A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him since Jesus was coming that way. Luke 19:2-4
For a couple of months now, the story of Zacchaeus has been lingering on my mind. I had planned to write on it sometime in early October last year, but I kept pushing it aside. But the Holy Spirit kept at it and hence I had to surrender.
For the most part, his story might seem far removed from our own reality. But looking closer… you realize that in so many ways than one his story is mostly like your story! Lets face it, Zacchaeus had much going against him than for him. He was public enemy number one; a tax collector. He was short; everyone around him had a better view…meaning he had to do with the second-hand eyewitness account of what was happening around him. He was a curious man; he wanted to see who Jesus was…not so much as to know him as a friend but rather as the new kid on the block. And above all, he was a wealthy man.
Let’s face it. In life, you and I will encounter difficult situations. Like Zacchaeus, you may suffer from many shortcomings not of your own making…but others which are self-made. You may be limited by a physical, emotional or mental disability which continually hinder your progress. But God is saying to you and I today… GO THE EXTRA MILE and I will meet you along the way. Use what is at your disposal to gain what you are missing. Like Zacchaeus… there is a sycamore tree for each and everyone of us. Climb yours… STAND TALL AND BE COUNTED. Jesus is coming your way!
Count off seven sabbaths of years – seven times seven years – so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpets sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a JUBILEE FOR YOU;- Leviticus 25:8-11a
I started the New Year with one thing in mind: REST. Yes… rest! Why does God demand of His children a time fo rest? Why doesn’t He want us to be on the move on a constant basis? If anything, the world we are living in, is obviously in a RUSH PANDEMIC. Everyone seems to be busy caught up with something… be it important or insignificant. The point is the world is busy…and that includes my world.
For a long while, I have lacked that space and time for rest… rest for my soul. Rest for soul-searching and seeking the mind of Christ. But while I have been busy filling my time with other things, my soul has being yearning for something else altogether. Then, the Lord spoke into my year. 2013 will be a year of Jubilee for me. In other words, its will not only be a time for REST for me, but it will be my time of REST seven times multiplied!
For me, the Year of Jubilee means family, home, love and friendship. It means laughter and merrymaking. It means the sound of children playing and music and dance. Its means that my HANDS ARE NO LONGER TIED. I don’t know about you… but I will enjoy my time out and embrace the goodness that comes with the package.
A voice is heard in Rama, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. Matthew 2:18
Two days ago, I happened to stumble through the above passages twice in one reading. First, I read them from Jeremiah 31:15, then moments later, I read them again from Matthew. Of course with Christmas round the corner, we all need to remind ourselves of Christ, Our Saviour’s birth from scripture.
But while the birth of Jesus brought so much joy for some, for others it brought pain and great loss… the demise of little boys. Boys who could probably have been Jesus’ neighbours and playmates. Just imagine… when Jesus came back from hiding in Egypt, most of his agemates were all dead and gone. Yes… killed by Herod in the hope that Jesus was among them.
Just like during Christ’s birth, today STOP TO REMEMBER those mothers whose pain and loss will only be magnified this Christmas as they miss their sons and daughters… especially those who are out in war or the fallen heros. STOP AND SAY a prayer and remember…Christmas just like in the actual Christ’ birth will not necessarily bring joy to everyone.
STOP TO REMEMBER…those voices weeping in the land.
Let no debt remaining outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow-man has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
Most of us are IN THE RED…. financially speaking that is. Some of us are able to manage our debts well and pay back what we owe to our creditors. While a few of us do also struggle with paying back the debts owed. But Paul reminds us of a different kind of debt. In essence, even the most richest of us… financially speaking can never be on the other side. According to Paul’s letter to the Romans, the continuing debt to love is never ending. Which means you and I are and will ever be IN THE RED.
Look around you… there is someone out there who needs to be loved. You are indebted to them. As we approach Christmas, we are reminded of the great love accorded to us by God, the Father when He send Jesus to pay back the debt we could not pay so in turn we may extend the same love to others.
As you and I manage our other debts… may we remember that God always judges us most on how we manage the debt of loving our fellow human being.
Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,’ he said ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on you fellow-servant just as I had on you? In anger his maser turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he paid back all her owed. Matthew 18:32-34
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8
Think about it. The Lord is holding His morning meetings with His angels. Each has to report back on their earlier assignments on earth, while also waiting to be sent out to their newest. Satan also joins them from time to time….YES, he is the accuser of the brethren. Think about this! God has a very good report… about one particular man: JOB. He has a VOTE OF CONFIDENCE in him.
But Satan has his point to make. He thinks that Job’s loyalty and confidence in God is based on the exclusive protection he enjoys from God. As soon as the hedge is lifted…the enemy has the upperhand. Job is left standing alone EXPOSED. You may think this as tragic but wait until you hear the story.
You see, God’s vote of confidence in Job was not necessary based on Job’s ability to endure all the hardships but rather on GOD’S ABILITY and HIS ABUNDANT GRACE to see him through the trial. In his weakness, God became his strength.
As it was with Job, it still speaks well of you. A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE from God means you have the majority. Paul reminds us this:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Do not quench the Holy Spirit. 1 Thesssalonians 5:19
For sometime now, I have been battling these heavy and conflicting thoughts and opinions towards a certain matter. And while from outside, what I feel might seem right, inside there is no comfort in my spirit. For me, there was no way forward. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally brought my burden to the Lord. But to my own shock and surprise, He wake me up last night with this words in my mind…. DO NOT QUENCH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
You see, the fact remains….the problem is still there. But the Lord made me understand this, that the problem was not the problem…the problem was ME. Yes… the PROBLEM OF SELF. At one point or another, there comes a time in life when we come at a crossroad…and our greatest obstacle is…. SELF. Self ego and all that comes with it seem to have the loudest opinion in the matter. The Bible clearly says this: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs14:12
Maybe that you? Just like me….God is asking not to push away His Spirit which is deposited in you to safeguard you and watch over your welfare. Its good to be reminded of these words by Paul to the Corinthians;
For our weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
When the men got up to leave, they looked down towards Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Genesis 18:16-17
These words… “Shall I hide… seemed to have struck a deep cord when I read them once again this morning. I mean… this is God thinking and thinking aloud for that matter! What He was about to do to Sodom was already decided…but there was a moment of hesitation. God wasn’t about to surprise Abraham with the aftershocks of the destroyed Sodom. No…He hesitated. Why? Because what He had with Abraham was special. It was a SAVOURY FRIENDSHIP! A friendship which was pleasant and enjoyable. Yes…God enjoyed His friendship with Abraham more than Abraham could every know. His opinion on what God was about to do mattered. His suggestions or requests were not lightly taken into consideration.
Lets go down the ages…. its you and me. God is thinking…He is thinking aloud for that matter! But….have we heard what He is planning to do? Much of what I read in the Bible is God thinking aloud. He is still the same God who wants to enjoy A SAVOURY FRIENDSHIP with us His children. He is not will to do things before He passes the message to His children. He desires to hear our opinion in the matter. He is willing to stoop further than we can every imagine. What He was willing to do for Abraham inspite of Sodom’s great sin…He is willing to do for us…inspite of the fallen world we live in.
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:32