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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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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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conviction, Correction, Forgiveness, Guilt, Judgment, Messages, Scripture

GETTING PERS0NAL

ZEPHANIAH 1:4

“‘So I will stretch out My hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will eliminate the remnant of Baal from this place, and the names of the idolatrous priests along with the other priests.’”

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was complaining about people? You may actually agree with them and name a few people you have issues with. But then that person begins to name things about you that bother them. Whoa, wait a minute. Now they are getting personal. They are meddling too much, right?

I am sure those who heard Zephaniah’s message agreed with the first few verses, but now he’s getting personal. Now he is naming Judah and Jerusalem. But Zephaniah isn’t pulling any punches because he is delivering God’s message to the people. He is calling a spade a spade. Those in Judah and Jerusalem who have bowed to Baal and all those priests will be eliminated.

APPLICATION

How do you handle your Pastor’s sermons? As long as he is preaching on someone else’s sins, he’s fine. But when he starts naming yours, well…that’s a different story. How dare he get personal. How did he know about that sin? Was he watching me? Who told him about that?

I have preached a lot of sermons in my ministry, but I have never preached one pointed at one person. No one has divulged a sin of someone I needed to nail from the pulpit. But there have been numerous times when people came up to me after a message and told me how I had really spoken to them that day about their life. God’s Word will penetrate the hardest heart.

If you are a Pastor or have the ear of your Pastor, tell them to just preach the Word. Don’t get fancy with all your eloquence. Just preach the Truth. Let it convict those who hear the message and draw them to point of repentance. Our job is to simply deliver the message, like Zephaniah. It isn’t to judge.

Father, thank You for entrusting me with Your Truth. Help me deliver it faithfully.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Confession, Darkness, Fellowship, Forgiveness, God's Will, Power, Scripture

FROZEN SUN AND MOON

HABAKKUK 3:11

“Sun and moon stood in their lofty places; they went away at the light of Your arrows, at the radiance of Your flashing spear.”

June 21 is normally the longest daylight day of the year where I live. The sun seems to hang in the sky forever. But I cannot imagine the scene in Joshua 10 when the sun literally stood still. “12Then Joshua spoke to the LORD on the day when the LORD turned the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, at the Valley of Aijalon!’ 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the Book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hurry to go down for about a whole day. 14 There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.”

Habakkuk, perhaps, is recalling that story. He knows God has that kind of power. His point in today’s verse is to remind the people of God’s omnipotence. He even holds the sun and moon in His hand and does with them as He wishes. If that is so, then surely, He can handle what they are going through.

APPLICATION

What do you believe? Do you believe God can handle your problems? I told someone this week, “Whatever is over your head is under His feet.” God can and will handle it, in His time. But you must believe. You must trust the God of the universe to carry you through whatever it is you are facing.

My family has been through a lot in the past dozen years. They watched me go through two stem cell transplants for an incurable disease with no guarantee I would pull through. But in the midst of that, we trusted our Lord. We knew whatever happened, He was in control.

The same God who turned His back on His Son and caused the world to go into darkness because of the sin which Jesus took on Him is the same God who will not work in your life as He desires until your sins are confessed and you are in fellowship with Him. Turn to Him today and confess your sins to Him. Let Him wash you clean and work in your life today. Come out of the darkness.

Father, today I bring all my sins and transgressions to You. Forgive me, Lord, and set me back on the right path.

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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, Apologies, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Guilt, Repentance, Scripture

A SECOND WOE

HABAKKUK 2:12

“‘Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed, and founds a town with violence!’”

Any abuse of others to further your own agenda is frowned upon by God. He not only disapproves of it, but He will punish the wrong doers. Unfortunately, in my 40+ years of ministry, I have seen this take place over and over. I have to trust that God will seek His vengeance when His time is right.

The Lord states His second woe against the Chaldeans and states that because they have built their cities large and strong on the backs of others, they will suffer His wrath at the appropriate time. We do not understand why God tarries in His judgment, but we have to be faithful during the times of testing.

APPLICATION

Are there people in your life you have wronged? Have you done them an injustice and you think you are getting away with it? Take note of today’s verse. You have time now to make amends. You can make things right. You can confess your sins and seek forgiveness.

Too many of us, myself included at times, look right past those we have hurt. We either are not aware of the pain we have caused or we are just calloused to it. Jesus tells us to go and make things right with those we have hurt before we bring our offerings to God.

Will you ask the Lord today if there is someone you need to ask for their forgiveness? Go to them and do that. Perhaps you can’t recall anyone you have harmed. Then pray for all those you know who have been harmed by others. Ask the Lord to convict the wrong doer(s) to make things right.

Father, show me my sins against anyone I have hurt unknowingly so that I can confess that and do what is right.

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

YOUR SINS WILL FIND YOU OUT

HABAKKUK 2:8

“‘Since you have looted many nations, all the rest of the peoples will loot you—because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.’”

When I read today’s verse, I was reminded of Numbers 32:23. This was the story of Moses telling the tribes (Reuben, Gad and Manasseh) who wanted to live on the other side of the Jordan that they needed to keep their word to fight for the other tribes. He told them, “But if you do not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure that your sin will find you out.”

The Chaldeans were ruthless and unforgiving in their conquests of other nations. Their cruelty knew no bounds. So, God tells them here that they would suffer the same fate as all the nations they had conquered. They would face bloodshed and looting. Their chickens were about to come home to roost, as the old saying goes.

APPLICATION

I have committed many sins in my past. To the best of my knowledge, I have confessed those sins and made things right with my Lord and with others. If anyone reading this blog has been hurt by me in the past, please forgive me. I do not want any unconfessed sin to come between me and my heavenly Father.

How about you? Do you have a sin or sins you need to confess right now? They say confession is good for the soul. Indeed, it is. God’s Word will direct you in this confession. If you are a child of the King, all those sins are already forgiven, but He still wants you to clean the slate with Him. He wants to hear you confess those, to say the same thing about that sin that He does. That is what confession is.

I am so thankful the Lord forgives us. I am thankful He doesn’t hold any grudges. I wish more of His children were that way. I know of far too many Christians who struggle with confession and forgiveness. May you make things right with others and with the Lord today.

Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.

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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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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Confrontation, Consequences, Forgiveness, Holiness, Judgment, Scripture

FROTHING AT THE MOUTH

NAHUM 1:6

“Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath gushes forth like fire, and the rocks are broken up by Him.”

I had a football coach once who would get so mad that he would actually froth at the mouth. Do you know what that means? It means little pieces of foam appear in the corners of the mouth, and as you speak or yell, you spit white chunks from your lips. Very appealing, lol.

As unappealing as that may be, that is exactly the picture Nahum is describing in today’s verse. The Hebrew word for “indignation” gives us the picture of someone frothing at the mouth in anger and rage. God is fed up with Nineveh, and this time His full wrath will fall on the city.

APPLICATION

Excuse me, but that is not a sight I want to see. Thanks be to God; I never will have to face God’s frothing mouth of wrath. All that was done away with at Calvary. All I will experience is the peaceful, kind smile of my heavenly Father.

Maybe you are afraid today that you are going to face His indignation. Perhaps you are not a believer. If that is the case, you have much to fear. The justice He demands for your sins must be paid. Come to Him today.

Or maybe you are a believer but still think God is out to get you. You think He spends all His time finding new ways to entrap you. That is a lie of the devil. God’s desire is to show you His love through His Son, Jesus. He has paid the price so that you do not have to. Rest in Him today.

O Lord, thanks for rescuing me through Your Son from ever having to witness Your frothing wrath.

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