Nov 16, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Many wonder what we have to be thankful for as we look at what has happened this year. The world moves toward a full year facing the coronavirus pandemic with more than 50 million victims globally, and more than 1.2 million deaths. In the United States alone, we have topped 10 million cases and a quarter of a million deaths. Still far less than the scientists predicted nine months ago but devastating to the world and our country.
The mistrust our media created over the last several months caused political upheaval resulting in mistrust in our elected officials, the integrity of our voting systems, and our political system. The blatant bias and censorship across the news media and social media failed to let citizens hear both sides of issues breeding mistrust and fomenting divide we haven’t seen here since the Civil War.
We can see injustice across the country based on wealth, race, social connections, political connections, media involvement, and a host of criteria that makes us think the entire system reeks of corruption. In reality, almost every system, that one or two percent of truly corrupt legal representatives give the rest we don’t hear about their reputation as a whole. Just like the cry about police brutality, a few police abuse their authority and should be dealt with accordingly, but the vast majority of law enforcement officers do not fall into that category and see their role as a calling to help society, not harm it.
The last year put not just the United States, but every nation in an economic crisis. As businesses closed due to the pandemic to try and stop the spread of the disease, millions lost their jobs. People went from living paycheck to paycheck to wondering if they would get by at all. The government stepped in with unemployment and other benefits, but those benefits barely keep a family above the poverty level, if that. Many business haven’t recovered and some economists predict as many as 50% of small businesses may close their doors for good. We are in hard times.
Then we faced all the natural disasters above and beyond the pandemic. They started with the wildfires in Australia that destroyed so much of that country. Our western states still don’t have their fires under control. Floods around the gulf coast devastated that area of our country as they faced multiple hurricanes this year. Earthquakes in several countries cost billions in damage and multiple lives. This has been an extraordinary year for disasters. And it’s not over yet.
Judah must have felt the same way as Zephaniah began his prophecies. His tone didn’t help their already devastated state. They faced multiple invasions in the 7th and 8th centuries BCE. The kings filled their pockets at the expense of the common people and injustice rampaged the country. The prophets spoke of the deplorable condition of the widows and orphans, those who could not care for themselves in that culture. They faced drought, floods, and famine again and again in those years. And when crops were good, invaders came and took them.
Zephaniah said it was much the fault of the leaders and those who followed them. Listen to his words.
Be silent! I am the Lord God,
and the time is near.
I am preparing
to sacrifice my people
and to invite my guests.
I’ll search Jerusalem with lamps
and punish those people
who sit there unworried
“The Lord won’t do anything,
good or bad.”
Their possessions will be taken,
their homes left in ruins.
They won’t get to live
in the houses they build,
or drink wine from the grapes
in their own vineyards.
A Terrible Day
The great day of the Lord
is coming soon, very soon.
On that terrible day,
fearsome shouts of warriors
will be heard everywhere.
It will be a time of anger—
of trouble and torment,
of disaster and destruction,
of darkness and despair,
of storm clouds and shadows,
of trumpet calls
and battle cries
against fortified cities
and mighty fortresses.
The Lord warns everyone
who has sinned against him,
“I’ll strike you blind!
Then your blood and your insides
will gush out like vomit.
Not even your silver or gold
can save you on that day
when I, the Lord, am angry.
My anger will flare up
like a furious fire
scorching the earth
and everyone on it.” (Zephaniah 1:7,12-18 CEV)
It wasn’t long before Israel faced another invading army and exile. Children forcibly removed from the land became indoctrinated in Babylon and the brightest put into the king’s service. Only the poorest finally ended up remaining in a ruined, burned out, rubble filled country. Why? Because they failed to do what God told them to do in the first place. They chased after the idols and gods of the people of the land God gave them instead of worshiping him. They failed to show the nations around them the true God of creation as he had instructed through Abraham, Moses, and the prophets.
What can we learn from the Israelites fate and Zephaniah’s words? First, God watches our actions and attitudes. The Israelites didn’t get away with their injustice. There is a day of reckoning. As a God of love, he cannot just stand by and do nothing about our decaying world. He must bring justice back. He must put everything right again or he is not a loving and just and true God. But we know he is and a day of reckoning will come.
We also know he is a God of grace and mercy. He has held off his judgment to allow as many as will to come to know his grace. He wants humanity to come to him willingly, to know him as he is. He does not look forward to the day his wrath is poured out on those who refuse to listen to him, but instead he yearns for and gives every opportunity for humanity to come to salvation, even knowing many will not.
Finally, we know God gives us many warnings about what will come. His word tells us about the judgment he will bring upon the unjust, the unrighteous, those who will not believe. The earth shudders and gives its signs as if in labor waiting to give birth to a renewed creation. We see it all around us, but so many refused to see the very signs the prophets spoke of as they talked about the coming of the Lord.
So what should we do? Pray. Know your relationship with the Lord. Let him search you heart. Reach out to him and let him turn his spotlight on your life and make you more like him each day. Stay in his word. Get to know his word. Study it. Let it soak into your life and become part of you – not just on Sundays or in some Bible study, but every waking moment of every day. Let it be the guide for your life. God’s spirit will assure you of your relationship with him as you stay in his word. His spirit in you and his word will never disagree with each other.
If God points something out in your life that needs changed, repent and fix it. Turn away from those things that do not look and feel like God and his plan and purpose. Repentance is more than being sorry for getting caught. It is stopping those things and doing what is right. Following in his footsteps. Going wherever he is.
Pray unceasingly. Pray for yourself. Pray for your family and your friends and neighbors. Pray for your coworkers. Pray for our nation and its leaders. Pray for the world and those whose decisions touch the lives of others. Pray for the healthcare workers and those on the front lines who put themselves in danger each day to care for others during this pandemic. Pray that God will intervene and bring revival to our world, our nation, and our neighborhoods.
Share the good news that the Messiah came, died for our sins, rose from the grave, and sits as King of the world on God’s throne. Jesus is his name, Lord of lords, King of kings, creator of the universe and all that is in it. He died that we might have life more abundant. Believe in him as savior and king and you can have life eternally. Share the message. We are priests, ministers, with special gifts that God can use in many ways to show his love to the world around us. All are not preachers or teachers or evangelists, but all have gifts to share with a world that needs love desperately.
Judgment is coming. Jesus is coming. God’s grace has extended the time of his judgment to let us introduce a few more before he does. We need to take advantage of the time we have so another one can learn about his love before it is too late.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked CEV are taken from the CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION (CEV): Scripture taken from the CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION copyright© 1995 by the American Bible Society. Used by permission.