1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

ZECHARIAH - Have You Ever Been Lost?

My husband and I love exploring.

We love using his Jeep to go off-roading just to see what we can see!

Earlier last year, we went camping in Joshua Tree National Park in California. We love it out there. Nothing but scrubby land, a few undulating hills, and huge boulders scattered about. Lots to explore!

So, one morning, we packed up and headed out in the Jeep...

Armed with a topographical map of the area, and a bit of self-assured bravado, we bounced along enjoying the sights.

You can’t believe some of the cool stuff we saw – old mines, abandoned drilling equipment, discarded furniture and buildings, tons and tons of tin cans, and shards of broken bottles and pottery. Fascinating…

We spent most of the day like this – driving, stopping, exploring – the map made everything clear.

Until…all of a sudden...it didn’t.

Landmarks were unnamed, and it was difficult to tell which site we were at. No signs, no directions. When we thought we were at a certain point on the map, we became uncertain. The map showed a fork in the road – with only two directions to choose from. Easy, right? Not so much when the "fork" had at least 5 or 6 different directions to choose from - (and we weren't even sure it was the "correct" fork - that was still questionable).

Not panicked yet, we kept going in the direction we thought was right.

But then, we got really lost. And the sun was getting low in the sky.

At this point, we were traveling along a barely visible dirt "road" - (I use the word loosely!) - covered with very large boulders and treacherous ditches, moving along at a snail’s pace. All we knew was that we were in the mountainous area outside of the park boundariesand it was getting lateand we didn’t know exactly where we were.

I’m calling that – LOST!

Needless to say, we made it back – finally! A little luck, a lot of prayer – we arrived at our campsite at dusk. "Home" had never looked so good.

Feeling lost isn’t a good feeling.

And it REALLY isn’t a good feeling when it happens on our life’s journey. We think we’re heading in the right direction – we think we’re making all the right turns. We’re just coasting along enjoying the sights. But then, all of a sudden, we realize that we’re lost. Somewhere we’ve strayed off the right path we’ve traveled outside the boundaries of God’s will.

What to do?

Let’s turn to the only "road map" that will help – the Word of God. Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” offers the only solution.

"Therefore, say to the people, 'This what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Return to me, and I will return to you…'" (Zechariah 1:3)

Zechariah was a prophet and a priest. Born in Babylon during the exile of the Jews, he returned to Jerusalem in 538 BC. He began his prophetic ministry in 520 BC. God used Zechariah to encourage the people to continue rebuilding the Temple, whose construction had been halted for nearly 10 years. It was no easy task. Zechariah had to combat the peoples’ spiritual apathy.

Through Zechariah, God warned Israel not to be like their forefathers, who disobeyed Him and reaped the consequencesHis punishment. His message was loud and clear –

Return to Me.

It’s wise advice. And it’s the only advice that makes sense, the only advice that will work, when we have wandered off, when we have disobeyed God, when we find ourselves lost…

Individually, we must repent of our waywardness, confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, and then return to the One who loves us, and follow Him wholeheartedly.

There will be many "forks" in the road of life. Times when the landmarks won’t be obvious. There might not be clearly marked signs. Directions will blur and become ambiguous. Which way to turn?

And if we rely on ourselves, it will become quite easy to get lost.

But when we become lost…all is not lost!

Even in times of discouragement and despair, God is working out His plan. He will protect and guide us. We must trust and follow Him.


"Return to Me," the Voice of God urges. "I know the Way. I AM the Way."


“When in doubt, search God out!”

15 comments:

  1. Sharon - this is a great anaology. (You and your husband have a lot of camping adventures - we should get together sometime as my husband and I have had our own experiences.)

    But, I digress. Yes, it is easy to go along life's road feeling we are on the straight and narrow - suddenly we have strayed. This is such an ecouraging verse. God is always there ready to welcome us back with open arms.

    Blessings to you this Sunday morning and have a wonderful week.

    Joan

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  2. Blessings Sharon... As always a Good Word and such a great analogy! So thankful that when I was lost (or may be lost) our God is always there with His Spirit ready to guide me! Praying for the "prodigals" to RETURN! I love that the verse says "Return to me and I will return to you!!!

    I hope you don't mind but I'm going to link this on my blog to SUPER SUNDAY (even if you already linked it to SS). I hope you don't mind. At least today I did not just lurk and read. I so enjoy your writings and creative way like with MARTY...I love the lessons he brings! Think Zechariah has a Marty?

    Have a blessed SONday and may it be a SUPER SUNDAY to light your week!
    Peace and JOY,
    Peggy

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  3. Hi Sharon,

    I readily identify with this post and the aspect of losing my way. God is faithful, even when I was not.

    "say to the people...Return to me, and I will return to you" -- This is the assurance we have from God.

    Blessings and peace.

