Today’s Reading (all 1 link):  Zechariah 9-10; Psalm 148; Matthew 23

Zechariah:  The last six chapters of the book are two messages delivered late in Zechariah’s life. These messages point to the Messiah and his second coming.  Zechariah’s prophecy, more than 500 years before Christ’s first coming, called Christ the “cornerstone”.  This Messiah would be strong, stable, victorious, and trustworthy—in all ways, the answer to Israel’s problems. Only in the Messiah will all the promises to God’s people be fulfilled.  Israel will be regathered from present worldwide dispersion. God announced, I will signal for them. The term “signal” means “whistle” (as in gathering a swarm of insects) or “pipe” (as a shepherd using a reed pipe to gather his flocks.  In regathering Israel to the land, God will remove every obstacle to restoration, pictured in terms of the ancient deliverance when He brought Israel through the sea on dry land. 

Psalm 148:  The psalmist called all of heaven and its hosts to praise the Lord because He has established them by decree. And he called the earth to praise His glorious name because He had exalted Israel.

Matthew 23:  Well, this is a pretty tough chapter because it often pushes us to look at ourselves who can easily be in such a predicament.  The hypocrisy and unbelief of the nation’s religious leaders, evidenced in chapter 22, prompted a strong message from Jesus.  The key problem prompting the “woe to you” comments from Jesus stem primarily from the Pharisees placing their man-made rules, interpretations and applications of the laws on a plane equal to that of God’s law itself.  The hypocrisy comes when such “rules and regulations” are not adhered to by the leaders themselves.

Devotional Thought:  In Zechariah, the prophecy called Jesus the “cornerstone”.  We all know what that means – the cornerstone of First Pres is on the far west side of the building by the old south entrance to the church – 1926 it was laid.  This cornerstone is integral to the building.  In a similar manner, is Jesus the cornerstone of your life?  It’s really easy to get bogged down into believing that we have to follow a set of rules and regulations – manmade stuff, when Jesus makes clear a simplicity to living…love God and love others as yourself.  Pretty simple, right?  The key, I think, is getting the first part in your foundation…loving God.  Merry Christmas!!