Commands, Bible, Scripture, Giving, Accountability, Sacrifice, Offering, Attitude, Tithe

BRING THE OFFERINGS

ZEPHANIAH 3:10

“‘From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, My dispersed ones, will bring My offerings.’”

Many years ago, my wife and I decided we could not outgive God. We have done our very best to give Him His offerings wherever we were in life financially. I remember when we moved to a new job once that was going to pay me about 50% less than I was making. We knew God wanted us to make this move, so we went. During those years, we gave more percentage wise in our tithes and offerings than at any other time in our marriage.

In Zephaniah 3:10, God is calling His beloved to come, all His “dispersed ones,” those who had been carried away in war or had fled due to war. He is calling them to come home, but He is also calling them to bring their offerings. Their attitude should be one of gratefulness, expressed through their offerings to Him. After all, He had rescued them. He had preserved them. Now, they are to honor Him with their gifts.

APPLICATION

If you can’t predict the application for this verse, stop reading now, lol. We are called to give. We are called to give sacrificially. Our tithes and offerings should be at the forefront of our minds as we budget. As believers, we should be involved in a local body of believers. That church needs your gifts to provide the ministries each week. You can also give through that church to support missionaries on the field.

Now, this is not a blog just about money. That’s important, but there is more to giving than just giving. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says it best. “6 Now I say this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” See those last two words? A cheerful giver. It’s all about attitude.

I have to be honest. There have been times when I gave grudgingly. Yep, I did. But God has taught me the joy of giving. If I played the lottery (and I don’t), it would be so much fun to win and give it away. One of the richest men in the U.S. back in the 19th century was Andrew Carnegie. He gave most of his money away before his death. I am not saying you should give all your money away. But trust the Lord as you give. Ask Him to direct how and how much you should give. Bring your offerings.

O God, all I have belongs to You. As I give, take it and use it to further Your kingdom.

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Abiding, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Purity, Scripture

PURE LIPS

ZEPHANIAH 3:9

“‘For then I will restore to the peoples pure lips, so that all of them may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.’”

I have to confess something. When I first married Christine, I used to chew a little tobacco when I was outside working or when I was fishing. She quickly told me I had a choice – kissing or chewing. Guess which one I gave up, lol. My lips were not exactly clean and pure when I chewed tobacco. (Note to readers: I no longer use tobacco products, in case you are wondering.)

I don’t think Zephaniah had tobacco lips on his mind when he shared God’s message about Him restoring pure lips to the people. You have to look at what follows that statement to understand what the Lord meant. No one can truly call on the name of the Lord with an impure mouth, with a nasty mouth. Our lips need to confess our impurities first. Then God’s ears are attentive to our pleas.

APPLICATION

Romans 10:9 probably says it best. “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” That act of the lips purifies your lips. God instantly and eternally saves you. He purifies your heart. He purifies your spirit. He purifies your lips. There is still a lot of purification to be done as you grow more like Him, but the act has begun.

I love Proverbs. It has a lot to say about lips. Two of my favorite verses comes from Proverbs 18:6-7. “6 A fool’s lips bring strife, and his mouth invites beatings. 7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” You can’t get much clearer than that. Beware of your lips.

Impure lips can cause all kinds of problems for you. It’s not just the words you say. It’s the attitude of the heart that is shown through your lips. Ask the Lord today to purify your lips so you can call on His name. Then you too can serve Him “shoulder to shoulder.”

Wash my mouth out, Lord. Cleanse my lips that I may speak Your name boldly.

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Anger, Battles, Bible, Confession, Repentance, Scripture, Sin, Wrath

BURNING ANGER

ZEPHANIAH 3:8

“‘Therefore wait for Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘For the day when I rise up as a witness. Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation, all My burning anger; for all the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal.’”

Have you ever been so mad you could spit flames? I have a few times. I am reading a book right now about anger. It’s entitled “Unoffendable.” The author is Brant Hansen. He has some pretty good ideas in the book, but it really is about us allowing Christ to transform us more into His image and living like that. I really don’t have a reason to get angry, according to Brant.

That does not apply to God. He says in today’s verse that His “burning anger” will devour the earth. God’s wrath on the nations and kingdoms that opposed Him will be made known. They will not be able to stand against Him. This is not the place you want to be. They did not understand that. God’s anger is always directed at sin.

