Bible, Comfort, Contentment, Peace, Rest, Scripture

PICNIC TIME

ZECHARIAH 3:10

“‘“On that day,” declares the LORD of armies, “every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.”’”

People love to go on a picnic. You know, wicker basket full of fried chicken, potato salad, apple pie and sweet tea (of course). The tranquility of those times is precious. You can nap lazily under the shade or dip your feet in a nearby stream. The peace of these moments is hard to beat. Peace, peace, peace!

That is exactly what the Lord was saying here in today’s verse. After all the wars. After all the days of exile, they can now invite neighbors for a picnic under the vine and fig tree. He is telling them they can be at rest now. Don’t you know that thrilled their hearts? Don’t you know they felt that peace for the first time in a long time?

APPLICATION

Micah wrote of this in Micah 4:4. “Instead, each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, because the mouth of the LORD of armies has spoken.” The same is true today. Jesus told us in John 14:27, “‘Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.’”

Aren’t you tired of the weariness of life? There is no need to continue striving, chasing after the wind, as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes. Christ offers you the supreme peace. His peace doesn’t end when the picnic ends. Oh no. His peace is everlasting. It will never, never, never end. You can put your complete trust in that.

I am thankful I have the peace of God through Christ. This peace allows me to be at peace with men. Recently, I was starting a trip overseas. My flight was postponed three times before it was finally cancelled. I was rebooked the next day, only to get on board and have about an hour delay due to engine issues. But I was at peace. Why? Because it was His peace, not mine that ruled the day. I pray you can experience the same.

Oh, the sweet, sweet peace of Jesus, that rules my heart and soul.

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Advocate, Angels, Bible, Caregiver, Comfort, Cowardice, Fear, Hand, Protection, Scripture

THE WAVE OF HIS HAND

ZECHARIAH 2:9

“For behold, I am going to wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that the LORD of armies has sent Me.”

I have known several young ladies who were beauty queens. My high school sweetheart was Miss Pelham. So was my sister. They both went on to compete in the Miss Georgia contest. One thing you have to practice as a beauty contestant is your hand wave. When you are riding in parades and such, you are expected to wave like a beauty queen. Don’t ask me how to do it because I have no clue, lol.

The angel who was delivering this message now switches to the first person. As God’s messenger, he will wave his hand over their enemies and defeat them. Look at that again. All he has to do is wave his hand. Wow! Now that is power. That is all it took – a wave of his hand, as God’s messenger. His power wasn’t his power. It was God’s. He pointed to that. “Then you will know that the LORD of armies has sent Me.

APPLICATION

In Job 27:11, Job tells his friends this. “I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.” God’s hand represented God’s way of dealing with the wicked. His method of operation is evident in His hands. God will deal with the evil forces of this world one day. We just have wait and watch.

So why do we cower in fear? All God has to do is wave His hand at those who try to defeat us. We are under His protection. We are His children. God tells us over and over in His Word to not be afraid. Yet we doubt His abilities. Now, if you asked someone if they believed God could do all these things, you would get an affirmative answer. Their behaviors, however, tell a different story.

My hands have been used to protect, soothe, comfort, wipe away tears and hold someone dear. God does the same with His hands toward us. If someone was attacking one of my loved ones, I would use my hands to defend them the best that I could. If we, as humans, will do that, don’t you think our heavenly will do that and so much more?

You’ve got the whole world in Your hands.

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Bible, Comfort, Compassion, Faithfulness, Grace, Love, Scripture

COMFORTING WORDS

ZECHARIAH 1:13

“And the LORD responded to the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words.”

You have heard it said that it is not so much what you say as how you say it. That is true. I have experienced that many times in ministry. Comforting words are not hard. They can do so much for the person listening. When people are hurting or worried, words of comfort can soothe the wounds. Comforting words are also deliberate and thoughtful. As we look at today’s verse, think about that.

