VIDEO Would You Tell Me, Retreat to Zion?

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:23

One of the most helpful aspects of a social media platform is connectivity. Many neighborhoods have online groups that allow members to ask and share information like, “Does anyone know of a good plumber/electrician/landscaper/remodeler that you would recommend?” In other words, the most valuable form of advertisement is a satisfied customer who will recommend a service provider to others.

When the prophet Zechariah ministered in the post-exilic world of the Jews who had returned from captivity, he saw an amazing development: The day would come when people from all over the world would ask a Jew to lead them to the house of God. That kingdom vision hasn’t happened yet, but will, likely during the Millennium when Christ rules over all the earth. And it can certainly happen when people discover our hope in an eternity with God.

Are you excited about heaven? Let your excitement be an open invitation for others to ask, “Would you tell me how I can get there?”

All true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action. J. I. Packer


Zechariah 8:1-23 – I Will Retreat to Zion

Miracle of Belief

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest degree; he was not speaking here out of a deep sense of humility, but was saying that when he preached the gospel, he would veil the power of God if he impressed people with the excellency of his speech. Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.

Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God— “…as though God were pleading through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

And Iif I am lifted up…, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).

Wherever the providence of God may dump us down, in a slum, in a shop, in the desert, we have to labour along the line of His direction. Never allow this thought—“I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not! Wherever He has engineered your circumstances, pray. So Send I You, 1325 L

The Benefits of Fasting

Matthew 13:1-23

In the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that it takes good soil to produce a plentiful harvest. He advises against planting seed on the rocky places and warns about dangerous thorns that choke the plants. He directly applies this to our spiritual life, explaining that the seed is God’s truth; it’s only in good soil that the Word is received and spiritual fruitfulness is produced.

Biblical fasting can position our heart to receive God’s truth. It can make us ready for the planting of the Word, and through that, to receive greater insight, direction, and faith (Rom. 10:17). Then we will be better prepared to set ourselves apart from earthly concerns and spend time concentrating on heavenly matters. The Lord may use this time to reveal any stumps, rocks, and roots that entangle our heart and prevent spiritual growth. And He promises to be with us as we confess and face these obstacles.

What’s the condition of your heart’s soil? God wants to clear out the rocks and weeds in our life and break up any hard soil; biblical fasting prepares us for such tilling. God is calling His people to consecrate themselves to Him. Won’t you come before Him to be made ready?

For All Our Transgressions

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah (actually, the chapter should begin at Isaiah 52:13) contains the clearest and fullest exposition of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for our sins to be found in all the Bible. Our text verse is the central verse of this chapter, which, in turn, is the central chapter of Isaiah’s second division, chapters 40–66.

Although the chapter and verse divisions of the Bible were not part of the original inspired text, it almost seems that some of them (notably here in Isaiah) were somehow providentially guided. Part 1 of Isaiah contains 39 chapters and part 2 has 27 chapters, just as the Old and New Testaments have 39 and 27 books, respectively. Likewise, the major themes of the two Testaments—law and judgment in the Old, grace and salvation in the New—respectively dominate the two divisions of Isaiah. Many other correlations can be discerned—for example, the second division begins with the prophecy of John the Baptist and ends with the prophecy of the new heavens and the new earth, just as the New Testament does.

Be that as it may, this central verse of the central chapter of Isaiah’s salvation division surely displays the very heart of the gospel. Christ was “wounded” (literally “thrust through,” as with great spikes) and “bruised” (literally “crushed to death”) for our sins.

On the other hand, we receive “peace” with God because He was chastised (i.e., “disciplined”) in our place, and we are forever “healed” of our lethal sin-sickness because He received the “stripes” (i.e., great welts caused by severe blows) that should have been ours. What wondrous love is this! HMM

Seek Genuine Joy of the Lord

The he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and set portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

—Nehemiah 8:10

 

We are missing the mark about Christian victory and the life of joy in our Savior. We ought to be standing straight and praising our God!

I must agree with the psalmist that the joy of the Lord is the strength of His people. I do believe that the sad world is attracted to spiritual sunshine—the genuine thing, that is.

Some churches train their greeters and ushers to smile, showing as many teeth as possible. But I can sense that kind of display, and when I am greeted by a person who is smiling because he or she has been trained to smile, I know I am shaking the flipper of a trained seal. When the warmth and joy of the Holy Spirit are in a congregation, however, and the folks are spontaneously joyful, the result is a wonderful influence upon others.

I have said it a hundred times: The reason we have to search for so many things to cheer us up is the fact that we are not really joyful and contentedly happy within…. But we are Christians, and Christians have every right to be the happiest people in the world.   TRA010-011

Lord Jesus, help me today to experience the joy of the Lord. I claim that joy as mine, even in the midst of heavy responsibilities. I’m going to rest in this joy of the Lord as my strength today, and praise You for it! Amen.

 

Happy and/or Holy

Every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself.

—Romans 14:11-12

 

One may easily deceive himself by cultivating a religious joy without a correspondingly righteous life. No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.

For those who take this whole thing seriously I have a suggestion. Go to God and have an understanding. Tell Him that it is your desire to be holy at any cost and then ask Him never to give you more happiness than holiness. When your holiness becomes tarnished, let your joy become dim. And ask Him to make you holy whether you are happy or not.

Be assured that in the end you will be as happy as you are holy; but for the time being let your whole ambition be to serve God and be Christlike. PON03-039

The end of the Christian in the exercise of grace is the glory of God, and not merely his own present or future happiness. DTC148

 

New Life in Christ

2 Corinthians 5:15, 17

On a sandy stretch of the sun-baked Damascus Road Saul’s life was radically changed so profoundly that he became a new man in Christ Jesus! He joined the sect he had been trying to exterminate.

There on the Damascus Road, his pockets bulging with the High Priest’s deadly documents, he was beginning to grasp the significance of the Lord’s death. Years later Paul was to write to the Corinthians, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:15, 17).

Such a sublime perception in all its fullness could hardly have entered his mind as he lay prone on the desert road. It actually took years to be grasped by its full meaning, years of close communion with the Lord, of intellectual struggle, and of arduous experience in the service of the gospel. What Saul saw and heard that day became the secret of his inmost being. It constituted the most unalterable conviction of his soul.

So it is with every authentic conversion, when all life is opened to God’s gracious healing pardon, cleansed by the blood of the Savior on the cross, regenerated by the power of the Spirit.

At a meeting in The Salvation Army’s Mission compound at Chikankata in Zambia, I heard a mother from a very poor family living in a nearby village testify to her conversion. “The preacher preached,” she explained simply, “and the Word of God attacked me in my heart.” By divine grace, through faith, that illiterate mother and the erudite Saul found the self-same Savior. Saul too had been attacked by the Word of God. He too capitulated and became a willing captive; a slave was how he described himself in his epistles.

Indeed, conversion involves so radical a repentance that life is turned completely around. It involves so deep a faith that God in Christ becomes the supreme, most radiant reality of existence so that character, conduct and human relationships are all set moving in the direction of Christlikeness.

Clarence D. Wiseman, The Desert Road to Glory

 

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