If you believe God does not care about what is happening here on earth you might want to take another read of your bible. God is always watching He does not sleep like a man does. As you read some of the minor prophets letters you may just decide to ignore them as they are small and not quite sure why they were even added. But the information and revelations about God and His character are undeniable. Here in Zephaniah we again read about God’s love and hope for His chosen people. He hears their cry of anguish and promises to punish their enemies for the actions.
On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.”
Have you ever been so discouraged that you are just about ready to give up? Everything is not going your way. Someone told you that the Christian life would be easy and you believed them, now it feels like the world is against you, you must be doing something wrong. Many around us are discouraged, they have no one willing and able to build them up and encourage them. Here in this time in Israel’s history they were exhausted, defeated and ready to give up. God was sending them a battle cry to not give up. Keep working away, do not be discouraged. Letting their hands fall limp would be a sign of defeat, an outward sign of an inward change. If the people began falling into depression and giving up any of their enemies would take advantage and destroy them.
One of the issues we find is that Israel was unrepentant for their sinful actions. Earlier in this chapter, they are reminded of this and the importance of asking for Gods forgiveness for the actions of the people. They had dabbled in the rituals of their neighbours partaking in the worship of other god’s. This rightfully upset God who was leading them and showing them the direction they need to take to live a fulfilled life. Unrepentance puts up roadblocks to God’s blessings in our lives. This not only includes unrepentance towards God but towards our fellow man who has done offence to us. This is not easy for us as we have been taught that revenge is expected. For us to forgive without expectation of remuneration is not the norm but is what we as believers are called to. Society demands justice and remuneration, just look at the number of lawsuits out there over the littlest things. This all stems from greed where man has learned if you complain loud enough and play the right cards you can be compensated for being offended. The courts have played into their hands fueling this engine of greed.
As believers, we need to stand up over this system. Taking a hard stand on forgiveness. Loving our enemies, not letting our hands fall limp by our side in defeat, but ready to help our enemy in moving forward. God will deal with those who do not accept our forgiveness and love, let Him deal with the justice, we must raise our hands in a show of love. We do not have time to worry about holding grudges and making things right in our own eyes. We are called to the mission of reaching the lost in which none are excluded, your enemies are part of your mission to be told the love of Jesus. You can do this in how you respond to their attacks. Many a story is told about persecuted believers overseas that love their captors and eventually their captors receive Christ. We may not have enemies as harsh but we can love those who are here in our midst. Will you rejoice and not be discouraged? God is ready willing and able to help you push through your fears and reach those around you. Will you let Him?
Father, many are discouraged in their faith. Maybe they have tried to share your love and have been laughed at or threaten if they continue. Strengthen them in your love and give them boldness to keep on. Let them not let their hands go limp in defeat but help them to raise them up in a show of love and determination to be a strong force for the kingdom. Help them experience a win by guiding them to lead someone to you. Give them the wisdom to speak directly to the heart of someone they know a friend, family or enemy, even today Jesus. If we are holding on to forgiveness show us how we need to let it go and love those who have hurt us. Use me today. Amen
As we near the end of this 50 Days Freed journey you may have noticed that the last few posts have been aimed at freedom from sin. Each one with a call to repent and to accept the relationship that God desires to have with you. This is no accident. If you have been reading daily and do not have this connection with God, ask yourself why you keep coming back? It is probably not because of my amazing writing skills but a desire to meet with Jesus.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty, is divided between God and the world.
Here is James it is laid out quite simply what must be done to be free from the prison of sin. Everyone is born in this prison, Jesus broke the door and made a way for everyone to walk out of this prison, yet in our stubbornness, we refuse to accept his help. What a promise written here, ‘come close to God and he will come close to you’. What is clear is that it doesn’t put a list of things you must do first. It does not read, get your things in order and then God will come close to you. No, come as you are, stains, rips, brokenness and shame. Just like the Father watching for his son who had abandoned him, he saw him a far way off, ran to him and embraced him as he was. That seems like an okay response, but think about where the son just came from; he had been working with the pigs sitting in their pens, and he had just made a very long journey to return home. He would not have smelled very clean, he most likely didn’t stop to freshen up as he had no money left. But his Father embraced him as he was.
