God's Gonna Do Great Things!

God's Gonna Do Great Things!

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Forrest Gump's mother is right about that, isn't she?
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

You will come face to face with it sooner or later.
There is uncertainty in life.
We can't predict it or ever adequately plan for it -- because,
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Because we can't be sure of what we're "gonna get," we cannot always plan for our future.
Unable to plan for every contingency, we sometimes become paralyzed afraid to act,
afraid to do anything at all, because we fear that we will fail.

Zechariah 9: 9-12

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from E'phraim and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your captives free
from the waterless pit.
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double
."

Did you know that there are many people who spend a large percentage of their lives
dreading things that will never happen?

In his house in Chelsea in London, they'll show you the sound-proof chamber, which Carlyle had built
in his house so that all the noise of the street would be shut out and he could do his work in unbroken silence.

One of his neighbours, however, had a rooster that would crow loudly in the early morning.
Carlyle protested to the owner of the rooster; but the man pointed out to him
that the rooster crowed only once per day, and that could not be such a terrible annoyance.

"But," Carlyle said to him, "if you only knew what I suffer waiting for that cock to crow!"

In the same way, there are a lot of people like that who live their lives waiting for something
disastrous and unpleasant to happen.
And what's worse, these are people, who in many cases, never accomplish the tasks God has in store
for them, because they're fearful of what might happen to them if they attempt such tasks.
Now these fears are not always unfounded.
Often we develop such fears because bad things have happened in the past, like Carlyle,
who had a bad experience with that rooster.

Bereavement, serious illness, loss of relationships, disappointments, personal attacks,
loss of self-esteem or status -- all these things can quite possibly happen to us as we go through life.
These are things that have the potential to debilitate us, that can possibly drive us to live
in perpetual fear of them happening again, in perpetual fear of experiencing more pain.
We miss out on much of what life offers us, because we're afraid.
We're worried about what might happen to us.

The prophecies of Zechariah speak to all of us today, who might be holding back, reluctant to step
on the front lines and do battle in God's name, out of fear, -- out of the fear that bad experiences we've had
in the past will be repeated, -- out of the fear that we'll only be bruised and beaten, and that we'll only suffer defeat
if we take our stand for God.

The fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. marked the finale of the kingdom of Judah.
Most of Jerusalem's inhabitants were deported to Babylon.
When the Babylonian Empire fell to the Persian Empire (539 B.C.), Cyrus the Great decreed
that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. (Ezra 1:2-4; Isa. 44:28)

However, only a small minority of about 50,000 Jews (including Haggai and Zechariah) returned.
Levitical sacrifices were soon reinstituted on a rebuilt altar of burnt offering (Ezra 3:1-6),
and in the second year of their return, the foundation of the temple was laid. (Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16)
The future was looking bright.

However, continued external oppression soon led to internal depression, halting the rebuilding
of the temple; and for about 16 more years, a mood of spiritual apathy prevailed in the land.
Even though the people knew full well that they were permitted to restore their homeland
to its previous state, they wondered in their hearts if it would make any difference.

They had the sure promise that God was going to do great things in the future;
but they had to wonder if there was much point in trying anything bold in the meantime.

And now, all they wanted to do was wait, wait for God to make it all better while they cowered
in hopelessness and fear.
We might well identify with the Jewish people in this respect. And maybe -- we're just not sure if we can take anymore of it.
We want off the first-team, off the front line.
We'd rather stay on the sidelines for awhile, sitting safely on the bench, ready to cheer,
if our "team" wins a victory, but not wanting to suffer any more bruises ourselves. Bruises might come from the simple knowledge that you've treated others poorly,
that you've been abusive or uncaring towards those who care for you.
Whatever the case for you, these scars can emotionally drain from us the desire and motivation
to get back on the playing field and fight the Christian battle again.

When the Jews found themselves in this situation, God raised up Haggai, the prophet,
as a sort of "cheerleader," to encourage the Jews in rebuilding. (Ezra 5:1-2; Haggai 1:1).

Haggai preached four sermons in four months to cheer on the disheartened Hebrew people.
Two months after Haggai delivered his first sermon, Zechariah began his prophetic ministry.
(Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 1:1)
He was another "cheerleader," encouraging the people to spiritual renewal
and motivating them to rebuild the temple by revealing to them God's plans for Israel's future.
Encouraging them -- and us -- to get off the sidelines and get back on the playing field;
exhorting us to take our minds off the bruises that we fear we might suffer and put our minds
on the victories that are within our reach.

