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

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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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Caregiver, Confession, Covenant, Forgiveness, Salvation, Scripture

IN HIS CARE

ZEPHANIAH 2:7

“And the coast will be for the remnant of the house of Judah, they will drive sheep to pasture on it. In the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down at evening; for the LORD their God will care for them and restore their fortunes.”

Yesterday, my wife and I had the privilege to have our youngest granddaughter at our house for the day. She is almost five and is full of energy. She never stops, but we love it. We don’t consider caring for her as babysitting. We care for her because we love her and want to spend time with her.

The same holds true for our Lord. Zephaniah reminds his people that God cares for them and wants to “restore their fortunes.” How did God care for them? He removed their enemies. He gave them possessions to meet their needs. He returned what had been taken from them by their enemies. He proved His promises were true.

APPLICATION

We all desire to be cared for, don’t we? Recently, I was sick and needed someone to care for me. I did not call my neighbor or a stranger. I was cared for by the one person who knows me best here on earth. I was cared for by the person I spend a lot of time with. I was cared for by the person who has loved me and has cut covenant with me these past 37 years. My wife cared for me (and by the way, she did an incredible job).

In the same way, God knows you better than anyone and can meet the needs you have even before you know you have them. He wants to bless you and see your “fortunes” restored. What is required of us to receive that blessing? Simply abide in Him. If you are His child, He cares for you. If you are His child, He wants to see you blessed.

That’s the big question, isn’t it? Are you His child? If you are not sure, go to Him now. Make sure of it. If you know you are not in His family, ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord. Confirm that with someone. Talk to a Pastor or another believer. Tell someone. And then watch the way God works in your life as He cares for you. You will be amazed.

Your blessings blow me away, O God. Your tender touch reassures me of Your care.

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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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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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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Christmas, Promises, Prophesy, Scripture

EVEN IF

HABAKKUK 3:17

“Even if the fig tree does not blossom, and there is no fruit on the vines, if the yield of the olive fails, and the fields produce no food, even if the flock disappears from the fold, and there are no cattle in the stalls,”

Having no hope is well…hopeless. When someone reaches that point, they have a hard time believing that anything good could come to them. Perhaps you are in that position right now. Here on Christmas Day, you feel all alone and that no one cares. You may be surrounded by people but still feel that way.

Habakkuk is winding down his message with today’s verse. He will end with two powerful verses (check back the next two days for those blogs). But right here in today’s verse he is numbering the losses. There were no figs, no fruit, no oil, no food, no flocks and no cattle. Seems pretty hopeless to me. But he is setting up his ending. Check back tomorrow.

APPLICATION

The world may be going to “hell in a hand basket,” as the saying goes. But God is still on His throne. Even if marriage has been redefined by a government, God still sanctions marriage between one man and one woman. Even if churches today are sanctioning unbiblical practices, God still has His plan for the church. Even if…

Christ came on an “even if” day. There had been 400 years of silence. God had not spoken to the people since Malachi. The people were hopeless and felt alone. Even if! You see, God had a plan that had to take its time. God brought Jesus into the world on an “even if” day. God brought hope to the hopeless.

I am so glad we can celebrate Christmas today. Even if the world is falling apart, I will worship Him. Even if my health fails again, I will worship Him. Even if all my plans crumble, I will worship Him. How about you? Can you say, “Even if…”?

Joy to the world, the Lord has. Let earth receive her King.

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Bible, Blessing, Choir, Praise, Scripture, Singing

SET TO MUSIC

HABAKKUK 3:1

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.”

I love to sing. Currently, I am singing in my church choir, and we are preparing for our Christmas program this weekend (those in the Chattanooga area are invited to attend either Saturday at 2 p.m. or Sunday at 5 p.m. – Brainerd Baptist Church. You can also watch it online at brainerdbaptist.org). I love singing praises to our Lord. Obviously, Habakkuk did also.

Why did I just say that? Because the word “shigionoth” means exactly that. Chapter 3’s verses are written in groups of three words which made them match up to melodies sung by someone. I don’t know if Habakkuk sang this to the people or just wrote it in such a way that others could sing. Singing your prayers to the Lord is a great way to worship Him.

APPLICATION

Think of some songs that you have sung in the past or are currently singing that could be sung as prayers to God. I truly believe the Lord loves to hear us praise Him in song. In fact, we know there will be choirs in heaven, so He must enjoy the sound of choirs. Revelation 19:1 says, “After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God,’”

We also saw the angels singing and praising God at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Luke 2:13-14 tell us, “13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army of angels praising God and saying, ‘14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.’”

