God's Will, Bible, Scripture, Faith, Salvation, Judgment, Destruction, Choices, Belief, Consequences

THE RESULTS OF UNBELIEF

Zephaniah 2:4

“For Gaza will be abandoned, and Ashkelon will become a desolation; the inhabitants of Ashdod will be driven out at noon, and Ekron will be uprooted.”

Choices have consequences. I remember dealing with a troubled young man one time at one of the children’s homes where I served. I told him after a particularly heated episode, “You can make your own choices, but you can’t choose your consequences.” Years later I ran into this young man, now an adult, married with two children. He told me he never forgot those words, and they had guided him ever since that day.

Zephaniah begins in verse 4 listing all these nations that surrounded Judah that were rebellious towards God. Look at how he describes their end. They were abandoned, desolate, driven out and uprooted. None of these end results were positive. All these nations suffered God’s wrath. They all were judged by a holy and righteous God.

APPLICATION

I don’t want to be abandoned or desolate or driven out or uprooted. Thanks to Christ, I never will be. Because of the faith I have placed in His saving grace, I will always have God by my side. I will never be desolate. I will never be driven away from Him. I will always be grafted into Him. Those are the results I want and now have.

But so many around us are headed in the same direction as Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron. They are headed for disaster. The sad thing is they are not even aware of it. They think they are just fine. It’s all smooth sailing. Tragedy awaits. But we have the answer, don’t we?

Knowing where I am headed makes this life so much easier. I may still face hard times, but He is with me. 2 Timothy 1:12 tells us, “For this reason I also suffer these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to protect what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Are you convinced?

Thank You, Lord, for giving me a future and a hope. I rest in You.

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Bible, Humility, Righteousness, Scripture, Submission

ARE YOU HUMBLE?

ZEPHANIAH 2:3

“Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have practiced His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will remain hidden on the day of the LORD’S anger.”

Did you know that the word “humble” or “humility” appears more than one hundred times in the Bible. I guess you could say it’s pretty important. But most of us have no clue what it really means to be humble or to show humility. I don’t see myself as a particularly humble guy. I’ve been called that, but I don’t see it. Does that make me humble, lol?

Zephaniah tells us in verse 3 of chapter 2 the importance of humility. The humble practice the Lord’s ordinances. They seek righteousness. By doing that, he says, “you will remain hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger.” Bowing before a holy God requires such humility. Do you have it?

APPLICATION

The ultimate example of humility, of course, is Jesus. Just look at Philippians 2:5-8. “5 Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.”

I know what you’re thinking. Sure, Carl. That is all well and good, but He is God. I’m not Jesus. That’s true, but He tells us to be like Him. And if He tells us something to do, then it is possible to do it. He never tells us to do something that He doesn’t equip us for.

Humility requires us to die to our flesh. That’s the hard part. We see others as more important than ourselves. We seek to serve others. Can we do that? Certainly, but only through Christ. Will you humble yourself today? Will you bow before your Lord and allow Him to humble you? Give it a shot. He will reward you.

Humble me, Lord. Show me how to live as You did in service to others.

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Belief, Danger, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

ZEPHANIAH 2:2

“Before the decree takes effect—the day passes like chaff—before the burning anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you.”

When I was a kid, there was a TV series called, “Lost in Space.” In this series there was a robot and a young boy named Will Robinson. Every time there was danger around, the robot would cry out this warning to Will – “Danger, Will Robinson!” Don’t you wish you had a robot to do that for you every time you got near danger spiritually?

Zephaniah continues his urging of the people to repent and gather themselves before “the decree takes effect” or “the burning anger of the Lord comes upon you” or “the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you.” Wow! That was much better than the warning to Will Robinson by the robot. Zephaniah is giving clear warning that God’s judgment is coming.

APPLICATION

All through Scripture we are given warnings about the impending judgment of God. The prophets all warned us. The New Testament writers did as well. And of course, Jesus gave us warning after warning that those who did not come to Him would surely perish (John 3:16). Warning after warning after warning.

So, why don’t people heed the warning. Unbelief! People have stopped believing in sin. They have stopped believing there are consequences for their actions. Live like you want. There are no repercussions. The devil has them all blinded to the truth. He is so good at that.

Aren’t you glad your blinders are off? Aren’t you glad you know the truth? We must now shout out like that robot did to Will Robinson. We must announce, “Danger! Sin has consequences. Turn to Jesus Who can forgive you of your sins.” That isn’t a hard message to give. Tell someone today.

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore…but the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me now safe am I.

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Abiding, Bible, Confession, Repentance, Scripture

GET IT TOGETHER

ZEPHANIAH 2:1

“Gather yourselves together, yes, join together, you nation without shame,”

Have you ever been totally flustered about something? I remember one time I was trying to put a new starter on my 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier station wagon (yea, I owned a station wagon). I got the old one off with no problem, but I could not get the bolts to line up to install the new one. I finally left it and returned the next morning. The bolts instantly lined up. I just had to step away and gather myself.

Zephaniah is telling the people it is time to gather themselves, to get it together. They had for too long been wandering around, thus, the judgment had come. Now it is time to pull together and repent “without shame.” True confession does not cause shame. It removes it.

