Advice, Bible, Leading, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

LEADING THE WRONG WAY

ZEPHANIAH 3:3

“Her leaders within her are roaring lions, her judges are wolves at evening; they have no bones to gnaw in the morning.”

I have had the privilege to have served under some great leaders. I have known others who led well. I have always tried to learn from these role models. However, others I have known have not led well. Their employees were uncontented. The turnover rate was high. What made the difference between these two types of leaders? Integrity!

Jerusalem’s leaders and judges were treating the people horribly. Zephaniah compares them to lions and wolves. Not exactly a great compliment. They were taking advantage of their positions and causing harm to the people. People were starving, and they were feasting. For this, they would be judged more harshly.

APPLICATION

If you are a leader in your church or place of work, you have the responsibility to lead well. James 3:1 gives us a warning. “Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” Teachers are leaders. God holds us to a higher standard. Why? Because we are leading others. They are trusting us to lead well.

Another great verse about the importance of good and godly leaders is Proverbs 11:14. “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.” Isn’t that good? We need good leaders, not leaders who use their power to put people down. Pray for your leaders. Ask the Lord to give them wisdom.

I have been in some type of leadership role for the past four decades. I have to admit that I have not always led well. I have allowed my ego to get in the way at times. But God has forgiven me of those failures and has put a servant leadership heart in me. I try to lead by serving now. Will you do that? Allow Jesus to show you how He led and imitate Him.

Lord, without Your guidance I will fail as a leader. Show me how to lead and love well.

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Abuse, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Humility, Modeling, Scripture, Taunting

TAUNTING

ZEPHANIAH 2:8

“‘I have heard the taunting of Moab and the abusive speech of the sons of Ammon, with which they have taunted My people and boasted against their territory.’”

No one likes to be reproached or reviled. Taunting is uncomfortable, isn’t it? In my childhood, I can recall a couple of times when I was taunted by someone. Once on the playground by a class bully. Another time in high school a classmate tried to get me to fight by saying some bad things about me. Taunting is not something God approves of.

Here in Zephaniah, we see the taunting of the Moabites and the Ammonites against God and His chosen people. It reminds me of David and Goliath when Goliath stood and taunted the army of Israel. David rightly pointed out that Goliath wasn’t just taunting and reviling Israel. He was reviling God. All reviling against God’s people is reviling against Him.

APPLICATION

Have you been taunted by someone or made fun of? Maybe someone has made fun of you because of your beliefs. Perhaps you were picked on as a child and have never gotten over those comments. Give it all to God. He can soothe those hurt feelings. Remember, you are His child and created in His image. He made you, and He doesn’t make any junk.

Maybe you are the one taunting others. Maybe you are the bully. Oh, you wouldn’t call yourself a bully, but you say or do things that revile or taunt others. You even do it in jest and try to make it seem like a joke. That does not honor God, and He is not pleased. Ask God to forgive you of that taunting spirit and then ask those whom you have hurt to forgive you.

Whether you are the taunter or the tauntee, we have a lesson to learn here today. God is not pleased with a reviling spirit. He wants us to have peaceable spirits. He desires a humble heart and one that serves others. Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” That’s my new memory verse. Live that today.

Father, forgive me when I have reviled You by taunting others. Give me that servant heart so I can show them honor.

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Bible, Despair, Joy, Modeling, Peace, Praise, Scripture, Singing

GLOOM, DESPAIR AND AGONY

ZEPHANIAH 1:15

“That day is a day of anger, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,”

Back in the 1970’s a comedy show hit the airwaves of the U.S. entitled “Hee Haw.” One of the songs that was sung regularly on the show was about gloom and despair. The lyrics were:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me

These words may not all fit today’s verse, but they sure come close to how someone who was facing the day of the Lord and His judgment would feel. Of course, it wasn’t about having bad luck. It was all about bad choices – specifically one – rejecting Jehovah in favor of idolatry and rebellion. That choice would certainly bring gloom, despair and agony.

APPLICATION

We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior have no reason to worry about gloom, despair or agony. Our hope is in Him. Certainly, none of those words describe our Lord. He is joy, light and radiance. He brings peace and comfort. He exudes the glory of God.

So, why do so many Christians walk around singing that old Hee Haw song? They almost act like Eeyore, the donkey from Winnie the Pooh. Every time you see them all you hear about is how bad things are. They are children of the King, but they act like a lowly peasant who has been downtrodden and forgotten.

I choose to walk in victory. I choose to sing a different song. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. He has put a new song in my heart. Will you sing with me? Will you praise His holy name? Let the world know about the joy you have because you have chosen to follow Jesus. They need to hear it and you need to proclaim it.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!

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Bible, Modeling, Offering, Redemption, Repentance, Sacrifice, Scripture, Testimony, Worship

OUR SACRIFICE TO GOD

ZEPHANIAH 1:7

“Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, because the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.”

As a man of God, I am called to sacrifice for my family. There have been many things that I willingly gave up or decided not to do because of my family. Other things required an action to my sacrifice. I had to choose to do something which was sacrificial in nature. Now, hear me clearly. I have almost never wanted to make a sacrifice that cost me something. But each time I did, it was worth it.

