Thursday, May 28, 2009

John the Baptist - Can You Hear Me NOW?

Luke 1:21-22 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

There are 1,596,270,108 people in the world using the internet, in America - internet usage reaches 74% of the population. ( For every 100 people in America, 97 have a cell phone. There are 219,000,000 televisions in the homes of Americans, with the average person watching 28 hours per week. We are only beat out by China. Newspaper circulation in the world today is 157,326,359 - who knew people still read the newspaper?? Communication is the key to keeping up with our way of life. It is considered business suicide to not have a website promoting your company. So, why, when we know how communication spreads information - did Zechariah get shut off from the world when he just witnessed this huge miracle.

When a miracle happened in the Bible - eye witnesses would spread the information. Even churches and missionaries today use communication so that the rest of the world can see how God is still moving amongst His people. Why then, when something so wonderful as the answer to the prayer of a barren couple, would He choose to stifle this information.

My thoughts: This miracle was not about everybody else. This was not about gathering the masses and sharing the gospel with them. This was about Zechariah and his relationship with God. Even though God had punished Zechariah, he was learning a valuable lesson. His whole life he had done what was required of him. He had lived a righteous life and followed the laws - yet, when he came face to face with a situation that required complete faith - he faltered. God was letting Zechariah know that He cared enough to teach Him. Through this experience Zechariah would grow and learn in his relationship with God. God cared enough about Zechariah that He was willing to let this miracle go unseen at the time so that he could see how you cannot contain God.

God will let the word of His miracles get out - He will decide when the news of what He has done should be revealed. But His main focus - what He wants us to understand - is that He loves us. It's all about our relationship with Him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

John The Baptist - NIKE offers spiritual guidance...

Luke 1:18-20 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

There is an old story that has been told. It's about a father and his son - perhaps you've heard your own version of this. The boy was out playing by the tree, laughing and running about when the father suddenly goes out into the yard and tells the boy - "STOP. Don't move another muscle." The boy immediately stops and the father grabs a baseball bat and slowly moves toward the boy. He raises the bat above his head and just as he reaches the boy, he brings the bat down hard on the ground. The boy is a bit stunned, but realization begins to show in his eyes as he sees his father reach down and pick up the now-dead snake in front of the boys' feet that was getting ready to bite his son.

It's a story of obedience. I can tell you right now that my kids - all four of them - would've been rushed to the hospital for venom removal. The minute I hollered to stop, I would've gotten a "why do I have to stop?" or a "but I wasn't done playing yet." Obedience is an important trait - one that has apparently been a struggle for some time.

The angel appeared before Zechariah and told him what was to be done. Did Zechariah just listen and follow instruction? Noooo, he had to ask questions and insinuate the angel was lying. I don't think that was a very smart idea - especially since the angel pulled an Ursula and took away Zechariah's voice.

I wonder if God gets tired of us saying "Why?" I wonder how important it is for God to hear us say - "yes, Lord - I will" - no matter how crazy it sounds. If that son had not listened to his father - surely he would have been bitten. Sometimes the same is true of us - if we do not listen to God's Word and obey (Just Do It) - we are surely bitten.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

John The Baptist - The B-I-B-L-E

Luke 1:13-17 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Scofield, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Rice, Graham - all men who have recently gone forth and shared the gospel. Many lives were changed because of these men and others. Did their fathers know they were chosen for this? As parents, we all want our children to aspire to be great. We want them to be brought up being kind and polite with all the knowledge they can gain. But what if God chose to tell you the great things your child would do? What if he said "Joey" was going to become a missionary in the deepest parts of Indonesia and many people will be saved. Would you train him differently?

God has a purpose for every child - a different purpose - yet the same training is required for all of us. The Bible is our text book. If we are to be skilled in whatever task God will call us to do - we must be familiar with His Word. If we are willing to go where He calls us, to be a servant for Him - our training comes from knowing the scriptures and knowing Jesus Christ.

So the question is - are we ready if He calls?

