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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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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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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Accused, Allies, Belief, Bible, Commands, Defense, Enemies, God's Will, Scripture

AGAINST YOU

ZEPHANIAH 2:5

“Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, Canaan, land of the Philistines; and I will eliminate you so that there will be no inhabitant.”

I’ve said before that I don’t think I have any earthly enemies. I try my best to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). I don’t like to be in conflict. I won’t run from a fight if faced with it, but I don’t pursue conflict like some people do. I really want to deal with conflict quickly. I don’t want anyone or anything to come against me.

Zephaniah tells the Cherethites and Philistines that “the word of the Lord is against” them. Whoa! That would be horrible. Instead of the word of the Lord coming “to” them, it is against them. Why? Because they were the ones who were against His children. They pursued aggression and hostilities against His chosen people. And for that, God was against them.

APPLICATION

How would you feel if the Lord was against you? Terrified? Fearful? Worried? You should! Hebrews 10:31 tells us “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” To openly rebel against God’s commandments and thumb your nose at Him only invites His wrath. Who would do that?

Unfortunately, many in our world today are doing just that. They scoff at God’s Word. They reject His truths as spelled out in Scripture. They make God into their own image, rather than allowing Him to make them into His. They want God to fit their idea of Him. How preposterous. How ridiculous. How can we even begin to comprehend God?

But God tells us very clearly how to follow Him. He tells us to trust Him. He gives us the faith to believe. Faith is a gift. Once we acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord, He gives us belief in Him. He discloses more and more of Himself to us as we pursue Him. What a great God! He is not against you. He is for you!

O Lord, I am so thankful You are for me. I am grateful for the faith You have given me.

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Accused, Bible, Forgiveness, Judgment, Safety, Salvation, Scripture, Security

BOW AND ARROWS

HABAKKUK 3:9

“You removed Your bow from its holder, the arrows of Your word were sworn. Selah. You divided the earth with rivers.”

I have a crossbow which I use to hunt. I have yet to claim a deer with it, but I am ready should the opportunity come. That bow is no good to me if I keep it in its case. It is also no good if I do not load it with a bolt (an arrow for a crossbow). But once I pull it out of its case and load it with a bolt, it is ready to be used.

God’s judgment is pictured here by Habakkuk as an unsheathed bow that has its arrows ready to shoot. God’s word of promise to execute judgment are true, just like His aim. We may not see it coming, much like an arrow shot from a distance. But it is coming, and God never misses His target. “But God will shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they will be wounded.” Psalm 64:7

APPLICATION

I do not fear God’s arrows of judgment because I have laid my sins at the foot of the cross. My sins have been paid for by my Savior and Lord. I can walk in victory each day, knowing that there is no need to look over my shoulder fearing God’s wrath. It has been satisfied by the blood of the Lamb.

The enemy will try to insinuate that I am not secure in Christ. He will try to get me to question the power of the cross. All those are lies, told to try to get me off my mission. My mission is to point others to Jesus. I want to see them walk in the same victory I am walking in each day.

How about you? Do you walk in fear or victory? Do you walk as if you are defeated? If you are a child of God, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, there is no need to walk that way. You have been promised a home with Him in eternity. Nothing can change that. You are safe and secure. Walk that way.

Thank You, Lord, for the knowledge that You do execute judgment where necessary, but I am free from judgment because of Christ.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Judgment, Lawlessness, Modeling, Redemption, Scripture

NUMB

HABAKKUK 1:4

“Therefore, the Law is ignored, and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out confused.”

I am not a legalist, but I believe in obeying the law. I have to admit that the one law I consistently break is the speed limit laws. I typically drive a little over the speed limit on highways or interstates. I don’t have an excuse for it. I just do it. But what do I do when I see a police car? I immediately tap my brake and slow down. Why? Because I know I am breaking the Law. I have become numb to it.

Habakkuk describes the non-law-abiding attitude of the people this way. The word he uses which is translated as “ignored” is the Hebrew word pug. It literally means to be numb. People had become numb to the Law of God due to their constant sinning. The wicked were influencing all to their way of living and thinking.

APPLICATION

Our world today is no different. The wicked have strongly influenced everyone. Media is constantly pushing their worldview on believers. If we don’t agree with them, we are told we are intolerant and racist. They say we don’t understand that times have changed.

God’s Word has not changed. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” It is eternal. God is not “woke.” He is just and holy. He will not stand by as we continue to undermine and try to destroy what His Word says. Just like in Habakkuk’s day, judgment will fall for many.

