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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Bible, Boasting, Conceit, Humility, Repentance, Scripture

BOAST IN THE LORD

ZEPHANIAH 2:15

“This is the presumptuous city that dwells securely, who says in her heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ How she has become a desolation, a resting place for animals. Everyone who passes by her will hiss and wave his hand in contempt.

I truly try not to boast about anything. Well, maybe if I kill a 16 point white-tail deer, lol. That is not likely to happen though. But I really try to not boast about myself. I have been accused of that in the past. Thinking back to my pre-Christ days and my early days as a believer, I may have been a little prideful and boasted some. The insolence of youth, right?

Reading verse 15 I am reminded of Jeremiah 9:23-24. “23 ‘This is what the LORD says: “Let no wise man boast of his wisdom, nor let the mighty man boast of his might, nor a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let the one who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises mercy, justice, and righteousness on the earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” Nineveh thought they were the cat’s meow. They were prideful and boastful. But they fell. I love the last sentence of the verse. Hissing and waving of hands toward them.

APPLICATION

The application is pretty clear for us. Do not boast of yourself. You may have heard the saying about the turtle on the fence post. He didn’t get there by himself. Neither do we “get anywhere” by ourselves. It is the Lord who moves us. It is the Lord who protects us. It is the Lord who blesses us.

We should always give all the praise to Him, who is worthy of it. If we are blessed to achieve something, give Him the glory. If we are honored for something we have done, give Him the glory. If we are recognized for service we have rendered, give Him the glory. Boast only in Him.

Sometimes when I preach or sing, people come up to me and say how much they enjoyed it. I try to always just point upwards and give Him the glory. I had much rather humble myself and let the Lord exalt me that exalt myself and see the Lord humble me. So, today boast in Him. Point others to Jesus.

Everything I do, Lord, that brings me praise I lay at Your feet. Only You deserve the glory.

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Eternity, Bible, Scripture, Salvation, Destruction, Abiding

THE END OF THINGS

ZEPHANIAH 2:14

“Flocks will lie down in her midst, all animals that range in herds; both the pelican and the hedgehog will spend their nights in the tops of her pillars; birds will sing in the window, devastation will be on the threshold; for He has uncovered the cedar work.”

I like movies that have the hero stopping an end of the world plot by the villain. There are a lot of those kinds of movies out there. Usually, it comes down to the last second to save mankind. The hero risks everything to accomplish his mission. But in the end, he is successful (and usually gets the girl, lol). That ending is happy, right?

Not so with the destruction of Nineveh and Assyria who Zephaniah is describing here in verse 14 of chapter 2. Their destruction will be so complete that the animals will live in their cities. They will sleep in the fallen caps of the pillars that held up their impressive homes and buildings. And among all that destruction, the birds will still sing. Total destruction and a return to the wild.

APPLICATION

How do we apply a verse like this to our lives? Remember, every word of Scripture is inspired by God and given to us for instruction. So, what does this mean to us? Nothing we can accomplish on this earth will remain. Nothing we build will withstand God’s final judgment on earth. All the wealth we obtain will get us nowhere.

The only thing that will last is our relationship with God. Our eternal destiny rests in the decision we make concerning Him. Jesus tells us in John 14:6 “…‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.’” There is no other way. You cannot earn your way to the Father. You cannot get there through anything you do here. You must go through Jesus.

I pray you have made that decision. I pray you are resting in that decision if you have made it. As believers, we know everything we have here really belongs to Him. We hold it all very loosely in our hands. But we hold tightly to Him. Why? Because He is our hero. He has already defeated the villain of our spiritual lives. We know the ending. Jesus is triumphant. Amen? Amen!

I hold my success and all I have accomplished in my hands and offer it all to You, Lord.

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Accountability, Bible, Healing, Judgment, Miracles, Scripture

THE OUTSTRETCHED HAND

ZEPHANIAH 2:13

“And He will stretch out His hand against the north and eliminate Assyria, and He will make Nineveh a desolation, parched like the wilderness.”

I had great parents who were not afraid to “stretch out their hand” to correct my misbehavior. I was quite mischievous and often got into trouble. I was not a bad kid, but I pushed the limits often. For that, I would get disciplined by my mom and/or dad. I say “and/or” because sometimes my dad determined I deserved a little more for what I had done. Lol

Zephaniah reminds us that God “will stretch out His hand against” all those who come against Him. I am reminded of the story of Exodus when God sent the plagues on Egypt. God said over and over that He would stretch out His hand to deliver these. Just look at some of the verses in Exodus 8:5, 17; 9:22; 10:12. God’s outstretched hand can deliver judgment.

