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Boggabri Presbyterian

The Future can seem a little daunting to us all, but when we remember that God has all things in His hands we can rest in His Grace and providence. The thing is not to try to manipulate God to but to trust Him Through Christ Jesus.

A woman was in a shopping Centre here in Gunnedah a few years back with a baby who was way past his feed time –and He began to cry, not just cry but wail at the top of His voice, I’m sure he’ll probably get a job as top notch auctioneer when he grows up, because this child could make noise.  Everyone in that shopping centre knew that this child had had enough.  His mum probably stopped in there for a few things, got talking to someone, got a few more things, talked to someone else, and so by the time they were heading to the checkout this little fellow was sure that feed time had been cancelled for the rest of His life!  His way of protest was to make himself heard.  And boy did he do that!  Every mother across that entire floor space probably felt like they wanted to pick Him up.  People were pulling their trolleys back out of the checkouts to let this mother through.  The staff were rushing around, they assigned her, her own checkout, and someone to unpack her trolley for her so she could attend to this little fellow, and then they pushed her loaded trolley out to the car, to get this screaming kid out of the shop as fast as they possibly could.  If you want to get your shopping through quickly that’s the way to do it!  Except I cant help thinking it probably wouldn’t work if you or I as adults tried it….

Interesting then…that even though we know it doesn’t work with the shopping centre, we try it on with God.  We think; “Can I do something that will make God do what I want Him to do?  Can I make Him perform?”  “Can I get my own isle opened up in life so I can speed through?”  Oh I mightn’t ride in a trolley and hold my breath till my face goes red and wail and yell, and kick my feet, but I might be able to come up with some other more age appropriate ways of getting the same result.

What if I sacrifice something?  “Would I get God to do what I want Him to do then?”  “If I give up something?” Can I do something that will make God perform?

Of course we are not going to be so crass as to say it that way, but perhaps in the back of our mind there is this thinking that if I have had to give up this or that, or if I have suffered this loss or had to live without that thing or that person, then doesn’t God owe it to me to give me back this and more in future blessing?

That’s what the Israelites were saying; here is Zechariah 7 & 8.  and the Lord tells them that that’s not how it is.  It’s not how they came into relationship with Him as we saw last week and its not how the future can be bought either, as we are going to look at today.

The Israelites were saying; “Should I go on fasting and Mourning like I did in the past – will that get God’s attention, so that He will bless me in the future?”  And the Prophet says a resounding “No”!  We can’t manipulate God like a Microwave Oven by pushing certain buttons, we can’t move Him around like the garden sprinkler to pour out his blessings where we think they’d best benefit us for the future.  Even if it’s something that we have already sacrificed, something that we have already been deprived of, that doesn’t mean that God has to top up things for you tomorrow.   Its not; “I give Him this…He gives me that.”  Its not; “I perform like this, He performs like that.”  God is not a machine! 

The believer need not fret about the future because all things are from God and to Him.  & He has ‘set His banner over us in love’.   All of world History is moving towards that great and glorious day when the Son of God will be revealed as the King for who He is a personal saving God.  We cannot add one click of the second hand to that, nor take one space between the numbers away from that dateline.  And if all of world history is moving towards that date, then the everyday things of our lives need not present a problem at all.  If He can do the greater then of course He can do the lesser.  If He can bring His gospel to men and women, boys and girls in communist China, and war torn Sudan, then surly he can look after our daily needs for the future. 

See what God says to the Prophet:  Verse 3: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”  A City of Truth, because God is a God of Truth.  A holy mountain because God is a Holy God.

Think of Psalm 46 (4&5) There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Where Go is, All is certain.  There can be no doubting, there can be no grizzeling or complaint.  Notice too what one writer calls the Decalogue of Devine words   10 times we hear “Thus says the Lord of Hosts, this is what the Lord almighty says”   We make a fuss over what the Pri-Minister says or over what some independent says but they are only animated clay, a breath of air like the rest of us.  They can get it wrong – But God never is wrong! 

This message of comfort is from God who is Sovereign in power and might.  He, The Almighty says it & it will be done.  God is the Governor and guarantor of His promises.  These promises are not like so many political speeches that are fine in the lead up to an election but often end up sounding hollow after the pressures of government come to bear.

This is God speaking, this is God in Charge of Millions! Millions of angelic mighty warriors, God whose purposes always are a reality, because He never lies.  He is a God of Truth!  A Holy God!  & He has spoken!  Are you listening?  10 times “Thus says the Lord!”  And what is it that He is saying?  “Be still and know that I am God”  “Return to me and I will return to you”  “I will come to you”  “I will comfort you”  What does that mean?  God is achieving His purposes, the Future is in God’s hands, its childish of us to try to manipulate Him, for our own ends.  Yes Pray, Yes commit you way unto the Lord, Yes if its within your power to improve your situation then do so, but don’t try to manipulate God to have Him clear the isles for you to come through.  Have the long view of things not the worlds short view of them.  The Long view produces with in us Patience.  And Patience means we are willing to look to God as a loving father, who has spoken and will achieve His promises.  Its not about afflicting ourselves and trying to grizzle enough to God to get Him to ‘let the blessings come down’. . So that’s the first point 1. The Future is in God’s hands, Trust Him  But there is a Question; Someone might ask; “…So if I have to leave the future in God’s hands.., what makes you so sure that it will be a good future?”  Well of course the answer to that is that we have got a good God

That’s our second point 2..  The Future for the believer is good because God is good.

