Posts Tagged ‘serving the Lord’

Judges 8:1-21 (Part 1 of 4)
Gideon Kills Zebah and Zalmunna

I remember several years ago when Elena and I were co-directors of the Community Transformation ministry of our church (to outsiders desiring non-“church speak” nomenclature, we were co-directors of the church’s local outreach ministry). At the same time, I was the leader of our small group. In that small group, we had encouraged our small group members to participate in the upcoming major event in our church’s outreach calendar, the annual Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway.

As I have mentioned here before, our church has this major event where we invite anyone who feels less fortunate in our community to come to our church and get a complete Thanksgiving meal including an 11-12 lb. turkey to take home. In that way they can have a nice Thanksgiving meal with their family rather than sitting in some church gym eating a meal on long tables with hundreds of other folks they don’t even know. All the while, eating the meal off a paper plate with plastic forks, knives and spoons after having gone through a serving line where some nice church person is the one who determines how much of a portion of each foot item you get. Those generic en masse dinners though an act of generosity are often another slap in the face in the fact that you are poor. You want to have a Thanksgiving meal but you end up feeling like a kid in elementary school eating a meal with hundreds of others. It can be somewhat degrading to the spirit. That’s why we do ours the way we do. Allow these families some dignity where they can take their meal home and have a private meal with their family – not to mention that we don’t have an industrial kitchen at our church where we can feed hundreds of people at once…so there’s that!

Back to my story though. I had encouraged our life group members to get off the couch and help out on the day of the event. So, most of the group did, those that could get off work on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. But I had this one lady from our group that was not there early (we ask volunteers to arrive as early as possible but no later than 7am on the day of the event) for the prep meetings and volunteer assignments to the various functions, just show up around 9am. This particular year, because the weather was going to be unusually warm for late November (it was going to be in the upper 70s that day), we held the event outside. All the stations of our process for the event were outside. It was already in the upper 60’s by event time and it turned out to be a great choice for that particular year. Meanwhile, this lady came directly to me and it seemed to because she knew me, was in my small group, and I was a co-leader of the event that she thought she would get a plum assignment out front engaging people, a place where she could be seen. However, since all positions had been manned I gave her a position as bathroom monitor since we needed someone inside to direct our guests to the bathroom. You know the person that directs others to the bathroom and making sure that people do not wander off into the unattended areas of the main worship center of our church. You know, this lady, though not said directly to me, was telling others how angry she was that she had such a demeaning position. She wanted to be seen. She thought because she knew Elena and me that we would put her in a prime position where she could be seen. She didn’t want to be behind the scenes.

But sometimes in life we have to “guard the bathroom.” In serving the Lord, there are times and there may be many times where we are not out front. We may talented in ways that cause us to be like the old BASF commercials. Remember, “We don’t make the ______. We make the ______ better!” Sometimes, we may be called to rearrange the chairs in the worship center for an event, but not be on stage. We may work in the kitchen at the soup kitchen and not be the ones serving and interacting with the guests. We may build the coat racks but not be the ones who gives the coats away to guests at the coat giveaway. You may be the one running a camera during a church service but not be the pastor delivering the sermon on stage. You may be the accountant who manages the church’s financial reporting but no one notices other than a few people within the church. We must remember who we are working for. We are working for the Lord. We are not working for personal acclaim. We give what we give in our time, talent, and resources not so our pastor will notice us but rather to give glory to God.

That was the first thing that I noticed about this passage, Judges 8:1-21, this morning was how those leaders of the Ephraimites were mad at Gideon because they were given what they considered a lesser role. That was a reminder of how we are sometimes in the church. How we will fall away from participating in some task because it is not in the limelight. Let’s read the passage now:

8 Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” And they challenged him vigorously.

2 But he answered them, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? 3 God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” At this, their resentment against him subsided.

4 Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it. 5 He said to the men of Sukkoth, “Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

6 But the officials of Sukkoth said, “Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?”

7 Then Gideon replied, “Just for that, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers.”

8 From there he went up to Peniel[a] and made the same request of them, but they answered as the men of Sukkoth had. 9 So he said to the men of Peniel, “When I return in triumph, I will tear down this tower.”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a force of about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of the armies of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen. 11 Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the unsuspecting army. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them and captured them, routing their entire army.

13 Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of Sukkoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Sukkoth, the elders of the town. 15 Then Gideon came and said to the men of Sukkoth, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, ‘Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 16 He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?”

“Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.”

19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.

 

21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

In this passage, we see that Ephraim’s leaders felt left out because Gideon had not called them to join the battle but had left them in place to “clean up” the escaping Midianites (the “leftover grapes”) and so they angrily confronted him. Gideon assured the leaders of the tribe of Ephraim that their accomplishment was even greater than his own clan (Abiezer). His diplomatic explanation pointed out that the rear guard had managed to capture the enemy’s generals, thus, cutting off the army of the enemy from its leadership – effectively destroying the enemy. Not every necessary job is a highly visible leadership role. Much of the necessary labor of any effective enterprise is considered by many to be dirty work (the behind the scenes seemingly unrewarded and unnoticed). But such work is vital to getting any big task done. Engineers and millionaires may design and finance an elegant building, but it is the metalworkers, brickmasons, electricians, drywallers, and so on that actually get the work done. Pride can cause us to want recognition. Are content to be God’s bricklayer when he needs you to be or are resentful of the work you have been assigned (and thereby miss what God has in store for you).

Oh, Lord, in your infinite and mighty wisdom, you assign us to serve the body of Christ in ways that are not always out front or on stage and help us to remember that it is you that we are out to please and not our own egos. Help us to be willing to crawl through the mud for you if that is what you call us to do. Help us to be your humble servants because you are a great and mighty God full of infinite wisdom and understanding of a far greater plan for our lives than we can see in our limited nature. Help us to trust you and to glorify you in everything we do regardless of whether it is a job out front or it is a job that is in the background. All parts must work together to make the body of Christ effective. Help us to learn that as part of the body there are no unimportant roles and all roles have a purpose as part of God’s plan. Help us to be humble and serve to the best of our ability and for Your Glory in whatever we do for you, Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 (Part 4 of 7)

A Call to Love and Obedience

Last week in a conversation in a meeting, I mentioned that we can never forget the joy of our salvation. When we hold on to that joy, we remember why it is that we are here in leadership positions within the bride of Christ, his church. If we forget our own salvation and what we are saved from – eternity separated from God in hell, then our leadership becomes about getting things done. It becomes about getting the assigned task done. When we forget the joy of our salvation, we forget the vision. We forget the urgency. We all have people that get under our skin in this life but do you really wish eternal damnation on even your worst enemy. When we forget that immediacy of knowing what we really deserve is hell for our sin-filled lives but that we are saved through grace by faith. Really think about it! You and I both are sinners and we, according to what God has said in His Word, cannot exist in the presence of God in heaven on our own merits.

 

When we commit our first sin, we are disqualified from heaven and from the presence of God. Done. First time. That’s it. Much less a lifetime of sins. Each one of us disqualifies ourselves on a daily basis with each and every sin that we commit. And we commit them! Don’t lie! Just think about the stuff that you just think about but don’t do. We are judged for even every sinful thought that we have. We must be perfect to go to heaven. We cannot just do more good than bad. There is no scale that will get weighed as some religions suggest. What is required is perfection. We cannot achieve through meditation and through becoming one with the universe. We cannot get away from the fact that you and I are just basically evil people who cannot get through the day without having a sinful thought much less action.

 

What is it that we deserve? If God is a God of justice and He is a fair God, then everyone does not get to go to Heaven. In our modern sanitized world we want to sanitize the heaven and hell issue. If everyone gets to go to heaven no matter what they have done. It means everyone right. Otherwise, there would be a flaw. In that vein, then Hitler gets to go heaven. Unrepentent rapists, murderers, you name it. We all get to go. There is no justice in that. Therefore, because God is loving and just there is this choice. Accept Jesus as Your Savior and let him fundamentally change your life. Go to heaven and enjoy Revelations 21:1-7. Reject Him, shaking your fist at Him and continue living your own way according to your own rules regardless of who gets hurt. Revelation 21:8 tells us you will go to hell.