Wow, Carl, that’s kind of harsh. Well, yes! God’s Word is blunt about sin. Yes, we can all receive forgiveness through Jesus. But if anyone does not turn to Him, he will be judged harshly. It is all so avoidable. Just come to Him today. He is ready with open arms.

I am so thankful, Lord, that You sent Your Son to rescue me from the penalty of sin. Help me live an obedient life (even obeying the speed limit).

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Accused, Affection, Anxiety, Bible, Blessing, Compassion, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Love, Relationships, Satan, Scripture, Security

YOU’RE WORTHLESS

NAHUM 3:6

“‘I will throw filth on you and declare you worthless, and set you up as a spectacle.’”

I have known so many people who were told time and time again that they are worthless. Demeaning words spoken by mean people. Words meant to belittle and beat down others. It is the saddest when these words are directed at children. Their little faces are stricken. Their spirits scarred by harsh and undeserving words.

Nahum is sharing the words of the Lord towards Nineveh in today’s verse. These are harsh words from the Lord but remember who they are directed towards. Nineveh was an evil city which was part of an evil nation. They were godless and unrepentant. In the economy of God, they were worthless. God was indeed using them as an example to others.

APPLICATION

In contrast, God tells us we are highly valued. We are His treasure, the apple of His eye. He loves us with an uncompromising love. We can do nothing to cause Him to stop loving us. We may disappoint Him, but we can never do anything where He would declare us worthless.

If you are hearing those words, they are not from the Lord. They are from the evil one who wants to tear you down. He doesn’t want you to feel loved. He wants you to feel worthless and of no value. Do not believe those words. They are lies straight from the pit of hell.

As a child of the Father, you are loved. Walk in that love. Believe that love. Share that love. And as you do that, you will truly know the love of Jesus. It will envelope you. It will lift you on those days when the devil is whispering those lies to you. Remember that Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. Hallelujah!

I celebrate You, Lord. I am so thankful for Your love that will never fade.

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Accused, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Defeat, Devil, Evil, Power, Scripture, Victors

LED AWAY

NAHUM 2:7

It is set: She is stripped, she is led away, And her slave women are sobbing like the sound of doves, beating their breasts.”

I had a friend, who is now with the Lord, who was captured and was a prisoner of war during World War II. He survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines that was led by the Japanese. He told me once how hopeless and helpless he felt. I cannot imagine what he went through.

Nahum is describing Nineveh as a woman being led away in captivity – stripped, sobbing, beating their breasts. Hopeless, helpless! When Nineveh was defeated, the surviving inhabitants were led away. Nineveh would never be the same. Rebellion against God never ends well.

APPLICATION

We often feel defeated. We feel hopeless and helpless when the enemy is upon us. When we give in to the attacks, he can rob us of our joy. But we must remember what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

We are not defeated. We are victorious because of Christ. We are the victors. The war has already been decided, and we are on the winning side. Never forget that. We will face battles in the future, and we may fail at times. But we are not captives.

Aren’t you glad that you are not on a death march? When you  get discouraged, look up. You need allies in your life who can come alongside you during those trying times. Most of all, turn to Jesus, who can take all your pain away. You are NOT DEFEATED!

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming love.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin, Surrender

HOPELESS

NAHUM 2:1

“The one who scatters has come up against you. Keep watch over the fortress, watch the road; bind up your waist, summon all your strength.

When you come up against a force that is greater than you, all your defenses are worthless. I played high school football many years ago. I remember vividly playing against a high school from Alabama that was far superior to our small, rural high school. We were overmatched from the start and despite our great efforts, we were trounced.

Nahum turns his attention fully now to Nineveh and its pending destruction. He almost jokingly tells how they can watch the road and bind up their waist. They can summon all their strength, but nothing will prevent God’s judgment falling upon them. They will not be able to resist His power.

APPLICATION

We read this prophecy against Nineveh and point our fingers at them. We think how could they even hope to defend themselves against God. But we do the same. We fight against God daily defending our own actions that we know are not what God desires. But because we think we have the right; we just do it.

There is nothing that gives us the right to do as we want. We are free in Christ to do as we should. That is a big difference. We are just like Nineveh in so many ways. We put up our defenses. These are useless against a holy God. The best thing we can do is surrender and agree with God about our sins.

Confession is just that – saying the same thing about our sin as God is saying. We agree with Him. The problem today in our society is nothing is sin. Sin is an outdated word. To say someone is sinful is being intolerant. God’s standards have not changed. Neither has the way He deals with sin. Confess your sins today and feel His mercy and grace.

Forgive me, Lord. I have sinned against You and Your principles.

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