In Zechariah 9, the cheer comes through loud and clear.
This passage is motivation to God's disheartened warriors, like you and me.
They are words of motivation to get us back out on the front lines where we ought to be,
and where we need to be.

"Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion."
The "daughter of Zion" is the people of Israel; God exhorts His people to rejoice.
Not only to rejoice, but to rejoice "greatly," rejoice -- as you've never rejoiced before.
"Your king is coming to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey."

We know that is a "messianic" passage.
It's a passage that prophesies about the coming of Jesus Christ.
This passage is quoted in Matthew 21, when Jesus actually enters the city of Jerusalem
in exactly the manner described by Zechariah.
The Saviour rides into the city upon a donkey.
The donkey means that He's coming in peace and in humility, as opposed to a mighty conqueror
who might ride into town on a great stallion, war-like and filled with pride.

Our king is riding on the most humble, most peaceful of beasts; and according to Zechariah
-- that ought to encourage us! This passage is saying to us that we can take heart, even as we survey the bruises we've gotten
in this life, because -- God has promised us that He's gonna do great things here.

God's gonna do great things here!
And you can bank on it.
God's gonna do great things out there!

You need not be afraid to step back on the playing field of life, because the King, your King,
your Saviour, is coming, has come, triumphant and victorious, even as He is humble and peaceful.
He is triumphant and victorious riding on a donkey.

You might be thinking that "It's sounds great, it's fantastic; but all the same,
I'd like some reassurance that it will affect me
."
The verse begins: "As for you also," and the word is singular there,
not "you all" but "you," you -- personally.

And then, the highlight of the passage rings out in verse 12: "Return to your stronghold,
O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double
."

"Return to your stronghold!"
Return to the frontlines, return to the battlefield, return to active duty, "prisoners of hope."
Those held captive to hope.
Those who have been clinging to hope, hoping that God would give us a reason to hope,
-- and not only to hope but to throw ourselves readily back into the fray of life,
those who have been looking for a reason to put hope back into action,

"Return to your stronghold!"

For "today," God says,
"Today, I declare that I will restore to you double."

Restore what? "I will restore to you, double!"
God says, "I will take the bad experiences you've had, I will take the bruises you've collected,
and I'll work these for your good.
You will draw strength from them, and you will draw encouragement and confidence from the way
I saw you through them
."
God is saying: "I will give you a double portion of everything you need to get back
on the front line and continue the fight
!"

God wants to transform your life!
Not only is God going to do great things "out there,"
God has promised that He's gonna do great things ";in here." God wants to work in your life.
He wants to give you the courage you need to get back on the playing field of life.
"Return to your strongholds! Today, I will restore to you double!"

Are you still waiting?
Are you still wondering if it's safe, if it's worthwhile, to get back on the frontlines, and be a ready
and willing servant/soldier of Jesus Christ?
Are you afraid, like the Jews were afraid in Zechariah's day?
The enemy of fear can be the most deadly of all.

According to an ancient legend, a man driving his wagon to Constantinople was stopped
by an old woman who asked him for a ride.
As they drove along, he looked at her, and became frightened and asked, "Who are you?"
The old woman replied: "I am Cholera."

Thereupon, the peasant ordered the old woman to get down and walk; but she persuaded him
to take her along upon her promise that she would not kill more than five people in Constantinople.
As a pledge of the promise, she handed him a dagger, saying to him that it was the only weapon
with which she could be killed.

Then she added: "I shall meet you in two days. If I break my promise you may stab me."

In Constantinople, 120 people died.
The enraged man who had driven her to the city, and to whom she had given the dagger as a pledge
that she would not kill more than 5, went out to look for the old woman, and meeting her,
raised his dagger to kill her.

But she stopped him, saying, "I have kept my agreement. I killed only five.
Fear killed the others
."

This legend is a true parable of life.
Where disease kills in the1000's, fear kills in 10's of 1000's.
The greatest troubles you and I know come from the dread of trouble, rather than from
the actual presence of trouble.

Stand firm upon the promises of God; cast fear aside and God will use you
in a mighty way in the days ahead.

Sermon By Dr. Harold L. White