Identifying With Zephaniah

Zephaniah wrote his prophecy during the rule of king Josiah. Let me remind you that Josiah took the throne when he was eight years old. 2 Chronicles 34:3 says that he began to seek the Lord. He also destroyed all the idols in the land. When he heard the reading of the law he tore his clothes. Why? He heard about God’s great wrath that was coming. Verse 27 says that he humbled his heart and wept before the Lord. Need I say that we should follow suit because of our present situation?

Zephaniah 3:2 described the fruit of their rebellion: did not obey His voice; did not receive correction; did not trust in the Lord; did not draw near to God. It is time to check our own hearts. Let us make sure we have no heart-idols that usurp the Lord’s place; don’t listen to man’s words but to see God through His word; don’t grumble and complain.

We are created for relationship with the Lord. That never changes. The deeper we go in intimate communion with Him, the more our heart will be free of any sin-traps that would block wholehearted worship.

Zephaniah 3:8 says, “Therefore wait for Me, says the Lord, until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.” Though this was speaking about the Day of the Lord, it reveals to us God’s heart against the wicked and their deeds. Let us continue to pray for a mighty in-sweeping of souls into His Kingdom~worldwide revival!

Verse 16 says, “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Let us worship the One and only True God with pure hearts.

Habakkuk’s Modus Operandi

I love the way Habakkuk processes his circumstances with the Lord. He asked questions that pertained to his national situation. As I read this yesterday I thought of our own. Habakkuk 1:3 says, “Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises.”

Look at how the Lord answered his first set of questions. I encourage you to lay it up in your heart for our time. Verse 5 says, “Look among the nations and watch–be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

Watch what he did after he asked his next question. Habakkuk 2:1 says, “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when corrected.” Years ago I incorporated this at the beginning of my quiet time. I ask the Lord questions and then wait to see how He will answer me.

Verse 2 says, “Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” I encourage you to journal. Make it your spiritual workbook. When the Lord gives me insights through my daily reading, I write them down in my journal. Then I share them with you and others.

In Habakkuk 3:17 he rehearsed all the effects of his dire straits, yet declared powerful endurance-words which we also can put into practice. Verse 18 says, “YET I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

I love verse 19 in the Amplified. It says, “The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk (not stand still in terror, but to walk) and make (spiritual) progress upon my high places (or trouble, suffering, or responsibility)!”

Our responsibility right now is to strengthen our faith to shape what we see, rejoice in our salvation, and pray for our nation and those who oppose God and His ways. He is and will remain Lord Over All!

What Do You See?

The Lord asked Amos multiple times, ‘What do you see?’ and then He would explain. Micah 6:6 says, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?…” Then he asked about several things.

Verse 8 says, “He has SHOWN you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord the require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

The point the Lord was making through His prophet Micah was that it was not their external offerings that pleased Him. When the Lord has our heart, then we will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him.

Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”

When we ‘see’ what the Lord requires of us and walk in it, then others will ‘see’ Him through us. Authentic followers of Jesus forgive those who hurt them, who despitefully use them, and who are unjust.

Nahum 2:1 is our stance to help us diligently guard our heart. It says, “He who scatters has come up before your face. Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily.” Remember Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteousness run to it and are safe.”

The Fruit Of Jonah’s Course Correction

I want to start this post with a new song. Yesterday morning I was scrambling eggs and praying for R country. This new song bubbled up.

Keep your eyes on the eternal. Don’t let what you see shape your faith. Let your faith shape what you see. For I dwell in you and you dwell in Me. They don’t know because they’re blinded by ego and conceit. I’m coming with a vengeance in recompense today. Still your heart. Watch your thoughts. Keep your eyes on Me

I had to look up recompense. It means to make amends to (someone) for loss suffered; compensate. It reminded me of the verse in Romans 12:19 which says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Do you know why Jonah ran in disobedience? Nineveh was the capitol of the Assyrian Empire – enemies of the Hebrews. Yet when Jonah proclaimed God’s message, they believed God and repented. Jonah 3:10 said, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”

God prepared every situation in Jonah’s disobedience. Each one was an orchestrated process of God to bring course correction to His servant. No one escapes God’s mercy. He died for all that all might be saved simply by believing. I encourage you to continue to pray for R county and for worldwide revival.

The Hamster Wheel Of Disobedience

Obadiah verse 15 says, “For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.” Think about this verse in our national-present.

We had a children’s chorus that went like this: God told Jonah to go down to Nineveh, that old wicked town but Jonah didn’t want to go where he was sent. Until a big fish came along to show old Jonah he was wrong, and after that ordeal he changed his mind and went. When God tells you what to do you’d better do it, you better do it (repeat). It doesn’t pay to disobey that’s all there’s to it. Like old Jonah you’ll find out the hard hard way.

Jonah found out that no matter how much he tried to avoid what God wanted him to do, he found himself in futile activity. It is much like a hamster in a wheel. You get nowhere. Disobedience is a dead-end that blocks spiritual growth. When a believer disobeys the Lord, shame and guilt crowd in. Why? We know in our heart that we are wrong but still seek ways to hide.

What did Jonah do? He hid. Jonah 1:3 says, “…and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Verse 4 says, “But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea…” Verse 5 said that the seasoned mariners were afraid, yet Jonah was fast asleep.

In verse 9 Jonah told them that he feared the Lord who made the heavens, the sea, and the dry land. His words were right in theory but his practice belied his words. His message and messenger did not match.
We can learn a valuable lesson from Jonah. Our witness is only authentic when our words and actions match. I love Franklin Graham’s statement about his father. He said that he was the same in the pulpit as he was at home.

How are you behind hidden doors? Does heart-integrity mark your words and actions? Proverbs 12:17 says, “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.” 1 John 1:9 says that when we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful to forgive us. The rest of the verse says, “…and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” Disobedience is sin that blocks our fellowship with the Lord.