Look at verse 7 “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” [emphasis mine]

See I think some people are worried about the future because they’re not quite sure if God will be good.  They have a quick glance at Him, as they pass on by, like busy morning shoppers all about their business, and they are glance sideways at Him, and in that little look they are not quite sure of what they see.  Is God really good?

But He is good.  I and many people here can tell you from personal experience that He is good, & if God wasn’t good, then there would be no sense looking for good in other places because everything good comes from God. (James 1:17)

God has provided you with food and drink, homes, & breath, and life itself, without even mentioning Redemption, & forgiveness, Joy and Peace, & Love.

‘God is Good’  we sing that don’t we.  But I wonder do we ever stop to think just how good God is?  He gives us life & shelter and fellowship and beauty in the world around us, but most especially He gives us the knowledge of Himself.  The ability to have the appreciation for what is good.

Did you ever think of that?  That when you say something is good, (meaning it tastes good, looks good, feels good, or does something that is good), your using an ability to recognize goodness that comes from God.  Remember He is the first one to speak like this in recognition of His creation, He calls it good (Gen Ch1&2)  But you say;  “Wait a minute – doesn’t it talk somewhere in the passage about God being jealous here, how can that line up with Him being good?”  “Isn’t jealousy a curse?”  Well, yes, greedy covetous jealousy certainly is a cures, but that’s not the kind of jealously that is spoken about here.  Here it is that loving jealously that is right for a husband or a wife to have for their life long beloved.  This is that affection that stands in protection and is committed to what is rightfully loved.

This is that loving jealously that God has such that He will not just cast off His people, He doesn’t act like a bored child with too many show-bags, who doesn’t care if he drops one, and someone takes it while he is getting on a ride.  This city we read of here, is God’s city, this place is His place, these people are His people, and He will not surrender them to the devil or the world.  We are His, His love is such that it burns with Jealousy over His people.  And we should thank God that He cares for us like that.  He is Good, He is active in rescuing His people.  He longs for His people – He longs to impart the bst things to them – the things that will do them the best, (Of course ultimately seen in the coming of Jesus)

But that’s not the only thing that shows that God is good. Look at verses 4 & 5 “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. 5The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Now you might think that this is a strange way for God to show His goodness.  Elderly people in the street with lots of children playing around them;  How does that work?  But think about what this picture for a moment;  God’s goodness will mean that there will come a day when the two most venerable groups in any society will once again feel free to be in the streets.

The streets of the city that God is building will be a place where the elderly can enjoy being together in the sunshine, talking and fellowshipping, and not only they, but also the children.  Children in wartime cant play in the streets, its too dangerous, But God’s is returning with blessing and goodness, and the children will again be able to play in the streets, because they will be under his protection.  The very elderly and the very young, it’s a picture of a family reunion, or joy and celebration, contentment and fulfillment.

Where is that City?  Can I travel to it?  Of course we get a little imperfect picture of it in the Church, but one day we will see itin all its beautiful vista in the Heavenly City, purchased by Christ and paved with gold!  Where our life is hid with Christ..

Despite this… Living in God’s future starts, in God’s today       Which is our 3rd point

Certainly the future is in God’s hands, we must trust Him and not try to manipulate Him, but there are things that we can do as citizens of His kingdom and His future that start even today.  Well what is it that we can do today, that will be for the future?  To these Israelites God says; Let your hands be strong so that the Temple may be built up.

He says; verse 12; 12“The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. 13As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”

They are to be involved in the building UP of the temple to represent God’s presence with His people,  But they are also to build IN, in there relationship with one another: Do not be afraid. 16These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.

Our Relationship with God is the Chassis upon which ought to be built our relationship with one another.  Is God a God of truth?  Then we ought to speak truthful to one another, Is God a God who is fair and even handed, then we ought to be fair and even handed.  Does God want the best for people, then we should want the best for people.  Does God hate evil and a false witness, then we should hate evil and abhor being a false witness.  Surely that is what Jesus wants us to be.

If we live in this way we will find that people will be attracted to what we are doing.  There is so much falsehood today, so many institutions are marked by double standards and spurious ethics, & St Andrews Presbyterian church has to be willing to out-shine them.  Be people of our word, people who are true as the day is long, people who Love God and Love people.

As we conclude, this passage forces us to ask ourselves a few questions

If God is a God who speaks; ought not we to listen to Him?  If we will listen intently to the words of a solicitor or a police officer, or to a loving parent, then ought not our ears be sensitive to the words of our heavenly father? If God is good in all His ways towards us then ought not we look to His hand and expect that He will provide for us a future also? If God implicitly tells us, what He is like, and what He requires of us, then ought not we strengthen our hands to do the things He loves?


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