Zephaniah 1:1-6 – God’s Wrath

Read Zephaniah 1:1-6

Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah and would have spoken God’s words during the reign of King Josiah. You’ll recall when King Josiah learned of the scrolls containing God’s law, great reforms began to help the people of Judah to return to God. Zephaniah would help shake the people of Judah out of their complacency and understand the hope they could cling to comes from God.

Zephaniah doesn’t sugar coat the radical message from God but gets right to the point. God’s wrath will sweep away everything and crush Jerusalem and Judah. Even his own creation will suffer. God’s anger has been fueled by all the idol worship that fills the land.

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2 Peter 3:8-13 – God’s Timing

Read 2 Peter 3:8-13

Have you ever heard someone say, “God’s timing is perfect”? I did, just today. It’s a phrase we like to use when God seems slow in answering our prayers. Peter calls out that big old elephant in the room for us. He starts out by explaining that God’s clock works differently than ours. “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.”

Is that a helpful reminder for you? Are you waiting on God for something big in your life to happen? It seems like we are always waiting for something, whether it’s a job promotion, finding the right house to move into, getting pregnant, getting married, being able to retire and start living life the way you want. What is it for you? When we welcome God and expect him to move in these life events, we can trust he is working out the “best” solution for us. Could that be why one of the gifts of the spirit is “patience”? We must continue to wait.

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Habakkuk 1:12-17 – When Your World is Rocked

Read Habakkuk 1:12-17

Habakkuk is processing God’s message to him in this second complaint. Have you ever said to God, “You’re going to do what?” You can imagine how unbelievable it would be to know that God was going to use an enemy nation to destroy the same misbehaving children who were appalling Habakkuk.

Habakkuk’s observations are valid, don’t you agree? Babylonian forces would be given victory and yet they weren’t believers in the one true God. How could that be? He calls out to God again saying, “Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they?” This is a good example to show us how God can and will use any means possible to bring about his purposes in this world. We don’t always have to understand or agree.

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James 1:1-8 – Trials of Life

Read James 1:1-8

As I read from James, I can’t help but try to picture what it was like to be Jesus’ earthly brother. (This book is believed to be written by Jesus’ half-brother, not James the apostle.) What would the sibling rivalry have looked like? We don’t know much about Jesus as a child, teenager, or young man. As Jesus’ brother, James would have an interesting perspective to be sure. Yet curiously, James identifies himself in the opening as “a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James has taken his own place in helping others navigate their lives as followers of Christ.

In this letter from James, we’ll see how he tries to set things straight in terms of living a Christian life. It’s so much more than just saying you’re a Christian. The truths you’ll uncover could be summed up as a “how-to” for Christian living. Even though James wasn’t one of the chosen twelve, he was a leader in the early church having stayed in Jerusalem to begin his ministry there to Jewish Christians. His target audience for this letter are the persecuted Christians in hostile surroundings, much like we experience in our own trials of faith.

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Joel 2:18-27 – Restoration

Read Joel 2:18-27

What divine intervention! If Joel’s earlier words led his audience to believe they would be the laughingstock for belonging to the one true God, this passage lessens the distress. Can we assume that the people did repent and pray and this is God’s response?

Have you ever feared or experienced mockery for your faith? How did that make you feel? Did you realize God was there all the time?

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