 

For a moment let us try to imagine what it would be like to die and go to hell. Try to imagine that for every single moment, throughout all eternity, a time without end, every inch of your body will be in absolute pain. It will be more suffering than anything you have ever had before, worse than the most excruciating

sunburn. You might possible say to yourself, “Surely the pain will subside!”, but it never comes.  An eternity without rest or relief. Your throat becomes raw from screaming and wailing as spasms of anguish drop you into the molten lava. You go under the surface gnashing your teeth. As you rise for air, A pleading scream comes from your burning, flaming, fiery lips. A cry for “Water” is felt throughout your whole being as you begin to bitterly weep. Without warning, you find yourself falling in the darkness. You can feel something solid next to you and you grab on. `Oh, if only I could stop falling!’ you think and you try to cling to the solid surface, but the lava is too much…you are slipping. Again, you fall into the bubbling lake and you swallow another mouthful of burning slime. The horrid smell of blazing sulfur combine with the sickening odor of burning hair and scorching flesh linger in your nose and nausea overwhelms you. Something suddenly reaches out of the darkness and grabs you. In terror, you cry out as you begin to feel teeth gnashing at your flesh. You violently struggle, desperate to shake the gnashing person off in the darkness. And this, this, my friends is just one scene from an eternity there. This goes on for eternity and that’s a long time.

 

When we forget that this description of eternity is what we deserve for our lives that are less than perfect and full of sin, we forget the utter joy of our day of salvation. Jesus covers us in His perfection when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord. When the Father looks upon us, He sees Jesus. He’s the one who took the wrap for us. We cannot be perfect so we cannot be in the presence of God in eternity without the covering of Jesus Christ’s perfection. He imputes it to us. He gives it to us. We do not earn it or even deserve it because we cannot take away our stain of sin. Only He can do that! When we forget what we are destined for, we forget the joy of salvation. We forget that we have been set free from our sentence to hell.

 

When we remember, that’s a game changer. When we remember, we live lives of thanksgiving and of service to our Lord. Let’s read Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 together today with that in mind:

 

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

 

14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

Love and Obey the Lord

 

11 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea[a] as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done

 

In this series of blogs, we are talking about how we should relate to God. Today, we are talking about serving the Lord. Why do we serve the Lord? We serve the Lord because we are eternally in His debt for what He provided us through Jesus Christ. We serve the Lord because He is sovereign and it is He who provides for us everything that we need.

 

We also serve the Lord because we want others to be drawn the saving grace of Jesus Christ. When people see us serving the Lord by serving others, we are seen as different and unique and there is something about that which draws people unto the Lord. We serve the Lord as thanksgiving and that thanksgiving should give us an urgency to see souls saved. When we remember the joy of our salvation, no longer can we say oh it’s somebody else’s job to teach people about Jesus Christ.

 

When we remember what we have been saved from (like Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed right before they fall into the swimming pool in It’s A Wonderful Life), when we remember how we have danced on the edge of eternity in hell in the absence of Jesus Christ, then, it should well up in us to serve God and to serve others as an urgent act of thanksgiving each and every day.

 

When we forget the joy of our salvation…when we forget what we deserved in the absence of our salvation…ministry becomes a job. It becomes about getting tasks done. It becomes about the next show and the next project and the next event. Getting it done. When we remember the joy of our salvation, we jump right in there and serve the Lord because we love Him so much for what He did for us on the cross. We jump right in there and serve because we see it as an opportunity to draw others unto the Lord no matter what we a doing. We see it as everything making a difference. Including making sure connection cards are in the seatbacks of chairs so people can turn in their prayer requests so that a pastor can call them and pray with them and maybe even lead them to Christ over it. What if that connection card is not there? Everything matters when we serve the Lord from the point of the joy of our salvation. Nothing is unimportant.

 

Never forget the joy of your salvation. Comprehend what it means, really! Think on it! It will restore your joy and it will re-energize your need to serve the Lord. That’s why we serve Him. He saved us! Never forget it!

 

 

Amen and Amen.

Luke 13:31-35 — Let us spend a few days here. There are two parts to this passage that we need to look at. Today, let’s look once again as we did a couple of days ago at the relentless march of Jesus toward Jerusalem.

The illustration that comes to mind today for vv. 31-33 is Mugsy Bogues. I don’t know if some of you remember him or not. He was one of the greatest basketball players ever to play at Wake Forest University and in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The thing was is that Mugsy was only 5’4” or 5’5″ tall or something like that. Very short for today’s basketball world. He was always short. All through life, he was told what he couldn’t do. He never let it deter him. The detractors just made him work that much harder on his game. Never play high school ball they said. He did. Never get picked up by a college. He did. At Wake Forest he became a star and may go down as one of the best players in ACC history. His number 14 hangs from the rafters at WFU’s coliseum never to be worn again. He then went on to play 14 seasons in the NBA most of it as a member of the Charlotte Hornets. Too short. Can’t make it. Muggsy never let detractors get in the way of getting to his goal. He had that Muggsy determination.

