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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Bible, Change, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Restoration, Scripture

A CHANGING LANDSCAPE

ZEPHANIAH 2:6

“So the seacoast will become grazing places, with pastures for shepherds and folds for flocks.”

Going back to visit a location you haven’t been to in a while can be eye opening. The landscape changes. What used to be a cotton field is now a shopping mall. What used to be a shopping mall is now luxury condominiums. Things force change. Sometimes that is for the good of the community. Other times it is not.

Zephaniah continues his message of doom to the neighboring nations. Verse 6 is a continuation of the message to the Philistines. Their seacoast will change from dwellings of warriors to pastures for the shepherds to use to graze their sheep. A nation of war will become a place for peaceful men to dwell. Quite a change. Quite a promise for Judah as well.

APPLICATION

Are there areas of your life that need to be changed? Do you have a rebellious spirit that argues about everything? God wants to transform your life into a place of peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

A transformed landscape can involve many little changes over time. God may choose to use sandpaper to smooth off your rough surfaces. Or He may choose to take more drastic measures and bring out the jackhammer and sledgehammer. That’s usually how God works on me, lol. He gets one area of my life’s landscape shaped up and then starts demolition on another.

Now, the difference between our transformed landscape and the Philistines is they were being judged for their idolatry and rebellion against God. We are not being judged by God as He transforms us. We are safe under the blood of Christ. He just wants to make us look more like Him, to reflect the image of His Son. That is transformation that is welcomed. Right?

O Lord my God, shape me into whatever image You feel is right. I trust the work of Your hands on my life.

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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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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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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Denial, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture, Surrender

DEVIOUS THOUGHTS 

NAHUM 1:9 

“Whatever you devise against the LORD, He will make a complete end of it. Distress will not rise up twice.” 

I have known a few people in my life who have literally shaken their fists at God. They have decided to live their lives as if He does not exist. They refuse to acknowledge Him and may even seek to mislead others. They are, in a sense, making or devising plans against God and His people.  

These people have lived for centuries. Nahum saw them in Nineveh. In fact, their king thought his success against Israel was due to his own strength and power. He quickly forgot that He was only the vessel God had used to punish Israel. As Nahum attests, God “will make a complete end of it.” No one can escape His judgment. 

APPLICATION 

Are you devising plans against God? Of course not, Carl. I would never make plans against Him. Listen, dear heart, when we do not yield to Him, we are in fact devising plans against Him. We are saying that we know better than Him. We believe our way is better.  

Our devious plans against God’s will for our lives will not succeed. When will we realize that? Sure, we may see some initial success, but it will not last. There is no eternal reward for our temporal plans. However, when we submit to Him, His plans will lead us directly into eternity. Now, that is a plan. 

Looking back at my life, I can see moments when the trajectory of my life turned toward my own selfish desires. My devious plans included choosing to do what I wanted to do, even though the Spirit within was saying something different. Hindsight is always 20/20, but God’s foresight is as well. Trust His plans. 

Lord, thank You for having the perfect plan for my life. Help to surrender to Your will. 

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Abiding, Allegiance, Bible, Bondslaves, Demons, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Obedience, Scripture

GIVE IT YOUR ALL 

MICAH 7:16 

“Nations will see and be ashamed of all their might. They will put their hand on their mouth, their ears will be deaf.” 

I shall never forget football drills and the coach screaming at us, “I want 110% out of you men. Don’t slack off.” I gave it my all. I played hard. I knew when I was giving it my all and when I was not. The coach could tell, too. I would miss blocking assignments or a tackle.  

Micah is now addressing the people again after God has spoken. Here he is showing us that we will always face opposition. The enemies of Israel gave their all against them but failed. The word “all” means whole or complete. In other words, they were all in. But they found out their might was no match for the might of God.  

APPPLICATION 

Are you giving your all to Him today? I am not asking if you are working non-stop for Jesus without taking any breaths. No, I mean are you all in? Does Jesus have all of you? So many of us think we can just say a prayer and go about our business as if nothing has happened. That is not the case. 

I promise you that the enemies of the cross are all in after us. They are giving it their all to try to bring us down. But their “all” is no match for us if we are all in for Christ. It is His power that will defeat them, not our power. I can make you another promise. Christ is all in for you. 

Look at what He did for you. He died a horrible death on the cross for your salvation. You cannot get much more “all in” than that. His love for you cost Him everything. He gave His life to ransom your soul. He deserves your all. Give it to Him today. 

All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Correction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Love, Obedience, Scripture

THE ROD OF GOD 

MICAH 7:14 

“Shepherd Your people with Your scepter, the flock of Your possession which lives by itself in the woodland, in the midst of a fruitful field. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.” 

I grew up in the days of good old fashioned “whoopings.” My parents believed Proverbs 13:24. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children will be careful to discipline them.” My spankings were never abusive. There is never any excuse for that. I knew my parents were trying to steer me in the right direction. 

This “scepter” mentioned in today’s verse could also be translated as “rod” or “correction.” It was a tool of chastisement. God used his corrective judgment to steer His children to repentance and renewed relationship. And He would direct them back to the first pastures in their land, Bashan and Gilead, the place of their beginnings as a nation. 

