December 11, 2016

Zechariah 9:12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

I probably write on this verse every time the passage comes up in daily Bible readings (which is every December). However, it’s a powerful verse, and bears a lot of reflection. What strikes me right now is the matter of the fortress to which the hopeful prisoners are told to return. Even in the original context a physical construction seems unlikely to be what God is talking about. I would think that the fortress would be hope itself, faith that God is going to be true to His word and come through, regardless of how things look at the moment. Those who have that assurance are indeed protected, which is what a fortress is all about. We are all too likely to wander from that fortress, which leaves us open to all sorts of attacks from the enemy. That’s why he tries so hard to distract us, to keep us from the Bible, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. If we maintain our relationship with God as our first priority, we have a fortress indeed. That’s why James says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Submission to God, listening obediently to Him, is the fortress we need. Without it, the devil will hardly flee, but rather will pile on his attacks.

Yesterday I felt very much under attack. I had some important opportunities for ministry, for which I am grateful, and the devil did all he could to steal my joy. At one point it seemed like there was someone who might loan us the money to be able to get the land next door, but then that seemed to pass, and my emotions took a toll. We had planned on one course of action and circumstances made it clear that wasn’t the best, but the change from expectations was again taxing. With those and other things, by nighttime I was exhausted and went to bed at 9. Today, in addition to the morning service, we have the City Christmas from 5, and I’m the point man/MC for that. I’ve got to stay in my fortress if I want to make it through! I have real hope that we will have good turnout for the 24th and 25th, but that’s two weeks off. I need to be careful my hope is in God, rather than in people and especially not in my own performance. When demands are great I tend to focus on how I will perform under those demands. That’s an invitation to disaster! I need to keep my focus, my anticipation, on God. Such hope will never be disappointed. (Romans 5:5)

Father, it seems like Christmas is this way every year, which makes me dread it. Forgive my foolishness! Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, delighting in the reality that You sent Your Son and in the opportunity to share that good news with others, so that Your purpose in sending Jesus would be fulfilled more and more, (John 3:16-17) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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