Zephaniah 3:14-20 – Mighty to Save

Read Zephaniah 3:14-20

Hallelujah!  This is quite a prophecy.  Little did the people of Zephaniah’s time know that Jesus would soon be there.  

Jesus delights in us. He loves us. He will calm our fears. He rejoices over us. What a feeling of love and comfort overtakes me when I think of that very thing.

Verse 17 of this final chapter of Zephaniah is probably the best known. It is quite something. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Let’s unpack that. After all of the wrath and destruction that has preceded this message, this is like a rainbow after a storm. God is with us! We can have no fear. He has not abandoned us,despite our sinful ways. He fights for us, and he is mighty to save! God gave us Jesus to bring that salvation to life.

Have you ever imagined God taking delight in you? Maybe you feel unworthy of his love and mercy? But he does delight in us. Much like a parent finds joy in their child, multiply that by an infinite number because it’s God after all. His capacity to love is so much greater than we can even fathom. All of that love is directed at us!

He rejoices over us and is thrilled to have us as his children. Have you ever sung a lullaby to your children or grandchildren? Maybe you have your own fond memories of being sung to as a child. Imagine the God of the universe singing over you. Did you just feel the peace of God wash over you as you pictured that?

So what is the message you need to hear from God today? Are you feeling alone and comforted to know God is with you? Are you in the middle of a storm and delighted to know God is fighting for you?

Let the words of God’s promise wash over you and feel his breath as he sings over you this day.

Let’s pray. Lord, I give you thanks for being a warrior for me. Thank you for having my back and always being there. Forgive me for my lack of attentiveness and being distracted. I want to be more focused on you. Continue to use me as your hands and feet here to bring others closer to you. Use this devotional as you deem appropriate. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Zephaniah 3:1-13 – God is Waiting

Read Zephaniah 3:1-13

The focus is now on Jerusalem, the holy city. The Lord was hopeful his people would see the light and repent. Yet he calls out the leaders as totally corrupt, treacherous. The people didn’t have a chance if they were putting any trust at all in their leadership. God wanted them to fear him and self-correct their evil ways. They did not. His anger burned.  

This passage holds hope and promise to follow God’s wrath.  In verse 9, he says he will “purify”….so that all can “worship the Lord together”. Just like a loving father who gets angry with his child for wrongdoing. It is the “wrong” that angers, not the child. God loves us despite our failings, despite our tendency to stray, despite our sin.

He loves us so much that he sent Jesus for our redemption. We are then truly purified, and we should at all times and places now worship God together. Why don’t we? What is holding us back? We can point fingers at those who are influencing us, but God has planted his seed in our hearts and he is eagerly waiting for us, too.

Did any of the prophesies in today’s reading strike a chord with you? Sometimes we struggle with passages like this and want to gloss over them, thinking they don’t apply to us. When we hear the phrase, “fear of the Lord,” it is an example like this that should come to mind.

God has given us a life to live and choices to make. Sometimes our choices are good and pleasing to God, and sometimes they are not. We need to be careful of the latter. God is a jealous god. God desires for us to be in relationship with him, therefore righteous or right with God. Too many people today do also rebel, like the nations in our readings from Zephaniah, and want to deny God.

What about you? How does God fit into your life? Are you living for him and making choices that honor him?

Let’s pray. Father God, forgive me when my selfish heart clouds my perspective. Help me to discern your will for me and live it in a way that is pleasing to you. In this fallen world, I am sometimes overwhelmed with all the corruption and evil. The goodness in people seems to  be so clouded. Use me God to help people realize their need for you is greater than their need for possessions or fame. Lord, please bless our business as well so that it can be a vehicle to help others who are struggling. May it be God honoring and draw people to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

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Zephaniah 2:12-15 – Whose Power?

Read Zephaniah 2:12-15

The prophecy of God’s wrath continues and includes Ethiopia and Assyria.  Ethiopia, also called Cush, was controlled by Egypt at the time. They were the large nation to the south, while Assyria was large on the north. You may recall Assyria was also a strong military force at that time.

For a little back story, Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, and you can imagine that to be like Tokyo, Moscow, or even  New York City in today’s world. It was known for it’s beauty, technology, with vast irrigation for gardens. That city wall was 60 miles long, 100 feet high, fortified with 1500 towers. All that, reduced to rubble. God’s power, indeed.

These predictions were God’s plan revealed. I’m guessing the people of that time were a bit amazed by Zephaniah’s (God’s) words. It would seem almost an impossibility.

