Abiding, Bible, Destruction, Eternity, Salvation, Scripture

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

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, 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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Bible, Darkness, Death, Destruction, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Satan, Scripture

DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

HABAKKUK 3:5

“Before Him goes plague, and plague comes forth after Him.”

We all have seen scenes of death and destruction in pictures from wars or disease or famine. Those images burn into our minds. They are hard to forget. We feel helpless to do anything to cause any change. Our hearts break for the families of their loved ones caught in such scenarios.

Habakkuk describes the scene here where death and destruction go before God as He conquers all His enemies. He has sent plagues and pestilence. He used hornets and wild animals. Regardless of His instrument, the result was and is the same. His enemies are destroyed. Nothing can stand before Him. We would do well to remember that.

APPLICATION

People today think they can thumb their nose at God and keep on living as they wish. I don’t have to list the abhorrent lifestyles that are being exhibited everywhere, even in churches. Anything goes. There seems to be no moral compass left in the world. The enemy appears to have totally brainwashed society into believing that God has no say in the affairs of men.

But oh how wrong he is! Just like in Habakkuk’s day, God will rise up and defeat all enemies of the cross. We must remain faithful and true. We must continue to share the good news. We have to let our lights shine brightly. Even the smallest light can pierce the darkness. Let it shine.

I refuse to be afraid of those who speak against our Savior. I refuse to allow their disregard for God dampen my passion for Him. I am called to be a soldier of the cross, so I will wield my sword and give my life to advance His kingdom here on earth. I know my God has my back and will be victorious.

Your enemies will scatter, Lord. All You have to do it show up!

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Battles, Bible, Destruction, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Fire, Protection, Satan, Scripture

BOLT THE DOOR

NAHUM 3:13

“Behold, your people are women in your midst! The gates of your land are opened wide to your enemies; fire consumes your gate bars.”

I grew up in an era when we did not worry too much about locked doors. The 60s and early 70’s did not warrant it. I cannot even recall if my grandma’s house had a bolt on it. I am sure the doors were locked at times, but it was not a huge concern. I lived in a small town with little crime.

Nahum tells Nineveh that their gate bars will be burned. This was a common practice in those days. The enemy would build a fire on the outside of the gate which would ignite the sun-dried wooden gate. This would burn the wooden bar on the inside or after burning for a while the iron or brass bar would simply fall off. The city was now wide open for invasion.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you something. What is barring your gate against the enemy? We cannot depend on any man-made protection against the enemy. He will set fire to your self-constructed methods. They will burst into flames. You will then be vulnerable to his attacks.

The Word of God is the only “bar” that can keep those gates shut. So many men have opened the gate to pornography, which will burn your house down. But with the Word of God as your  “bar” of protection, you can defend yourself. Better yet – the Word defends you. You have the ability to quench those flames that are set against you.

I try to keep my gates shut tight with His Word. My daily Quiet Times are key to that. Spending time with the Lord is my fortification. The water of the Word is my fire brigade. All I have to do is recall those Scriptures that pertain to the fire. That means you have to spend time in the Word. Are you? Is the Word your “bar”?

I know my gates are barred with Your Word, Lord. Help me show others how to bar their own gates, too.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Destruction, Judgment, Majesty, Power, Scripture

THE EARTH SPLITS

NAHUM 1:5

“Mountains quake because of Him, and the hills come apart; indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence, the world and all the inhabitants in it.”

I have never experienced an earthquake. Where I live, they are not common. I have friends who live on the west coast of America, and they have experienced them. They describe their houses shaking and moving. Some have shared pictures of breaks in the ground. They have not seen mountains quake, but they believe they could.

As Nahum uses this imagery to describe the mighty hand of God, this exhibition of raw power is just the fingertip of God. In fact, since God spoke all of the earth into creation, He could just as easily speak it into extinction. The Ninevites have stirred the wrath of God, and even their physical environment will suffer.

APPLICATION

Just how powerful do you think God is? Well, that’s a stupid question, Carl. I know God is all-powerful. We say that and may even believe it. So, why are we so surprised when He does those things that only He could do, things for which there is no other explanation?

I have said it before – our western minds try to eliminate the supernatural in favor of the natural. We like to try to explain it. We want to put everything into nice, neat, little boxes. Sometimes, however, God just shows up and acts in such a way that only his majestic power can explain.

May I encourage you to not too hastily disregard these acts of wonder. Let them sink in a minute. Perhaps you are witnessing a God act. Maybe He has privileged you to be a part of it. Just don’t throw out the supernatural explanation before you have prayed about it. I am hoping to see more and more of these events in my lifetime as God chooses to show us these end-times we are in.

Open my eyes that I may see, Lord. Let me see the works of Your hands everywhere.

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Abiding, Bible, Calling, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Idols, Sanctification, Scripture

GOT TO GET THE ROOT

MICAH 5:14

“‘I will uproot your Asherim from among you and destroy your cities.’”

Weeds are a result of the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Before the fall, plants had no “enemies.” Weeds had no purpose. But since then, weeds have plagued farmers and gardeners alike. To get rid of the weeds, you have to get the root. If you just break it off, it continues to grow and spread. You have to really dig deep.

God is going to uproot any Asherim (wooden images of the Phoenician goddess) and destroy (totally exterminate, demolish) their cities. Any place that held an idol was going to be purged. God was going to flatten the surface from any corrupting influence for His people.

