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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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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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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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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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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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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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Blind, Consequences, Deception, Following, Judgment, Scripture

BLIND LEADING THE BLIND

ZEPHANIAH 1:17

“I will bring distress on mankind so that they will walk like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.”

You’ve heard that expression, “the blind leading the blind.” It portrays a pretty, sad picture. I am not using this as a demeaning statement against the blind. Rather, I mean to imply the picture of the uninformed or willfully ignorant person leading others who follow them without verifying what they say. Thus, the statement.

The Lord tells us in today’s verse that those who do not follow Him are like that. They walk about aimlessly as a blind person who has no one to lead them. We know that can be dangerous. They could fall over obstacles. They could injure themselves seriously. Those who choose to walk blindly without the Lord will face judgment.

APPLICATION

Oh, friends, listen! Don’t walk blindly in this dark and dangerous world. Ask the Lord to open your eyes with the truths of His Word. Ask Him to show you the path He wants you to travel. Ask Him to send others into your life who can hold your hand when necessary to traverse those dangerous spots. Open your eyes.

We are all blind before Christ. None of us can see due to the sin that is born in us through the fall of Adam. But just like the scales that fell off of Paul’s eyes when he came to Christ, ask the Lord to remove those things that blind you to truth. God wants to open your eyes. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.”

Most days I walk with my eyes open. But other days, I close my eyes to what I know is true just because I want to have my way. I bet you’ve never done that, right? My prayer for you and myself is that we will allow the Lord to open our eyes.

Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Discipline, Godliness, Integrity, Purity, Scripture

SOUND THE TRUMPETS

ZEPHANIAH 1:16

“A day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and the high corner towers.”

I have never played a trumpet but have the utmost respect for those who do. One of my favorite trumpeters is Phil Driscoll. He is amazing. He’s been playing the trumpet for decades and using it to praise the Lord. If you haven’t heard him, you need to check out some of his music.

Unfortunately, Zephaniah isn’t referring to Phil Driscoll in today’s verse. Instead, he is reminding the people of the trumpets that were played in times of war. There were different trumpets and different sounds played to give signals and warnings. Now, they are going to hear God’s trumpet as He brings judgment on the land.

APPLICATION

God may not sound a trumpet to give us warnings, but we have every warning sign we need in His Word. All throughout its pages God tells us how to live and the consequences if we don’t. It would be nice if we had red lights that flashed and got buzzed with an electric current every time we came close to straying, but God gives us that infamous free will, doesn’t He?

The only way we can stay holy is to follow His Word. I love 2 Peter 1:3-4. “3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.”

So, what is our excuse? It says very clearly that He has given us everything we need to live godly lives. We want trumpets to blare and sound the warning. We want God to reach down and jerk us away from sin. We have to make the choice – the choice to live holy, to live in purity. Will you today?

Take my life, lead me Lord, take my life, lead me Lord!

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Covenant, Discipline, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture

ACCOUNTABILITY

ZEPHANIAH 1:8

“‘Then it will come about on the day of the LORD’S sacrifice that I will punish the princes, the king’s sons, and all who clothe themselves with foreign garments.’”

I have been privileged to be a leader in several Christian organizations and churches through my almost 44 years of ministry. I have served with several very good leaders. I have also had the misfortune to serve under some poor or maybe even bad leaders. What made the difference in those leaders? Accountability to God. Good leaders are not afraid of being held accountable to do the right thing.

The leaders of Judah had flirted with foreign powers. They had welcomed their idols and pagan worship. They had brought in all kinds of foreign influences which led the nation away from Yahweh. Now it is time to be held accountable. God, the maker of all creation, is now demanding they be judged for these offenses. If only they had “checked in” for often with the Lord, they may have corrected their paths.

APPLICATION

Good leaders seek out accountability. I once had a boss who really just left me alone. He trusted me to do my job, and I did it well. I finally asked him for more regular accountability. I wanted to make sure he was aware of what I was doing and that it lined up with his vision for the ministry. Bad leaders shirk accountability. Ironically, they usually hold their employees to higher level than they do themselves, though.

Let me ask you a question. You may not be a leader in an organization or church, but you will be held accountable for everything you do in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad.” Are you ready for that?

I want to encourage you today to bring it all to the table. Uncover every detail. Confess it all to Jesus. Ask Him daily for your battle plan. Let Him direct your path. Then you can be accountable to Him. Knowing that you are in His will helps make sense of life here on earth.

I want to know, Lord, how I’m doing. Tell me and direct me in Your will.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conviction, Correction, Forgiveness, Guilt, Judgment, Messages, Scripture

GETTING PERS0NAL

ZEPHANIAH 1:4

“‘So I will stretch out My hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will eliminate the remnant of Baal from this place, and the names of the idolatrous priests along with the other priests.’”

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was complaining about people? You may actually agree with them and name a few people you have issues with. But then that person begins to name things about you that bother them. Whoa, wait a minute. Now they are getting personal. They are meddling too much, right?

I am sure those who heard Zephaniah’s message agreed with the first few verses, but now he’s getting personal. Now he is naming Judah and Jerusalem. But Zephaniah isn’t pulling any punches because he is delivering God’s message to the people. He is calling a spade a spade. Those in Judah and Jerusalem who have bowed to Baal and all those priests will be eliminated.

APPLICATION

How do you handle your Pastor’s sermons? As long as he is preaching on someone else’s sins, he’s fine. But when he starts naming yours, well…that’s a different story. How dare he get personal. How did he know about that sin? Was he watching me? Who told him about that?

I have preached a lot of sermons in my ministry, but I have never preached one pointed at one person. No one has divulged a sin of someone I needed to nail from the pulpit. But there have been numerous times when people came up to me after a message and told me how I had really spoken to them that day about their life. God’s Word will penetrate the hardest heart.

If you are a Pastor or have the ear of your Pastor, tell them to just preach the Word. Don’t get fancy with all your eloquence. Just preach the Truth. Let it convict those who hear the message and draw them to point of repentance. Our job is to simply deliver the message, like Zephaniah. It isn’t to judge.

Father, thank You for entrusting me with Your Truth. Help me deliver it faithfully.

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