Keep Your Foot Out of Your Mouth…. – PROVERBS 3:5-6 [2]

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

 

 Proverbs 3

5    (IF you) Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
(IF you) do not depend on your own understanding.
6    (IF you) Seek His will in all you do,
THEN He will show you which path to take.                                                                                             

Verses 5 and 6 have always brought me encouragement and comfort.  In particular, the second “If” statement in verse 5,  warning  –  DO NOT depend on our own understanding.  Even now, as I write this verse down, I pause to consider the practical application of this principle.  Let’s use an example to illustrate.

Have you ever found yourself judging someone?  Sure, you may think that you are justified because you know this or that, or heard so-and-so say _______, and they act this way or that way, therefore, you can conclude _________.  If you are anything like me, I’m sure there has been more than one time you’ve put your foot in your mouth.   foot-in-mouth   Awwwwww….                          I doubt, however, anyone thought you were “cute”.  Perhaps you’ve had this baby’s expression after thinking, “What did I just say?  What did I just do?  What was I thinking?”  I bet you wish you could have a “do-over”.  Unfortunately, once our words, attitudes, judgments, etc. are “out there”, there are no “do-overs”.  What if we were to think of our life and other’s lives like jigsaw puzzles? Maybe then we could better understand and apply this principle.

Maybe you know someone as an acquaintance, as a co-worker, as a student we pass in the hall at school, etc.  We know “surface” information about them.  The color of their hair, the clothes they like to wear, the music they like to listen to, hobbies they enjoy, etc.                                                       Just the border of a puzzle.                                                                                                                                      border puzzle

Then there are the people who we know quite a bit better.  We’d call them our close friends, our family, our kindred spirits, etc.  These people have allowed us into the deeper parts of their lives.  Into places few people will ever be welcomed.  Their hopes and dreams, their frustrations, concerns, their values, their likes and dislikes, etc.                                                                               The border of the puzzle plus many internal pieces.

                                                  puzzle loose pieces

No matter how close we are to another person, they will never completely know us, nor will we ever completely know them.  In fact there are aspects we don’t even know about ourselves.  Things that haven’t yet been revealed to us.  All of our talents, characteristics, gifts, where we’ll be in the next 10 years, etc.

                                                   complete puzzle with X

         
There will always be a missing piece(s) in “the puzzle”.

                                                stock-footage-final-puzzle-piece-falls-into-place-d-animation

People’s lives are complicated.  We see only what we see.  But there is a lot more going on in people’s lives, more than we’ll ever know. We only know what they choose to share with us.  Basically, as the saying goes, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Girl before a door

Therefore, (IF you) Seek His will in all you do, THEN He will show you which path to take. –  v.6

Only God knows every nook and cranny that makes me me.  He has examined my heart and knows everything about me.  –  Psalm 139:1  –  For more info about God’s love for you, check out https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+139%3A1-16&version=NLT

(IF you) Depend on God, seek Him, asking Him for direction, and the words to say.  (THEN) you’ll keep your feet on the ground, and out of your mouth.  🙂

                                                feet in sand

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Outward Show or From the Heart?? – ZEPHANIAH – 3i [17 OUT OF 17]

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. – 2 Timothy 4:7                               running through tape

 

Then God, through the prophet Zephaniah, ends the Book of Zephaniah with strength and authority —

20))  On 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!

This short, three chapter, Book of Zephaniah started out as a message of terror in chapter 1, but concludes in chapter 3 with a message of hope.

We read in this book that one man, King Josiah, attempted to reform the people of Judah/Jerusalem encouraging them, more like ordering them, to follow God.  Although the people appeared to follow God, this was just facade (a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation), because in their hearts they were far from God.

Hopefully reading Zephaniah has got you thinking about your own relationship with God.  Is your relationship just an outward show?  Do you go to church on Sunday, and don’t think about God again until the next Sunday?  Or, when you leave church you get road rage when cars seemingly take forever to get out of the church’s parking lot?  road-rage                                                     Or do you praise God in church,   singing_in_church     but with that same voice use God’s name in vain, or speak negatively about another?  Talking-Behind

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. – James 3:9

Because we are fallen people, everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard – Romans 3:23, we all need reminders, found in the Bible, of how to live life God’s Way.  It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s expectations of us.  Have this kind of house, this kind of job, send your kids to this kind of school, and on and on and on.  But what God tells us is that what we need most is a Savior (Jesus). One who can free us from the bondage of our sins – anger, envy, greed, etc.