I love this verse. Just look at the words again. The Lord spoke gracious and comforting words to the angel who was asking Him the question we saw in verse 12. The word used for “gracious” is towb, which is the basic word for good, kindly, joyful or beautiful. It is used over 560 times in the Old Testament. In contrast is the word for “comfort,” which is only used 3 times (here, Isaiah 57:18, Hosea 1:8). It means comfort, compassion or repenting. The Lord is showing His comfort and compassion as He speaks.

APPLICATION

Oh, listen to this verse today. The Lord is the same Lord who spoke those words. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Do you believe that? Have you experienced His comfort and grace? Boy, I have time and time again.

I also love Lamentations 3:22-23. “22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” How comforting is that? That’s our Lord. That’s our God. He hasn’t changed. And now we have that same responsibility – to share comfort.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 some of the most comforting words. “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” Will you be the source of comfort for others?

Thank You, Father, for Your comforting words. Give me those same words as I comfort others.

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Accountability, Allies, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Friends, Laughter, Relationships, Scripture

ANOTHER PROPHET

ZECHARIAH 1:1

“In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying,” 

You have probably heard the saying “Two are better than one.” I had rather have someone with me when I am traveling so we can give each other a break when driving. Climbers will often have a companion with them as they transverse a difficult mountain in case they need a belay. I believe God made us to need others in our lives.

Well, we are beginning a new book today which will take us several months to complete. Zechariah, by whom this book is named, was a contemporary of Haggai, the book we just finished. These two prophets were both relaying God’s message to His people. I am sure, in a country no bigger than Israel, they knew each other or at least of each other’s message. Perhaps they encouraged each other. Hang with me as we look at these 211 verses in this book, the longest of the minor prophets.

APPLICATION

Who is your companion in your walk with Christ? It may be your spouse or a close friend (those could be the same person). Perhaps it is a mentor. Whomever it is, thank the Lord for that person right now. We all need someone on this journey. In the ministry I am a part of, Every Man A Warrior, we teach men that they need other men in their lives to hold them accountable, to be their allies in the battles of life and to encourage them.

Maybe you’re saying Carl, I don’t have anyone in my life right now to come alongside me. Then find someone. You may be needed in the life of someone. You need someone to cry with and to laugh with. My wife and I have friends with whom we can do that. What a comfort they are to us. Ask the Lord to show you that person or persons.

Through the years I have had the privilege to minister with a lot of different people from all over the world. I have been blessed by them and hopefully I have been a blessing to them. I am sure Haggai and Zechariah were like that, if only for a little while. But above all, I have the Lord Jesus who is always with me. He can be your best friend too.

Thank You, Lord, for putting others in my life to do life with. I know You sent them to help me walk closer to You.

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Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Brokenness, Comfort, Despair, Encouragement, God's Will, Healing, Kindness, Love, Scripture

A NEW MESSAGE

HAGGAI 2:1

“On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,”

Have you ever tried to encourage someone who was intent on feeling sorry for themselves? It is difficult to get them to see beyond themselves. All they see is what they don’t have, who has hurt them or how unfortunate they are. All the coaxing in the world will not get them out of their funk. Sometimes, you just have to be like Job’s friends who showed up and just sat with him (Job 2:13).

In the second chapter of Haggai, he is going to deliver a message of encouragement to the people. The date he mentions, the 21st day of the seventh month, happens to be the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles when Israel is supposed to be dwelling in structures outside and praising God for all He has done for them. It was the time to gather in the harvest and celebrate it. For the Israelites, however, they were discouraged due to the lack of the harvest and no temple in which to celebrate. Haggai has his work cut out for him.

APPLICATION

So, how do you encourage someone? Well, all I know to do is to point them to Jesus. We do have instructions in His Word. I am thinking of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

You see, it’s not our words that do anything. We just have to be present and show His comfort. His comfort is always perfect. We can’t force this on anyone, but we can be there when the time is right. Just as Haggai was given a message from God to deliver to the people, He will give us the words to say at just the right time. He promises that.