The second part of this verse is for those who have accepted Jesus as their saviour yet feel they can be living life in sin with no consequences. We as believers are called to separate ourselves from our old sinful ways. We cannot serve two masters. Washing our hands is symbolic of when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Peter in the moment asked Jesus to wash his whole body, yet Jesus told him he only needs to clean the dirty part. When we sin, we need to remove the dirt from our lives, clean the area where sin has invaded so that it does not infect the whole body. Some believe that once you have accepted Jesus you can walk in sin and it does not matter as Jesus has forgiven all our sins past, present and future, so we now have a free pass. This lie from the enemy is there to divide us, again you cannot serve God and the world. Make your choice.
Sin is a prison we need to be freed from. Inside the prison of sin separates us from God and leads to a death sentence separated from God. Do not despair, there is hope, Jesus came and died so you can be free and have that death sentence removed. Not only is it removed but replaced with a hope of eternal life living with the creator. The choice is yours, are you happy in your prison of sin, disguised as life or are you ready to experience a relationship with the one who created you?
Father, today there is someone reading this that needs to experience you. They are tired of living life in sin and the bondage it has on them. Show them that there is life in you. Use your believers to reach out and share the love of Jesus with them. Help them to understand what he has done so they can live. Help us as believers to be outgoing witnesses of your love. Opening our mouths to tell others about you. We want to be effective in helping free others. Amen
For those living in oppression, freedom may seem like a concept way beyond their grasp. For others, the hope of freedom drives them to a place where they will risk everything to escape. We have seen a spike of this in recent years with refugees fleeing countries where they feel that they can no longer be safe. They risk their lives and the lives of their families in a hope that something better is out there.
As believers, we were once in the place where we were living in bondage. Many of us live in countries where we have the perceived freedom of faith whereas the choice to believe is not up to the government. But in reality, this freedom of religion is slowly disappearing. As governments work to create new rights and freedoms, many of these go against the very backbone of the Christian faith. To openly oppose these ideas are shifting to become regarded as hate speech. Even in my corner of the world this year the availability of government grants was taken away from those organizations who simply would not check a box stating they were okay with abortion and gender roles. For far too long believers have been silent in their freedom and the enemy is working to keep it that way.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1: 5-8
This world is covered in darkness. If you cannot see it just turn on your local news channel. Go online and see the news that is not be shown on TV. There are things going on that no public news is reporting. Why? Because it scares them, the enemy only wants you to be scared enough to keep away from the truth. If we were to know all the atrocities that were happening it may scare us right towards God. If the truth about Christians standing up for their faith and dying for their faith was made public, it would have many questionings why these men and women would die for their faith. These questions would burn in their hearts until they were answered. The enemy wants the perception that if we do not see it, it must not be happening.
God sent Jesus to illuminate the darkness. Jesus told us that when we follow him the power that he had we have, so then we can illuminate the darkness. Jesus said he can to set captives free, then we can help set captives free. We can give them the key to freedom, the key being Jesus, they must choose to accept the key. We can bring them light, they must choose to walk in the light or run away back to the shadows. Freedom is available to every man, woman and child on planet earth. John is very clear in this passage above. We cannot be playing in the darkness and expect to effective in displaying freedom to those around us. We need to shine brightly with the love of God, standing out practising what we hold in our hearts. A gift is only good when given away.
I pray today that whomever this message reaches will experience the love of Jesus. If you are not walking with Jesus then you are in the darkness. This very moment you can change the lighting situation in your life. You can hit the switch and everything can change. Asking Jesus to be the light of your life will not be an easy choice, life may get more difficult, but the freedom you receive outweighs the cost. Jesus died on the cross to forgive the sin that has overwhelmed all mankind, even yours. Simply ask him today to come into your life and forgive you of your sin. If you do this I pray you then tell someone, find another believer and tell them of your decision. If you have no one to tell, share it here with me and the others who will support you and help you find someone to connect with. God Loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. You don’t have to go this alone.
Father, someone reading this today needs to hear from you, I ask that you show them the freedom they desire. Some may have done some things that they feel are unforgivable. Show them that you forgave all sins, all evil deeds and love them for who they are. Give them courage today to make the choice to follow you. For those who know you, I pray that they will grow in their faith, let their lights shine brightly on you. Help them to reach others for you even today and that your name is glorified all over this world. Amen
Have you ever been in a situation that could have many different outcomes depending on your reaction? One response you could do nothing and walk away from it, thus ignoring it but ultimately the problem still remains. Two, you explode freaking out about the problem, creating a much worse scenario, causing you to possibly sin in the process. Or three, where you stayed calm, kept rational and took the time to forgive.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)
If you are like me you probably done all three. For me, the freak out is the worst and with my personality, I need to ask for forgiveness quickly as it eats me inside. But I find if I stay calm and confront the issue straight on with a heart to forgive, the outcome is always better. Why is that? Because we are working to live like Jesus.
