Daily Word

Zephaniah

Read Zephaniah 1 and any introduction your bible includes – Zephaniah gets right to the point. He says (he prophesies, or speaks God’s own words for the people), “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth.” :2 Then he goes on to broaden the listeners’ understanding of what God sees and is about to do.

I found verse :6 oddly beautiful and comforting. It shows God’s heart and expectation: “And I will destroy those who used to worship me but now no longer do. They no longer ask for the LORD’s guidance or seek my blessings.”

Beloved, drifting breaks God’s heart. The LORD actually wants his children to seek his guidance and blessings. It is for our good and his glory that we remain close. The people Zephaniah is addressing have wandered into the dangerous territory of abandoning God. When love letters, then warnings do not get heard, punishment is necessary. Good parents always discipline their children to bring them back to right behavior.

Next we read, “Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign Lord….” :7a, and my own heart longed for silence. It takes effort in our busy world to get silent time before the LORD, to turn off the distractions of life, to quiet our mouth and mind enough to bask in his presence, but again, this is a protection for us. As Pastor John Piper puts it, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

Beloved, as you read, think about how you are hearing the words. We know that God is good all the time and all the time God is good… are you able to hold on to that here in this passage? No one likes punishment, but at times it is all that can save us. Will you take this passage as a cue to inventory your heart and make every correction the Holy Spirit leads you to?

Daily Word

Deuteronomy 29

Read Deuteronomy 29 – Like a vow renewal ceremony, the LORD renews the covenant with Israel.
When the Israelite slaves escaped Egypt 40 years prior, the LORD made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai (sometimes called Horeb). But that generation passed away for their unbelief and did not enter the Promised Land. This is the generation of faith, the children and grandchildren of those who fled Egypt.
This generation lived in a state of miracles. They saw the miracles the LORD did to bring about their escape from Egypt. While in the desert for 40 years they had plenty to eat, their clothing and even their sandals did not wear out. (:5-6) They were slaves who became great conquerors in war because the LORD made it so. (:7-8) Yes, they lived in a constant state of miracles, but they didn’t get it. “But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.” :4 That makes me want to pay close attention to the everyday miracles in my life.
Now, the LORD is fulfilling his promise to Abrahah, Isaac and Jacob by establishing every man, woman, child and foreigner who serves them as his people, that he may be their God. (:13)
The LORD warns them to consider the detestable things they have seen in the nations they have passed and not turn away from the LORD by turning to these idols and gods of those nations. He warns them not to even dabble, “Make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, ‘I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,’ they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” :18b-19
This reminds me of the old bumper stickers that read, “Not perfect, just forgiven”. While that is true for the believer, it also has a ring of arrogance like the one the LORD is warning about.
As we live out our lives on earth, may we embrace verse :29, accepting that there are secret things that belong to the LORD, while our responsibility is to honor all he has revealed to us. And Beloved, keep a grateful eye out for those everyday miracles.

Daily Word

Deuteronomy 13

Read Deuteronomy 13 – “Some people are so open-minded their brains fall out.” I don’t recall who said that, but it has certainly rung true to me. Our chapter deals quite seriously with those who lead others astray under the guise of open-mindedness.
The LORD allows testing in some cases to see if one’s heart is true (:3). The Israelites were called to be discerning with regards to prophets and visionaries, and put to death any who encourage rebellion against the LORD (:5). Likewise, we must remain discerning. There will be imitators. They will produce signs and wonders, but the heart of their message will not be Jesus.
We had an old friend over for Easter supper a few years back. He was dating someone new and we all sat down for the meal. After grace, the girlfriend steered the conversation towards new age experimentation. Soon we realized she was only speaking to our teenager, right there at the Easter dinner table! It was a bizarre moment and one we cut short. In the days that followed, this couple made attempts through social media to continue enticing away from the LORD and we cut all ties. “Suppose someone secretly entices you…and says, ‘Let us go worship other gods’ – gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known.” :6 The LORD knows evil people are sly. They know how to tap into FOMO… fear of missing out, as the kids say. Be on guard and ready to walk away.
Verses :12-17 speak about the towns the Israelites will occupy in the land the Lord is giving them. He says if they get reports of scoundrels leading fellow citizens astray they are to carefully examine the facts. If they discover them to be true, the entire town is to be destroyed – all people, animals and things – no plunder is to be taken, but piled up and burned in the middle of the open square. One commentary I read said this was a protection against false accusations for profit… Does God know how easy it is to get us off course or what?
Remember, this passage is specific to the Israelites as they were establishing the Promised Land, so don’t go killing anyone. Yet, I think you’ll find great and serious instruction to help you guard your own heart, to know when to walk away from temptations that would take you away from Jesus.

Daily Word

Mark 13

Reflections on Mark 13 – Jesus speaks of end times events in our chapter.

Now, Jesus had just left the Temple where he tossed the tables and chased out the rotten eggs when one of the disciples said,  “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls. ” Perhaps he was wanting to calm Jesus down after the excitement.

Jesus responds with news they could not have anticipated.   The Temple would be destroyed without a stone standing. 

Later, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked to know more. Jesus cautions them to not be deceived, many would come pretending to be Him. :6. There will be wars and rumors of war (:7), earthquakes and famines(8).  And yes, these things have always happened, but the frequency will increase like never before.  That won’t mean the end, but it will build like birth pains.

The biggest caution comes in verse :14, when we see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of in the Old Testament prophecy of Daniel.   Jesus said then it’s time to run for the hills (:14). 

Beloved, I cannot comprehend how bad this will be. Verse: 20 tells us not a single person would survive unless the Lord shortened those days.  Most importantly, Jesus tells us to keep watch and be ready,  (:35-37).

This is a tough chapter; no one wants to consider hard times.  But being unaware is worse, like a doctor withholding a bad diagnosis to spare hurting your feelings.  One must be aware.  One must make preparations.  We are all accountable to the preparation of telling others.  We are all accountable to love the Lord with our whole hearts.  We all would be wise to not hold on to the things of this world too tightly because our time here is short. 

Beloved, may you be encouraged by this chapter to live more fully, to love others wholeheartedly, and seek to know Jesus more, both in knowledge (The Word) and love (your personal relationship with Him/prayer), each and every day.