The Pharisees were trying there best to get Jesus not to go to Jerusalem. It was not because they wanted to protect Jesus from danger. They didn’t want Him in Jerusalem because they knew Jesus would cause a stir in Jerusalem and upset the order that they had established and the tenuous peace that they maintained with the Roman occupiers. Jesus knew their hearts and what they meant. He told them that He would be undeterred. Nothing would get in His way of getting to Jerusalem. He was determined to get there. What does my illustration and this passage teach us then?

Jesus had a greater goal in mind than just avoiding persecution or worrying whether He was in physical danger or political danger. His plan was far greater than that. It had been God’s plan for Him all along to die on the cross in Jerusalem as the final, once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin. It was God’s plan from the moment the first sin was committed in the Garden that Jesus would be here in Palestine in this moment in time to execute the plan that He had given Jesus. Nothing would deter Him from His goal. It was a far greater goal that this mere moment in time. This was a moment for all time. What if Jesus had been like we are sometimes? We sometimes give up on our goals because of something bad happening along the way. We often give up on our goals before we even start because our detractors say we can’t do it. Not you! You can’t do that! We often give up on our goals because of bad advice like the Pharisees are trying to give Jesus here. But Jesus would have none of it. He would continue his daily ministry in the streets of Israel all the way to the capitol city. He would enter Jerusalem and would speak truth that would get Him killed. On the cross as He breathes his last breath only then does He stop. It is then that He says, “It is finished.” What He came to do was completed. It had been accomplished. He died as sin to conquer it once and for all. He rose from the dead to claim victory over it. This was the goal. Nothing got in the way of that. It was planned and carried out undeterred.

So if you have a dream of serving the Lord in some way. Don’t be discouraged if it is not happening as fast as you want. Don’t be discouraged by the advice of others saying that you should give up on it.

Don’t be discouraged by Satan who shouts loudly at these times — you serve the Lord? what have you got to offer? You’re not good enough. You might be a pretty good writer but your not a great speaker. Besides I know your weaknesses and I will exploit them if you try to serve the Lord. Besides you’ll never make it. You’ll never stick with it. You’re a quitter and always have been. You’re a dreamer but you lack the fortitude to make your dreams come true. Satan wants you to give in and give up. That way you will be ineffective. Satan loves ineffective!

Take heart from Jesus Himself. He knew what lay ahead of Him at the cross. He was not a big fan of the physical pain as noted in his prayer in Gethsemane. He was getting advice from others not to go to Jerusalem. However, Jesus kept on pressing toward His goal. He had the bigger picture in mind. The overall vision of what His life’s purpose was drove him through the obstacles. The vision overcame doubt, bad advice, and physical pain. The vision kept Him going during those long hours He hung on the cross.

If Mugsy Bogues can have a 14 year career in the NBA on sheer determination to be the best…you can realize your dream of serving the Lord too. Jesus gave the mission for His life everything He had. He let nothing deter Him. You can serve the Lord too no matter the obstacles. No matter the time table. Keep holding onto the dream. Keep your eyes focused on Jerusalem. Keep pressing toward it. Keep believing in the vision for your life. Keep God’s call alive even when it seems like you can’t get to the dream. He will make a way as long as you keep pressing toward the dream.

Luke 2:36-38 — The widow Anna teaches us many things in this very short passage. First thing I see is that when things happen to us, they can either make us bitter or make us better. The second thing would be that age is not a marker of ministry effectiveness.