APPLICATION

Do you get angry? Why? Think about it for a minute. There is no one or nothing that can really make you angry. We all make the decision to get angry. Saying someone or something made you angry gives all the power to them. You don’t want to do that, do you? James 1:20 tells us “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” So, all that talk about having a righteous anger is just that – talk.

We need to let go of the anger that is in. We are not God. We do not have the right. Only God has that right. Paul says in Ephesians 4:26-27 that our anger, if allowed to become sin, only gives the devil a foothold in our lives. That is certainly something we want to avoid. You can’t give him an inch.

So, what’s the answer for our “burning anger”? Confession! Repentance! Yielding to God’s authority. That’s the only way. Today, if you start to feel anger rising up, stop it and confess that as sin. Allow the Lord to purge that anger from you. He can do it. Do it today.

Father, I admit my sin of anger. I confess that as sin. Forgive me.

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Abiding, Bible, Conviction, Correction, Corruption, Discipline, Passion, Scripture

RISING EARLY

ZEPHANIAH 3:7

“‘I said, “You will certainly revere Me, you will accept discipline.” So her dwelling will not be eliminated in accordance with everything that I have stipulated for her. Instead, they were eager to corrupt all their deeds.’”

I am typically an early riser. Sleeping to 6 a.m. is late for me. Normally I am up between 4:30 and 5:30 most days. I just can’t sleep late. The first thing I do after getting dressed is head upstairs to my office and have my Quiet Time. I love spending the first moments of my day in prayer and then in the Word. It sets me on the right course for the day.

In today’s verse the Lord is rebuking those in Jerusalem for doing just the opposite. “They were eager” is better translated “they rose early.” The got up early to corrupt all their deeds. The word “corrupt” actually means “to put to ruin.” Wow! They got up early to mess stuff up. Hmmm. Sounds like the world today, doesn’t it?

APPLICATION

I pray you have the Lord on your mind when you arise. Psalm 3:5 says, “I lie down and sleep; I awake again because the Lord sustains me.” Isn’t that awesome? Even while I am sleeping, the Lord is ready to wake me up and sustain me. Why shouldn’t we have Him on our minds first thing?

Don’t wake up and think What can I get away with today. As believers, we are to strive to be holy as He is holy. He commands that. And if God commands something of us, it is possible. He will never ask you to do something which He will not enable you to do. Do you believe that? You should. So, don’t succumb to the schemes of the evil one. He wants to lead you astray.

My practice of getting up early and having my Quiet Time is a skill I have developed. It wasn’t something I just started doing. I had to discipline myself to do it. Every Man A Warrior helped me to do that. Check it out at everymanawarrior.com. This material was written for men, but women are also taking advantage of the skills it helps develop. Welcome to the journey.

Father, I long to please You. I do not want to do those things anymore that feed my flesh. I want to feed my spirit.

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Apathy, Bible, Consequences, God's Will, Judgment, Rebellion, Scripture

NO ONE’S HOME

ZEPHANIAH 3:6

“‘I have eliminated nations; their corner towers are deserted. I have laid waste their streets, with no one passing by; their cities have been laid waste, without a person, without an inhabitant.’”

One of the motel chains in the U.S. used to use as their slogan “The lights are always on.” The problem with that slogan is that it does not guarantee that anyone is actually there. I know lots of people who leave a light or two on when they are away from home. Some even have timers on their lights so they go on and off to give the impression someone is home. It’s kind of depressing to arrive at someone’s home only to find them gone.

That is not what Zephaniah is describing. These places were uninhabited because of God’s judgment. Towns were deserted because people had been carried away by conquering nations. Streets were deserted. No one passed by. This would be a visual reminder of the results of their rebellion against God. They were suffering the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

I have known people who have lost their homes due to foreclosure, and the house was shut up and deserted. I have known other homes that were abandoned by their owners when they moved away and could not sell it. Those empty dwellings are usually (not always) a result of bad decisions which reaped consequences.

What decisions have you made that made your spiritual dwelling forsaken? Do you understand what I am asking? This passage just popped into my head. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “28 ‘Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.’”

Jesus invites us to dwell with Him. He invites our spiritual house to be built with His living stones. When we dwell with Him, we will never be homeless. Our heavenly city will never be desolate and deserted. The streets of gold will be full of His children. This may sound too good to be true, but it is. He promises that. Don’t remain in your situation without Him. Come to Him.