APPLICATION 

Idols still exist today. They are all around us. I have said it before, but it deserves repeating. Anything that comes before your relationship with God can be an idol. Anything! God wants and desires first place in your life. He is the only one deserving of that.

Being in the ministry sometimes blurs that line. I think I have been pretty good about protecting my family and keeping them before my ministry. There have been times when the “ox was in the ditch” and I had to work longer hours, but for the most part I tried my best to keep them before my ministry.

But the line gets blurred between my relationship with God and my ministry. They are not one in the same. My ministry is my calling to share the Gospel and disciple men into disciple makers. But I cannot do either of those effectively if I am not abiding in the Vine. That abiding must come first, followed by my family and then my ministry. Take a minute and evaluate your priorities. Do you have something on the shelf above God? If so, take it down a notch or two.

Praise You, O God, for reminding me of Your place in my life. You should always be on the top shelf.

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Bible, Destruction, Redemption, Restoration, Scripture, Trials

DEMOLITION

MICAH 5:11

“‘I will also eliminate the cities of your land and tear down all your fortifications.’”

Some years ago, in a town where I lived, there was a restaurant that had a rat problem. They trapped them, fumigated them and tried every conceivable method to get rid of those rats. Nothing worked. They eventually had to tear down the restaurant, find the underground nest and exterminate them. Then they rebuilt the restaurant which is still standing today.

God says here in verse 11 of Micah 5 that He is going to tear down the cities and their walls. You need to understand something about this. Cities and walls represented a place of evil and rebellion. That is where the idolatry ran rampant. God had already told the people that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Sometimes God has to tear down in order to build back up.

APPLICATION 

Let me ask you something. What areas in your life need demolition? Is there a part of your daily living that must be completely torn down so you can grow in Christ? I will not name anything here. You know what you must give up. Those walls and structures in my life have changed over the years. Now, I battle the issues of time and energy.

We all have stuff in our lives that need to be tossed out. When we moved to our current home back in 2014, we threw away or gave away about three pickup trucks full of stuff we had collected over the years. It was time to discard, to downsize, to purge. Why had we held on to these things so long?

When we allow the Lord to destroy all those things that keep us back from being fully immersed in Christ, He can build something beautiful. We cannot see that until we do the demolition. Take a moment today to look at your life. What do you have in it right now that is coming between you and your growth in the Lord? Will you lay it down?

Lord, bring in Your bulldozer and level anything in my life that is in the way of Your perfect architecture.

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Affection, Affliction, Allies, Battles, Bible, Christ's Return, Confrontation, Consequences, Destruction, Enemies, Friends, God's Will, Rapture, Scripture

NO MORE WAR

MICAH 4:3

“And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift a sword against nation, and never again will they train for war.”

As I write this blog, war is still raging in Ukraine. When that will end is anyone’s guess. Through the ministry I am a part of, Trans World Radio (TWR), I know of believers on both sides of this war. Many have lost their homes and livelihoods and are struggling. It is heart-breaking to see the destruction of some beautiful cities and villages, not to mention the loss of life.

Micah prophesies, however, that one day there will be no more war. We have all heard this verse quoted over the years. Swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. I love that last phrase – “nation will not lift a sword against nation, and never again will they train for war.” Just think of the billions of dollars that could be redirected towards healthcare, food and clean water. This will be an amazing sight to behold.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking, Sure, that sounds great, Carl, but we will never see that in our lifetime. You never know. I believe the Lord’s return for His church is imminent. With that event, the end-time clock speeds up – rapture, tribulation years (yes, I am a pre-trib guy), thousand-year reign and then the second coming of Christ.

How do we play a part in this? How about not making war with your neighbors? How about not looking at someone as if they are beneath you? How about extending the olive branch of peace towards someone who has harmed you? We can all help with these things. Peace begins with us.

I am personally not at war with anyone. I do, however, show my prejudices at times, politics and sports, to name a couple. I have to make sure I am not showing myself to others. I need to be showing Jesus at all times. Only He can make the change happen in others.

Lord, we await the day when there will be no more war

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Confession, Destruction, God's Will, Guilt, Integrity, Judgment, Modeling, Rebuke, Scripture

IT IS YOUR FAULT 

MICAH 3:12 

“Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.” 

No one likes to be accused of something, especially if you are innocent. But what if you are guilty? You know you did it. You deserve the blame. Perhaps you have gotten “away with it” for a while, maybe even years. But now it is out. Your sin has been discovered and has cost others. 

This is exactly where the leaders of Israel and Judah find themselves. Their guilt has been exposed. God knew all the time but is just now bringing forth the charges. The judgment is falling. It cost not only them but the entire nation because the people had followed them right into destruction. 

APPLICATION 

I see two lessons here for us today. One, be careful who you follow. Too many of us are tunnel-visioned. As long as the church looks good on the outside and has all the latest and greatest programs and technology, we think they are on top of it. After all, can’t we trust someone in ministry? Just check your paper or internet stories, and you will find that not to be true. 

Secondly, we must have someone in our lives who can and will hold us accountable. When no one is watching over us, we can resort to all kinds of fleshly decisions. We make our decisions on what “feels” right instead of what God says. Oh, the danger in that. 

I am so glad I am part of a few accountability groups. I meet weekly with two groups and another once per month. I help lead a group of men through our Every Man A Warrior study which demands accountability. If you are not aware of this study, check it out at www.everymanawarrior.com. There is no better way to get a man to go deep with God and be a responsible disciple maker.  

Lord, I am so thankful for the men You have put in my life who will hold me accountable. 

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