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

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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Belief, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Destruction, Faith, God's Will, Judgment, Salvation, Scripture

THE RESULTS OF UNBELIEF

Zephaniah 2:4

“For Gaza will be abandoned, and Ashkelon will become a desolation; the inhabitants of Ashdod will be driven out at noon, and Ekron will be uprooted.”

Choices have consequences. I remember dealing with a troubled young man one time at one of the children’s homes where I served. I told him after a particularly heated episode, “You can make your own choices, but you can’t choose your consequences.” Years later I ran into this young man, now an adult, married with two children. He told me he never forgot those words, and they had guided him ever since that day.

Zephaniah begins in verse 4 listing all these nations that surrounded Judah that were rebellious towards God. Look at how he describes their end. They were abandoned, desolate, driven out and uprooted. None of these end results were positive. All these nations suffered God’s wrath. They all were judged by a holy and righteous God.

APPLICATION

I don’t want to be abandoned or desolate or driven out or uprooted. Thanks to Christ, I never will be. Because of the faith I have placed in His saving grace, I will always have God by my side. I will never be desolate. I will never be driven away from Him. I will always be grafted into Him. Those are the results I want and now have.

But so many around us are headed in the same direction as Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron. They are headed for disaster. The sad thing is they are not even aware of it. They think they are just fine. It’s all smooth sailing. Tragedy awaits. But we have the answer, don’t we?

Knowing where I am headed makes this life so much easier. I may still face hard times, but He is with me. 2 Timothy 1:12 tells us, “For this reason I also suffer these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to protect what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Are you convinced?

Thank You, Lord, for giving me a future and a hope. I rest in You.

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Belief, Danger, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

ZEPHANIAH 2:2

“Before the decree takes effect—the day passes like chaff—before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you.”

When I was a kid, there was a TV series called, “Lost in Space.” In this series there was a robot and a young boy named Will Robinson. Every time there was danger around, the robot would cry out this warning to Will – “Danger, Will Robinson!” Don’t you wish you had a robot to do that for you every time you got near danger spiritually?

Zephaniah continues his urging of the people to repent and gather themselves before “the decree takes effect” or “the burning anger of the Lord comes upon you” or “the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you.” Wow! That was much better than the warning to Will Robinson by the robot. Zephaniah is giving clear warning that God’s judgment is coming.

APPLICATION

All through Scripture we are given warnings about the impending judgment of God. The prophets all warned us. The New Testament writers did as well. And of course, Jesus gave us warning after warning that those who did not come to Him would surely perish (John 3:16). Warning after warning after warning.

So, why don’t people heed the warning. Unbelief! People have stopped believing in sin. They have stopped believing there are consequences for their actions. Live like you want. There are no repercussions. The devil has them all blinded to the truth. He is so good at that.

Aren’t you glad your blinders are off? Aren’t you glad you know the truth? We must now shout out like that robot did to Will Robinson. We must announce, “Danger! Sin has consequences. Turn to Jesus Who can forgive you of your sins.” That isn’t a hard message to give. Tell someone today.

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore…but the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me now safe am I.

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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, Belief, Bible, Choices, Confession, Consequences, Denial, Faith, Scripture

DENIERS

ZEPHANIAH 1:6

“‘And those who have turned back from following the LORD, and those who have not sought the LORD nor inquired of Him.’”

It hurts to have someone turn their backs on you and behave as if you didn’t exist. I have had that experience a time or two in my life. It was no fun. Some of those situations were eventually made right, but others were not. To this day, there is a distance that I do not have the ability to fix.

The Lord is still speaking here in verse 6 and is explaining the extent of His judgment. In today’s verse, He is telling us He will eliminate (that verb is found back in verse 4) all the unbelievers, those that have claimed to know Him and turned their backs on Him and those who have never believed. Denying God is a whole lot worse than denying an earthly friend. Denying Him has eternal consequences.

APPLICATION

Denial is not just a river in Egypt. You’ve probably heard that one before. But seriously, denial is serious. I have heard it hundreds of times. God is love and would never send anyone to hell. That is exactly right. He doesn’t. We do it to ourselves by denying His existence. By making that choice, we choose hell.

Fortunately, I have known people who refused to believe most of their lives but accepted Christ before they died. Whew! That’s too close for comfort. We never know when God is going to say, “That’s it!” We need to be ready, right? Are you? Are you sure? Are you sure that you’re sure?

There is no better feeling than knowing you are securely in the arms of Jesus. He will carry you through. Once you know Him, you will never want to leave Him. Once you are sealed by His Holy Spirit, nothing can take you out of His hand. So, don’t be a denier. Don’t be a procrastinator. Come to Jesus!