In verse 7 of Zephaniah 1 we see the prophet declaring that God is the one who prepares the sacrifice. God had rejected man’s sacrifices of bulls and sheep because they were not given as true sacrifices. They were merely an action the people did out of tradition. There was no true sacrifice from the people. So, now He is preparing the sacrifice. Through judgment He is consecrating His people.

APPLICATION

Romans 12:1 tells us, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Our sacrifice to God is not a bull or sheep. Our sacrifice to God is ourselves. And as with any sacrifice, we must be put on the altar, dead to ourselves.

The altar of God had a point on each corner where the sacrifice could be tied down so it would not slip off the altar as it was burning. I know I need to tie myself down each time I offer myself to Him. I am usually not a willing sacrifice. I go kicking and screaming. But just as the sacrifice that was given correctly and burned on the altar gave a sweet aroma to God, our willing sacrifice of ourselves puts a sweet scent in the air to God.

What part of you have you not sacrificed to God? What are you holding back? He demands it all. A partial sacrifice is not a sacrifice. He demands a complete and whole sacrifice of yourself. Will you offer it to Him today? Will you lay yourself own on the altar of God and allow Him to raise you back up?

I offer myself today, Lord, as a willing, living and holy sacrifice to You.

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Bible, Christianity, Love, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

PAYBACK

HABAKKUK 2:17

“‘For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and the devastation of its animals by which you terrified them, because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.’”

Doing harm to others has a way of coming back around and biting you. Too often we think our actions don’t have lasting impact, but they do. When we systematically and consistently mistreat others, people begin to steer clear of us. There is no trust in us because of our reputation.

The Chaldeans had mistreated all they had conquered, including God’s children. God had given them into their hands for a season in order to judge His children. He never gave them the freedom to abuse and misuse them. As was done by them, so shall it be done to them.

APPLICATION

Almost anyone who has attended church for any length of time can quote the “Golden Rule.” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That goes together perfectly with Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:39. “The second is like it, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”’”

Treating others well is a sign of loving Jesus. John tells us in 1 John that the world will know we are believers by the love we show for each other. So, what does it show the world when we mistreat others, especially other believers?

There are some people I had rather not spend too much time with. We just don’t see eye to eye on matters. But that does not give me the excuse to mistreat them. The world is watching. I want all to see Christ’s love in me being made manifest in the way I love others. How about you?

They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love! 

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Bible, Consequences, Discipline, Evil, God's Will, Modeling, Scripture

SCHEMERS

HABAKKUK 2:9

“‘Woe to him who makes evil profit for his household, to put his nest on high, to be saved from the hand of catastrophe!’”

Some people will stop at nothing to advance their own schemes and plans. All they care about is themselves and their family. Sometimes even the family falls prey to the schemes. It may seem they are getting away with it. They are not. They will face retribution at the hand of God one day.

God is still blasting the Chaldeans in verse 9. All those Chaldeans who are making “evil profit” will get what is coming to them. They think they are going to escape the coming catastrophe, but they won’t. God’s long reach of justice will catch up to them.

APPLICATION

There is nothing wrong with making a profit. The world economy depends on that. Businesses make profits so they can hire employees and expand their business. But to make evil profits is against all that is good. God cannot and will not bless any business or the owners who are harming others to line their own pockets.

There are hundreds of verses about money in the Bible. Do a word search for yourself. You might be amazed. God does not disapprove of us having money. He wants to bless us. Just don’t let your desire for money bring you to ruin.

I know His Word says that the love of money is the root of evil. Use it. Pursue it. Just don’t let it become your sole aim in life. Paul goes on in that passage to say those who are eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grieves (1 Timothy 6:10). Don’t be a schemer!

Father, save me from worldly lusts of money. Show me how to use it wisely and obediently.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Judgment, Lawlessness, Modeling, Redemption, Scripture

NUMB

HABAKKUK 1:4

“Therefore, the Law is ignored, and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out confused.”

I am not a legalist, but I believe in obeying the law. I have to admit that the one law I consistently break is the speed limit laws. I typically drive a little over the speed limit on highways or interstates. I don’t have an excuse for it. I just do it. But what do I do when I see a police car? I immediately tap my brake and slow down. Why? Because I know I am breaking the Law. I have become numb to it.

Habakkuk describes the non-law-abiding attitude of the people this way. The word he uses which is translated as “ignored” is the Hebrew word pug. It literally means to be numb. People had become numb to the Law of God due to their constant sinning. The wicked were influencing all to their way of living and thinking.

APPLICATION

Our world today is no different. The wicked have strongly influenced everyone. Media is constantly pushing their worldview on believers. If we don’t agree with them, we are told we are intolerant and racist. They say we don’t understand that times have changed.

God’s Word has not changed. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” It is eternal. God is not “woke.” He is just and holy. He will not stand by as we continue to undermine and try to destroy what His Word says. Just like in Habakkuk’s day, judgment will fall for many.