    MTJ

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  4. Hi Sharon, being someone who is what I call directionally challenged, I have been lost more times than I can count and spiritually as well. But turning back to the known helps both naturally and spiritually.

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  5. Joan - I think we would have a GREAT time having camping adventures together! I had some years of "wandering" and the truly amazing thing to me is this - that when I returned to God, He was THERE, waiting with open arms - waiting with love, mercy, and forgiveness. His words, "Return to Me" are a promise!

    Peggy - Thank you for your compliments. It was nice of you to "link me up" - I appreciate that! (And for the record, it's OK by me if you just lurk and read!!) I have known people who mourn prodigal children - it's so hard to see them suffer. I join you in praying for prodigals to return. God is waiting. (P.S. Yes, I think Zechariah sure could have a Marty! Why not? :)

    MTJ - Having wandered and been lost in my own life, I am so grateful for the faithfulness of God. Though I wish those years had not happened, I have learned some deep lessons about the character of God. I have an appreciation for God's unconditional love, his all-encompassing mercy, and His compassionate forgiveness that I never had before until I REALLY needed it, and had done nothing to deserve it. Grace - for me, that means coming home and being welcomed with open arms.

    Wanda - Returning to the known. I liked that. Spiritually, I think of returning to fellowship with believers, returning to the Word of God - and of course, drawing close to the very person of Jesus. "Come close to God, and God will come close to you." (James 4:8)

    Hope you all had a wonderful Sunday - worshiping our Lord!

    GOD BLESS!

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  6. Sharon,

    This is a great verse, and a wonderful post. I think even when we think we are following God we can get very turned around. I like to consider those times as signals that I need to crawl up into His lap and camp out in His Word and presence. Thanks for this reminder.

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  7. Jenn - WELCOME! Thanks so much for stopping by! You know, I liked how you said "camp out" in His Word and presence! It reminded me of how great that campfire was that night we returned from being "lost." Just like the Lord - His presence is the ONLY safe place to be! Hope you come back and visit again sometime!

    GOD BLESS!

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  8. Sharon... not long ago I heard a popular speaker say something along these lines:

    "When you don't know what to do next, when God's voice seems quiet or distant, return to the place where you last heard him speak and wait on his voice again."

    I think it goes nicely with your teaching here. You're right, being "lost" is a horrible, sinking feeling... scary as well. I want to always return to the Father in those times rather than default to my own fix-it strategies. Truly, he is my Peace for the journey. I can always find rest at his feet.

    peace~elaine

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  9. We do not remain lost...how true. Amazing how God's Word keeps our minds on track..what a benefit to belonging to Him. Sounds like you and your hubby had a lot of fun in your adventure!

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  10. whoa!!! this is such a great analogoy. I love the exploring the woods and I know what it feels like to be lost...both in the woods and in real life. You're the best Sharon...love your writing...I think I needed to read this today.

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  11. Elaine - Thank you for your very inspiring thoughts. How right you are - returning to His feet and waiting to hear His Voice - it is the only way to find rest. How I appreciate your heartfelt words, they have encouraged me tonight.

    Mary - Isn't it so true, that the benefits to belonging to Him are too many to count! And they last forever!! I am so grateful that God left us His Word, and placed the Spirit within us - to keep us on track. And He is faithful to always be there, even if we wander off.

    Sarah - Oh, how glad I am when God's words are timely! So, you love exploring, too?? How fun! What a wonderful God we have - He is always calling to us to come closer, to draw nearer, to feel His presence more and more. He is the most faithful friend, and He is the way out of the "dark" when we get lost. (Thank you, too, for your very kind compliment - it means more than you know!)

    GOD BLESS!

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  12. Gos is the only TRUE way! Wonderful post!

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  13. That was an wonderful analogy! It painted a picture that is easily recognized in all of our lives. How many times do we get lost? Remember Psalm 23? It is filled with promises that God has for His children...but it begins with, "The Lord is my Shepard...". David makes it personal when he uses the word "my". I'm so glad our Shepard will continue to guide us, direct us...and even go after the lost if they are wayward.

    Thank you, Debra, for this post. It reflects your heart...which reflects, to a degree, God's.

    God Bless You~

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  14. Amen Sharon; we all get lost sometimes and it is always wise to remember to run to the author and finisher of our faith once we realize we are lost. He is always willing to show us the way if we let him. Great post:)

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  15. Lyn - Thanks! Yes, the ONLY way and the only TRUE way!

    Shay - I would follow no other person than the Great Shepherd. And no one else searches for me when I am lost like He does!!

    Toyin - The author and finisher of our faith - that just gave me goosebumps! The Alpha and the Omega - the Beginning and the End! Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comments.

    GOD BLESS - keep following the Way, the Truth, and the Life!!

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"So I have been greatly encouraged in the midst of my troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives me new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How I thank God for you!"
(1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!