First, let’s look at bitter vs. better. We all have stuff happen to us. We live in a fallen world. Tragedy happens to us. Evil is often thrust upon us. Other times, we are the cause of our own misfortune. It is, after all, a world filled with sinners committing sins daily. Here, we see Anna. She was widowed at very young age apparently. She was married only 7 years before her husband died. In the culture of the time, it probably meant that she was in her early 20’s when her husband passed. There is no mention of how he died and I think that this background is probably unnecessary. We should just know that he died. Anna could have become a bitter women. She could waited probably the lengthy time in first century Palestine for her to be allowed to find a new husband. She was probably left without much prospect due to the inheritance rules of the day. We hear no mention of any children in this brief passage, thus, in Jewish society at the time, there was no way for her to claim any inheritance because it would have been through a son that she would have any claim. She was probably left destitute. Some in this situation in that time period who saw little options might have turned to prostitution as a way to support themselves. She could have become very bitter for what life had done to her. However, this is not what we see in Anna. Her life tragedies drew her closer to God. She became so in tune with the Lord that she basically took up residence at the Temple. She stayed day and night. She worshiped God with fasting and prayer. She did this every day. She become so in tune with God that she became a prophetess. She so devoted herself to the Lord that she understood His will. She sought it daily and revealed it to others. She did not become bitter. She became better. We often let our circumstances in life swallow us up and that’s all we can think about or talk about — what happened to us. We probably all have known someone who has become so obsessed with the destruction of their ex-spouse because of an unwanted divorce that they lose sight of everything else. They quit living and become bitter people who have let the pain of life become their god. It has become their friend. Their destructive behavior destroys friendships and effects their children. Let us not become that kind of person. Let us see what God does with our new circumstances as the result of unwanted events. They can make us bitter and ineffective (what Satan wants) or it make us humble, teachable, and useful (what God wants). God gives us free will to react to life as we see fit. However, He wants us to see Him in our circumstances. He wants us to need Him. He wants us humble. He wants us to be in need of Him. He wants us to build our character in our circumstances so that we see life as Him preparing us for what He has prepared for us next. Sure, we wish to avoid pain in life. We’re human. What I am saying here is that we can let what happens to us rule us and make us bitter or we can let what happens to us make us more humble and dependent on God. That’s when He starts doing His work in us!

The next thing that this short passage teaches us is that age has nothing to do with our ministry effectiveness. In today’s society in the 21st century, everything about our society worships youth and the beauty of youth. Even this kind of mentality has invaded the church, particularly in the wave of the “new church movement” in which we currently live. Old is considered traditional church. Traditional church (Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.). Old is hymnals in the back of the wooden pews in fixed and bolted positions. Old is the preacher behind a pulpit. Old is a robed choir behind him. In the new church movement, you see young hip pastors. No robes with stoles here. Blue jeans. 25-44 years old. Edgy haircuts. Often subtly in the new church movement we are glorifying youth without even realizing it. We figure that people in the 50+ age range are not in our churches because they are old school and we need hip people in our churches. Old folks just don’t get it. Anna could teach us many things in this passage. Anna teaches us that age has nothing to do with ministry and it has everything to do with the spirit of the Lord. In this first century Palestine as in most cultures of the time, age was respected and valued. They words were treated like they were gold nuggets. Their words carried weight. Anna was dedicated to the Lord for 50-60 years doing nothing daily but praising the Lord. She was full on, all-in for God. She knew hardship in her life but she didn’t let it get in the way of loving and serving her Lord. She was an old lady at this time but she was still vital in the Lord. Don’t you think that if she would not have been effective in the Temple daily she surely would have been asked to leave. Are we, in the new church movement, subtly asking the early baby boomers to leave our church by not including them, by not encouraging them to use their talents to their highest ability. Do we assume that they are not participating in leadership in our churches because they are tired and just want the young folk to take over? Let us find the Annas in our midst. Let us encourage them to serve. Let us learn from them. The message that they grew up with may have been packaged differently but the message is the same. At my age, early 50s, I grew up in the old church and am right square in the middle of the new church movement. Church must change the packaging every generation to meet the new generation. However, we must never change the message. The gospel message is a timeless one. New church does not have a franchise on the message. Anna, 21 centuries ago, got the message. Through the centuries we have got the message. The message has not changed. That’s what ties Jeff Hickman and Perry Noble to Martin Luther. That’s what ties Big Daddy Weave to Charles Wesley. Let us embrace the wisdom that our elders have with the message. Let’s allow them to be central to the new church movement. They know the message has never changed. It is timeless. Thus, let us find our Annas in the new church movement. Encourage them to serve the Lord with great fervor as Anna did all the way til age 84. They God we serve in our new church movement is ageless and timeless so we should encourage young, old, middle aged, teens, youth, you name it. Let’s encourage everyone to serve the Lord no matter their demographic statistics.

