Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

                Have you ever had that “Aha” moment? That moment when you wake up and realize that you need to make changes in your daily life. For some it is when we realize that we are not getting any younger and need to change our eating habits, or perhaps it is giving up a habit that you know is not good for you. I have found myself there lately. I have been thinking about all the changes that I need to make to live a healthier lifestyle. All the signs are there, and even my doctor is telling me it is time to wake up and start living better, eating better and taking care of this body that God has given me. But I always run into the same problem, my will power, and the fact that I have none. I always start on the right path, but give up and give into the temptations that are before me. It is an endless cycle and I do so want it to end.

                This morning as I talked to the Lord about my lack of will power, I also asked Him how in the world was I to make these changes. He knows me so well; He knows I have no strength in myself to complete the changes He is asking me to make. He has been asking me for months to change these unhealthy habits. But I always seem to fall right back into the same rollercoaster of ups and down, quitting and starting again. I asked Him how are these changes ever to happen since I am of no strength against them.
                So He answered me and said to me, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
                Chapter 4 of Zechariah begins with a vision of a lampstand and two olive trees. The angel wakes Zechariah up from his sleep and shows him the vision from the Lord. During this period of time, the people of Israel are trying to rebuild the temple. They are finding it hard to complete the work, even though they know it must be done. God sees their struggles and sends His word to Zechariah to encourage the people to continue.

                When the Lord God asks us to make changes in our lives, we too are faced with the same obstacles and discouragement that the children of Israel were faced with. The task before them seemed impossible, the task before them seemed like a mountain of problems, and caused them to become discouraged, wanting to give up. But the Lord God shows them, as well as us, that it is not through our own strength and recourses that we can accomplish the changes we need to make, it is only by His Spirit that we will be able to finish and complete the tasks He gives us.
                “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.” Zechariah 4:2-3
                The lampstand was used in the temple. It was one of the most tedious tasks given to those who served in the temple. It had to have constant care. They had to be continually cleaned, refilled with oil and all the soot and dirt had to be cleaned out. The wicks also had to be maintained and trimmed. But, what Zechariah sees is a lampstand that needs no tending; it is self filling, and self sustaining. The oil is piped directly into the lampstand from the two olive trees standing beside it. We are the lampstands. We need constant filling, we need constant cleaning and we need constant trimming. When I am trying to make changes in my life and have set forth on the tasks at hand, I find that I need more and more help to sustain and to keep going. That is where the Lord God comes in and reminds us that it is not in our strength, but in His.
                The word “might” in verse 6 means a “collective strength”. It refers to the resources of a group or army. When we desire to make changes, to begin living differently, most of us go to websites, books and other people to find the help we need to change. But the Lord tells us that this is not where the changes we desire to take place will come from. The help we seek only comes from Him. He also tells us that it is not by power. It is not through our individual strength that we will be able to change; it is only by His Spirit. David Guziak writes, “It will not be your cleverness, your ability, or your physical strength that the temple {changes} will be rebuilt, but by the Spirit of God.” We desire change, but we try to do it in our own strength, or we try to go to others to get the help we need; when all along the Lord is telling us that we cannot do it without Him.

                The only way we will ever be able to change is through the Holy Spirit. Change brings obstacles. It brings difficulties, from within and without; there will be opposition from our flesh and from others around us. There will be discouragement, we will say it is impossible and want to just give up, we will find excuses and ways to get around the changes that we need to make until eventually, we will give in and fall back into the same old habits the Lord wants us to let go of. But, there is hope. There is a way to break this endless cycle of start and stop, of giving in and giving up. We can fully depend on the infinite resources of our God made available through His Holy Spirit.
                We are the lampstands, and standing beside us are His Holy Spirit and Jesus. (Zechariah 4:14) The “two anointed ones who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth” are Jesus and His Holy Spirit. They are constantly pouring into us His word, His encouragement, His strength, His power, His hope, His love, His promises to tear down the mountains that are staring at us and to help us make the changes He has set before us. I know what I need to do, but I cannot find the strength within myself to do it. But He is beside me, on the right hand and the left, filling me with His power and His strength. For it is not by my might, nor by my power, but by His Spirit alone.
                We have all the resources we need to accomplish the changes that the Lord is asking of us to make. When we start to fall, when we start to get discouraged we can run to Jesus, His word and the Holy Spirit will pipe into our hearts the oil of His strength to get us through. “We do not need to be disheartened or discouraged, for the work, the task, the changes God is asking us to make will be done by His Spirit. My weaknesses are not obstacles, for God’s might will perfect strength out of our weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:10)” {David Guziak}


 It looks difficult, the changes and tasks ahead, but we have a God who desires to do the work for us, all He asks is that we depend and rely on Him to move the mountain and to tear down the obstacles through faith and trust in Him. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13) What are waiting for? Let’s start the journey towards change and watch as God empowers and strengthens us through His Spirit, to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.