APPLICATION

I don’t know about you, but I need to “get it together” sometimes. If I am not careful, I can wander into the wilderness. I can get my eyes off of Jesus and onto the world. I can get my priorities all out of whack and pursue the wrong things. I have to get it all back together.

So, how do I do that? Only through prayer and the study of His Word. Nothing else comes close to shifting me back. I can’t rely on other people. I can’t rely on a good self-help book. I can’t mellow out with good music. No! Only the pursuit of Jesus through concentrated time with Him does it. And that must begin with confession and cleansing.

I love to quote Psalm 51:2-4. “2 Wash me thoroughly from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my wrongdoings,

and my sin is constantly before me. 4 Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.” Will you join me in doing that? Get it together.

Thank You for Your cleansing power in my life, Lord. Because of it, I can walk boldly and courageously.

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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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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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Abiding, Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Discipline, Godliness, Integrity, Purity, Scripture

SOUND THE TRUMPETS

ZEPHANIAH 1:16

“A day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and the high corner towers.”

I have never played a trumpet but have the utmost respect for those who do. One of my favorite trumpeters is Phil Driscoll. He is amazing. He’s been playing the trumpet for decades and using it to praise the Lord. If you haven’t heard him, you need to check out some of his music.

Unfortunately, Zephaniah isn’t referring to Phil Driscoll in today’s verse. Instead, he is reminding the people of the trumpets that were played in times of war. There were different trumpets and different sounds played to give signals and warnings. Now, they are going to hear God’s trumpet as He brings judgment on the land.

APPLICATION

God may not sound a trumpet to give us warnings, but we have every warning sign we need in His Word. All throughout its pages God tells us how to live and the consequences if we don’t. It would be nice if we had red lights that flashed and got buzzed with an electric current every time we came close to straying, but God gives us that infamous free will, doesn’t He?

The only way we can stay holy is to follow His Word. I love 2 Peter 1:3-4. “3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.”

So, what is our excuse? It says very clearly that He has given us everything we need to live godly lives. We want trumpets to blare and sound the warning. We want God to reach down and jerk us away from sin. We have to make the choice – the choice to live holy, to live in purity. Will you today?

Take my life, lead me Lord, take my life, lead me Lord!

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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, Evangelism, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture, Witnessing

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED

ZEPHANIAH 1:14

“The great day of the LORD is near, near and coming very quickly; listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly.”

Those famous words of the mother, “You just wait til your father gets home.” For most children that meant that dad would be the one to deal out the discipline. That could range from a spanking to grounding. But the wait…that was the worst part. If you did something early in the day, you had all day to wait.

Zephaniah is restating those words of Joel 2:31 about the great and terrible day of the Lord. This “day” wasn’t a one-time event. God’s judgment fell on numerous days against His children because of their disobedience and rebellion. A day of the Lord meant chastisement. It meant correction. But we have to remember it was all done in love.

APPLICATION

As believers in Christ, we do not fear a day of the Lord. Our sins have been paid for by His Son, Jesus. We walk in covenant relationship with Him knowing that we are forgiven and free. But this freedom does not give us the liberty to live as we want. We still have to follow His commands.

The day of the Lord is coming for millions, though. All those who are not in Christ will face a judgment for their sins. And when He returns, it will be too late. No second chances. No reprieves. So, we must be His instruments to spread the good news to all we encounter. He is still using people to spread His message.

While we can be content in our relationship with Jesus, we cannot let others die without it. There are so many all around the world who will die today and spend eternity in darkness. How can you and I change that? Pray! Pray for believers all over the world to speak out and be bold. We can all do that.

Lord, I know You will return one day to take us home. Help us spread the word far and wide before that day.

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Abiding, Bible, Scripture, Treasures, Wealth

YOURS BUT NOT YOURS

ZEPHANIAH 1:13

“‘Their wealth will become plunder, and their houses desolate; yes, they will build houses but not inhabit them, and plant vineyards but not drink their wine.’”

There is a housing development not too far from where I live that sits deserted. The developer started building this high-end, gated community years ago, but had to stop. The parts he finished are elaborate. The houses are big and expensive. The walls and gates are impressive. Yet, no one possesses them. They sit there rotting away.

Those who spurn the Lord find themselves in the same predicament. Zephaniah, in today’s verse, gives us the Lord’s words towards such people. Psalm 52:7 says something similar. “Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and was strong in his evil desire.”

APPLICATION

In Luke 12:13-21 Jesus tells us a similar story. Someone approaches Jesus and asks Him to tell his brother to divide their family inheritance with him. As is customary for Jesus, He illustrates truth through a story. It’s one of greed and possessions, something I am sure the man asking the question was concerned about.

Jesus closes the story with these words. “20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is demanded of you; and as for all that you have prepared, who will own it now?21 Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich in relation to God.”

I guess I am in luck since I am not rich, lol. Seriously, you can be greedy and not possess a lot. It’s all about your heart. How is your heart? Is it rich in relation to God, as Jesus said? Is knowing Him more important than what you have? Things of this earth will not last but knowing Him will.

Lord, thank You for the richness of Your love.

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