Father help me to have Anna’s dedication to you such that I seek your will daily despite the clutter of my mind and the world that I live in. Help me to never let what happens to me become the definition of who I am. Help me to become more humble with every circumstance of life so that you can use me mightily. Help me to grow more dependent on you daily. Help me to become so focused on you that I stay energized to serve you regardless of circumstance, or regardless of my age. Help me to be useful to your kingdom, Lord, til I take my last breath on this planet and am called home to you. Amen.

Luke 1:67-80 — When I read this passage, I think of God’s promises and how He executes them through, by choice, us.

Zechariah’s song of praise speaks of God’s fulfillment of His promise to Abraham back in Genesis 12:3. Zechariah recalls hundreds of years of God’s sovereign work in history, beginning with the promise to Abraham and going on into eternity. Zechariah speaks of the coming Messiah who will redeem his people. God made a promise and He is keeping it. Sometimes in this fast food, freeze-dried world in which we live we expect immediate action. God’s eternity is longer than any of temporal lives. A thousand years is like a minute to Him. Since He is eternal, He is not bound by the space-time continuum. He can see the big picture. He can see the beginning and the end. Therefore, when we read the Bible we have the advantage of seeing His plan played out over thousands of years. Zechariah was living at the end of the waiting period for the Messiah and he realizes that God’s promise to Abraham is finally going to be fulfilled. What about all those that were faithful to God between the promise made and the promise kept. This is where true trust lies my friends. There were many in biblical history that never lived to see the Messiah come. Their trust that He would come reflects their faith in God. The Savior will come. The Savior will come. We can say the same thing today. We often wish that Jesus would return hastily to our world today. Come quickly, Lord. However, we most likely will not live long enough to see Him coming in a cloud with a voice like thunder. However, we have no less confidence that He will come one day. We want we want and we want it now is often our claim today. We want immediate results. We get angry with God when He doesn’t give us the answers we want when we want. We must trust in the Lord. We must trust in His timing. He is after all God and we are not. The Bible gives us comfort that promises made are promises kept. He will answer prayers of His faithful children. He will keep His promises. We have a book that proves it. He promises us the Messiah and He delivered. Zechariah sings praises for this fact. We should do the same in our day to day living. Trust. Faith. Promises made will be promises kept.

Then Zechariah turns this prophecy from the overarching praise of God’s promises kept through thousands of years of history to a very personal note. He prophesies over his little boy, his newborn son. Although the Bible displays God’s unlimited power and eternal nature, He chooses to work through His faithful children. Compared to God, we are but little ants and whisps of air. He chose Zechariah to be the father of the forerunner of Christ. Zechariah has had an unremarkable life until this point. We never hear of him until he gets his once in a lifetime chance to serve at the Temple. This goes to show that God may place a call on your life late in life. God uses the old and the young. You are never too old to do what God calls you to do. So if you think you are too old, if you think you are not hip enough, not cutting edge enough, think of Zechariah. He became an instrument of God’s action at an old age. Also, we are never too young to serve God either. Zechariah’s son began serving God as soon as he grew up. He began living in the wilderness and preparing for his ministry. We are never to young to be so in love with the Lord that we dedicate our lives to His service. I am in awe of the young people of our church who are already serving the Lord and have great passion for Him. I in some ways envy them for coming to their Savior at an early age. I look back at years before age 39 when I came to the Lord and wish I had previously had the wisdom to come to Him earlier. But God has a plan for us to participate in the work of the Kingdom regardless of what age we are at. Our past experiences make us uniquely qualified for the calling He gives us. Sometimes we are to work at from a young age. Sometimes we are to work at from a later point in life when we can truly appreciate what has happened before as part of the purpose of what is happening now. Zechariah sees this in this history of God’s faithful ones and He sees it in the present and future through his son and the coming Messiah.

Father thank you for being eternal. Thank you for seeing the beginning and the end. Thank you for your unchanging nature where promises made are promises kept. Help me to see the evidence of this fact every time I sit down to read your Word. Help me to believe and trust that you will answer every prayer that offered up to you by your humble and faithful servants. Help me always to strive to be in your will as a faithful and trusting servant. Help me to believe in your promises and help me to trust in them even if I need see them come into being. Help me also to remember that You will use your faithful ones to execute your plan because you want the unbelieving world to see what You can do through people who believe in You. You could come in and zap people into believing but you choose to use us because you want people to come to you not out robotic response but out of real love for you. You choose to work through us at whatever age you choose to call us to service. You are Sovereign. You are God. You are Promise Keeper. You are my Lord. Amen.