Category Archives: Zephaniah

He can solve the unsolvable

Zephaniah 3: 12-13

But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD.  The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths.  They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.  NIV

No one will make them afraid.  I love that.

The Message paraphrases that last part, “Content with who they are and where they are, unanxious, they’ll live at peace.” MSG

My last semester in college, I lived in my first apartment.  A friend from my dorm and I had signed the lease before we went home for the summer.  We would live in this little apartment from August through December, I thought, and then I would graduate and my life would begin.

But, over the summer, my roommate flunked out.

That left me responsible for the full lease, when I had planned on only paying half.  I was frugal, but, I vividly remember the last three days of my lease.

Classes were over, I was finishing finals, my family was packing to come for graduation.  The country was in the midst of a terrible recession and I and many of my friends did not have jobs waiting for us after we walked across the stage.  Instead of starting my new life as I had planned, I was on my way home to move back in with my parents.

To say that I was disappointed, was an understatement.

Then, the electric bill came.  As I wrote the check and deducted the amount from my balance, I realized I had about $30.

I cried out to God.  I poured out to Him how hard I had worked, how I had tithed every penny of my earnings, how I had been faithful and now, here I was, having spent all of my savings, three days from graduation with no job and $30.  I remember saying, “God, you have GOT to do something!”

Now, if I were God, I probably would have ignored me.  I wasn’t hurt in any way.  I had more than enough money to keep me until my parents arrived, and I was blessed that they were willing to take me back home with them.  I was in no real danger.  My pride was merely hurt, and I had not gotten what I wanted, what I thought I deserved.

But, that’s not how God worked in that situation.

Literally five minutes after I finished my prayer, if that’s what you could call it … it was more of a desperate demand … my phone rang.  A woman I had interned for was on the phone.   She had never called me before, so I was pretty surprised.  Almost immediately she asked me, “Do you have a job?”  I told her that I didn’t.  She said, “Well, I have a job and I think you would be perfect for it.”  She asked when I would be home and we agreed on a start date and a salary amount and, well, problem solved.

Needless to say, I was pretty thankful.  The world looked a whole lot brighter than it had just minutes before.  Bright enough that I could walk down to the center of campus, where I checked my campus mailbox.  In it, was a graduation card from my grandmother, with a check for $300.

In less than an hour, God had solved both my problems.  I was awestruck.

Trusting in God means that we rely on Him to solve the unsolvable.  Trusting in God means that we can be content with who we are and where we are and that we can live in peace … without anxiety.

I knew this years and years ago … but somehow, that knowledge had slipped away.  It’s taken me nearly a year to relearn this bedrock lesson.

Trust God.  He has your best interest at heart, and has power at His disposal that is beyond your comprehension.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

5 Comments

Filed under Old Testament, Trust, Zephaniah

God wins

Zephaniah 3:19

At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered.  I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.  NIV

This passage in Zephaniah is rich with reminders not to worry.

God promises to deal with our oppressors …

Miriam Webster.com defines “oppress” as “to crush or burden by use of power or authority.”  I have dealt with many people in my life who have felt oppressed.  I have certainly felt oppressed myself.  Here, God reminds us that He will deal with those who oppress others … in His own time, and in His perfect way.  We will never know what is going on in another person’s life such that they feel the need to make ours more challenging, but, God knows.

He will rescue the lame …

This one is a very special reminder to me.

Physical challenges are funny things.  Yesterday, or perhaps it was the day before, I heard a snippet of a radio story.  A man was speaking about climbing a particularly challenging mountain, and he was detailing the perils of one of the passes that had to be traversed to get to the top.  I thought to myself, “why on earth would anyone ever want to do such a thing?”  As I thought about it more this morning, it occurs to me that physical challenges may be a necessary part of our life here.  If you are not blessed with them at birth such that you are physically challenged by what others might accomplish with ease, perhaps a certain percentage of people must seek them by pushing the limits of their endurance.

I’m wondering if we all want that feeling of being rescued, of escaping a terrible peril.  Perhaps, while I am assured that my rescue will come in time, others must seek that experience here and now.

I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame …

There’s no reason to spend time worrying … in the end, all injustices will be set right.  My mother often says, when faced with a challenge, “That’s ok … I know what happens.  I’ve read the end of the book, and I know who wins.”

I do, too.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fear, Old Testament, Worry, Zephaniah

You’ve carried it long enough

Zephaniah 3:18

The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you;  they are a burden and a reproach to you.  NIV

I don’t know much about the feasts that were celebrated by Israel.  I do know that there were many of them and that each had special significance.  I also know that they have significance in foretelling the second coming … that’s about it.

But, it was when I looked at this verse in The Message that I realized it holds yet another reminder not to worry.  “The accumulated sorrows of your exile will dissipate.  I, your God, will get rid of them for you.  You’ve carried those burdens long enough.” MSG

The accumulated sorrows of your exile … I love that.

Throughout my life, my relationship to God has ebbed and flowed.  God is the same, yesterday, today and always, but I have not always walked as close to Him as I should have.  In those times of self-imposed exile, I accumulated quite a basket of sorrows.  It is easy to do as this verse suggests, and to shoulder those burdens each morning.

But, God reminds me here that I don’t have to carry them.  In fact, I’ve carried them long enough.

So, today I will set down that basket of worries, once and for all.  I will unpack each one, and give it to God.

Today is a new day.

