December 23, 2017 Zechariah 4-6; Luke 18

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

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Small beginnings | guest post

S~ Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

O~ This mighty work of rebuilding the Temple is in God’s hands.

A~ This is how the Temple will be rebuilt from Zechariah 4:6,7.  It is not by force nor by strength, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way.  Just what I need to hear today!  Because something like getting healthy to me is like a mountain that stands in my way.  Oh, and starting a women’s community group in my messy house, that’s a mountain too!  Well, if you couldn’t just make me throw up now.

Can’t I just live in my own little world and just have a bubble of me, my husband and kids?

And it’s hard to start something new….especially when I have failed so many times at these things before.

But the Lord says, ‘Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord REJOICES to see the work begin.’

Oh my goodness!  So everytime I started eating healthier, He rejoiced?  Could I not have a more loving and amazing Father?  I want this getting healthier journey and this community group – two new things – bring my Father glory!

I want EVERYONE to know how special He is!!!  How loved they are by Him!

P~ Dad, I want to please You so much, but You are already tickled pink by me even when I fail.  You already are so proud that nothing I do or don’t do won’t change that.  Right now, You are celebrating and rejoicing that I’m trying something new, even though it has small beginnings?  Like You are the loudest in my cheering section!  I LOVE YOU!!  Thank You!

Keep On Asking | Kelley Deases

S~ “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 (NIV)

O~ Jesus was talking here about persistent prayer.  He told the story of the widow seeking justice who, through much persistence, wore down even an ungodly judge, who granted her request just to shut her up.  Jesus made the point that if we cry out and cry out and cry out our fervent desire before the Lord, who loves us and wants the best for us, will He not listen and be moved to act?  Jesus assures us that our Father in heaven is moved by our passionate and persevering petitions, but are we passionately and persistently petitioning?  Do we really believe He will answer?

A~ Rather than look back with regret over things I should have taken before the Lord or persevered longer and more fervently … Rather than make a resolution to ask, seek and knock with increased boldness and expectation that God will answer … I just need to do it.

P~ Father, You know my heart is heavy over losing my temper with my youngest son.  Again.  He challenges me, negotiates everything, argues every detail, and talks (sometimes it seems) without ceasing.  Lately, especially, he has been hitting my triggers and I inevitably say or do something I regret and soon after apologize for.  God, I need Your peace, Your patience, and most of all, to see this sweet boy as You do — smart, funny, creative, social, learning, imaginative, curious, and a gift from heaven to us, his parents.  Lord, instead of letting this issue become a source of guilt and frustration, help me turn it into an opportunity to lean into You and find You faithful.

Crying Out Loud | Kimi Miller

S~ “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Luke 18:39 (NLT)

O~ When the rest of the crowd was telling this man to be quiet – he got louder. He wanted the Lord to see him – to rescue him – to heal him.  He was not ashamed to cry out louder – even when others told him not to.  I wonder if they were telling him to be quiet because he was already shunned because he was blind – that they thought little of him, and assumed the Lord would, too.  But they were wrong.  The man did not give up, but shouted even louder.  He risked everything because he believed!  And the Lord responded, “Your faith has healed you.”

A~  It’s not easy in this world for me to be as open about my faith as my soul wants me to be.  Sometimes, I hold back, but I believe God wants me to let go of what the world is yelling at me and to shout even louder what I believe about Him.  He wants me to cry out in His name – knowing He will hear me and rescue me and heal me.

P~  Lord Jesus, What an example you are to us. Your whole life was about your love for us.  Thank you, Jesus.  Please make me courageous.  Give me strength and wisdom to call out to you – louder – not to draw attention to myself, but attention to your holy name – the only one who heals.  In this name I pray, Amen.

Be a Fool | Tara Wiley

S~  “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Luke 18:39 (NLT)

O~ He was a blind beggar. An outcast. The one you tried not to notice as you walked by. Certainly the last one you wanted to make noise when the most important teacher of your day came to your town, to Jericho.

Of course, Jericho was once claimed by noisy believers who didn’t care what other people thought. I wonder if anyone in the crowd remembered that, once Jesus turned and healed the blind, yelling man.

Back in the book of Joshua, that’s where we read about it. Thousands of weary ex-slave desert wanderers (outcasts!) came and took down this very town. Not with weapons of war, oh no: with weapons of FAITH. They walked around the city, and on the seventh day they made a ruckus that would have made that blind man’s hollering in Luke seem like a whisper. And the walls came a-tumbling down.

A~ Sometimes faith looks a lot like an outcast throwing a noisy fit. Sometimes the things God calls me to say and do – yeah, they look and feel just as uncomfortable as a beggar hollering on the street. And I’d much rather take the part of the passers-by, not the blind man or the ex-slaves. But who was set free? Not the passers-by. What do I really want, the acceptance of the crowd, or the wall-tumbling, eye-opening, life-changing power of the one true God?

P~ Lord, I want to skip to the end of this story, and just hear you say, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” I want to follow You and praise You in such a way that anyone who sees me praises You, too. (Luke 18:42-43) But following You sometimes means being loudly daring in ways that don’t come naturally to me, in ways that may leave me living the part of the outcast. Increase my faith, Lord! Help me remember that the broken down walls and the fresh sight in my life will make any temporary discomfort worth it in the end.

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