Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Prayer, Protection, Provision, Scripture, Temple, Trust



“‘What are you, you great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring out the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”

I once helped my dad and other volunteers build additions to the school we were attending. I watched them pour the foundation and begin laying the block. At first, it was kind of exciting. But for a young boy like me, that did not last until…they were laying the last block on the top of the wall. Whew! What a project!

In today’s verse you see the mention of the “top stone.” Zechariah is being told their enemies (great mountain) will be defeated (become a plain). And then the temple, which had long had its foundation cornerstone laid, would have the crowning achievement completed – the laying of the top stone. Scholars agree that this is a reference to Jesus being not only the cornerstone but also the top stone. He is the beginning and the end.


Do you see that in your life? I mean, is Jesus your first and last, the beginning and the end? He should be. He should have your highest priority. You have heard that your priorities should be God, family and then church. That is the order of things. That is how it should be. Jesus should be the crowning achievement in your life, your top stone.

When we don’t place Him first, we lose focus. Putting other things before the Lord never works. Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” Do you believe that? It’s true. He will meet your needs. Just put Him first in your life.

Maybe you have done that, and you still don’t feel He is listening. Hold on, dear one. He is. Keep trusting. He knows exactly where you are. He knows your name. Keep calling out to Him. His timing is always perfect even though we think He is not responding. He is. I promise. Better yet – He promises.

I know You hear my cries, dear Lord. I shall wait for You.

Answers, Asking, Bible, God's Will, Questions, Scripture, Trust



“Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, ‘I will show you what these are.’” 

So many times we are faced with questions for which we do not have answers? Why did this happen to me? Why would God allow this? Tough questions! I know I have had those questions in the past. I still have questions like that. As long as we are here on this earth, we will face these types of questions.

Zechariah was no different. Here he is having this incredible experience and he asks the angel, “What are these, my lord?” You can just imagine what he is going through. But he did not hesitate to ask for clarification. And better yet, the angel didn’t scold him. He simply said, “I will show you what these are.” I bet Zechariah couldn’t wait.


The next time you have a question for God, don’t hesitate. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 33:3. “‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’” Just call on the Lord. He stands ready to give us answers. God doesn’t want to keep us guessing. He wants us to rest in Him.

He can give you the peace that passes understanding. He can give you rest for your soul. How about these verses from 1 John 5? “14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” What more could you ask?

So, ask away. God isn’t bothered by your questions. He doesn’t say, “Just cause.” Didn’t you just hate that answer from your parents, lol? There are some things that God does that defies answers. We can’t begin to explain God’s mind, but we can trust Him. I was reading in Job today. Remember what he said to his wife after she told him to curse God and die? He said, “‘Shall we actually accept good from God but not accept adversity?’” Know this – God is listening, and He will answer in His perfect time.

Help me trust You like Job did, Lord. I want to be bold to ask and then wait on You to answer.

Abiding, Battles, Bible, Foundation, Scripture, Shaken, Trust



“For this is what the LORD of armies says: ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land.’”

When I was a little boy, a new cooking product called “Shake and Bake” came out. It was a seasoned bread crumb coating originally marketed to mimic the flavor and texture of Southern fried chicken. It was introduced in 1965 by General Foods. I have got to tell you, it did NOT mimic Southern fried chicken. My mama’s fried chicken was the best. She tried that new product, but quickly went back to her recipe.

Now, how does that story tie in with our verse today? There is only One who can truly shake the heavens and the earth. Others may try to “shake things up,” but only God has that power. This shaking wasn’t about a physical shaking by earthquakes or volcanoes. This was a shaking of all that existed so that the shaken things would be dissolved and only what was solid would remain. Only what was of God was firm and unshaken. That was the message to the people. Get grounded. Stay firmly planted.


I vividly remember a video I took of a woman in Liberia shaking off the chaff from the rice she had just pounded to break it up. She poured the pounded rice into a shallow wicker tray and would shake it and toss it into the air. The wind would blow away the husks and only the rice grain would remain. It was fascinating to watch.

