Accountability, Bible, Discipline, Obedience, Scripture, Trust

INCORRIGIBLE

ZEPHANIAH 3:2

“She obeyed no voice, she accepted no discipline. She did not trust in the LORD, she did not approach her God.”

Having worked with children and youth most of my ministry I can tell you about incorrigibility. I have dealt with some pretty bad behaviors. Some of those kids would not listen to anyone. It did not matter what technique or method we used. Nothing worked! They did not respond to praise or punishment. Time! They all took time.

Jerusalem was like that. Zephaniah says they “obeyed no voice,” “accepted no discipline, “did not trust” and “did not approach.” Take a look at those last two – trust and not approaching. My experience with children and youth I have dealt with in the past was that many of those who were disobedient and unresponsive to discipline were also untrusting and unapproachable. Jerusalem was the same. How could they not trust and approach their God who had done so much for them? Because of the first two.

APPLICATION

Just how incorrigible are you? Now, before you answer that, think about the things you do that you know the Lord would disapprove of. Do I need to name sins? I don’t think so. You and I both know what we do that falls into that category. By doing that, we are not obeying His voice. You may say What voice, Carl. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit resides in you and speaks to you. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “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?”

We are also just like the Israelites to whom Zephaniah is speaking. We grumble at any discipline we receive from the Lord. We argue it is not fair or we don’t deserve it. No, we actually deserve hell. But because of the grace of God through His Son Jesus, we have been given salvation and the promise of heaven. So, stop grumbling when the Lord busts your britches.

I want to trust Him with all my heart. I want to approach Him with open arms and a clean heart. But to do that, I need to stop all the incorrigibility on my part. So do you. Let’s agree today to do that. For at least one day, let’s do that. Agreed?

Lord, I come to You as an incorrigible child. Forgive me and receive me today.

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Bible, Dependence, Money, Provision, Scripture, Trust

SILVER AND GOLD

ZEPHANIAH 1:18

“Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’S anger; and all the earth will be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a horrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.”

“Silver and gold, silver and gold; everyone wishes for silver and gold.” So go the lyrics to the song sung by the snowman in the animated movie classic, “Rudolph, the Red-Nose Reindeer.” Those sentiments are so true. As I write this blog, one of the lotto games is up to $1.35 billion. Everyone is clamoring for that prize, thinking it will bring them ultimate joy. It won’t.

The Lord warns the people in verse 18 that their wealth will not save them in the end. They may think they can escape His wrath, but no amount of silver or gold can expunge the sins committed against God. He does not demand monetary payment for our sins. He demands repentance. He expects contrition. This is a good warning for us today.

APPLICATION

Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:24, “‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’” And we find in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, chapter 6, verses 9 and 10, “9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

You see, the Bible has lots to say about money. In fact, by some counts, there are over 2,300 verses on money in the Bible. Do you think God sees the importance of us understanding it? I think so. How you handle your money is a direct reflection on how you trust the Lord. Is money your source of provision or is the Lord?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like having money as much as the next guy. You have to have it to live in this world. But I know my provision is not in what I have. It is in Who I have – Jesus. He is my only true source. I dare not trust in the temporal in exchange for the eternal. How about you?

Remind me, Father, of my total dependence on You, not on the things of this world.

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Abiding, Bible, Protection, Scripture, Security, Trust

FALSE SECURITY

ZEPHANIAH 1:10

“‘And on that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘There will be the sound of a cry from the Fish Gate, wailing from the Second Quarter, and a loud crash from the hills.’”

There is nothing worse than to think you are safe only to find out you’re not. I have ridden out several hurricanes in my lifetime. Most of them weren’t a big deal. But there was one… We thought we were fine, but when it hit, we thought we had made a mistake in staying. It hit harder and stayed longer than we thought.

Zephaniah is relaying the Lord’s words in verse 10 which describe the people’s reliance on their man made defenses against their enemies. The Fish Gate couldn’t withstand them. Nor could the Second Quarter of the high points of the city. All reliance on their defense efforts fell short. Why? Because the Lord had removed His protection.

