Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Matthew 9

Matthew 9 has Jesus continuing some impressive things in His public ministry.  He certainly is no longer under the radar.  “Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven”.  The religious leaders challenged Jesus for what He was saying and doing, but rather than back down, Jesus tells the paralytic to “Rise, pick up your bed and go home”.  Faith healed this man, but it wasn’t his faith, but that of those who brought him to Jesus.  We can learn much about the power of faith to impact others through this story.

Jesus continues to select His disciples and selects Matthew, a tax collector who was “sitting at the tax booth”.  Jesus asks Matthew to follow Him, and he rose and came along.  “As Jesus reclined at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples”.  They were enjoying a nice meal together, but the religious leaders were still on the rampage about Jesus.  He was getting too close to their turf.  “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners”?  They were looking for anything to discredit Him.  But Jesus has the answer: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”.

Jesus deals with a couple other faith situations.  First a woman who had a long time disorder comes to Him and says she knows he can make her whole.  Jesus responds with healing based on her faith – “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you wellAnd instantly the woman was made well”.  There was no waiting, no lag time, just faith that turned into healing.  There also was the man whose daughter was ill who came and asked Jesus to come heal her.  When He arrived, He was told she was dead.  But Jesus tells them to “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping. And they laughed at him”.  But Jesus gets the last laugh as “he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose”.

There was yet another incident where two blind men come asking Jesus to heal them.  When they said they believed He could, He said “According to your faith be it done to you”.  Jesus ministry was all about caring for people.  “When he saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”.  Jesus loves all of us.  His power wasn’t limited to those who were alive while He walked the earth.  His power is equally as strong today, and faith is still the key to activating it in our lives!

Matthew 2

Matthew 2 picks up the story after Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Herod was king, and he talks to the wise men from the east who came to Jerusalem.  They wanted to know “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews”?  That causes Herod some concern, because he was king, at least in his own mind.  But the wise men were there looking for this coming king because they “saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him”.  Herod immediately goes into preservation mode and wants to know everything they know about this new king.

So Herod calls together all the smart people in his kingdom “assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people….he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born”.  They knew it was Bethlehem, so Herod asks the wise men to go find the new king and report back.  “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him”.  These were wise men that he was talking to, and they knew he had no intention of going to worship the One who would dethrone him.  At least that was what he thought was going to happen.

So the wise men take off and head toward Bethlehem.  They see the star that was hovering over the place Christ was, and “when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”.  These guys had traveled a long way to see something that was remarkable.  They found the child and “they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh”.  God warns them to go back a different way so Herod would not discover where the Christ child was, and they left the country and headed home.

Joseph gets a message directly from God that it was time to get out of town and go somewhere safe.  Herod is coming after the child, and once he figures out the wise men weren’t coming back with the information, he orders his thugs to kill every child age two and under to attempt to get rid of Jesus. God tells Joseph in a dream to ““Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you”.  So they immediately fled and stayed under the radar until time passes.  Then  God tells Joseph in a dream to “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”  Joseph hears God and obeys His voice immediately on each occasion.  We can learn much from that!

Matthew 1

Matthew 1 gives us the lineage of Jesus.  It begins with Abraham and runs through David.  It certainly isn’t filled with everyone being the stellar example of godliness and holiness.  There were plenty of faults to go around.  Yet God chose to bring His son into the world through this line of sinners and people that fell short.  Fourteen generations are captured here, and Joseph was Jesus father while on this earth.

Along the journey these generations had many problems including “deportation to Babylon” among other things.  Matthew tells us “the birth of Jesus Christ took place this way”.  It was a bit unconventional to say the least.  Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married, but there was a problem that Joseph discovered – she was pregnant and they hadn’t “came together” yet.  By today’s standards that may not be such a big deal, but it certainly was in their day.  In fact, it was certainly grounds for breaking off the engagement at the least.

But Joseph “being a just man and unwilling  to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly”.  He wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, but certainly wasn’t going to pretend like it wasn’t a problem either.  Joseph’s plan was to end things before they even began.  That was his plan, that is, until the Holy Spirit shows up in a dream and tells him that there was a different plan and that Mary was going to bear a son that was “conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit”.  Can you imagine receiving that message?

But Joseph not only listened, but when he woke up, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And  he called his name Jesus”.  The Spirit had told him that Jesus would save his people from their sins.  I am sure he didn’t really understand all that he was about to experience, but he must have understood enough to know that the message was directly from God and he had a serious role to play in that plan.  Rather than run from God, He ran to God, married Mary and together fulfilled God’s plan.

Zechariah 11

Zechariah 11 has the prophet proclaiming the fall of God’s people.  “I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord”. Zechariah acts out this prophecy, feeding a literal flock of sheep that represents the people of God. As the shepherd Zechariah represents the Lord who has appointed this flock for a season of judgment.  Zechariah has two staffs named Favor and Union.  According to Boice, Favor symbolizes the favored status of Israel as the chosen people of God. Union symbolizes the internal harmony of the people that was lost at the time of the siege of Jerusalem.

God is tired of the sin of His people.  “I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand”.  Sin always carries a price.  And in this case, God makes it clear that every one of these folks are part of that punishment.  Notice that he states that ‘none’ of them will be delivered.  We will all stand before God and have to give account of what we have done.  And like the people in Zechariah’s time, we’ll come up short and sin will drag us into judgment.

