Archive for March 27th, 2009

Bright Zone

St. Philip’s is focusing their efforts on the people who live and work in the Bright Zone. And just what is the Bright Zone?

Frisco ISD has divvied up the area into 27 regions identified by Elementary schools. The region where St. Philip’s exists is named after the school that St. Phil’s had its start…Ida Lee Bright Elementary (or Bright for short!)
As you can see on this map, it is located in the heart of Frisco going from Main street south to Stonebrook, and from Preston to the Tollway (with a little westward peninsula that encompasses St. Philip’s!) 
(Coordinates = LY-LZ:511-512)
It also is one of the most, if not the most, impoverished region of all 27 districts. Instead of a building campaign, St. Philip’s is going to focus on a people campaign, that of reaching out to everyone who lives and works in the Bright Zone for the Lord!
Growing Faith that Impacts the Bright Zone for Christ!

Step One to Step Twelve

Zechariah 8 continues to answer the inquiry made at the beginning of chapter 7 of whether or not we should continue to remember the sins of our past that took us into a 70-year captivity! You just gotta love this chapter!

Truth and Love Must Prevail

The Lord declares that His passionate love for Israel has not diminished.
A series of sayings of the Lord assures His people that they are the objects of His love. The hard-heartedness of their fathers in 7:11-14 has not swayed the Lord from His commitment to Jerusalem and her people.
Zechariah describes at length the prosperity awaiting the chosen city. The Lord had returned to dwell there (and where ever the Lord is there is freedom and transformation), and the old men and women who were at the end of life should join with happy boys and girls who were at the beginning in the enjoyment of the blessings of peace. 
So entirely would the memory of the past be obliterated that fateful anniversaries would soon fade from their minds. Indeed they would discover that their dark days had been the source and origin of their glad ones.
One last thought from Dr. James Boice regarding the last verse:
“We are all clinging to the seamless robe of that one Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, who because of His work on the cross is the only basis on which anyone may approach God and entreat Him for spiritual blessings.” 
Lord, we are so thankful that you can even redeem our poor choices and use them for good. It takes no great God to use good people who always makes the right choices. But what a marvellously gracious and powerful God You are, that can take rebels, self-willed, constantly-finding-trouble, children and use them to minister to others. 

I pray for all those who trapped by addictions and are working the 12 step program. Let them discover how You can turn their powerlessness into a care and compassion and ministry to others. 

We pray for those who meet at St. Philip’s for AA, and that anyone in the Bright Zone who struggles with powerlessness, that they would come and see Your transforming power in their lives. I pray that if the Harrington’s are experiencing any captivity or bondage, that You will be their Savior and Deliverer! Amen

Focusing on Past Sins tends towards Self-indulgence

Zechariah 7 starts off with a delegation being sent, apparently from Babylon to Jerusalem with, of all things, a question about fasting. At this point, the temple was somewhere around halfway completed.
There are seven feasts that the Jews observed during their captivity, four of which recalled the destruction of the temple and their captivity:
  • 1) First enclosure of Jerusalem by the enemies’ lines
  • 4) the capture of the city
  • 5) destruction by fire of the Temple
  • 7) murder of Gedaliah.
The national life was depressed by this constant memory of disaster. These men knew that during their forced exile in Babylon they observed these feasts that remembered the tragic fall of Jerusalem. 
But now since God’s people were back in the land and the temple was nearly rebuilt, they wanted to know if it was appropriate to continue to these fasts of mournful remembrance.
(The matter brings up an issue relevant today: How long should we remember and mourn over our past? Should we do things to remember either our sin or the tragedies of the past?)
So representatives were sent to ask the views of the leaders. 
The delegation is not answered directly. Instead a word from God comes to Zechariah “to all the people of the land to the priests” (4). 
What is the purpose of their fasting? Is it really for the Lord? Or is it an expression of their own needs, like eating and drinking? Fasting must not be motivated by self-interest but by concern for the glory of God (4-7).
(This also shows us that when we cling to the memory of sin or tragedy in the past, we often do it out of simple self-indulgence. We do it for our self, not for the Lord.

Instead of actively remembering the sin or tragedy of the past, God wants us to focus on active obedience and an active walk with Him. 

“There is no need to observe the sad anniversaries of our sins and their accompanying punishment, if once we are assured of God’s free forgiveness. When He forgives and restores, the need for dwelling on the bitter past is over . . . Too many of us are always dwelling beside the graves of the dead past.” (Meyer))

Then in a second word from God, Zechariah calls on Israel to recognize the basic issue facing them. God’s real concern, as shown in the history of Judah before her fall, is that His people “administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” 
What God wants is that they “do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the stranger or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of one another.” (9-10) Some among the people of God found it easier to fast a few days a year instead of truly treating others in a godly way. 
The issue is not fasts, but the willingness of this people to commit to a life that pleases God.
Interesting progression is mentioned in verses 11-12:

Refused to heed . . . shrugged their shoulders . . . stopped their ears . . . made their hearts like flint: 

Zechariah vividly describes a progression of rejection. It begins with simply refusing to heed God, then a self-justifying shrugging of their shoulders, then stopping their hears. It all ends with hearts as hard as flint.
Their disobedience and disregard for God led to scattering and desolation. This is always our fate when we allow religious rituals to take the place of a real relationship with God.
Lord Jesus, we hunger for a real relationship. Deliver us, or prevent us, from being ensnared by activities, rituals and past sins. We want to focus on You and Your word for us. 

You say You have a plan and a future for us, one of hope and brightness. Because You have cleansed us and forgiven us, help us to focus on You and strive towards the goal of this bright vision. I pray this for us as individuals, and also for us as a church. May we walk in obedience by showing mercy and compassion especially to the people in the Bright Zone.

May the Harringtons be recipients of Your mercy and grace through us. And if they be anywhere in this progression of rejection, that You would intervene and soften their hearts to You. Thank You for Your guidance, love and deliverance. Amen.