Do you realize who you are impacting? Do you realize what impact your words are having on others? Do you realize what impact your actions are having on others? Do you realize what impact your behavior is having on others? Do you realize what impact your attitude is having on others? Do you realize the impact of your decisions? Do you realize the impact of your character? Do you realize the impact of your honesty? Do you realize the impact of your integrity? Do you realize the impact of your intent? Do you realize the impact of your caring? Do you realize the impact of your openness? Do you realize the impact of your authenticity? Do you realize the impact of your reputation? Do you realize the impact of your fairness? Do you realize the impact of your experience?
Is your impact positive or negative? Is your impact improving things? Is your impact helping things? Is your impact building up or tearing down? Is your impact setting others up? for success? for failure?
Let’s jump in to read from Zephaniah to kick off our reading for today…
1The Lord gave this message to Zephaniah when Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah. Zephaniah was the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah.
Coming Judgment against Judah
2“I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” says the Lord. 3“I will sweep away people and animals alike. I will sweep away the birds of the sky and the fish in the sea. I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, and I will wipe humanity from the face of the earth,” says the Lord. 4“I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship. I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear. 5For they go up to their roofs and bow down to the sun, moon, and stars. They claim to follow the Lord, but then they worship Molech, too. 6And 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.” 7Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign Lord, for the awesome day of the Lord’s judgment is near. The Lord has prepared his people for a great slaughter and has chosen their executioners. 8“On that day of judgment,” says the Lord, “I will punish the leaders and princes of Judah and all those following pagan customs. 9Yes, I will punish those who participate in pagan worship ceremonies, and those who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. 10“On that day,” says the Lord, “a cry of alarm will come from the Fish Gate and echo throughout the New Quarter of the city. And a great crash will sound from the hills. 11Wail in sorrow, all you who live in the market area, for all the merchants and traders will be destroyed. 12“I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem’s darkest corners to punish those who sit complacent in their sins. They think the Lord will do nothing to them, either good or bad. 13So their property will be plundered, their homes will be ransacked. They will build new homes but never live in them. They will plant vineyards but never drink wine from them. 14“That terrible day of the Lord is near. Swiftly it comes— a day of bitter tears, a day when even strong men will cry out. 15It will be a day when the Lord’s anger is poured out— a day of terrible distress and anguish, a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, 16a day of trumpet calls and battle cries. Down go the walled cities and the strongest battlements! 17“Because you have sinned against the Lord, I will make you grope around like the blind. Your blood will be poured into the dust, and your bodies will lie rotting on the ground.” 18Your silver and gold will not save you on that day of the Lord’s anger. For the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy. He will make a terrifying end of all the people on earth.
–from Zephaniah 1
Will you turn to God? Will you ask for forgiveness? Will you humble yourself and pray? Will you follow His commands? Will you love God? Will you love people? Will you seek to do what is right? Will you invite Jesus into your heart? Will you choose Jesus before it is too late? Will you decide before the end times and judgement comes? What would it take? How bad would things have to get? How far down the downward spiral would you have to travel before you start looking up and asking God? We all have to decide for ourselves! Your choice and decision do make a difference! Don’t miss out because of your selfishness or pride!
A Call to Repentance
1Gather together—yes, gather together, you shameless nation. 2Gather before judgment begins, before your time to repent is blown away like chaff. Act now, before the fierce fury of the Lord falls and the terrible day of the Lord’s anger begins. 3Seek the Lord, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the Lord will protect you— protect you from his anger on that day of destruction.
Judgment against Philistia
4Gaza and Ashkelon will be abandoned, Ashdod and Ekron torn down. 5And what sorrow awaits you Philistines who live along the coast and in the land of Canaan, for this judgment is against you, too! The Lord will destroy you until not one of you is left. 6The Philistine coast will become a wilderness pasture, a place of shepherd camps and enclosures for sheep and goats. 7The remnant of the tribe of Judah will pasture there. They will rest at night in the abandoned houses in Ashkelon. For the Lord their God will visit his people in kindness and restore their prosperity again.
Judgment against Moab and Ammon
8“I have heard the taunts of the Moabites and the insults of the Ammonites, mocking my people and invading their borders. 9Now, as surely as I live,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, “Moab and Ammon will be destroyed— destroyed as completely as Sodom and Gomorrah. Their land will become a place of stinging nettles, salt pits, and eternal desolation. The remnant of my people will plunder them and take their land.” 10They will receive the wages of their pride, for they have scoffed at the people of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 11The Lord will terrify them as he destroys all the gods in the land. Then nations around the world will worship the Lord, each in their own land.