Jesus was beaten, strung up on a cross, mocked. He could have started freaking out on the cross, calling down fire and angels, but he showed us what it really meant to forgive, he cried out Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. So even in his great torment, he was thinking of others and not himself.
If Jesus can forgive those who killed him, why do we have a hard time forgiving those who have sinned against us? Unforgiveness is a roadblock to receiving the blessings of God. Contrary to many teachings that once saved always saved unforgiveness is clearly states that it is something that can separate us from God. Just like the servant who was forgiven his huge debt, then left and demanded repayment for a small on from his servant. He clearly was forgiven by his master yet was harsh and unforgiving to his own servant who owed him little. We see the reversal of the master’s decision to forgive the debt of the man and threw him in jail. This is not words and a lesson from just any part of the bible but from Jesus himself. How we forgive others has an impact on our walk and relationship with God.
Forgiveness is not forgiving and forgetting. If someone does something that needs judgement from earthly courts or repayment, then it should be dispensed. But through forgiveness, we let go of the hatred, bitterness and revenge that may cause us to sin. We see the person as loved by God and in need of his forgiveness as well, letting the justice system deal with what happened. It may not be possible to forgive the one who hurt you in person, they may be dead, locked away or whereabouts unknown. You do not need to let this eat you away inside. Talk to God, tell him how you are feeling, then give him the hurt, let him deal with it tell him you forgive the person or issue and be done with it. Trust that he hears you and that the forgiveness is received. You no longer need to have that roadblock in the way of your freedom.
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us that there is no sin done against us that we can’t provide forgiveness for. Soften our hearts and show us, people, we need to forgive, today without delay. Forgive those who we have sinned against and those that have sinned against us. If we can face to face ask for forgiveness or if we need to bring it to you, give us the strength to do it so we can live in freedom. Release us from this bondage of unforgiveness. Amen
As we seek an all in relationship with God we need to learn forgiveness is a gift that needs to be easily given. What makes it tough is when forgiveness for a similar offence is forgiven over and over, we tend to get cynical if that person will ever change. Think about how Jesus feels when his children come to him over and over asking to forgive them of the sins that they keep getting themselves into. Jesus reminded Peter to forgive his brother seventy times seven, a number that if we actually tried to keep track we would most likely forget.
“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”
2 Corinthians 2:5-8 NIV
Ever have some in your church expose themselves as a sinner? I don’t mean a new Christian, but someone you would never expect to do something wrong? The shame they feel for their exposed sin is real, they trust they had with others is dwindled. Their confidence as a person, especially if they voluntarily exposed themselves is thin. We tend to keep condemning them for their actions, maybe not vocally but in the way we treat them. Their sin is not infectious, you can comfort t m, if they have confessed to God and asked for forgiveness then who are we to keep bringing them down. Yes, there may be consequences for their actions, and they will have to deal with those. But we as a family need to be forgiving as we will be in the same position someday.
Are you willing to forgive others who have done something against you? Against someone you love? What will you do to strengthen your all in relationship with God? We are called to love our neighbors, forgiveness is part of that love. We would hope that people would forgive us when we fail, so how much more can we do the same for them.
Jesus, I pray we will be able to forgive our brothers and sisters who make mistakes that can hurt us. Help us to comfort them as we are all sinners saved by grace. Let us not be a stumbling block for them receiving Gods forgiveness. As we strive for an all in relationship with you I ask that we have the wisdom to forgive others who have hurt us or those we love. Amen
Today we pray for Eritrea. Unlike the counties in the last nine days Eritrea situation is different. Christians are being persecuted by modern day Pharisees. Government keeps a tight control of religious groups and is opposed to evangelical Christians.
For more information Open Doors USA has some details. They estimate 2.7 million Christians in the population of just over 5.4 million.
Please pray with me and add your prayers in the comments.