APPLICATION

Oh, to think where I would be without the Lord’s protection. I would probably be in some gutter. I know my flesh. But because I have chosen to follow Him and give my life to Him, He has made a covenant with me to protect me. Psalm 17:8-9 give us a promise. “8 Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings 9 from the wicked who deal violently with me, my deadly enemies who surround me.”

Just as the Lord covenanted with David, so He covenants with us. We do not have to rely on our own defenses. And because we are His children, He will never withdraw His protection. The key is abiding in Him. Take a minute and read John 15. There is the key to abiding in Jesus.

I have found that abiding in Him is a whole lot easier than trying to protect myself from a ruthless enemy. I am no match for him on my own. My only defense is Jesus. As I submit to my Master and resist the enemy, he has to flee (James 4:7). Are you tired of failing on your own. Come to Him.

I praise You, O Lord, for keeping me safe from the evil one. You are my Protector and Defender.

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Abiding, Bible, Faith, Judgment, Scripture, Trust

ALL INCLUSIVE

ZEPHANIAH 1:3

“‘I will remove human and animal life; I will remove the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, and the ruins along with the wicked; and I will eliminate mankind from the face of the earth,’ declares the LORD.”

Sometimes we pack stuff to go on a trip and mistakenly leave things out. That happened to me recently. I packed my pants, shirts, undershirts and socks. But I left out one important part of my wardrobe. Did you catch it? My underwear! When you pack, you need to pack the entire wardrobe. You have to include it all.

In the previous verse, Zephaniah said the Lord was going to destroy it all. Beginning with today’s verse the Lord begins to list everything included in “all.” All human and animal life will be gone. All birds and fish will disappear. God’s judgment is complete. He says He will not spare anything.

APPLICATION

Man, I am so glad that I won’t have to face God’s wrathful judgment. I will be judged for my works, but my place in heaven is guaranteed by the blood of the Lamb, the blood of His Son, Jesus. All I have belongs to Him. All I am is because of Him. I owe it all to Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2).

What part of your “all” are you holding back? Are you afraid God is going to take it away from you and not give it back? Anything you give God is in safe hands. He will take your life and work in it every day to improve it. The more you yield to Him, the more He gives back, new and improved.

I want to encourage you today to give it all to Him. Every smidgeon of your being needs to be placed in His capable hands. Everything! And when you place it there, leave it there. Trust Him! If you start taking things back, you will never experience that peace that only come through Him.

Only trust Him, only trust Him, only trust Him now!

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Enemies, God's Will, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Trust

WAVE RIDER

HABAKKUK 3:15

“You trampled on the sea with Your horses, on the foam of many waters.”

I love to watch the waves as they crest and then break on the beach. The power in each wave is incredible. I have never personally seen twenty or thirty foot waves, but I know people who have. They tell me they are not only powerful but are also terrifying and destructive. Can’t you just picture that?

Habakkuk paints a portrait in today’s verse of God riding the waves, leading the charge against the enemy. Albert Barnes quotes a couple of other Old Testament verses that give the same picture. Isaiah 63:13 says, “who led them in the depths;” and Zechariah 10:11 reads, “And He shall pass through the sea.” Barnes says, “God was literally there.”

APPLICATION

God is still out front defending us. He is riding the waves in our defense. He will drown our enemies the same way He drowned Pharoah’s army in the Red Sea. What seemed to be an obstacle for the Hebrew children became their way of escape and their source of salvation.

We don’t understand the ways of God. We certainly don’t understand them when we are going through hard times or if our very lives seem to be crumbling. But God is at work, in His time. His timing is always perfect. He is never late. When the time is right, He will ride that wave and wash away our enemies.

I don’t begin to say I understand that. I’ve tried and failed. I have come to the conclusion that I have to just trust Him. I know that sounds too spiritual. But it is the truth. We must come to the point that we simply trust Him who has saved us eternally to save us temporally also. If it His will to rescue us here on earth, praise His name. But if He should choose to rescue us by bringing us home eternally, then so be it. It’s really a win-win now, isn’t it?