I long to dwell with You in Your home, O Lord. I cannot wait to see what You have built for me.

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Bible, Blessing, Covenant, Justice, Light, Promises, Righteousness, Satan, Scripture

HE DOES NOT FAIL

ZEPHANIAH 3:5

“The LORD is righteous within her; He will do no injustice. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He does not fail. But the criminal knows no shame.”

Time and time again the Lord has shown up for me. I cannot begin to list all of them. I just know that whenever I need Him, He is always there. I am reminded of a passage in Lamentations. 3:22-23 says, “22 The LORD’S acts of mercy indeed do not end, for His compassions do not fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Even in the midst of the failures of the leaders of Jerusalem (which we looked at in the previous verses), Zephaniah says the Lord is righteous there. He will do no injustice. He shines His light to expose their corruption. He does not fail. For those who were suffering under those corrupt leaders, this had to be encouraging. God is still doing that.

APPLICATION

God never fails. You can take that to the bank, as the saying goes. If there was ever a sure bet, that’s it. Let me quick to say, however, that we cannot put God on our timetable. Sometimes it may seem He is not answering our prayers. Sometimes it may feel He has abandoned us. Not so! Those are just lies of the devil.

I love the book of Joshua. It holds such truth for us today. Joshua 1:9 tells us through God’s own words, “‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.’” Don’t you know Joshua was ready to take on the gates of hell with a water pistol after hearing that.

Because I know the Lord is with me and will never fail me, I can face life’s trials with certainty. That does not mean I enjoy the trials, but I know they are for a purpose. When I go through the dark valleys of every day living, God is right there. He will never, ever fail me. That’s worth shouting about. Yoo Hoo!

Your compassions are new every morning, Lord. You will never fail me or forsake me. 

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Accountability, Accused, Advice, Bible, Blasphemy, Deception, Defiled, Elders, Following, Leading, Scripture

NOT GOOD DESCRIPTERS

ZEPHANIAH 3:4

“Her prophets are insolent, treacherous men; her priests have profaned the sanctuary. They have done violence to the Law.”

When I read this verse, my mind instantly went to the stories of the preachers who buy their multi-million dollar jets. They have mansions and are covered with fine clothes and jewelry. Many of them have been caught stealing from the churches they are supposed to serve. They are wolves in sheep clothing.

The same held true for the priests in Jerusalem. Zephaniah describes them as insolent, treacherous, profane and violent. Not a good way to be described. I am sure Zephaniah put himself in danger saying these words. These men who he is prophesying against would not take kindly to being called those names. But truth must be told.

APPLICATION

This behavior was nothing new. We see it in 1 Samuel concerning the sins of the sons of Eli. In 2:17 it says, “And so the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD disrespectfully.” The saying goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Men who hold positions of power have to be careful how they use that power.

And we must be aware of who we sit up under as our spiritual leaders. We must check what they say and do against Scripture. Only the Word is the complete truth. Our spiritual life is too important to be held captive by someone who corrupts the Word and leads falsely. This is a Biblical concept found in Acts 17:11 when the Bereans checked out Paul and Silas. “Now these people were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” 

I am not saying all preachers are bad. Far from that. Most of these men are humble servants who only want to love their people. Follow these men. They are men who heed to the words in 1 Peter 5:1-3. “1 Therefore, I urge elders among you, as your fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and one who is also a fellow partaker of the glory that is to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not with greed but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as domineering over those assigned to your care, but by proving to be examples to the flock.” These are men worth following.

Lord, protect Your servants from the schemes of the devil. Keep their eyes clearly focused on You.

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Advice, Bible, Leading, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

LEADING THE WRONG WAY

ZEPHANIAH 3:3

“Her leaders within her are roaring lions, her judges are wolves at evening; they have no bones to gnaw in the morning.”

I have had the privilege to have served under some great leaders. I have known others who led well. I have always tried to learn from these role models. However, others I have known have not led well. Their employees were uncontented. The turnover rate was high. What made the difference between these two types of leaders? Integrity!

Jerusalem’s leaders and judges were treating the people horribly. Zephaniah compares them to lions and wolves. Not exactly a great compliment. They were taking advantage of their positions and causing harm to the people. People were starving, and they were feasting. For this, they would be judged more harshly.