Zechariah prophesies about an event related to Jesus’ death that would come many centuries later.  “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them. And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver”.  Thirty pieces of silver was not an insignificant amount, but it was the price of a slave.  This speaks prophetically of Jesus, who was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver – the price of a slave.  The money to betray Jesus – His purchase price – went to buy a potter’s field.  Zechariah says the thirty pieces of silver in his words also was thrown to a potter.

God again picks up on the story that leaders need to lead. “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock”!  Though God appointed the foolish shepherd in light of Israel’s rejection of the Good Shepherd, it does not mean that God approves of the foolish shepherd. God will judge that worthless shepherd who injured His flock.  God will not stand by and allow poor leadership to last forever.  God will clean things up and restore His people to Himself.  He is a loving but just God.

Zechariah 10

Zechariah 10 has the prophet reminding the people that God cares about the details of life.  “Ask rain from the Lord….and he will give them showers of rain”.  Ancient Israel had no irrigation system, and relied on rain to water their crops. In a time of drought, nothing grew – so Israel relied on rain falling from the skies to keep their crops alive and growing.  It might have seemed a bit insignificant, but Zechariah reminds them that God is responsible for all things and we need to seek His hand to provide.  He reminds us to be bold enough to ask, and God will answer your prayer. God will provide what only He can provide.

There is a leadership problem among the people.  The people have listened to false and deceptive leaders, and part of the reason is because there is a lack of godly leadership.  God expects His leaders to step up and lead the people well.  Where there is no leadership, the people fall. “The people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd. My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock”.  Leadership is serious business and God expects leaders to lead well.

Part of leading well is to realize that God, not the leader, has the answers.  God has a plan for all eternity and reminds us through Zechariah that Jesus was that plan.  “From him shall come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler— all of them together”.  Guzik points out:

  • Jesus is the cornerstone: the foundation, measure, and standard
  • Jesus is the tent peg: holding all things securely
  • Jesus is the battle bow: a strong fighter for good
  • Jesus is the leader over every ruler of His people

Jesus is God’s plan for His people, not merely for salvation, but also as Lord!

Finally, Zechariah reminds us again that God is in the restoration business. “I will whistle for them and  gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before….I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name”.  The promise to gather Israel is repeated often.  God has been doing it for generations and centuries.  He has a plan to restore His people and that plan is underway and well on its way to completion.  We need to keep in mind that when God gathers Israel and defeats their enemies they shall walk in freedom and liberty again, just as He has promised.

Nahum 2

Nahum 2 has the prophet explaining the battle for Ninevah.  In his vision the prophet sees a mighty army coming against the city of Nineveh. “For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches”.  God’s restoration for His people is connected to judgment and destruction on their enemies.  He is now dealing with one of their enemies and working to restore His people as He passes judgment on the Ninevites.

The battle for Nineveh is fierce and bloody, and though the defense is prepared they will be conquered.  The prophet not only sees the battle, he sees the outcome – Nineveh will fall before this mighty army, and she will be humbled and led away captive – “she is carried off”.  Nahum declares the troops defending Nineveh are like a pool of water that drains away to no use. They are useless in defending the city.  “Nineveh is like a pool whose waters run away. “Halt! Halt!” they cry, but  none turns back”.

Where is the lions’ den, the feeding place of  the young lions, where the lion and lioness went, where his cubs were, with  none to disturb”? The lion was one of the national emblems of the Assyrian Empire, and they crushed and plundered other nations like lions destroying prey. Now Nahum asks, “Where is the the lions den?” God has brought them low, a nation once so mighty.  When it comes to restoration, God will do whatever it takes to make that possible.  He defeats nations and overcomes all things to bring people to Himself.  He’ll do the same for you and me, if we’ll repent and believe.

God’s victory is overwhelming.  “The voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard”.  Nineveh enjoyed its status as a power-center of the world, and relished the fact that the voice of her messengers commanded attention in palaces all over the world. They really were a big deal, and they knew it. That would come to an end under the judgment of God.  There is no nation or person that can stand against God’s judgment.  Sin is a big deal in God’s eyes.  He will deal with it, either as a nation, or in our individual lives.  We need to get right with Him.  Are you ready?

Micah 3

Micah 3 has the prophet wailing against the princes and prophets who were leading the people of Israel astray.  Micah has been talking to all God’s people prior to this chapter, but now he puts the leaders right in his sights.  Leaders have a special responsibility and accountability in God’s eyes.  They are held to a different standard.  And God wants them to understand what’s coming because of their leadership – bad as it was.  “Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray….it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination”.

Let’s face it – a prophet without any vision or any word from God is pretty much out of business.  However these false prophets haven’t been listening or following God’s leading anyway.  They have been pretenders for the most part, and Micah is calling them out.  “The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them….for there is no answer from God”.  God is going to reveal their false and lying ways to His people.  They will be in complete confusion and fall into disrepute.  No more playing prophet for these guys.

Micah knows he is different.  “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob  his transgression and to Israel his sin”.  He knew that his power was not his own, but from the Spirit of the Lord.  God was equipping him as a prophet – it wasn’t anything he was doing in his own strength.  The same is true for us today.  Without the Holy Spirit in our lives, we’re just treading water and peddling on our own without getting anywhere.  God is our source of truth and strength.

Micah gets detailed about why the leaders of the day were off course: “Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money”.  These leaders were corrupt and only concerned about using their power and position for their own good.  God’s not going to let this slide.  He holds leaders to a higher standard.  Micah was effective in what he shared.  He makes clear what is to come if some repentance and change didn’t happen.  “Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and  the mountain of the house a wooded height”.  The picture of the future was clear without some significant repentance and change of the leadership.

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