The amazing down and up story....

We're 2/3 of the way through a 21 day corporate fast here @ IHOP. If you're not familiar with fasting, sometimes the kneejerk reaction is to paint it all with the broad brush of legalism. I guess you'd have to be in this context - it's easily the least legalistic thing I've seen. When the leaders announced the fast they were adamant - you determine what it means for you, and you're forbidden to ask someone else what they're fasting. Some are simply drinking water, others juices, and some have altered their diets and habits in other ways. The point is not group starvation - it's group spiritual hunger manifest in the willingness to put aside allowable pleasures for the pursuit of God's heart.

As a body, we've been meeting Tuesday thru Friday, 10 AM to Noon and 4 PM to 6 PM for corporate prayer and a short teaching time. We've spent a fair amount of time in the book of Zechariah (go the OT/NT break, and page backwards through Malachi....Zecharaiah is the next to last book of the OT). A few things really jump out at me from the third chapter.

Zechariah 3:1-2
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD , and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD , who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"

Some things never change, huh? Here it is - thousands of years ago, and God's servants are under intense spiritual attack from Satan. There's something confidence-inspiring, though, about how quickly the LORD jumps to Joshua's defense. He says, in effect - "I yanked this one from the fire - do you think I will quickly hand him over to you?"

Zechariah 3:3-5
3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes."
Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." 5 Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.

The High Priest goes through an amazing transformation here as God takes off his iniquity and replaces it with robes of richness on him. What we don't know is what Joshua was feeling at this point...to have the God he has served in the past cleanse him of his wrongdoing. We don't know Joshua's thoughts on the matter, but we can explore our own. What is it like to have the load lifted off only to be replaced by a light and easy load? God's not done with him yet, either....

Zechariah 3:6,7
6 The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: 7 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

The Message Bible says "...you'll make decisions around here and oversee My affairs." What a thought - that God would pull a filthy, sinful man posing as His servant into His presence, clean him up, and then put that man in govermental authority. It is so like God, and so unlike our theories of team building.

Something that's been talked about around here a lot lately is God's wacky team building...get the uneducated, rough fisherman, add a doubter and a few other rabblerousers. Pick out the one you know will betray you and allow him to handle the money. Bless the one who denied you and announce your intentions to build Your kingdom through his efforts. Empower the whole mess and let them go.

Once you catch a glimpse of how God interacts with people - bringing them from a low place to a high place as they're learning the principles of obedience - you understand that in surrendering our lives we have nothing to lose.

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