Father, we pray for Eritrea. We ask that the religious bondage that is holding that country back will be destroyed. We read of over the half of the country claiming to be Christian, yet persecution is still on the rise. We ask for boldness for our brothers and sisters in the faith, give them the opportunities to change their country. Give them foot holds in government, schools, colleges and many other places. Let your light shine all throughout Eritrea. Amen
Like many, we may have given up on people who have walked away from God. They either grew up in church or became a believer in their teens or as a young adult. Maybe it is someone older who came to Jesus later on. No matter something happened they lost their way. We fervently prayed for them and talked with them but as the weeks, months and years passed by, we lost our passion for them and slowly forget to pray. It may not be that we have given up but as a society in general we are result based, wherein we want to see results for our efforts. If that is our mind set why then continue praying for a lost cause? Because Jesus hasn’t given up.
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.”
Psalms 51:1-3 NLT
The one thing that baffles me is those who have either grown up in church or once knew Jesus and have walked away. They rebel against what they once held to be truth and choose to walk in darkness. Some even become so disillusioned that they feel that they can never be good enough to come back home. This causes me much sadness as we all know that this isn’t the case.
The temptation to walk away and “experience” life is a lie, set in motion by the enemy to draw our youth and new believers away. The life he offers is only a road to pain and suffering. He makes things look like rainbows and puppies only until he has you drawn away, then reality will begin to hit, addictions, abuse and other evil things will slowly but surly consume them. Or worse he draws you to a life of normalcy where you feel you just don’t need God.
The amazing news is that Jesus is always there with open arms to receive his children home. Like the father of the prodigal son, he hasn’t stopped expecting their return. He patiently waits with redeeming grace for all those who accept the relationship with him.
We as believer must not give up on those who have walked away from the faith. We must earnestly pray and make ever effort to show them that Jesus still loves them. That they don’t need to get their lives back in order first to meet the Father. Come as they are, dirty, smelly, broken. He will welcome them home no matter their condition. He loves them with everything in his being and desires to have relationship with them.
If you have family or friends who have walked away from Jesus, why not this weekend invite them to church and lunch after. Take them out for a coffee. Show them the love of Jesus through your actions and words. Pray for them, not in general passing breaths, but take the time to intercede for them. Let’s see a revival in our family and friends this upcoming Christmas season.
Jesus, we pray for our family and friends who don’t know you. Some never have and others know but have turned their backs. We pray earnestly for their return to you. We ask you to give us boldness, direction and the words to speak. Give us opportunities even this weekend to remind them that you love them. The matter to you Jesus, so they matter to me. Amen
It saddens my heart to think of those who I have known over the years maybe from the youth group I attended, to the churches I have been in, to the youth that were in the group I was leading, have walked away from God. To have experienced the salvation of Jesus yet feel that it wasn’t enough. Some may say well maybe they weren’t saved to begin with. I don’t buy that, somewhere somehow and for some reason they believed a lie from the enemy whose goal was to separate them from God. Now they feel so far gone that nothing they could possibly do could make it right again.
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”
James 4:8 NLT
Have you ever wondered why people would willingly walk away from God? God doesn’t leave us, walk away from us, he is always there for us. We choose to separate ourselves from him.
From what I am seeing is 1) we get caught up in foolish things and get ourselves in messes we don’t believe God can forgive us for. And 2) we don’t stay connected to God through prayer, bible reading and worship with the family. If you unplug from the Father, you can’t expect to stay charged. The wall outlet never moved, you did.
They will make all sorts of excuses why they let the faith of their youth, or a commitment that they made recently. But it will boil down to one of the two above. We need to, as brothers and sisters in Christ, work to catch these things before they get to far. If we see a brother or sister being pulled away towards foolish teachings or distractions that are pulling them way from Christ, we need to disciple them.
The church for to long has worked at saving people then expecting them to know it all. Our young brothers and sister in Christ need godly examples and mentors who will guide, love and protect them. Without godly mentors they will walk any which way, and eventually from God. Let’s give them a fighting chance to have a firm foundation in Jesus.
Maybe today you are one of those people who once had a relationship with God, and experienced the salvation of Jesus. Your story and relationship with Him isn’t over, you can restore what was lost. God like a loving Father is patiently waiting with arms stretched out awaiting your return to Him. Ask Jesus to clean up your life. He will restore your broken heart. There is hope, there is forgiveness we only have to ask. Will you come to him today?
Jesus, help us to be better mentors so we can disciple the new believers. Lord we fail to do this and wonder why people walk away from you. Give us wisdom and guidance to be good leaders in our church’s that we see things that are happening and actively try to stem the issues that arise. We want to be loving our brothers and sisters. I pray we will make time to be mentors to them. They matter to you God, so they matter to me. Amen