If you are currently living your life apart from God, or appearing outwardly to be a God-follower, but your heart is far from Him, honoring God with your lips, but your heart is far from Him – Matthew 15:8 you can choose today, right now, to exercise your free will and begin to experience restoration and healing in your life.

The message is close at hand, And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  – Romans 10:8-13

 

Can I Find Hope, Healing, Restoration??? – ZEPHANIAH – 3h – [16]

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction and confusion, out of the muddy clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure. – Psalm 40:2

           psalms40_2               feet_on_rock_thumb

 

As we begin to wrap up the Book of Zephaniah, let’s look at a common pattern seen throughout the Bible, as well as, our own lives.

  • People follow their own way, believing they are able to navigate life on their own, without God, His principles and guidance.
  • Life becomes messy.  In relationships, at work, at school, in finances, families, morals and values are compromised, addictive behaviors surface, and destruction/unhealthy choices dominate.  We’re LOST!!  We’re not sure where to turn, or even what we’re hoping to find.  All we know for sure is that something is missing from our lives. But WHAT is it?
  • People hear about God.  In the Bible it was through prophets, and through miracles. In present day, people hear about God through preachers on the radio or TV, through various churches offering an array of worship experiences from quite/reflective to foot stomping/interactive, and everything in between.  Miracles may sadly go unnoticed. Thought of as “coincidence”, rather than “providence”.
  • People choose to make a change in their lives.  To repent, acknowledging that the path they have been on is not leading them where they hoped to go. Instead of continuing on their current path, they choose to do a 180 and follow God’s way.                                                                                        my way gods way
  • People experience restoration and healing. – It is like the restoration of this painting –   paintingrestoration                                                                                          The beauty we see in the restoration (right side of the image) was not added or changed, but was cleaned up (refreshed and restored) after years of neglect, sin (an analogy), hurt and pain experienced (an analogy) – (image on the left side).

NOTE:  Complete restoration and healing doesn’t often happen in an instant, a week, a month or even a year.  But, by making a choice today to say, YES, I want restoration and healing in my life, in my relationships, at my job, with my classmates, teachers, etc. the process can begin.  And you will be able to see God’s image restored everyday, while the distorted, marred image that was once so painful to look upon, begins to disappear.

 

 

God Pulls Us Close :) – ZEPHANIAH – 3g – [15]

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is  –  Ephesians 3:17

 

With all the love God is showering over His people, verses 15-17 ,http://wp.me/p5nZpi-4G, you might think that God has forgotten all those that have caused you pain, rejected you, hated you, etc. You might think that God is going to let them off the hook.  Let by gones be by gones.  Not so!!!  Remember, although God is a god of mercy, He is also a god of justice.  And those that have chosen to reject God, have chosen to go their own way, and have caused hurt, God promises in verse 19 that He

 19))  WILL DEAL SEVERELY WITH ALL WHO HAVE OPPRESSED YOUI 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.

20)) On 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 (will) restore your fortunes before their very eyes.

These verses, and many others found in the Bible, are there to be an encouragement and reminder of God’s immense love for His followers. That He is giving each one a GREAT BIG BEAR HUG, image

pulling us close to Him, protecting and comforting us, and NO ONE can snatch (us) away – John 10:28

The Day of Hope WILL Come!!!!! – ZEPHANIAH – 3f – [14]

Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign LORD rescues us from death. – Psalm 68:20

What will it be like when the “day of hope” comes?

Verse 15 tells us that 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.

It is interesting to note that on the “day of hope”, God once again reminds and encourages His people saying, Don’t be afraid! – v.16

What will rid us of our fears?  The Lord, of course!!  Why?  Because,

17 )) For the Lord your God is living among you.  (AND)
    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.”

This is all possible because God is love, 1 John 4:8.  Not that God loves, is willing to love, tries to love, …  No, God IS love. And every person innately seeks out love.  Not always in the most healthy ways, but nevertheless, everyone has a desire to be accepted and unconditionally loved.

