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Saturday, September 10, 2016

To Do or To Be (Zechariah 8:16-17)

 "These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all of this," declares the LORD."

God's "To do" or priority list differs from that of His people. The people's list is noticeable short: fast and mourn in the fifth and seventh months while God's list is fairly comprehensive:
  • Administer true justice
  • Show mercy and compassion to one another
  • Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, alien or poor
  • Do not think evil of each other
  • Speak the truth to each other
  • Render true judgment in your courts
  • Do not plot evil against your neighbor
  • Do not swear falsely
It is so easy to attend church and do church work while ignoring broken relationships with others and the needs of the poor and disadvantaged.

Some years ago I met co-workers of one of our church members who gave me an ear full about this particular member. They had no idea that I was her pastor's wife. Their view of her work ethic (or lack thereof) and testimony differed drastically from hers. They knew that she went to church but they didn't see church go to work. Her "to do" list was one-sided and only dealt with church activities while they needed to see God's "to do" list in operation in the work place.

Man's "to do" lists generally have more to do with tasks than with relationships, while God's list revolves around relationships. He is much more interested in who we are because it is out of who we are that we do.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Zechariah 7-8
  • What question about God do the people of Bethel ask the priests and prophets and how does God respond?
  • What behavior or heart attitude does God look for from His people?
(God desires inner spiritual reality rather than external formalism devoid of reality.)
  • Why is God so particular about Jerusalem?
  • What does God determine to do for Jerusalem? In turn, how are they to respond?
  • Why will peoples from other nations be drawn to Jerusalem?
Ezra 5:1-6:18 (God uses pagan rulers to initiate and pay for the rebuilding of the temple.)
  • What question does Tattenai ask of the Jews?
  • What was Tattenai's goal in writing his letter to King Darius?
  • What reason do the Jews provide for the destruction of the temple? And, what have they learned about God in the process?
  • Who funds the building project? What does this tell you about God?
  • What role do Haggai and Zechariah have in the community?
  • What did they use to guide them in re-establishing the sacrificial system?
Turning truth into prayer
God desires spiritual reality and rejects those who practice external formalism. Ask the Lord to help you to keep it real.