] and [ii])

#1.  Medical Definition – A pathological hardening of tissue, especially from overgrowth of fibrous tissue or increase in interstitial tissue.

In the GREEK, “hardening or “to harden” – 

#2.  porosis denotes “a hardening,” a covering with a poros, a kind of stone, indicating “a process” and is used metaphorically of dulled spiritual perception.

With the above definitions in mind, lets take a deep look into God’s Word and investigate a principle set forth for us all to ponder in our Christian service.

CAUGHT UP IN “RITUALISM”?  (Zechariah 7:1-7 AMP Bible)–

[1] AND IN the fourth year of the reign of King darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev.

[2] Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and regem-melech and their men to pray and entreat the favor of the Lord.  [3] And to speak to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and to the prophets, saying,  [Now that I am returned from exile] should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I have done these so many years [in Babylon]?

[4] Then came the word of the Lord of hosts to me [Zechariah], saying,

[5] Speak to all the people of the land and to the priests, saying,  When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years you were in exile, was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?  [6] And when you ate and when you drank, did you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

[7] Should you not hear the words the Lord cried by the former prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity with her cities round about her, and the South (the Negev) and the lowlands were inhabited?

According to the Scofield Bible, “Religious Externalism”:  “The whole matter, like much in modern pseudo-Christianity, was extra-Biblical, formal and futile.”   RITUALISM appeals to the FLESH and helps people feel “religious.”  

In my opinion, I don’t think Christianity needs any help in being “religious” in today’s society and I find it a sign of spiritual decline.

How so?

Zechariah 7:1-3 – “What about FASTING?”

The question seems to imply a readiness to discontinue the practice, the ritual of THE FAST.  That question may have been going through their heads at the time, but was not asked…”Would discontinuing the FAST be evidence of a false sense of security or would it add to the displeasure of the LORD?  All good questions.

In their present SPIRITUALITY, the people were still in distress, under the Lord’s displeasure.  From the human viewpoint, there might be something said in favor of discontinuing the fasts–and in case you’re wondering by now, is this blog-Post about “FASTING”?  Yes and no. I’ll get to that as we move along

The LORD has changed His method of dealing with His people; returning to them in the way of MERCY!  So, would it not be proper to change their method of performing their duties?  [NOT just “fasting” as required by the clergy].

It seems as if the MAIN CONCERN of the delegation was the FAST held on the fifth month; the remembrance of the burning of the first TEMPLE.  At this point in time, the NEW TEMPLE was almost completely restored [See picture below of model].

So why FAST?

Having kept the ritual of fasting for 70+ years in exile, the delegation members felt it wouldn’t be a good idea to discontinue something they had grown accustomed to without approval from the PRIESTS and the PROPHETS.

The 2nd Temple Model
The 2nd Temple Model

 Some Questions Arise…

Should a good and productive method of RELIGIOUS SERVICES, which we find beneficial to ourselves and others, be simply abandoned or altered because of the changes taking place in society and the world?

What then, should OUR PURPOSE be in coming to church on Sunday, or during the week in “service”?

In this portion of Scripture,  Zechariah 7, the delegation’s PURPOSE for coming was to PRAY and SEEK God’s will in the matter of the continuance of the FASTS.

Our PURPOSE for coming to the House of the Lord…

It should be to pray and seek the LORD’s will for our lives; to WORSHIP HIM.  It’s NOT for entertainment.

When we present our requests, our petitions to the LORD, we should be in a READINESS TO RECEIVE instructions from Him.  If we refuse to listen, we can’t expect the LORD to accept our prayers.

The QUESTION we should bring before our LORD and Savior is not, what will You do for me, but what can I do for You, even though You don’t need my help.

In God’s answer to the LORD of hosts asked question,  “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years…was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?”  – (verse 5).

“CONSIDER YOUR WAYS”  

Consider what you’re doing and why; WORSHIP WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING, PRAYING IN PUBLIC, TITHING IN CHURCH, SERVING IN MINISTRY, etc., etc.

The question posed in VERSE 5, not only does it involve the delegation, but to ALL the priests and the people of the land.  And in case you are wondering…we too are included in the answer…”was it for Me…, for Me?”.