Can “people” fulfill our desire to be loved the way God promises to love us?  I think we can all speak from personal experience, that the answer is a strong NO!!  So, if you want to be loved in a way that only God can love you, ask Him into your heart, your life.  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. –  Matthew 7:7-8

                      ask seek knock3                         kneeling-before-glory-1120x750

What if I Mess Up? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 3c – [11]

I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. – Revelation 20:12

 

We learned in verses 1-8, that although we may choose a path contrary to God’s, God does not immediately wash His hands of us. He’s always providing opportunities for us to repent and restore our relationship with Him. Remember that in verses 1-8, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-1X and http://wp.me/p5nZpi-21, we saw that God allows all people, to exercise free will.  And it’s free will that often gets us into trouble, forcing us to make choices between our way/culture’s influence vs God’s way.

Be reminded from these verses that those who choose their own way will one day be punished, while those who seek to follow God’s ways will be blessed.

Before looking at Zephaniah 3:9-13, let’s take a moment to read about The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9.  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+11%3A1-9&version=NLT.

As you read this passage see if you can determine:

  • what the people came together to build
  • the reason they wanted to build ______, and
  • God’s reaction/response to their plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What Do I Need to do to Get Through to My People?”, asks God – ZEPHANIAH – 3b – [10]

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. – 2 Peter 3:9

 

Continuing with verses 5-8, God-followers are reassured of His presence, while God’s frustration remains for those who choose their own way.  (My thoughts in bold.)

 

5)) But the LORD is still there in the city,           

We’re reminded again, God doesn’t leave us.  He is the rock, never moving.  We move farther and farther away from Him with the choices we make.
                                                                             
Day by day he hands down justice,                 
and he does not fail.                            

God is reprimanding and redirecting people. He is available to the remnant that calls on His name.

But the wicked know no shame.    

“It works for me”, “I’m happy” – Ohhh, really ????  How many times have we thought to ourselves, “Don’t they have any self-respect?”  “How could they react so laze-faire about _____, a moral wrong?                                                                                                                          

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.

It seems like God is wondering, “What does it take to get through to these people? Their lives are a mess, relationships, families, bodies, and culture.”

7)) I 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.’

“I’m sure they can make the connection that the choices they’re making, following Satan’s ways vs. my ways, have devastating results.”

But no, they get up early                                    
to continue their evil deeds. 
                                                                                 
“People just don’t seem to get “it”.  They could experience abundant life through me (God), but instead they follow Satan who comes to steal and destroy.” – John 10:10

8)) Therefore, 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.

There will come a time when God says, “that’s enough chances.  You’ve had plenty of time to choose Me. I’ve explained to you the   consequences of your choices.” – http://nlt.to/Deuteronomy+30

All the earth will be devoured by the fire of my jealousy.                                                 

“In the last days I will judge all according to what they have done.”  – Revelation 20:12     Evil doers will be punished, and the obedient will be blessed.

Have You Sent Out Your Invitation? – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 2d – [7]

The LORD is my light and my salvation — so why should I be afraid? The LORD protects me from danger — so why should I tremble? For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in His sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. – Psalm 27:1,5

Zephaniah’s plea to the people of Judah, and us, was/is to follow God. To allow Him to be the ultimate authority in our lives, Lord of our lives.

For this to happen we need to invite God into every area of our lives. Invite because God will not force you to love Him.  He will not force you to follow His ways. But at the same time, He will never stop pursuing you.

The problem we often run into, is that we may trust God’s leading in one area of our lives, but not in other areas. God is trustworthy to take care of _____ situation, but not _____.  I rely on God’s guidance when it comes to choosing a college, but not when it comes to who I date/marry.  Or, I’m a God-follower when it comes to observing religious holidays, but not when I’m in the workplace or at school.

Here’s the real kicker — God has given everyone freewill (the choice to decide what we want to do or not do). Although we are free to choose our own way, apart from God or with God, we are not free to choose the consequences of our choices.

Keep in mind — Laws, rules, whatever we want to call them, are for our own good, for our protection.  It’s Satan who gives us the idea that God’s laws are burdensome, unreasonable, and unfair. It’s Satan who says, if you obey God, your life will be miserable and boring.