I am so thankful that You have me in Your hands, Lord. I know I am secure for eternity.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Flesh, God's Will, Idols, Loyalty, Scripture

MY PLEASURE

ZEPHANIAH 1:5

“‘And those who bow down on the housetops to the heavenly lights, and those who bow down and swear to the LORD, but also swear by Milcom,’”

When I was in my early teen years, I worshipped pleasure. Now, I didn’t say that out loud, but my actions all pointed to that. I still attended church and even sang in the youth choir, but my heart was pledged to something else. All I desired was pleasure. I didn’t really care what the source was as long as it felt good. I did not call it a god, but it was.

The people of Judah had turned to worshipping all sorts of idols. One was worshipped on their housetops through incense. They worshipped the Sun and Moon. And they even worshipped the detestable idol of the Ammonites, Milcom (also known as Molech). This god was brought into the nation by King Solomon when he was pursuing his own way.

APPLICATION

Ask yourself whom you serve? Oh Carl, of course I serve God. I attend church every week and even put money in the offering plate. I’ve taught Sunday School for decades. That’s all well and good, but whom do you worship? For whom are you living? Is your god the God of the universe or some figure you have developed in your own mind that fits your lifestyle?

So many of us go through life thinking we are doing the “Christian thing” well. We go to church, we serve and even get baptized. We can do all those things well and still miss God by a mile. God desires complete surrender. We have to give Him our all. When we worship, it has to be all about Him. Nothing from the world can make our worship better. We have to be centered on Him and bow only to His will.

I don’t like not getting my way. I’m just like most people in that regard. But I have learned to yield my desires to Jesus. There is pleasure in serving a holy, righteous God. There is pleasure in knowing I am pleasing Him. My pleasure senses have been transformed through His Word and His Will. Yours can be too.

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me what real pleasure is all about.

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Belief, Bible, Creation, Deliverance, Destruction, Following, Scripture, Submission

ALL MEANS ALL

ZEPHANIAH 1:2

“‘I will completely remove all things from the face of the earth,’ declares the LORD.”

My late brother-in-law used to say that the Greek word for “all” means all. He said it jokingly but said it to make a point. When God says “all” He literally means all. He requires our all. He gives us all. He loves us with all His heart. All is important to the Lord. Let’s look at what Zephaniah meant here.

In this second verse of Zephaniah’s discourse, he begins to describe God’s judgment. He quotes the Lord God and says that He will “completely remove all things.” The word “things” is not in the Hebrew text but is simply entered in the translation. And Zephaniah uses the same Hebrew word twice at the beginning of the verse. He literally says. I will “destroy destroy.” He uses the adverb of the word and then the verb of the word to emphasize the totally destruction of all, of everything, of anything.

APPLICATION

As believers, we do not fear destruction by God. We are safe in the arms of Jesus. His embrace covers us. He has promised us eternal life and our role as joint heirs of the kingdom. “All” for us now implies the blessings we will receive upon reaching our heavenly home. All the kingdom will be ours to enjoy. Can you imagine?

But we have to give Him our all. He demands all of us, not just a piece. What if you gave your child or grandchild a jigsaw puzzle one piece at a time. That little piece does not come close to being the whole. They can’t do a lot with it. God has a plan for our lives but it requires all of us. He will not complete His plan for us with only partial submission. Give Him your all today.

I have quoted this hymn before in my blog, but it seems especially appropriate today.

All to Jesus, I surrender

All to Him I freely give

I will ever love and trust Him

In His presence daily live

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee, my blessed Savior

I surrender all

I do surrender my all to You, Lord. And that “all” means all.

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Battles, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Praise, Rejoicing, Reverence, Scripture, Victors

AS FOR ME

HABAKKUK 3:18

“Yet I will triumph in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

That little phrase, “Yet I,” can be translated “as for me.” I kind of like that better. It reminds me of another verse – one from Joshua 24:15. “‘But if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served, which were beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.’” I’ve always loved that verse.

Habakkuk is responding to what he said in the previous verse (read yesterday’s blog entitled “Even If”). If all fails, I will triumph in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. No matter what comes his way, Habakkuk had determined to worship and praise his God. He knew, because God had just spoken through him, that a lot of trials were coming. He still chose to be faithful.

APPLICATION

Can we say the same thing in our hearts? Can we say no matter what comes our way that we will worship our King? It’s easy to say that while everything is going well, but when the trials come, that’s another story. I am reminded on James 1:2-4. “2 consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Can you agree with Habakkuk and James? Testing is hard but worthwhile, in the end. As believers, we have the confidence that God is with us and will never desert us. We can honestly say just like Habakkuk, “As for me, I will triumph in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

As we approach the New Year, you may be writing down some New Year’s Resolutions. I know I have a few written down already. Some people call them goals or even mission statements. Call them what you want, but you won’t find a better one that today’s verse. Make it yours in 2023.

O Father, You are worthy of all praise. I will triumph in You. I will rejoice in You.

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