APPLICATION 

Has God gotten out His rod for you? Perhaps He is trying to steer you in the right direction. You know, it is much easier to live godly if we respond to that rod quickly. When we rebel and stiffen our necks, we can expect that correction to get a little tougher. God will bring you back home. 

I was a thick-headed child, at times. I knew certain things would get me in trouble and a sure whipping. Fighting with my brother was one of them. But we fought all the time. It was nothing serious, but mom didn’t allow it in the house. Sure enough, dad would come home and tear us up for not listening to our mom. 

I do not like the rod of God on me. I had much rather feel His warm embrace. Hadn’t you? So, as I live my life centered on His Word, I feel that embrace. Awww! That is much better than the rod.  

Lord, I am thankful that You love me enough to use Your rod of correction when I have strayed. 

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Allegiance, Bible, Choices, Covenant, Devil, Faith, Following, God's Will, Scripture

BUT AS FOR ME 

MICAH 7:7 

“But as for me, I will be on the watch for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” 

Have you ever had to make a stand about something? Maybe it was a personal conviction or perhaps it was a doctrinal issue. I remember my senior year in high school when I had to take a stand. The years before had been filled with ungodly activities and behaviors. When I became a believer, I had to say “no” to those things. It cost me some friendships. 

Micah is taking a stand. “But as for me.” In other words, you may choose another path, but I am taking God’s side. Joshua had said the same words when he said, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) These words are powerful and strong. They leave no room for compromise. 

APPLICATION 

The world is constantly testing our allegiance to Christ. The devil entices us to compromise just a little. That is all it takes – just a little. A little here, a little there. Before you know it, you have gone a long way from the truth and find it hard to get back. 

Hold firm today, my brothers and sisters. Choose today whom to obey. Paul said it so well in Romans 6:16. “Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” Death or righteousness! 

I choose righteousness. Sure, that may mean I have to give up some of these earthly pleasures. I may choose to give rather than receive. I have to remember that as a believer, this world is not my home. I am a citizen of heaven and I want to represent it well. Will you join me?  

I will choose You, O Lord. I know You will hear me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture

A LONGING 

MICAH 7:1 

“Woe to me! For I am like harvests of summer fruit, like gleanings of grapes. There is not a cluster of grapes left to eat, nor an early fig, which I crave.” 

When I travel, I get a longing for home about the end of the first week. I can just feel the warmth of my own bed at home. I can taste a big glass of sweet, iced tea. Those longings do not go away until I reach home and can fulfill them. You have probably experienced similar longings. 

Here, at the beginning of chapter 7, Micah in voicing some of his longings in the face of the judgment of God. He compares his longing for the Lord’s comfort to the longings of a harvest, both grapes and figs. They both bring pleasure, as does the presence of the Lord. 

APPLICATION 

What are you longing for? If it is for the things of this world, that longing may be met, but it will be a fleeting pleasure. We are to long for the presence of the Lord with more passion than we have for other things. Those other things will not last. They are not meant to. 

But the presence of God in our lives will last for eternity. Did you get that? You can pursue and obtain only one thing that will truly last. If that is true (and it is), why do we spend so much time in pursuit of other things. 2 Peter 4:2 says it well. “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 

Examine your longings today. Do they match up with God’s Word and His will for your life. All those things you strive to obtain need to be seen in view of what will give God the most glory. By doing that, you please the Father.  

O Lord, You have given me so much to be thankful for. Help me to strive for only those things that give You pleasure. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Allegiance, Battles, Bible, Commands, Confrontation, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Rebellion, Scripture

YOU CAN’T OUTFOX GOD

MICAH 6:5

“My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab planned and what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.”

Be sure your sins will find you out. We have probably all heard that quote (It comes from Numbers 32:23). We try to hide our sins, don’t we? We can hide them for a while from people around us, but we cannot hide them from the all-seeing eye of God. He knows our most intimate secrets, including our sins. We cannot outfox Him.

Balak thought he could do an end-a-round on God. He knew the people of Israel were a mighty force and thought if he could just get a curse on them, it might improve his chances to defeat them. Wrong! That curse bounced right back in his face as a blessing. What was meant to encourage his troops served to put even more fear into them. God is reminding His people of that here in Micah.

APPLICATION

We are so much better off if we will just seek God’s will and do it rather than trying to sneak around. When we finally realize that God’s will for our lives is all about blessing us, we can rest in Him. Now, that does not mean we will not have some hard times. However, even in those there are blessings if we look hard enough.

We want our lives to be problem free. We want that bed of roses. Life is just not that way. Some people have it easier than others. That is true. But that does not diminish the fact that a loving God cares for you and wants what is best for your life. You just have to surrender to His will.

I wish my life was problem free. I still have to fight this disease I have (Amyloidosis). There is no cure for it, only treatments. But I am thankful for the doctors, hospitals and other medical team members who have served me so well. I am thankful for the opportunities it has given me to minister to others going through the same treatments. There is no end-a-round here. I have to trust my Great Physician in the process. How about you?

Father God, help me to trust You even in the hardest times and not try to hide my sins and acts of disobedience. I want to walk in the light with You.

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