Even today, our culture has become complacent in trusting God’s messages to us, and the tendency is to exist on our own strength. Who are we in the scheme of things? We are God’s prized possession, but we should not become lazy in our faith.

This passage should clearly alert us that having pride in our own goodness shall surely be counterproductive. Our trust should be in God alone. He is in control, and we need to let him be. That can be easier said than done, especially for so many Type A personalities walking around. There must have been many in Bible times as well.

In what ways are you taking the lazy way out in your relationship with God? What can you do to up your game?

Let’s pray. Father, you have always meant business and your power surpasses our understanding. You have promised we can have access to that power when doing your will, and I thank you for that great privilege. Forgive me when I misuse the gifts you have given me, or don’t use them at all. Help me to be mindful of how I can help make a difference in this world. May I lead by your example to change the world. May I walk boldly and proclaim without hesitation that YOU are my God and YOU are the one I follow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Zephaniah 2:4-11 – Your Reward

Read Zephaniah 2:4-11

Great history and geography here.  God will terrify the people and destroy their gods.  Our God is the supreme power, the ONLY God! 

We’ve often heard our God is a jealous god. He doesn’t tolerate when we have other, false gods that keep us separated from him. He has waited for his people to turn away from those false gods and turn back to him, but they have not. He take matters into his own hands.

Philistia is not a new region for us. We are familiar with that people and remember them as mean and ruthless. God used this evil nation in his discipline of his own people. The cities mentioned here are on each point of the compass (North, South, East, and West). Their fate is not good: “rooted out,” “desolate,” “left in ruins.” An interesting tactic.

The focus then shifts to Moab and Ammon. These two neighbors to Judah often mocked and ridiculed God’s people. God didn’t want that behavior to go unpunished. We can be assured that God doesn’t want us to suffer persecution or ridicule because of our faith. Take comfort that he is watching, and proper punishment will be realized in God’s time.

It seems hard to imagine a time when everyone will worship our God. Yes, I look forward to the day when all nations around the world will, indeed, worship the LORD!!  As in Philippians 2:11 – every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!!! AMEN!!!

Until that day, we must take every opportunity possible to tell God’s story. Please need to hear how he sent his Son, Jesus to reveal his unending love and grace. It is through Christ we shall have life.

How are your words and actions helping to draw others closer to Jesus?

Let’s pray. Lord, sometimes your Word is a bit confusing, yet it always points to Jesus and your promise to never leave or forsake us. Lord, help clear from my heart those beliefs that are keeping me stuck and separated from you. Cleanse my heart of impure thoughts and desires. Help me not to waste the time you have given me to live my life. Thank you for guiding my path. May I keep my eyes open to see you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Zephaniah 1:14-2:3 – But Wait!

Read Zephaniah 1:14-2:3

The job of a prophet is very difficult. When the message from the Lord is doom and gloom, a prophet is not a very popular person. It is easy for his/her audience to want to turn away. Who wants to hear they are going to be destroyed?

These words have been fulfilled, at least once. Beyond that, they are words of caution for us. The great fulfillment is yet to be, that which we are all waiting for, the return of Christ.   God’s words, spoken through the prophet, are to be taken seriously. While it is uncomfortable to imagine the day of the Lord’s coming to be “terrible”, it will be for those who are lost and not in Christ.  

Did you notice how the end of today’s reading gives hope? The prophet was also able to assure the people by giving them a way out. The Lord WILL protect those who are following him. Therefore, we have a choice. God declares we must “gather together”and “seek the Lord.” We need to follow and obey. And, we need to do it now. 

The destruction will come, and the terribleness of it should cause everyone to turn from their evil ways. Herein lies the problem. Our society chooses not to listen, just as the people who originally heard these words. Today, people turn away and go about their merry way thinking they are immune, that they will not have to answer to their actions.

So what does humility look like in your life? Have you humbled yourself before God? The Message paraphrase says, to shape up, You’re a nation without a clue about what it wants.” What do we want? Do we want destruction or safety?

We know what to do to “perhaps” be safe from God’s wrath. I found that interesting. I looked in a couple other translations, and they all used the “perhaps” language. The chance of being rescued from destruction is much greater for those of us who obey and follow God, gather and pray together.

Let’s pray. Father God, I thank you for your saving grace. I want my life to be one of obedience and trust. Help me to be a shining light to help others see you and and want to know you. In this fallen world, there is already so much evil, hatred, and destruction. Help us all to know that you are the answer and that you provide the shelter from any storm. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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