It is obvious God loves music, especially choirs. Are you singing praise to Him today? Do you have a melody in your heart? Spend some time this Christmas season singing your prayers to the Lord. Lift your voice! It doesn’t matter if you can sing or not. Your voice will be pleasing to Him. I promise.

I will lift my voice to You, O God. Hear my praise and let it be pleasing in Your ears.

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Accountability, Alone, Bible, Blessing, Boasting, Commands, Sin

SINNING AGAINST YOURSELF

HABAKKUK 2:10

“‘You have planned a shameful thing for your house by bringing many peoples to an end; so you are sinning against yourself.’”

I have to admit that I do not like pain. So, given a choice, I will choose every time to avoid pain. Some of the things people voluntarily do to their bodies amaze me. I do not understand why anyone would willingly let someone hurt them or cause them pain. Not me!

God is still talking in today’s verse. He is addressing the Chaldeans, whom we have described fully in previous blogs. But here God says they are sinning against themselves. They are inflicting themselves with the pain. They are only harming themselves with their actions. However, they were not listening.

APPLICATION

Today’s verse reminded me of 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. “18 Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 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? 20 For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

Did you catch that? “sins against his own body.” Who wants to do that? We need to pursue God with all of our heart. Do not let some people try to influence you to do      evil. It’s not going to affect them a bit, but it could cost you dearly. Do not sin against yourself.

Think of the ways we could possibly do that. Now run the other way. We are told to accept the inevitable. Don’t believe that. Satan will do all he can to put us out of on our own. Who you have as allies determines the outcome. Allow them to point you in the right direction when you seem lost.

I am thankful for the way You direct me and for the fellow brothers You have placed in my life to confront me of sin.

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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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YOUR TREASURE

NAHUM 2:9

“Plunder the silver, plunder the gold! For there is no end to the treasure—wealth from every kind of desirable object.”

One of my children’s favorite movies was “Goonies.” These kids in the movie are seeking a pirate treasure in the caves around their hometown. They eventually find it after fighting off some bad guys. The treasure has gold, diamonds and precious stones. They let most of the treasure go unclaimed, however, in order to make sure everyone is safe.

All the silver and gold of Nineveh is plundered by their enemies. It was a wealthy city, having conquered other nations and carried off their wealth. Well, turnabout is fair play. Now, all their wealth is being carried off. All they can do is watch. Their end has come.

APPLICATION

What is your treasure? Is it your 401K? How about your home or job? Maybe you consider your family your treasure. All these are temporal. They will not last. They may make you feel good now, but not in eternity. None of these will make a difference when you come to the end of your days.

You see, God’s view of treasure is different than the world’s. Jesus told us in Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We prioritize the wrong things too often. Jesus tells us to lay up treasures in heaven. That is only done by living according to His Word. It is done by producing fruit through godly living.

So, what treasures have you laid up in heaven? How are you serving Him today? All those treasures you lay up in heaven will be laid at His feet. That will be a glorious day. We cannot even begin to imagine. He will be glorified!

All I have laid up in heaven, Lord, is Yours. Help me keep my focus on heavenly treasures and not worldly ones.

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NO LONGER

NAHUM 1:12

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Though they are at full strength and so they are many, so also they will be cut off and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no longer.’”

I had to have a test one time to determine if my nerve endings were affected by my Amyloidosis (the disease I have). I will not go into all the details of this test, but suffice it to say, it hurt. And it took a long time. I did not think it would ever end. Finally, the technician doing the test said, “Okay, Mr. Willis, we’re done now. The test is over.” What sweet words!

Nahum is telling Israel that the one He had used to afflict them would afflict them no longer. Their time of suffering had ended. Don’t you know those were sweet words to them, as well? On top of that, the ones who had afflicted them were going to get what was coming to them.

APPLICATION

Are you in a time of affliction right now? This too shall pass. Let me encourage you to not look on your affliction as affliction. Look on it as purification. See it as a testing to make you more like Jesus as you learn to trust your Father in the midst of the storm. I do not know what you are going through. I do not know the source of your trial. But I know the One who does.

There is not a trial that has ever afflicted one person that God is not aware. Some of those trials He has brought on to bring that person to Him. Other trials He has simply allowed. All of them are meant to make us better, not bitter. It all depends on how we surrender in the midst of the affliction.

I have shared numerous times in my blogs about the afflictions I have been through physically. I will hasten to say that I do not want to repeat any of them. However, I also know that God used them all to strengthen me and make me into the image He wants to produce in me. Let Him refine you today.

O God, Redeemer of my soul, make me what You want to make me. I am clay in Your hands.

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