As I empty out my basket, I know that the temptation will be great to fill it with new worries, or even to put the old ones back in.  The trick will be to leave the basket sitting there and to walk away.  I don’t have to carry it … or any worries.  I am a redeemed child of God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

1 Comment

Filed under Fret, Old Testament, sorrow, Worry, Zephaniah

The trouble is, troubles bring trouble

Zephaniah 3:15

The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy.  The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. NIV

As I began my second day looking at reminders not to worry in the book of Zephaniah, I realized that I don’t know much about the history of this book.  The explanation in my NIV Bible says that the name, “Zephaniah,” means “The Lord hides (or protects).”  It goes on to say that Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of King Josiah, and that he was a person “of considerable social standing in Judah … a fourth-generation descendant of King Hezekiah.”

The book, it says, could have been written about 630 B.C., about 70 years, more than two generations, after the book of Isaiah.

630 B.C. — I struggle to grasp how long ago that was.

I love this verse … it portends the coming of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Through Him, my punishment has been taken away, the power of my enemies has been thwarted, the Holy Spirit indwells me, and I have nothing to fear or to worry about.

And yet, sometimes I still do … worry, that is.

Our next-door neighbor has a six-toed, calico cat.  Her name is Trouble and, up until this Spring, Trouble was the most friendly, outgoing cat I had ever met.  She would come up to me, anyone actually, on the sidewalk in front of her house and, if you stopped to speak to her, she would wind herself in and out of your ankles and purr quite loudly.  Many times, people would come to visit at our house and would ask, “Do you want me to let your cat in?”  Because Trouble had greeted them at our door.

Earlier this year, Trouble disappeared.  I assumed that she had been hit by a car or taken home by a stranger who couldn’t resist her charms, but, when I spoke to her owner, I learned the real story.  Trouble was horribly injured by someone, the vet thinks, who kicked her.  The owner spent a pretty penny getting Trouble put back together, and then the cat had to stay inside in the basement in a collar for many weeks while she healed.  I didn’t see her again until a few weeks ago.

She jumped up on the brick wall that separates our houses.  I was sitting outside and exclaimed in delight when she made her appearance … Trouble and I have always been good friends.  But, when she saw me, she was immediately frightened, and jumped back down into her own yard.  As she left, I could see that she had lost most of her gorgeous tail since the Spring.

This morning, my husband and I were sitting outside having coffee when Trouble again jumped up on the wall.  I talked soothingly to her as I approached, and she let me pet her face as she stood on the wall, but, she did not jump down to greet me like the old days.  I sat back down to see what she would do next.

As she worked her way along the wall, she got to a low part where my azaleas are planted.  They are bordered with lariope, which has gotten quite tall, since it is the end of summer.  Trouble jumped into the azaleas, and then worked her way along crouched behind the lariope like a lion on a hunt … but she wasn’t hunting anything, she was hiding herself.

I remarked to my husband that it made me sad that Trouble was so different.  “Do you remember how outgoing she used to be?” I asked, “And now,” I said, “she is so cautious!”

“Sometimes life does that to you,” he wisely said.

He’s right.

We all start out as children, like Trouble, open to and welcoming of new people and new experiences.  But, along the way, as we get beaten up by life — some as much as Trouble, some less — we gradually pull away and hide behind our own little hedges of lariope.

If Christ is not a part of the picture prior to that hurt, the ability for Him to be a part of it afterward becomes, I think, more difficult, because people are less trusting.

Today, I will think about how I can bridge that hedge for people that I know are hurting … those who have been beaten up by life and who don’t have Christ or the assurance that this verse offers.

That’s a lot to think about today.

3 Comments

Filed under Old Testament, Trouble, Worry, Zephaniah

He is mighty to save

Zephaniah 3:20

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.  The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  NIV

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I learned the books of the Bible.  I remember the classroom where my Sunday School met, and I remember the sword drills.  While I can’t remember exactly how old I was, I know that I was less then nine.  When I was nine we changed churches … and I didn’t have that classroom anymore.

I remember practicing the order of the books for hours.  I can remember practicing outside and walking through our house, and watching myself in the mirror as I proudly held my Bible and came up with verses for myself to look up as quickly as possible.

When I got to the section of the list that holds Zephaniah, I remember being so thankful, because it rhymed, and, because it was the end.  “Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi … Done!”  Our teacher had started us learning the New Testament books, so, once we finished the Old Testament, the task was complete.

But in all the years since those memorable sword drills, no one has ever asked me to look up a verse in Zephaniah.

So, this morning, when I found a verse in Zephaniah there in the “fear” listing of my King James concordance, I was pretty pleased.  Finally, it would be useful to know where Zephaniah is.

This is a beautiful, beautiful verse.  I love the phrase, “He is mighty to save,” which is part of the chorus of one of my favorite praise songs.

But, more than that, I love the imagery here.

When I am truly worried or distraught about an issue, I do feel limp.  I remember the last cross-country trip I made to see my friend before she died.  When I  left, I knew that I would not see her again on this side of heaven.  I got on the plane with many things to do … I had been gone from work and had a bag of activities that needed attention.  Instead, I sat on the plane from her town to the big city where I laid over and just watched the engine and the wing flaps.  My hands were limp.

I wish that at that moment, I had read the book of Zephaniah.  Now, more than a year later, I find these verses so comforting, and so true!  God does delight in me, in all of us.  He has quieted me with His love.  And now, I am able to join Him in rejoicing in the gift that is my life.

He IS mighty to save.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

3 Comments

Filed under Old Testament, Zephaniah