Lord, I will watch as You ride the waves in my defense and will praise You if You carry me home.

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Allegiance, Belief, Bible, Faith, Righteousness, Scripture, Trust

THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

HABAKKUK 2:4

“‘Behold, as for the impudent one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous one will live by his faith.’”

When I read today’s verse, my mind immediately went to Ephesians 2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves. It is a gift from God, not as a result of works, so that no man can boast.” It is only by His grace and through the faith He has given me – no other way. That is how I must live.

God points out to Habakkuk a contrast between those who are puffed up (the impudent one) whose pride is his god to those righteous who simply live by faith. One commentator said this regarding this faith. “By this faith in God, each righteous person begins to live piously, righteously, holy, peacefully and divinely, and advances therein, since in every tribulation and misery, by this faith and hope in God he sustains, strengthens, and increases this life of the soul.”

APPLICATION

Paul says it well in Galatians 2:20 (which happens to be my life verse). “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Only my faith in Jesus gives me the strength and power to live in this fallen world.

But God promises to be with us in that faith exercise. He gives us the faith to have faith. Confused? Don’t be. Faith is a gift from God. By receiving that gift of faith at salvation, we are able to grow in our faith more and more each day. Faith breeds more faith.

My faith has been tested many times. But each time I have come out stronger than I went in. My faith has been strengthened. I am able to face harder things because of that. Did I like that? Heck, no. I had rather sit in a bass boat and chunk lures at large mouth bass. But God has other plans. He wants to grow me more and more into the image of His Son. He wants the same for you. Have faith.

Have faith in God, He’s on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

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Bible, Judgment, Running, Scripture, Secrets, Sin, Submission, Surrender, Trust

STOP RUNNING!

HABAKKUK 2:2

“Then the LORD answered me and said, ‘Write down the vision and inscribe it clearly on tablets, so that one who reads it may run.’”

You may have heard the joke about the two men in the forest who come up on a bear. One of the men kneels down and reties his shoes. His friend said, “That’s not going to help you outrun this bear.” To that the man said, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.” I know – dad joke, right?

God’s message to Habakkuk would cause the people to run. They would hear about God’s coming judgment and try to outrun it. As they discovered, you cannot outrun God. There is no escaping Him. His reach is too long. His feet are too swift. He knows where you are going and will find you. That hasn’t changed today.

APPLICATION

Are you trying to run from God? You may run, but you cannot hide. Hebrews 4:13 says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer.” Psalm 90:8 reads, “You have placed our guilty deeds before You, our hidden sins in the light of Your presence.”

Stop running! Turn toward Him and confess those “hidden sins.” Allow Him to cleanse you and purify your heart. You won’t believe the relief you will feel. When you finally unburden yourself of those secret sins, you will be able to breathe and walk uprightly.

I know I can’t outrun a bear. I probably can’t outrun anyone. So, I am certainly not going to try to outrun God. Instead, I will run towards Him. I want to feel His warm embrace. I want Him to catch me mid-stride and stop me right in my tracks. He will whisper softly, “Come to me, my precious child.” Aren’t those words you want to hear?

I will cease striving and running after my own desires. I will turn to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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Bible, Captivity, Despair, Devil, Enemies, Evil, Faithfulness, Satan, Scripture, Submission, Surrender, Trust

WILL IT EVER STOP?

HABAKKUK 1:17

“Will they therefore empty their net, and continually slay nations without sparing?”

(This is blog #2500. I cannot believe it. I began these post on January 1, 2016. I am about to finish my 7th year of writing these daily blogs. Please pray for me as I seek the Lord as I write these each day.)

The rise of evil and its spread throughout the world seems to never cease. It just gets worse and worse. Just the moment you think it can’t get any worse, it does. The depth of evil a person will plunge is beyond our imaginations. Will there ever be an end to this? When will God step in and stop it?