APPLICATION

But God’s outstretched hand can also deliver healing and miracles. Acts 4:30 says, “while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” Matthew 12:13 shows us Jesus healing a man by asking him to stretch out his hand to receive healing. “Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand!’ He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.”

So, we see the outstretched hand used to deliver judgment, healing, miracles and to receive healing and miracles. Let me ask you today if you are stretching out your hand to God to receive that healing you need. I don’t necessarily mean a physical healing. It may be a spiritual healing that your soul longs for. God is still doing that. He will stretch out His hand to you.

I felt the touch of God’s outstretched hand when He touched me all those years ago. He reached down, touched me and told me I was His chosen. I responded to that touch and have never been the same since. Sure, I have wandered in the past. I got out from under His outstretched hand. But His hand was still there and welcomed me when I returned. Do you need His outstretched hand today?

He touched me! Oh, He touched, and oh the joy that floods my soul.

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God's Will, Bible, Scripture, Truth, Enemies, Battles, Choices, Consequences, Allies, Allegiance

BE CAREFUL OF YOUR ALLIES

ZEPHANIAH 2:12

“‘You also, Ethiopians, will be slain by My sword.’”

In the ministry I am a part of, Every Man A Warrior, we speak a lot about the importance of having allies. Men need men in their lives to hold them accountable and also to encourage them to walk with God. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, he has a friend who can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”

The Ethiopians’ error was in choosing the wrong ally. They allied with Egypt against God’s people. They may not have invaded on their own, but they were part of the army that did. God speaks against them in Isaiah and Ezekiel. Their destruction was prophesied. However, they did not heed any of the warnings. They persisted in their hostilities toward Israel.

APPLICATION

We must be careful who we choose as allies. What may appear to be a good idea can prove to be a disaster. Many a person has lost fortunes due to partnering with a dishonest man. Promises made were not kept. Lies were told to get them to join in. Not everything that glitter is gold, right?

The same holds true for us in our spiritual walk with Christ. Not every church out there is teaching the truth. Not every preacher is living what he is preaching. Not every “Christian” brother or sister is a true believer. We must check these things by the Word of God. Through it, God will show us truth from error.

I have several men I consider my allies. Some are my partners in our ministry. I trust these men completely. I know they have my back. More importantly, I know they will call me out if I am wandering from the truth. I need that. You need that. Do you have allies? Do you have people in your life who will confront you if needed? If you don’t, get some. You don’t want to walk this path alone.

Lord, I know the strands of cord are strongest when they are woven together. Give me allies who will make me stronger.

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Accountability, Accused, Belief, Bible, Cleansing, Commitment, Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

EVERY KNEE WILL BOW

ZEPHANIAH 2:11

“The LORD will be terrifying to them, for He will starve all the gods of the earth; and all the coastlands of the nations will bow down to Him, everyone from his own place.”

I can still remember when I came to Christ. I was raised in church and even got baptized at eight, but I did not bow to Christ until I was sixteen. While singing a song, Christ spoke to me clearly and showed me my sins. That night I bowed to Him and gave my life to Him. I was proud and egotistical, but I knew I was lost and in need of salvation.

Zephaniah tells us in 2:11 that all “the nations will bow down to Him. The Hebrew word here for “bow down” is shachah which means to bow down, crouch, fall down flat, humbly beseech, do reverence, worship. Do you get the picture? One day, Zephaniah says, they will all worship Him. That holds true today. Everyone will bow one day before the Lord. No exceptions.

APPLICATION

If this prophecy is true (and it is), then we need to be busy spreading the good news. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Sounds a little bit like Zephaniah, doesn’t it?

We all know people who are just like I was at sixteen. They are too proud to admit they need a Savior. They think they can handle things on their own. But it is not about that. It’s about realizing we will all answer for our sins one day. Without Christ in your life, you will not have the right answer. Without Christ there is no escaping God’s wrath.

But praise be to God, with Christ, we have the answer. Our answer to God is “I am Your child. I belong to You because of the blood of Your Son. He paid the price for me.” Is that your answer today? Have you bowed down to Him? Have you seen your sins and realized your need for a Savior? If not, do that today. He is waiting.

I bow before You today, O God. I worship You.

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Accused, Belief, Bible, Consequences, Deliverance, Faith, God's Will, Holiness, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

INSTEAD OF THIS, YOU GET THAT

ZEPHANIAH 2:10

“This they will have in return for their arrogance, because they have taunted and boasted against the people of the LORD of armies.”

The old payback – no one wants that. Right? If you have ever done something to harm someone who has the ability to get you back, you are constantly looking over your shoulder. Siblings are great at that. They will plot until just the right time and then nail you. I’ve known people who waited for years to strike back and get their vengeance.