Monday, May 18, 2009

John The Baptist - Horror Movies Thrive On This Stuff

Luke 1:8-12 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.

The last verse we looked at was a testimony to the righteousness of John The Baptists' parents. Parents that boldly followed God. There are many who cannot relate to this. I was blessed with Christian parents who did their best to raise us in a Godly home. To equip us with what we would need, not only here on earth, but in preparation for what was to come - and that the latter was more important than the former. I remember seeing my dad in the morning reading his Bible at the table, but I don't remember ever seeing him afraid of anything. I'm sure he is afraid of some things, but when I was growing up, he was fearless.

I think it is a good thing to know that we do not need to be afraid when Jesus is in control. However, it is human nature to succumb to the emotion of fear - especially in today's world. Zechariah was an upright man of God - following the laws that were set for him in their entirety - and yet, he knew the power of fear. Zechariah was following his duty as a man of God. Something as routine as
filling the communion plate or setting up the Sunday School classroom, or sitting down to do a devotional. Yet on this day, smack dab in the middle of his duties, an angel appeared. Can you imagine? Carrying on about your daily business, maybe cleaning up the nursery for the Sunday morning service, and a man suddenly appears before you - one that is not supposed to be there?

Zechariah was gripped with fear. This highly praised, law-following, faith believing man of God was afraid of the angel before him. Fear is a powerful emotion - one that in high doses can paralyze us. As we can see from the example of Zechariah - even the best and righteous do not handle situations correctly. It is in these moments, we MUST fall back on God and rely on His strength alone to get us through.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

John The Baptist - How Good Are You?

Luke 1:5-7 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

Cancer, AIDS, abortion, abuse, poverty, obesity - the list goes on of the things that plague America today. The question is often asked, "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" While that question is very common today - the truth is - it's been a common question for a long time.

Our first insight into John the Baptist is a look at how he came to be. The first chapter in Luke shares a little about the life of his parents before he was born. Both of his parents were "upright in the sight of God". Now there is something to have written on your resume. If I could have one person stand up on my behalf and be able to truthfully announce - "She is upright in the sight of God" - I would count myself blessed. There is no greater compliment. The Bible further states that they followed God's law - blamelessly. WOW. These were some good people.

However, Elizabeth could not have children. We all know the importance of bearing children during this time in history - and yet, they, these upright people, were barren. Why does God choose to let these things happen? We know the outcome of this story, but the outcome can be true in all of our lives. If we just trust God and step out in faith - there is a greater purpose and one day, we will know Gods plan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John The Baptist - An Introductory Beginning

The best made intentions are nothing without execution. I could make five different lists for every day of the week of the different things I needed to do to keep my time managed, I could make a totally separate stack of lists for the different meals I needed to eat during the week to keep my weight managed, And yet another set of lists of incoming monies and outgoing fees so as to keep my finances managed, lastly, a completely different list of scriptures for the things I would be encountering throughout the week to help keep my spiritual life managed, however, if I set my lists aside on the kitchen counter and never bother to look at them - I've simply wasted a lot of time list-making.

When do we get a break? When does the opportunity come that we can let things slide for a little while and still be able to stay on track? Even if we are following our lists play by play - an unannounced, spur of the moment, going away party can throw every aspect of our lives into a tizzy. We'd then have to rearrange our already scheduled time management list to squeeze in this party. We'd have to adjust our meal list so as to not disrupt our weight management plan. We'd have to buy a gift for this party, which means a refiguring of our finance management. A new set of people and circumstances would certainly be cause for a change in prayer and scriptures for that day - meaning doubling up on devotional time for our spiritual management, causing another time management change. Life is always throwing a curveball.

These past few weeks, for me, have been nothing but curveballs and fastballs and changeups and any other baseball metaphor I can think of. I may have had a few bunts here and there, possibly got to first base on one or two - but am quite certain, by the lack in execution of my lists, that there were no home runs to be had.

How does one stay on track in all aspects of their life when Satan keeps attacking? I believe I will come across some of those answers studying the next person on my list (my OTHER list) - John The Baptist.