That’s the question Habakkuk is asking at the end of Chapter One. God has shown him this vision of the Chaldeans coming in and defeating them. He knows of their ruthlessness. He does not want his people to suffer. He is crying out to God, “When will they stop? Will they ever stop? Haven’t they done enough?”

APPLICATION

You may have been under spiritual attack from the evil one and have cried out the same as Habakkuk. “Lord, when will it end? I can’t take much more of this.” Trials come in all shapes and sizes. Some last a long time and others are over quickly. It is those that linger that truly test us.

We must remember, though, that God will not put on us more than we can handle with His help. We surely cannot handle it on our own, but as we submit and surrender to Him, we can get through whatever it is we face. There may still be dark days as you trust Him, but we are assured of His faithfulness.

I have faced these challenges. I have shared about some of them in my blog posts of the past. Suffice it to say, I have learned these lessons the hard way. There have been times when I entered a trial fully trusting. Then there are other times I went in kicking and screaming. But through them all I have found my Lord to be right there with me, sustaining and nurturing me. Will you rest in Him in the midst of your struggles?

Father, in Your strong hands I place myself. Do with me as You see fit.

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Abiding, Battles, Bible, Faithfulness, Scripture, Trust

UNSHAKEABLE

NAHUM 3:12

All your fortifications are fig trees with ripe fruit—when shaken, they fall into the eater’s mouth.”

When I read this verse, my mind flashed back to an old Sandy Patty song, “Unshakeable Kingdom.” In case you don’t know that song, here is the link to see the video:

The chorus ends with this:

The kingdom of God
A kingdom that will never end
The living unshakeable kingdom of God, of God!

Nahum, of course, was prophesying just the opposite of the enemies of God. They were shakeable. They were vulnerable. They could be destroyed. God proved that by wiping them out. But thanks be to God, since we are in His kingdom, we are not.

APPLICATION

Maybe you have been shaken. Perhaps you have faced obstacles and challenges that have rocked you to your core. This life is hard sometimes, I know. We have all faced things that test our faith. I want to reassure you that God is not shaken by those things.

Whatever you are dealing with, God is bigger. There is nothing that He cannot deal with if you will let Him. He will lift you out of the miry clay and set you on solid ground. He will pick you up, dust you off and put you back on the path He has chosen for you.

Is it easy? No! Is it worth it to trust? You had better believe it. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it is. I have had my tests. I have not been faithful in some of them. I have failed some tests. What does God do? He allows me to try it again – til I get it right. That is really a privilege. That may sound crazy, but with each test I learn to trust Him more. So can you!

Father, I trust You. I want to prove my faithfulness to You. I am yours.

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Abiding, Bible, Demons, Prayer, Promises, Scripture, Storms, Trials, Trust

THE FLOOD

NAHUM 1:8

“But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, and will pursue His enemies into darkness.”

I have never had to go through a flood, although I know plenty of people who have. I even have a friend who has helped many flood victims during a Disaster Relief deployment. Most victims describe the feeling of hopelessness as they could do nothing to stop the rising waters.

That is probably how God’s enemies feel. There is no escape. The demons who rebel against our Lord know God is too powerful to fight against. The Bible says they believe and tremble (James 2:19). He is an “overflowing flood” which covers all.

APPLICATION

Is your head above water? Can you see a lifeboat? Feeling overwhelmed with life can feel like a flood. Things keep coming and coming and coming. I have known people who cannot seem to catch a break. They go from crisis to crisis. They are literally drowning in misery. Is there no end?

Our peace does not come from being rescued from the floods. Our peace comes in the midst of it. God is our peace. Even when He allows tragedies and trials, those things that try to drown us, there is peace. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us He will not tempt us beyond what we can bear. There is always a way out.

Our struggles in life are not meant to drown us. They are meant to strengthen us, and not just for ourselves. We share our trials to show others going through the same thing so they too can find faith in their floodwaters. And we do not just throw them a life vest. We jump in the waters with them as the Lord leads. That is our calling as believers.

O Lord, flood my heart with compassion and goodness from above.

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