Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mercy Speaks: That List of Accusations With Your Name On It

The book of Zechariah in the Bible is a very interesting one. The lessons from that story can almost be interpreted in so many ways but without loosing the core message. Not that it should be read in isolation to the other chapters but it captures so well God’s promise and restoration for Jerusalem. A promise, each and everyone of us can tap into for our present time.

Our focus today is on Zechariah Chapter 3 and how it expressly shows us grace and mercy in action.

Now, the chapter begins with prophet Zechariah explaining to us what he saw during the cleansing of the High Priest:
3: Then the angel showed me Jeshua[a] the high priest standing before the angel of theLord. The Accuser, Satan,[b] was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.”
During the cleansing of the Priest Jeshua, the devil also came with his list of accusations. By all means he wanted to disqualify Jeshua from getting a fresh start with God. By all means, those accusations might have been right. As we see in verse 3:
3 Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel.
A High Priest with a filthy robe. Nothing is hidden from God. He sees all our imperfections and our struggles. The devil is always quick to pick out our filthiness. We don't have the full details of why the clothing of the priest was filthy but keep in mind that all have sinned and come short of God's glory. Even when we think we stand, we all have to be careful or else we fall. Our righteousness before God is like a filthy rag, the Bible says. It is never by our works of righteousness. Okay- enough of my babbling.

“Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel.” By normal standard, he did not deserve to even be standing there. The devil did not miss his chance to point that out. But mercy said no! The Lord rebuked the devil and granted Jeshua mercy.
4 So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine
new clothes.”5 Then I said, “They should also place a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean priestly turban on his head and dressed him in new clothes while the angel of the Lord stood by.
Jeshua got a fresh start. He was cleansed. Renewed. But it did not end there. Jeshua must also commit and not return to the old ways. We are not to abuse God's mercy and grace. We must agree to walk carefully and follow God's ways. Here is how the Angel puts it to Jeshua the Priest:
6 Then the angel of the Lord spoke very solemnly to Jeshua and said, 7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk among these others standing here.
8 “Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 Now look at the jewel I have set before Jeshua, a single stone with seven facets.[c] I will engrave an inscription on it, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day.
10 “And on that day, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, each of you will invite your neighbor to sit with you peacefully under your own grapevine and fig tree.”

Like Jeshua, God is extending His mercy to us everyday. Do not let the list of accusations the devil is holding against you hold you down. We have all sinned. We are too much of a sinner to even knock on Heaven’s gate. Fear, pain, shame, greed, death, barrenness, failure and other baggage from the devil are hovering, waiting for permission to knock us out.

But mercy is saying no. 

Get up and embrace mercy! God is a God of a second, third chance and ever new chance! God's thoughts towards us are thoughts of good and not of evil. God wants to give us hope and a future. But we cannot enjoy these promises in its fulness if we continue to walk in the flesh and gravitate towards the pleasure of sin. We must take that bold step, fall before God's altar and surrender it all to Him and let His precious blood wash us and set of free from the grip of sin and death.

It does not matter how low we have fallen, what we have done with our past. Mercy still speaks. Yesterday ended last night. Today, lets choose to embrace mercy and choose to follow God. It is not by force or by strength, but God’s grace is ever sufficient for us!

We might stumble tomorrow but may God's mercy and grace never let us fail to return home. 

We are a symbol of things to come (Zech 3:8).

God's mercy still speaks. Listen up, embrace it and spread the word! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Proverbs 31 man we forget to talk about :-)

I read Proverbs 31, again. But this time I read it with a fresh understanding, like I saw new lines I did not see there before :-).

First and foremost, these were the words of King Lemuel of Massa, "strong advice his mother gave him..." It began with:
"Oh, son of mine, what can you be thinking of!
    Child whom I bore! The son I dedicated to God!
Don't dissipate your virility on fortune-hunting women,
    promiscuous women who shipwreck leaders.

Reading further he went on to buttress the importance of speaking out for justice and not allowing too much wine ruin one's leadership ability. And then, we are directed to the famous CV of a virtuous woman. Line after line, we are told what the portrait of a virtuous woman looks like or should be. 

Many young women, like myself, have feasted so much on this portion of the Bible. Aspiring to be a "capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman—" (Proverbs 31:10) for the man we'll treat like a king.

But guess what? It takes a man of Proverbs 31:2-9 and 23 to find a woman of Proverbs 31:10-31.

It is a union of partnership. 

If you notice, the portrait of the virtuous woman was punctuated with a reminder in Proverbs 31:23-
Her husband is known in the [city's] gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.

This means, the virtuous woman is not married to a man who sits all week watching SuperSports and debating about Arsenal and Manchester like it is what will pay the children's school fees :-) The man also knows not to waste his strength on promiscuity or those things which ruin kings (Proverbs 31:2).

That whole chapter can as well be titled, "Portrait of a virtuous couple that honor God." As it speaks to the man, so does it speak to the woman. Seriously, this is not an impossible standard to attain or what do you think? 

So we must not just limit the teachings to women alone. Emphatically pointing out how women should model the woman of Proverbs 31. Men can also be that king who chooses to be responsible. 

Take a fresh look at Proverbs 31 again and let the Holy Spirit grant you a clear understanding.  

Enjoy your weekend!

Proverbs 31 (

King James Version (KJV)
31 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?
Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.