Judgment against Ethiopia and Assyria
12“You Ethiopians will also be slaughtered by my sword,” says the Lord. 13And the Lord will strike the lands of the north with his fist, destroying the land of Assyria. He will make its great capital, Nineveh, a desolate wasteland, parched like a desert. 14The proud city will become a pasture for flocks and herds, and all sorts of wild animals will settle there. The desert owl and screech owl will roost on its ruined columns, their calls echoing through the gaping windows. Rubble will block all the doorways, and the cedar paneling will be exposed to the weather. 15This is the boisterous city, once so secure. “I am the greatest!” it boasted. “No other city can compare with me!” But now, look how it has become an utter ruin, a haven for wild animals. Everyone passing by will laugh in derision and shake a defiant fist.
–from Zephaniah 2
Will you choose to rebel? Will you choose redemption? There are many paths but only one that will lead you to God! Jesus told us that He is the way! Will you turn to Him? Will you allow Him to transform you from the inside out? My redeemer lives! Choose to be redeemed by Jesus! Don’t walk out on God (or think you should or could)! Don’t walk away from God (or think you can hide from Him)! Turn back to God! Ask Him to heal and forgive you! Come with a humble spirit! Allow Jesus to start a work in your heart that will transform you for the rest of your life and the rest of eternity!
Jerusalem’s Rebellion and Redemption
1What sorrow awaits rebellious, polluted Jerusalem, the city of violence and crime! 2No one can tell it anything; it refuses all correction. It does not trust in the Lord or draw near to its God. 3Its leaders are like roaring lions hunting for their victims. Its judges are like ravenous wolves at evening time, who by dawn have left no trace of their prey. 4Its prophets are arrogant liars seeking their own gain. Its priests defile the Temple by disobeying God’s instructions. 5But the Lord is still there in the city, and he does no wrong. Day by day he hands down justice, and he does not fail. But the wicked know no shame. 6“I have wiped out many nations, devastating their fortress walls and towers. Their streets are now deserted; their cities lie in silent ruin. There are no survivors— none at all. 7I thought, ‘Surely they will have reverence for me now! Surely they will listen to my warnings. Then I won’t need to strike again, destroying their homes.’ But no, they get up early to continue their evil deeds. 8Therefore, be patient,” says the Lord. “Soon I will stand and accuse these evil nations. For I have decided to gather the kingdoms of the earth and pour out my fiercest anger and fury on them. All the earth will be devoured by the fire of my jealousy. 9“Then I will purify the speech of all people, so that everyone can worship the Lord together. 10My scattered people who live beyond the rivers of Ethiopia will come to present their offerings. 11On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me. I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you. There will be no more haughtiness on my holy mountain. 12Those who are left will be the lowly and humble, for it is they who trust in the name of the Lord. 13The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will never tell lies or deceive one another. They will eat and sleep in safety, and no one will make them afraid.” 14Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. 16On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! 17For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” 18“I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more. 19And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed. 20On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
–from Zephaniah 3
Jesus knew the price it would cost to be able to redeem the sins of this world! Jesus knew the cost of wanting to make a way when there wasn’t a way! Jesus knew that it would have to be something He took into His own hands in order to provide that way to bridge the gap and reconcile us back to God’s righteousness! And even though we didn’t deserve it, He came and gave His all! He gave His life on the cross! He conquered death! He is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us!
Have you decided to follow after Jesus? Have you decided to ask Him into your heart? Are you now walking in the hope that comes from that relationship? Are you now walking in the truth of Jesus to be able to lead you and guide you all the days of your life?
If not, why not start today? Go questions? Leave me a message!
Let’s get back into God’s Word…His love letter to us!
Paul Preaches in Thessalonica
1Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. 3He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” 4Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.
5But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 6Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. 7And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
8The people of the city, as well as the city council, were thrown into turmoil by these reports. 9So the officials forced Jason and the other believers to post bond, and then they released them.
Paul and Silas in Berea
10That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
13But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble. 14The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. 15Those escorting Paul went with him all the way to Athens; then they returned to Berea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him.
Paul Preaches in Athens
16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
18He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
19Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20“You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21(It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)
22So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
24“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
30“God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
32When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
–from Acts 17
Will you allow Jesus to create a new heart you in? Will you allow Jesus to transform you into a new creation? Will you allow Jesus lead you into heaven? Let’s live out our lives to please God! Let’s be God’s ambassadors to this world! Let’s be ambassadors of peace! Let’s not do it to puff ourselves up but to point people to the one who deserves all the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Let’s be ambassadors of Christ to the world around us!
1For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.4While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
6So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
We Are God’s Ambassadors
11Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
16So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
–from 2 Corinthians 5