Wow, Carl, that’s kind of harsh. Well, yes! God’s Word is blunt about sin. Yes, we can all receive forgiveness through Jesus. But if anyone does not turn to Him, he will be judged harshly. It is all so avoidable. Just come to Him today. He is ready with open arms.

I am so thankful, Lord, that You sent Your Son to rescue me from the penalty of sin. Help me live an obedient life (even obeying the speed limit).

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Affection, Bible, Comfort, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture, Suffering, Sympathy, Testimony

COMFORT

NAHUM 3:7

“‘And it will come about that all who see you will shrink from you and say, “Nineveh is devastated! Who will have sympathy for her?” Where shall I seek comforters for you?’”

Some people just have no sympathy. They can walk past a hurting child and ignore them. They can look the other way when they see someone in obvious need of help. Our world today is getting less and less sympathetic. It is all about “me.” People do not want to risk getting involved.

The Lord is saying through Nahum that people will do that to Nineveh. They will flee from them in the midst of their destruction. Nineveh, who showed no compassion, will now receive no compassion. There will not be anyone who will come to comfort them.

APPLICATION

My mind immediately goes to 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

We are not to be like the onlookers who passed by Nineveh. We are to reach out and comfort those around us who we see in need. As Paul said above in 2 Corinthians, we are to use the comfort we have received from the Father to comfort them. It is “trickle down” comfort. We share what has been given to us.

I have been both the recipient and giver of comfort in my life. Let me tell you – I had rather give comfort than receive comfort. I am not a good receiver. But, oh the joy I receive when I can give that to others. In a hospital or a funeral home, I can give that which the Father has given me. So can you. 

Father of all comfort, thank You for comforting me with Your Spirit. I can share that now with others.

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Agreement, Allegiance, Allies, Battles, Bible, Christianity, Devil, Enemies, God's Will, Modeling, Opponents, Scripture

A SHIELD

NAHUM 2:3

“The shields of his warriors are dyed red, the warriors are dressed in scarlet, the chariots are fitted with flashing steel when he is prepared to march, and the juniper spears are brandished.”

I love to watch football (American football), especially college football. I love to watch the team working as one to achieve a goal – to score on their opponent or to prevent their opponent from scoring on them. A lot of this occurs on the line of scrimmage. Young men forming a line of defense have to work together as one.

The English translation above says “shields,” but the actual Hebrew word is singular – “shield.” That makes a difference. Nahum is saying that “the shield of His warriors” is one. They move as one. They attack as one. They are no longer fighting alone against their enemies. They have become a unified force under the banner of Jehovah.

APPLICATION

This should send a message to us, not about fighting, but about standing together. Christians are so divided today. We segregate ourselves between denominations. We divide our churches by race. We cannot fight our common enemy if we stay divided. We must become one.

So, what prevents that? Is it pride or arrogance? Is it our church traditions? Some of these divisions are over minor doctrinal disagreements that do not really have an effect on our salvation. Paul says in Romans 12:4-5 “4 For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.”

What part are you? How can you help unify the body of Christ? The ministry I am serving in now, Every Man A Warrior (www.everymanawarrior.com), cuts across denominational lines. We have leaders in 58 countries and in all 50 states in the U.S. And guess what? We are all not Southern Baptists. Nor are we all Methodists. We are all believers in Christ who want to see our culture changed by changing the hearts of men. Will you join us in unifying the body of Christ worldwide?

Help me hold Your shield, Lord, as I face our enemies.

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Accountability, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Calling, Choices, Discipline, Faithfulness, God's Will, Looking, Modeling, Scripture

ALL FOR NOTHING 

MICAH 6:15 

“‘You will sow but you will not harvest. You will tread the olive press but will not anoint yourself with oil; and tread out sweet wine, but you will not drink any wine.’” 

I have been trying to learn some more Swahili and, for the first time, some French. The app I am using has some timed lessons. If you do not finish the lesson in the time given, you have to start again. All that concentration and all that work for nothing. It can be a little frustrating. 

God told the people that all their work (sowing and treading) will be for naught. They will harvest nothing. They will not get enough oil for anointing or wine to drink. Somehow, they had to learn that all they had came from Him. Those blessings required obedience, which they had not shown. 

APPLICATION 

Are you spinning your wheels for God and getting nothing back? Well, maybe you are spinning the wrong wheels. We make the mistake all the time of “doing” for God. We think if we just stay busy He will bless us. I hate to disappoint you, but that is not how it works. What He initiates He anoints, not what you initiate. 

Now James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). God does want us to serve Him and to accomplish His plans. That requires “doing.” One person has said we have to put feet to our prayers. Just be careful to make sure you clear it with the Lord first. 

I was taught by my dad to show initiative. That is a good trait to have unless your initiative is self-driven and not God-driven. The joy of knowing that you are doing what the Lord has called you to do is so delightful. Do not spin your wheels trying to “do” for God. Stop, pray and let Him show you what it is He would have you do. 

Lord, slow me down and help me see Your grand plan for me. I want to serve where You want me to serve. 

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