The LORD of hosts asked this question because the delegation’s question seemed to be more concerned about the ceremony, the ritual, than about the SUBSTANCE or the spirit of it.  They seemed to be BOASTING of their fasting, believing they should have been returned to the LORD’s MERCY sooner than it did.

A similar question was asked by the people in the prophet Isaiah’s day:

“Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge  [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do]  you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor”  (Isaiah 58:3 ).

What the priests and people were doing wasn’t bad, not done in the right way.  The LORD wasn’t charging them with OMISSION or NEGLECT of their duty.  He was charging them of WRONG INTENT!

He was saying,  those who come with a good intent, to SEEK GOD’s MERCY, must be willing to admit their FAULTS, a hard thing to do.  We can sometimes be so zealous in our approach, in performance of our worship on Sundays, we set aside our need to faithfully examine our attitude or motives for even being there.  Don’t wait for the Worship & Praise team to motivate you on Sundays!

We should ask ourselves in service and duty,  “WHY AM I DOING WHAT I’M DOING?”

The LORD appeals to the conscience…

If the people had not been sincere in the performance of duty and their worship, they needed to understand, we need to understand, there is One who is far greater than their consciences.

PhotoBucket
PhotoBucket

In their FASTING and WORSHIP, a form of godliness, they lacked life, soul, and power.  The stress of their doing was laid upon the REPETITION of the rituals, instead of upon the worship of the LORD.  Even those who were seeking to please their heavenly Father, to obtain His favor, who are sincere in their intentions, were wanting.  This is why, in the sight of the LORD, their FASTS were a mockery.  They were using FASTS as a covering; a covering for their SIN, as Jezebel’s fast, or as the Pharisees’ fasts, resting in outward expressions of humiliation [false humility], while in the process, their hearts were unhumbled.

Nothing New in Zechariah 7:7:

The people and priests are told what the LORD of hosts has said, and it’s nothing new.  The question seems to imply they have forgotten.  The GOOD THING the Captives should have done…was left undone!

On their FAST DAYS, the captives went and separated themselves from daily activities; being a sign of their sorrow for the judgment they were under.  This wasn’t enough.  What they should have done was to search the Scriptures and they would have seen what was the reason for God’s controversy with their fathers, taking a warning by their miseries, not going down the same pathway.

The AFFLICTION that rested on their shoulders was to WAKE THEM UP!  Bring them to REPENTANCE!

A Warning!!!

The disobedience of others and the consequences should be a WARNING to us!  God’s judgements upon Israel of old for their sins were written for a CAUTION to Christians today:

“Now these things befell them by the way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period)”  (1 Corinthians 10:11).

So Church, Why do we do what we do on Sundays?

In my reading for this study, I ran across a story that directed my thoughts to the above question.

A story is told about a wife who was cooking a roast.  She cuts the end off of the roast, puts it on a pan, then into the oven.  The husband asks,  “Why did you cut the end off?”

She replies  “Because my mom always did.”

The next day the wife asks her mom  “Why did you cut the end off of the roast before putting it in the oven?”  Mom replies  “Because my mom always did.”

So both of them went to Grandma and asked the same question.  “Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before cooking it?”

Grandma replies  “So it would fit in the pan!”

Mark Batterson says  “All of us develop hypotheses about everything all the time.  Then we look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.”    GUILTY! 

Questions to ask ourselves before, during and after the Sunday Service–it’s more than about “fasting”:

Why do we take COMMUNION–How many of us are partaking in the way God desires us to participate in the Lord’s supper?  What is it that you WORSHIP?  What is it that you get excited about?  Why do we TITHE, why do we FELLOWSHIP (meet and greet time) right after worship and praise?  Why our we FASTING?  Does GOD want me to, or is it just at the pastor’s request?  Why do we do what we do?

And the answer to the many questions…”Was it for Me?”

“WAS IT FOR ME that you fasted, for Me?  (Zechariah 7:5 b.)

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are taking the Lord’s Supper?

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are singing and worshiping?

“WAS IT FOR ME” you put in your tithe and offering?

Or is the condition of our SPIRITUALITY in a state of “Sclerosis”?  You’ll have to answer that question.

 

 

Photo Credits:  2nd Temple – Wikipedia Israel Museum;  “Sorry I’m Fasting” T-Shirt–PhotoBucket

Footnote References:

[i] – Merriam Webster Dictionary

[ii] –  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words–page  466 NT Words.