I am thankful that God can use me like that. One of the greatest opportunities of ministry for me has been to comfort friends and family in the loss of loved ones. I have been there. I have lost both my parents, a child and a brother. I have grieved with my wife in the loss of her parents. Just be there. You don’t have to go with a prepared speech. Let the Spirit guide you in the words He has for you. You have a message for them. It’s one of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ.

Father of compassion and God of all comfort, comfort those around me who are in need of mercy right now.

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Abiding, Bible, Comfort, Peace, Rest, Scripture

WAIT QUIETLY

HABAKKUK 3:16

“I heard, and my inner parts trembled; at the sound, my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble; because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will attack us.”

I have mentioned before that I have worked with children most of my ministry. Only in the last few years has my focus turned to discipling men (that’s a story for another day). I don’t know how many times I have dealt with children who would not get quiet at bedtime. They just couldn’t rest. You may be that way.

As Habakkuk closes his message to the people, he now reflects on the chastisement of the nation, the terror of their enemies and finally his position in this. He says, “I must wait quietly.” The Hebrew word here means to rest, to get quiet, to withdraw, to get comfort. In other words, in the midst of the trial, Habakkuk felt a peace.

APPLICATION

Rest! It’s not easy sometimes. My wife gets mad at me because I can go to sleep so quickly. I tell her it’s a gift, lol. But I haven’t always been that way. There have been many a night when I could not shut my brain off. I couldn’t rest. I was anxious about things. Stress can do that to you. So can your physical health.

Are you at rest? My brother-in-law, Dr. Wayne Barber, wrote a book about this. It’s entitled “The Rest of Grace.” You can find it on Amazon at The Rest of Grace by Wayne Barber (1998-07-04): Amazon.com: Books. His basic message in the book is for us to rely on the strength and power of God and not ourselves. We have to rest in the grace God has given us.

As I have gotten older, I have learned to do that more. I still struggle from time to time when I pick up those old habits. But for the most part I have learned to rest in Him. There is a peace that is so comforting when I do that. Will you join me in His rest?

Lord, I am thankful for the rest You give me when I place my trust in You alone.

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COMFORT

NAHUM 3:7

“‘And it will come about that all who see you will shrink from you and say, “Nineveh is devastated! Who will have sympathy for her?” Where shall I seek comforters for you?’”

Some people just have no sympathy. They can walk past a hurting child and ignore them. They can look the other way when they see someone in obvious need of help. Our world today is getting less and less sympathetic. It is all about “me.” People do not want to risk getting involved.

The Lord is saying through Nahum that people will do that to Nineveh. They will flee from them in the midst of their destruction. Nineveh, who showed no compassion, will now receive no compassion. There will not be anyone who will come to comfort them.

APPLICATION

My mind immediately goes to 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

We are not to be like the onlookers who passed by Nineveh. We are to reach out and comfort those around us who we see in need. As Paul said above in 2 Corinthians, we are to use the comfort we have received from the Father to comfort them. It is “trickle down” comfort. We share what has been given to us.

I have been both the recipient and giver of comfort in my life. Let me tell you – I had rather give comfort than receive comfort. I am not a good receiver. But, oh the joy I receive when I can give that to others. In a hospital or a funeral home, I can give that which the Father has given me. So can you. 

Father of all comfort, thank You for comforting me with Your Spirit. I can share that now with others.

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IN TIMES LIKE THESE

NAHUM 2:10

“She is emptied! Yes, she is desolate and waste! Hearts are melting and knees wobbling! Also trembling is in the entire body, and all their faces have become pale!”

A couple of years ago, when I was going through treatment for my Amyloidosis, I got very weak. I was deathly ill. I had fainting spells and lost a lot of weight because I could not keep anything down I ate. My face was pale. My knees were wobbly. I felt as if my heart was melting. I guess you could say I could relate to the description in today’s verse.

Nahum, of course, is describing the condition of the Ninevites. Joel uses a similar description in Joel 2:6. “Before them the people are in anguish; all faces turn pale.” We find this description again in Jeremiah 30:6. “Ask now, and see if a male can give birth. Why do I see every man with his hands on his waist, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale?”

