August 17, 2016

Zechariah 5-9 -  
6th vision - I looked up again and saw--surprise!--a book flying on the wing!  A book flying!...30’x15’.  The angel told him that this book is the verdict going out worldwide against thieves and liars.  The first half of the book disposes of everyone who steals, the second half takes care of everyone who lies                                        

7th Vision - Then there appeared a bushel basket on a journey. It holds the sin of everyone, everywhere.  Then the lid made of lead was removed from the basket--and there was a woman sitting on the lid.  This is Miss Wicked.  The angel then pushed the woman back down into the basket and clamp the lead lid down over her. Then I looked up and to my surprise saw two women flying.  On outstretched wings they airlifted the bushel basket into the sky and took it east to the land of Shinar to be stored in a garage.     

8th vision - Four chariots charging out from between two bronze mountains.  The first chariot was drawn by red horses, the second- black, the third - white, and the fourth - dappled.  All the horses were powerful.  The angel told Zechariah that these were the four winds of heaven which originated with the Master of the whole earth.                                        
Then the message from God came and told me  to take up a collection  from the exiles then tell them to Be Alert.  We have a man here whose name is Branch.  He will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of God.  Yes, he’s the one.  He’ll build the Temple of God.  Then he’ll assume the role of royalty, take his place on the throne and rule-- a priest sitting on the throne!--showing that king and priest can coexist in harmony...People will come from faraway places to pitch in and rebuild the Temple of God...All this follows as you put your minds to a life of responsive obedience to the voice of your God.                            

On the 4th day of the 9th month, in the 4th year of King Darius, God’s message again came to Zechariah...The town of Bethel had sent a delegation to pray for God’s blessing and to confer with the priests of the Temple.  They asked if they should plan a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the 70th anniversary of Jerusalem’s fall.  

God’s message through Zechariah was “when you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these 70 years, were you doing it for me?  And when you held feasts, was that for me?  Hardly.  

You are interested in religion.  I’m interested in people....The message hasn’t changed...God said then and says now to:  Treat one another justly, love your neighbors, Be compassionate with each other, don’t take advantage of widows/orphans/visitors and the poor, don’t plot and scheme against one another--that’s evil....    
                
But things have changed.  I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people...my core survivors will get everything they need--and more....and now here is what I want you to do:        

Tell the truth, the whole truth when you speak.  Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts.  Don’t cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others.  Don’t do or say what isn’t so.  I hate all that stuff.  Keep your lives simple and honest!...Embrace truth! Love peace!....                                    
Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!  Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!  Your king is coming!  A good king who makes all things right!  A humble king riding on a donkey, a mere colt of a donkey....he will offer peace to the nations, a peaceful rule worldwide, from the four winds to the 7 seas.     

Philippians - 
Paul’s happiest letter...but happiness is not a word we can understand by looking it up in a dictionary.  In fact, none of the qualities of the Christian life can be learned out of a book.  Something more like apprenticeship is required, being around someone who out of years of devoted discipline shows us by his or her entire behavior what it is.  Moments of verbal instruction will certainly occur, but mostly an apprentice acquires skill by daily and intimate association with a “master” picking up subtle but absolutely essential things, such as timing and rhythm and “touch.”  

Paul, for example, doesn’t tell us that we can be happy or how to be happy.  He simply and unmistakably is happy.  None of his circumstances contribute to his joy... But circumstances are incidental compared to the life of Jesus that Paul experiences from the inside..God cannot be contained or hoarded...It is this spilling out quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person.

Philippians 1 - 
Paul & Timothy, greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father & our Master, Jesus Christ.  Every time you cross my mind...I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.   I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s message... All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God...

So this is my prayer:
That your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.  Learn to love appropriately.  You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere & intelligent, not sentimental gush.  Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

My imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect.  Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered...It is true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight.  But the others do it with the best heart in the world.  One group is motivated by pure love...wanting to help. The others, now that I am out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves....I’ve decided that i really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad or indifferent.  Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on....

Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done...Life versus even more life!  I can’t lose!  As long as I am alive in this body, there is good work for me to do....

Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ...Stand united, singular in vision...your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, victory for you-- and both because of God.  There is far more to this life than trusting in Christ.  There’s also suffering for him.  And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.