READ: Zechariah 7-8
THINK: Have you ever assumed that you were doing something for God when, in fact, you were really doing it for yourself? Perhaps it made you feel more spiritual-or like you were giving something up for God-but your heart wasn't in it. God doesn't want you to make insincere sacrifices or to go through religious routines that are void of real hunger for Christ or a desire to accomplish His purposes. When it comes to serving the Lord, it isn't just your actions that count. Your attitudes and motives matter. True spirituality comes from a real passion for God, sincere obedience to His Word, authentic trust in His plans, and genuine compassion for others.
RESPOND: What is "fasting," what's it's true purpose, and how had the people lost sight of that purpose (7:3-7)? (See 7:1-5 note.) Beyond fasting, what did God really expect from the people (7:8-10)? (See 7:1-5 note, subpoint 2.) How had their ancestors responded to God's commands and expectations (7:11-13), and how then did God respond to the people (7:13-14)? (See 7:12 note.) What is "Zion" (8:1-2) and why did God have such strong affection for it? (See 8:3 note.) Why is God's presence vital to the fulfillment of His purposes among His people? What time period does the beginning of chapter 8 point to, what will happen with Jerusalem, and what will characterize this period? (See 8:3 and 8:4-5 notes.) From where will God bring people to live in Jerusalem (8:7-8), and what does this indicate about Christ's future reign on earth? (See 8:7-8 note.) In the future, how will God change the perception and influence of His people in Judah and Israel (8:13)? In view of the hope God gives His people, what does He expect them to do (8:16), and what does He tell them not to do (8:17), and why? (See 8:16-17 note.)
PRAY: Pray that you'll never go through religious routines simply for your own satisfaction. Ask God to help you show His mercy and compassion. Pray that He will help you maintain honesty and integrity in all you say and do.
ACT: Try to be a positive influence on people who give you a hard time. Treat them with exceptional grace and kindness in both words and actions. If in any way you've acted dishonestly toward anyone, confess this to God and make things right with anyone else involved.
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