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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday - The First Week of Advent

I was talking with the Lord last night about the season of life that we are positioned in at this time.  In many ways it is a very strange place for me.  My wife and I have been right smack in the middle of the action in ministry since before we were married.  I can hardly remember a time when we weren’t involved up to our ears in ministry!  The last three years or so have felt like we are in limbo or as Dictionary.com describes as “an intermediate, transitional or midway place.”  In one respect I understand that my main responsibility in this place is to care for my wife and actively stand for her total and complete healing.  On the other hand, I feel a bit lost and a little useless!
As I prayed last evening the Lord clearly told me that at this point Jesus is to be my purpose and my pursuit.   Kind of like a backup quarterback at the NFL level.  They have to always be focused, prepped and ready to jump into the game at a moment’s notice… and instantly play at the top of their game!  That scenario is like the position that Zechariah and Elizabeth must have found themselves in.  In their old age, they finally had an opportunity to jump into the game and perform what they had been preparing themselves for all their lives! 
So even though I may be somewhat confused about what’s going on in my life right now, I know that Papa God has His ultimate purpose in mind for my wife and I.  So what do I do?  I prep, I practice and keep myself focused on the Word of God and thereby ready to jump in whenever the Lord calls my name… just like Zechariah and Elizabeth!

Let’s Rearrange That!
Tuesday, the first week of Advent

Today’s Reading:  Genesis 30:1, 22-23 / Luke 1:23-25  

There is an old western film produced by the RKO studio in 1936 entitled The Last Outlaw starring the legend of silent and talking westerns, Harry Carey Sr.  In the film the actor plays the part of a notorious outlaw who has just been released from prison after a 35 year sentence.  He is totally out of touch with the modern world and is even more miffed when nobody remembers the tough guy that he used to be.  There are some pretty hilarious scenes with the way he reacts to the younger people’s comments to him as being an “old man!”
In the climax of the movie, he teams up with the old Sheriff who put him away many years back to help with his sharp-shooter skills with a rifle, in order to roust a gang held up in a country cabin.  Throughout the gunfight scene Harry Carey’s character calmly looks at different targets on, in and around the cabin and says to the young upstart Deputy crouching next to him, “Let’s rearrange that!”  Then to the amazement and chagrin of his young “Doubting Thomas” he aims his rifle and hits his intended bull’s-eye.  In the end he shoots off the stovepipe from the roof and forces the bad guys to surrender as they are overtaken by the smoke from the fireplace that fills the cabin.
The words of the comment “Let’s rearrange that” go hand in hand with today’s reading and corresponding lesson.  In our scripture we take up where Zechariah has just received a life altering message from the angel of the Lord.  Yesterday we saw a man that responded in doubt and unbelief, but today we see a man that quickly saw the error of his ways and “rearranged” his thinking, his faith and his courage!  Think about that for a moment.  Many of us would have probably felt sorry for ourselves, thrown in the towel and went home with our tails between our legs.  But not Zechariah!
This man of God, swallowed his pride, accepted his situation, and looked forward with new purpose to the job that was set before him.  The Word says that he did not drop everything and run home, but that he stayed on in order to complete his previous assignment with his temple duties for another few days and then returned to his home in the mountains to proceed with the next phase of his life.  After this the story turns to his wife Elizabeth and we get an abbreviated glimpse into the reactions of a mighty women of faith.
Our story states that Zechariah and Elizabeth were quite old and that she had been barren.  Previous to this we learned that they were accepted by God because they lived righteous before both God and man.  As members of the priestly line of Aaron they had to be very much aware of the promises of God to His people, especially that of Deuteronomy 7:14 where it was proclaimed that “You will be blessed more than any other people.  Your men and women will be able to have children, and your animals will be able to have offspring.” (God’s Word ©)
Throughout my many years in ministry I have seen countless Christians who have turned away from God because they became angry and embittered with the loss of a loved one, the inability to have a family, or because they felt that God didn’t answer a particular prayer of theirs.  They blamed God, and walked away from Him and or blamed themselves and lived the rest of their lives in defeat, fear of failure and indecision.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were not like that though!  They are shining examples of those who trust in the Lord in the midst of confusing times when you might not have all the answers.  And yes, Zechariah did exhibit a moment of weakness (which is not uncommon among those of us who face negative lifelong situations or health issues day and night, 24/7), but he saw the light, “rearranged” his faith and moved forward.
Elizabeth quickly discerned not only the miracle but also the importance of the event that had taken place in their lives.  I believe that is precisely why she spent five months in seclusion so she could be alone in the presence of the Lord, thank Him for removing what was considered a disgrace and meditate upon, as well as prepare herself for their new assignment.
Today we have read of an older couple who learned a practical lesson in life, made some rapid “rearrangements” within themselves and stepped excitedly into their future!  How would you (or have you) handled a similar situation?  This would be a good time to consider the place and level of faith in your life.  Are you at a place where you could positively respond to a new direction, or job that God might present to you?  If not, then today just might present the perfect opportunity to look within and make any “rearrangements” to better align yourself with the path that proceeds from His loving kindness, mercy and potential plan for your life! 
Once again, this could be the perfect discussion to have around the dinner table tonight.  Have a great adventure today!  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What “REARRANGEMENTS” am I expecting to make today?”

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