Satan uses/has used the same tactics over and over and over since the beginning of time.  Why doesn’t he mix things up?  Why should he?  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

DON’T FALL INTO SELFISH THINKING, PUSHING GOD ASIDE, which is exactly what Satan wants us to do. Instead, trust God, make Him Lord of every area of your life. Allow the creator to guide the creation.

Does God Laugh and Make Fun of Me When I Goof Up??? – PROVERBS – Chapter 1f – 1:23-28 [9]

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1

 

23)) Suppose (IF) you had paid attention to (my) warning.
    THEN I would have poured out (my) heart to you.
    (I) would have told you what (I) was thinking.
24)) But you turned away from me when (I) called out to you.
    None of you paid attention when (I) reached out (my) hand.
25)) You turned away from ALL my advice.
    You wouldn’t accept (my) warning.

26)) So I will laugh at you when you are in danger.
    I will make fun of you when hard times come.
27)) I will laugh when hard times hit you like a storm.
    I will laugh when danger comes your way like a windstorm.
    I will make fun of you when suffering and trouble come.
28))THEN you will call to me. But I won’t answer.
    You will look for me. But you won’t find me.

Wow!!  I don’t know about you, but when I read these verses, they kinda scare me. Does this mean when I goof up and don’t follow God that He will laugh at me and make fun of me? And when I call Him and ask Him for help, He won’t answer me and I won’t find Him?

It is easy to replace the words in (  ) with God because when you read these verses it seems that it is a person who is talking.  However, recalling from verse 20, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-5e, Wisdom is the (my) and the (I).  Remember that Solomon uses personification, and that can sometimes confuse the reader.

God has given us, in fact all people, truth through His Word.  It is a guide-book to help people navigate their earthly life.  It is when the nasty sin of pride infiltrates our mind, our choices, etc., that we have the attitude, “Yeah, right – God stuff, I don’t think so, my way is better…”

In verses 26-27, it is Wisdom, not God that is laughing and making fun, so-to-speak.  Basically, these are the consequences of our choices. It seems harsh, but it is as though you can hear Wisdom saying, “I told you so…”

Verse 28, you call, but don’t get an answer. Meaning the consequences of our choices have been exacted (accurate to circumstance), they can not be changed.  If someone gets pregnant, out-of-wedlock, they can “call” all they want, but the consequence of their choice will not change.

You may have asked yourself these questions at some point in your life,

  • How did I get into this mess?
  • Why does everything seem to go bad for me?
  • Did I do something wrong?

The answerYou turned away from my advice, You wouldn’t accept my warning. –  Proverbs 1:25

Choices, Choices, Choices??? – PROVERBS – Chapter 1d – 1:10-19 (b) [7]

You can hold on to the hope that I, The Lord, will not change what I have promised.
Hebrews 6:17-18

 

So what does Solomon want us to take away from the confusing verses of Proverbs 1:10-19? http://wp.me/p5nZpi-2I
First, Solomon wants to remind and warn us, that sin can be very attractive.  The danger in following unwise choices, vs. the truth, is that they will then become our compass, what directs us in our everyday interactions.
th                     th

Secondly, acting on sinful choices will not enable us to reach the goals we hope to achieve.  What may look “good” at the onset, may end up trapping us in an unhealthy lifestyle. Solomon warns us not to comprise our values and ignore God’s guidance, following what “man” deems as success.

                                                         th

Often times the enticement of promised friendships, the allure of being “part of the group”, moving up in our job, etc. overtakes our better judgment.
th-2                      th-1

Solomon warns not to get caught up in the temptations around us, DON’T follow them. STAY AWAY, verse 15.
Solomon uses an analogy of a bird in verse 17. A bird, which certainly does not have the intelligence of a person, yet instinctively recognizes a trap and STAYS AWAY.  Sadly, when we choose to venture out into the world “on our own”, without God and His principles, we set an ambush for ourselves; – v.18, which will end tragically.

Lastly, THE KEY is to think beyond the here and now. To consider the future consequences of our present choices.  Short-term choices vs. Long-term effects.  We have free will to make choices, but not the freedom to choose our consequences.
1278164062                                      71e0aff396f2d3cce3fff5c7a6ca7ae4