April 28, 2012

Today you should read: Zephaniah 3:1-20

A joyful song of anticipation…

In Zephaniah 3, verses 1-8 are words of judgment.  The judgment verses are a result of the sin of the people of Israel and of the other nations.  Like the book of Jeremiah, the book of Zephaniah signals the end of Judah.  It was about to be attacked and destroyed by the Babylonians.  Because of their idolatry of other gods, God was going to destroy them.  The Babylonians would soon kill and capture them.  But the Lord’s purpose wasn’t for His people to be destroyed forever.  His purpose was to purify them, making them new, and giving them a future hope.

Verses 9-20 are the words of hope.  God tells them and us about what this destruction will result in.  The result of the destruction of Judah will be that His people will “call upon the name of the Lord,” (v. 9).   They will need Him and call out to Him.  God uses their destruction to lead them to repentance and give them life and hope through that repentance.

Specifically, in verses 14-20, we see what the amazing result will be!  Read them again and let those verses refresh your soul.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

In verse 14 we see a call for the people to praise the Lord in anticipation of salvation!  Keep in mind that this is directly in the midst of their destruction.  Judah is not happy or fearless right now, rather they are sad and fearful!  That’s why these verses are so spectacular.  They are called to do the opposite of what they feel right now, because in the future God will bring the opposite of what they are experiencing right now!  Do you see it?  They are experiencing death and fear, but in the coming future they will receive life and they will never fear again (v. 15-17)

I cannot help but relate this to our life here on earth.  Though now we are experiencing death, we are called to rejoice because of the life that is to come. We are called to sing a song of anticipation.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 describes this well:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

So, though now we are in the midst of death, destruction, fear, anxieties, loss, tragedy, pain, suffering, and sadness… rejoice.  Sing a joyful song of expectation.  We are but a mile away from seeing Him face to face and hearing His voice say, “well-done, good and faithful servant.”  Let the words of Revelation 21:3-5 bring this joyful song of anticipation even more near to your lips:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

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April 27, 2012

Today you should read: Zephaniah 2

A call to repentance.

That is the title of this chapter. The first three verses really sum up the whole book of Zephaniah. God is calling all the people in the whole world to gather together and repent before it is too late. He is calling them to be humble and seek Him before He pours out His anger on them.

This call is extended to us today also. We are called to do 5 things in these verses.

1. Gather together. We need to come together as God’s people and stop trying to live this life on our own. We were never meant to do that.

2. Act Now. Today is the day of salvation. No one can ever assume that they have until tomorrow to turn to God. Our life is a vapor, here for a moment and then gone.

3. Seek the Lord. Our only hope is to come to the Lord and ask for His mercy and grace.

4. Seek to do what is right. We need to be a people whose lives are characterized by goodness and love. What do people see in your life?

5. Live humbly. Remember, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Which would you rather have, God’s grace or opposition?

Praise the Lord that we can know that He will protect us. The end of verse 3 says “perhaps”. In Christ we can “know” the Lord will protect us. We can know that the anger on the “day of destruction” against our sins has been completely swallowed up in the cross. So I encourage you today to make these steps a part of your life and to thank Jesus today for giving a hope that is sure and certain.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 26, 2012

Today you should read: Zephaniah 1

“Just wait ’til your father gets home” are words that every child dreads to hear.

Whether it meant a spanking or just a good “talkin’ to”, it was enough to instill the fear of God in the perpetrator. The reason? The child knew that the crime deserved punishment. Whatever he did wrong — big or small — he knew there were consequences.

That same undertone is what we encounter throughout the minor prophets and especially in Zephaniah. But the “just wait ’til your father gets home” in this book refers to the “Day of the Lord”. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing this theme throughout that last few weeks of Jumpstart. If you missed my earlier post on it, read it here.

Verses 2-6 focus on the judgment that awaited Judah. Verses 2 & 3 reveal the anger of the Lord. Verse 4 revealed the reason: idolatrous priests, the remnant of Baal, and idol worship among the Israelites. Their hearts were given to other gods. The Lord was jealous and angry. Remember what God said about this in the Big Ten?

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Deuteronomy 5:7-10 ESV

We might be enticed to sinfully approach this today and say to ourselves, “It’s a good thing I have no carved Baals like the Israelites did” or foolishly assure ourselves we have no idols in our lives. The reality is that each of us has idols that grip our hearts. It may be the acquiring of stuff or the perfect body image or climbing the next rung in the corporate ladder or the approval of others or performance as a Christian. We all have them and we even claim some of them in the name of Jesus! But regardless of how “Christian” we make our idolatry sound, God still hates it; He wants our whole hearts.

Today, let us pause to examine our hearts, identify our idolatry, and turn back to our True Love.

That’s a key sign of being a genuine believer: repentance. Plus, there is too much at stake. The world needs the hope that we have in Jesus. We limit our gospel-impact when we don’t relinquish our idols. Let them go.

After all, Dad is coming home soon.

Posted by: Todd Thomas