When Jonah sought to run from the Lord, he found out how creative the Lord was to bring his hidden reason for disobedience to the surface. So He will do the same for each of us. That is a glorious truth! Even in our self-deceptive ways, the Lord will perfect our way to lead us back to His perfect way.

Gems From Amos

The other day, when I was typing my post about lies. I had another verse come into my mind. I couldn’t find it right then so kept on going. When I began reading Amos – there it was!

Amos 2:4 says, “…because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies LED them astray, lies which their fathers followed.” Generational lies bind us in the present.

Matthew 15:8-9 says, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Beware that what you believe is only the gospel truth from God’s word and not something passed down to you from generational lies.

Amos is a book of judgments spoken by a prophet. Did they heed what he was speaking? No. 2 Chronicles 20:20 says, “…Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”

Fives times in Amos 4 the Lord used the words, “…yet you have not returned to Me.” He allowed adversity, yet in their adversity they did not seek Him. Two times in Amos 5 the Lord said, ‘Seek Me and live.’ It is the same word for us today.

In Amos 8:11 the Lord said that the day of famine was coming. It was not of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord. Without our daily bread and water from His word we will languish in spiritual dearth.

Our nation is in a time of shaking. Amos 9:9 says of Israel but it applies to us right now. “…I will… grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.” Let Paul’s words echo in your heart.2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Let us pray for the key players who are upholding God’s word and His desire for our nation. Let us be the example of 2 Corinthians 3:14 in our words and actions. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

God’s Way Is Perfect

Perfect means that there are no flaws, no imperfections, nor anything that needs to be changed or altered. Psalm 18:30 is a verse that has three realities. Right now, in our present time, we can stand assured that God’s way is perfect, His word will stand, and He will be our Shield.

It says, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” His way is higher than ours. Therefore, in order for His way to become our way, He brings it higher. Psalm 18:32 says, “It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.” How does He do it? He conforms our thoughts to His righteous thoughts through His word.

He uses the pressures of our trials, hardships, adversity, and the impossibilities that we face. Like in wheel pottery, the potter has to apply pressure to center the clay before it can be formed. The Lord perfects our way by bringing course correction or discipline. Unrighteous thoughts lead to unrighteous actions. Hebrews 12:11 Amplified says, “For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards…”

It is the ‘afterwards’ that the Lord is working to achieve in us through character transformation. The verse goes on, “…it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness–in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action…” Isaiah 32:17 is one of the ‘afterwards’ which says, “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”

I want you to picture the word ‘work’ as the potter centering his piece as you read this verse. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the work of Your hands.”

Conforming Our Way To His Way

Since the Lord’s way is higher than ours, how do we raise ours? Isaiah 40:3 says, “…Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” When we do this, verse 4 becomes our reality. It says, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth.”

Hebrews 12:12-13 says, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”

We can apply the above four verses in a spiritual sense. Our way is INdependent of God. Our way is total flesh. Therefore His way is to be absolutely and unequivocally dependent on Him. Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Joel 1:2 it sounds like our present. “Hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?” Think about the fraudulent election and the corruption that was disclosed. Think about the years that the locust have eaten in your life through inner defilement (hidden sin).

Though Joel’s prophecy was written for others, we can apply it right now. Joel 2:12-14 says, “Now, therefore, says the Lord, Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So REND your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him…”

Psalm 51:17 were David’s words after his hidden was exposed. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise.”

Who Is Wise?

God’s last words through Hosea asked two questions. Hosea 14:9 says, “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them…” What are the answers that pertain to us? The verse concludes, “…For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.”

God’s word speaks to everyone and every situation. As I thought about the verse several other verses came to mind. Let me share them with you. These are verses that held me together when I was caring for my dad in his ‘fierce independent’ dementia days.

Genesis 18:25 says, “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 2 Samuel 10:9 says, “When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind…” He was hemmed in through his circumstances. Verse 10 says, “…And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”

God’s ways are always right. Regardless of our circumstances, we can depend on Him absolutely and totally. Isaiah 55:9 says that His ways are higher than our ways.

I like to think about Psalm 103:7 which says, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” Here are David’s words. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.”

I want to know His ways. Psalm 25:4 is a frequent prayer of mine. It says, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” Psalm 5:8 is another prayer. It says, “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.”

I remember a childhood song: My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. Let’s let the words ‘The ways of the Lord are right’ reverberate in our hearts. We may not understand right now, but we can trust that the True Judge of all the earth will do right.

The Root Determines The Fruit

Hosea 10:12-13 are two verses that expose a significant root. “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way…”

How do we know if we are eating the fruit of lies that we have believed? The fruit are our words. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Our words reveal what our heart feeds on. Listen to what you are saying. It will disclose what your heart truly believes. The lies that we have believed control our lives because they have infiltrated our thought processes.

Every sin is first a thought. Remember Ananias and Sapphira? Acts 5:3 says, “..why has Satan filled your heart to lie…” Verse 4 says, “…Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of your heart proceed evil thoughts…” Matthew 12:34 says, “…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Let’s go back to Hosea 10:13. The root to the fruit of their lies was because they trusted in their own way. Our flesh-way opposes what the Holy Spirit desires to do through inner transformation. Proverbs 21:22 Amplified says, “A wise man scales the city walls of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.” Anything or anyone that we put our trust in is futile. Only the Lord knows what lies ahead for us in the next moment, days, months, years.

Clinging to the Lord in trust reveals roots that are nourished through the soil of God’s word. His word that we hide in our heart is like a sentinel that warns, monitors, and controls our thoughts. What we speak comes out of that deep reservoir of eternal truth that can’t be shaken.