APPLICATION

If you are a leader in your church or place of work, you have the responsibility to lead well. James 3:1 gives us a warning. “Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” Teachers are leaders. God holds us to a higher standard. Why? Because we are leading others. They are trusting us to lead well.

Another great verse about the importance of good and godly leaders is Proverbs 11:14. “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.” Isn’t that good? We need good leaders, not leaders who use their power to put people down. Pray for your leaders. Ask the Lord to give them wisdom.

I have been in some type of leadership role for the past four decades. I have to admit that I have not always led well. I have allowed my ego to get in the way at times. But God has forgiven me of those failures and has put a servant leadership heart in me. I try to lead by serving now. Will you do that? Allow Jesus to show you how He led and imitate Him.

Lord, without Your guidance I will fail as a leader. Show me how to lead and love well.

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Accountability, Bible, Discipline, Obedience, Scripture, Trust

INCORRIGIBLE

ZEPHANIAH 3:2

“She obeyed no voice, she accepted no discipline. She did not trust in the LORD, she did not approach her God.”

Having worked with children and youth most of my ministry I can tell you about incorrigibility. I have dealt with some pretty bad behaviors. Some of those kids would not listen to anyone. It did not matter what technique or method we used. Nothing worked! They did not respond to praise or punishment. Time! They all took time.

Jerusalem was like that. Zephaniah says they “obeyed no voice,” “accepted no discipline, “did not trust” and “did not approach.” Take a look at those last two – trust and not approaching. My experience with children and youth I have dealt with in the past was that many of those who were disobedient and unresponsive to discipline were also untrusting and unapproachable. Jerusalem was the same. How could they not trust and approach their God who had done so much for them? Because of the first two.

APPLICATION

Just how incorrigible are you? Now, before you answer that, think about the things you do that you know the Lord would disapprove of. Do I need to name sins? I don’t think so. You and I both know what we do that falls into that category. By doing that, we are not obeying His voice. You may say What voice, Carl. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit resides in you and speaks to you. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

We are also just like the Israelites to whom Zephaniah is speaking. We grumble at any discipline we receive from the Lord. We argue it is not fair or we don’t deserve it. No, we actually deserve hell. But because of the grace of God through His Son Jesus, we have been given salvation and the promise of heaven. So, stop grumbling when the Lord busts your britches.

I want to trust Him with all my heart. I want to approach Him with open arms and a clean heart. But to do that, I need to stop all the incorrigibility on my part. So do you. Let’s agree today to do that. For at least one day, let’s do that. Agreed?

Lord, I come to You as an incorrigible child. Forgive me and receive me today.

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Accused, Defiled, Forgiveness, Judgment, Oppression, Rebellion, Scripture

COMING HOME

ZEPHANIAH 3:1

“Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressive city!”

When I thought of a title for this blog, I struggled a bit. We have seen Zephaniah deliver God’s message of judgment to all the nations around Israel who had oppressed her. God’s judgment is harsh and swift. But now, here in chapter 3, God turns His attention to His own people. Jerusalem is singled out.

You see that city had been rebellious, defiled and oppressive itself. Zephaniah is delivering a “woe” to them now. In other words, “Watch out Jerusalem. I’m aware of your sins against Me. You can’t blame someone else. I warned you about fraternizing with those people. I told you that for a reason. Now you will feel My wrath.” God’s eyes were focused on their home.

APPLICATION

Look at that verse again. Ask yourself this question. Have you been rebellious, defiled and oppressive? If you are like me, the answer is “yes.” At one time or another I have been all three. I have definitely rebelled against God. I know I have defiled myself by some things I have done. And I have been oppressive towards others when it was to my advantage.

Fortunately, all those sins (and that is what they are) are under the blood of the Lamb. I could never repay God for my sins. I could never be good enough to tip the scale in my favor. Only Jesus can pay the price required, and He did. All through the New Testament we read of the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says it clearly. “18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

That’s all we need to wipe away our sin of a rebellious spirit, all our defilements from sin and all our sins of oppressing others. Hallelujah! Praise His name! I am forever thankful for Jesus and what He did for me. He has done that for you, too. Do you know Him? Are you thankful?

And I’m forever thankful for the cross. I’m forever thankful to You.

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