That is the image I want you to see today as you read this verse. What are you – the rice or the husk? Will the winds of discontent blow you away? In Matthew 7 we are told the story of the two houses that were built on sand and a firm foundation. When the winds came in the storm, one house remained – the one built on a solid foundation.

How firm is your foundation? Shakings occur in our life. There are times when it seems everything around us will fall. But if we remain firmly rooted in Him, we can weather any storm. Dig deep. Pour a firm foundation. And when the shakings come, trust in Him. Only He can get you through.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

Bible, Looking, Obedience, Scripture, Sin, Trust, Walking



“Now then, the LORD of armies says this: ‘Consider your ways!’”

As I get older, I am much more cautious of the steps I take. By that, I mean my physical steps. I suffer with peripheral neuropathy in both feet which makes walking challenging at times. One of my biggest concerns is not being able to feel my feet, especially my toes, and making a misstep. When I am walking outside, I am very conscious of the ground and am constantly monitoring myself to avoid holes or uneven ground. It is a little scary at times.

Haggai shares in today’s verse a similar admonition. But this warning isn’t about physical steps. He is referring to the Israelite’s spiritual steps. The Hebrew word for “way” is derek, which can mean way, road, distance, journey or manner. The LORD is telling them to seriously consider, to give thought to, to be aware of their manner of life, their journey, their relationship with Him. That’s a word we could all use.


How is your walk? Are you watching your steps? Are you walking in the light or darkness? I don’t know about you, but I prefer to walk in the light, both in this physical world and in the spiritual world. I know there are hazards out there that can trip me physically, especially with my numb feet. But there are also plenty of spiritual hurtles out there that can cause me fall into sin if I am not watching.

John tells us in 1 John 1:7 “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Walking in the light benefits us and others. If I trip and fall, I can bring others down. I definitely don’t want to do that.

When I was going through my chemo treatments a few years ago, I was having some issues with fainting. My wife was so fearful I was going to fall, so she would walk beside me or behind me, as if she could stop me if I started falling. I knew if I fell and she tried to stop me, she was going down too. That is so true spiritually, as well. We must guard our steps to protect others and ourselves. Watch your feet!

Make my feet like hinds’ feet, Lord. Make me surefooted as I follow You.

Abiding, Bible, Redemption, Remnant, Rescue, Scripture, Trust



“‘But I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD.’”

I have been guilty in the past of running to the wrong place for my refuge. Food can be a refuge for some people. Eating those comfort foods may feel good at the time, but that can have unhealthy results. Others turn to the bottle to drown out their worries. And still others run to family or friends who inevitably let them down.

In Zephaniah 3:12 we see the Lord telling the people what He is going to do with them. He is going to leave a remnant. In fact, the Hebrew word for “leave” means remain or remnant. But who is He going to leave in the country? Only the poor and lowly, those without land or money, the outcast of society. They will be the remnant. But those will turn to Him. They will call on “the name of the LORD.”


To whom do you call when you are in need? I pray it is the Lord. If you are a believer, then you know that He can be trusted with your cares. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “cast all our anxiety on Him for He cares about you.” Don’t you believe that? What does He have to do to prove it to you? He did send His Son, Jesus, to rescue you for eternity.

You have probably heard it said that if you can trust God with your eternity, you can surely trust Him with your today. That is so true. I have had to learn that over and over and over. You would think it would have sunk in the first time. Don’t judge me, though. You are probably the same. We just struggle with trust, don’t we?

There are so many verses on trust in the Bible. Just look at Psalm 115:9-11. “9 Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. 10 House of Aaron, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. 11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.” Can you do that today? Trust in His name, the name that is above all names, Jesus.

I trust in You, O Lord, my rock and my salvation. I will take refuge in You.

Accountability, Bible, Discipline, Obedience, Scripture, Trust



“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.


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.

Bible, Dependence, Money, Provision, Scripture, Trust



“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.


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.

Abiding, Bible, Protection, Scripture, Security, Trust



“‘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.


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.

Abiding, Bible, Faith, Judgment, Scripture, Trust



“‘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.


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!

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



“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.”


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.