Of course, God is not getting vengeance on the Moabites and Ammonites. He is simply giving them what they deserve according to His judgment on them. In return for their violence against His people, they will be judged. Instead of blessings, they have incurred His wrath. If they had only yielded to Him. But instead, they rebelled and now are suffering the consequences.

APPLICATION

God is still in the reward business. If we turn to Jesus and confess Him as Lord and Savior, then He rewards us by giving us eternal life. Instead of His wrath, we get blessings. If we do not come to Jesus, we will be judged by a holy God and be found lacking. Nothing we have done or could do will earn us a place in glory.

It’s really pretty simple. I think that is the problem. People don’t believe it’s that easy to get saved. They think they have to do something. All God asks of us is to confess our sins, believe in His Son and surrender to His Will. Who do you know who needs to do that? Can you lead them into a saving knowledge of Jesus today and help them escape the wrath to come?

I could list a number of verses about salvation here, but I would prefer that you look them up. Just do a Google search on salvation verses. You will get dozens and dozens. If you are not a believer, let the Word convict you and lead you to Him. If you are a believer, share these verses with someone who needs them. Praise God for His mercy and grace.

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You. Oh my soul rejoice.

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Accountability, Bible, Flesh, Judgment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender, Trials, Wickedness

SODOM AND GOMORRAH

ZEPHANIAH 2:9

“‘Therefore, as I live,’ declares the LORD of armies, the God of Israel, ‘Moab will assuredly be like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah—ground overgrown with weeds and full of salt mines, and a permanent desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them, and the remainder of My nation will inherit them.’”

Parts of our world are just plain wicked. Sex trade, drugs and prostitution are staples of these places. The darkness that exists can almost be felt on your skin. You can see the lostness in the faces of those who live there. They live with no hope. No, they don’t live. They simply exist. There is no life in them – only death.

When the Lord through Zephaniah compares Moab and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah, the audience knew exactly what he was talking about. The story of those cities is told in Genesis 19. Here are a couple of those verses. “24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.”

APPLICATION

2 Peter 2:4-10a gives us a great picture of God’s judgment and also His mercy. For the sake of space, I won’t include all of those verses here. You should take a moment and look that passage up. But the last two verses tell us what the Lord will do.

“9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from a trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt passion, and despise authority.”

We see the rescue and the judgment. God is capable of both. He rescued Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah, but He also judged the wicked in those cities. The same holds true today. God will rescue the godly. If you are living for Him and striving to live godly, God will rescue You in His perfect timing. But if you are living to please the flesh, then….

I am thankful for His Holy Spirit Who guides me each and every day. He warns me of evil. He points out those things that can lead me astray. Now, I still have to make that decision to follow His lead. He won’t force me. But I have learned to trust Him. Have you? Have you learned to lean on the Lord during those times of testing. He is there.

O Lord, it does break my heart to see those who are wandering in darkness. Help me shine the light of Christ on them.

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Abuse, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Humility, Modeling, Scripture, Taunting

TAUNTING

ZEPHANIAH 2:8

“‘I have heard the taunting of Moab and the abusive speech of the sons of Ammon, with which they have taunted My people and boasted against their territory.’”

No one likes to be reproached or reviled. Taunting is uncomfortable, isn’t it? In my childhood, I can recall a couple of times when I was taunted by someone. Once on the playground by a class bully. Another time in high school a classmate tried to get me to fight by saying some bad things about me. Taunting is not something God approves of.

Here in Zephaniah, we see the taunting of the Moabites and the Ammonites against God and His chosen people. It reminds me of David and Goliath when Goliath stood and taunted the army of Israel. David rightly pointed out that Goliath wasn’t just taunting and reviling Israel. He was reviling God. All reviling against God’s people is reviling against Him.

APPLICATION

Have you been taunted by someone or made fun of? Maybe someone has made fun of you because of your beliefs. Perhaps you were picked on as a child and have never gotten over those comments. Give it all to God. He can soothe those hurt feelings. Remember, you are His child and created in His image. He made you, and He doesn’t make any junk.

Maybe you are the one taunting others. Maybe you are the bully. Oh, you wouldn’t call yourself a bully, but you say or do things that revile or taunt others. You even do it in jest and try to make it seem like a joke. That does not honor God, and He is not pleased. Ask God to forgive you of that taunting spirit and then ask those whom you have hurt to forgive you.

Whether you are the taunter or the tauntee, we have a lesson to learn here today. God is not pleased with a reviling spirit. He wants us to have peaceable spirits. He desires a humble heart and one that serves others. Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” That’s my new memory verse. Live that today.

Father, forgive me when I have reviled You by taunting others. Give me that servant heart so I can show them honor.

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