APPLICATION

The application, to me, is clear. We are weak and frail without Jesus. He is the source of our strength. You may think you are strong, but let a trial come your way and you will see what you are made of. Our flesh, in itself, can only bear so much. But it is amazing what we can endure with the help of the Lord.

Perhaps you are going through a very trying time right now in your life. You may be sick or grieving. Whatever it is, Jesus is your strength. Your knees may be wobbly, and your heart may be faint, but Jesus has you. Quit trying to manage it on your own. You can’t, He never said you could. He can and He always said He would (to borrow a quote from a dear brother-in-law).

I am so thankful that both times I went through my stem cell transplants I knew who held me. It was not the doctors or their medical knowledge. It wasn’t the great treatment I received at the hospitals. It wasn’t my wife, as precious as she was through both of those events. It was Jesus. He carried me through. He can carry you, too.

In times like these you need a Savior. In times like these you need an anchor. Be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.

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A LONGING 

MICAH 7:1 

“Woe to me! For I am like harvests of summer fruit, like gleanings of grapes. There is not a cluster of grapes left to eat, nor an early fig, which I crave.” 

When I travel, I get a longing for home about the end of the first week. I can just feel the warmth of my own bed at home. I can taste a big glass of sweet, iced tea. Those longings do not go away until I reach home and can fulfill them. You have probably experienced similar longings. 

Here, at the beginning of chapter 7, Micah in voicing some of his longings in the face of the judgment of God. He compares his longing for the Lord’s comfort to the longings of a harvest, both grapes and figs. They both bring pleasure, as does the presence of the Lord. 

APPLICATION 

What are you longing for? If it is for the things of this world, that longing may be met, but it will be a fleeting pleasure. We are to long for the presence of the Lord with more passion than we have for other things. Those other things will not last. They are not meant to. 

But the presence of God in our lives will last for eternity. Did you get that? You can pursue and obtain only one thing that will truly last. If that is true (and it is), why do we spend so much time in pursuit of other things. 2 Peter 4:2 says it well. “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 

Examine your longings today. Do they match up with God’s Word and His will for your life. All those things you strive to obtain need to be seen in view of what will give God the most glory. By doing that, you please the Father.  

O Lord, You have given me so much to be thankful for. Help me to strive for only those things that give You pleasure. 

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Abiding, Bible, Comfort, God's Will, Harmony, Peace, Scripture

HE IS OUR PEACE

MICAH 5:5

“This One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, when he tramples on our citadels, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of people.”

I find peace in the outdoors. When I am fishing (whether I am catching anything or not), I am at peace. When I am sitting in a deer stand or ground blind, I am at peace. I find peace in a quiet morning reading God’s Word or a book that can edify my walk with Him.

Micah declares the Messiah will be their peace. He was and still is. “The Assyrian” here represents all the nations that had and would come against the people. They are no match for their Redeemer. The “seven” and “eight” here are interesting. Of course, seven means wholeness and completeness. When coupled with eight, they mean a countless multitude. What a promise.

APPLICATION

In Isaiah 9:6, Christ is called the Prince of Peace. Paul, in Ephesians 2:14, say, “For He Himself is our peace,…” All through both the Old and New Testaments, we see peace. I have said before in my blogs, that peace cannot really be discovered until you are at peace with God. Are you?

Once your peace with God is secured through the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, that peace begins to spread. You become a more peaceful person, thus making your other relationships more at peace. It may take some time for that to become your lifestyle, but you learn to rest in Him.

Peaceful may not be the first word used to describe me, but I am surely at peace. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff. I have learned to trust Him with those decisions that are facing me each day. Big ones and small ones, it does not matter. Every decision I make is run by Him, and I allow His peace to be the barometer. If I do not have His peace about a decision, that decision is either no or not now. I wait. Are you at peace today?

Peace like a river, there’ll be peace like a river, peace like a river floods my soul

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