Friday, October 26, 2012

Mighty To Save

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Pray! The Lord is Mighty to Save
"Such fair and timely warning as this did God give to the Jews of the approaching captivity; but they hardened their neck, which made their destruction remediless." ~ Matthew Henry Commentary on Zephaniah chapter 1

Zephaniah is the great great grandson of king Hezekiah. According to Smith's Dictionary of Bible Names Zephaniah means "hidden by God". His great great grandpa Hezekiah's name meant "The might of Jehovah" I always find it interesting to look at the meaning of names. In a sense in the naming of a thing or a person perhaps gives a sense of a calling or a destiny of that person. The Hebrew people did not always name children lofty things some times like Jabez a kid gets named "pain". His cry to God is that he not bring people pain, that God would make him a blessing. There are instances where God changes someone's name, as in the case of Abram and Sara. They go from names meaning "father" to "father of a multitude" and Sara from "my princess" to "princess for the all race" show a big step up in God's destiny or plan for them. 

This was not were I was intending to go with this devotional. I believe that our words mean something or they should. God spoke "words" and created the world. He gave Adam who he created in His image, the job of naming the animals. My own name, Margot means pearl. Seems lovely enough as names go,  but pearls are made from coating layer by layer, that aggravating bit of sand or grit that gets into the oyster. God has done that with me a lot. He has helped me to take the painful and annoying things in my life and over time as I have looked to him to help me, to make them something of value and beauty. I sometimes wonder with the many trials I have been through if God did not somehow change my name to mean "maker of pearls." I believe God had a hand in my parents choosing that particular name for me. It describes me - or perhaps it has been spoken over me so much that I have become it. Names are certainly something to ponder. 

So what I had originally intended to write about from Zephaniah was some of the things that so greatly displeased the Lord in the people of Judah that Zephaniah was having to sound a warning of coming destruction. Before you start pointing out the sins of those around you take some time to examine your own heart, you might find some areas that need some attention. Ask the Lord to help you see your own blindspots in the list that follows. 

The worship of Baal, (1:4) Is there anything you are giving more importance than your relationship with the Lord? 

Priests who bow down to worship the stars, (1:5) Are you looking to the stars or horoscopes to make your decisions? Maybe using that magic 8 ball or a flip of a coin to try and determine what to do rather than go to God? Are you looking to other answers to your problems and turning to God as a last resort? 

Those who try to serve God and swear by false gods at the same time. (1:5)
Are you half heartedly following the Lord with one foot in the kingdom and one in the world. Do you put on a nice "holy" mask on Sunday and live for yourself the rest of the week?

Those who turn back from following the Lord. (1:6) Have you lost your first love, your passion for seeking the Lord. Has your Bible grown dusty and your prayer life become like stale bread? Have you gone back to old habits and behaviors that the Lord had set you free from?

Those who neither seek the Lord or inquire of Him (1:6) Do you put more trust in your insurance, your job, your connections than you do in God. Are you going through the motions in worship and your heart is not truly in it? 

The princes and kings son's and all those dressed in foreign clothes. (1:8 the clothes one needs to be wearing are the robes of righteousness.) Has your life become about collecting more and more toys and things to keep you entertained? Have you abandoned a God life for the good life? 

The superstitious (1:9) Is the only time you bless someone when they sneeze?

Those who fill God house with other gods, violence and deceit. (1:9). What is your motivation for going to church? Is it to worship God or has it become a way to connect with clients? Is it a social club or made up of living stones in a spiritual house? Are you there because you feel guilty and are trying to make sure your spiritual fire insurance is up to date? Are you there simply to be entertained? Is it simply a duty, something you've always done? Are you doing violence to others through your gossip and deceit? 

The complacent and indifferent who think God will do nothing either good or bad. (1:12) Again have you lost your first love? It is easy to become complacent in good times and in times of difficulty to think things will never change. Have you lost hope that God will act? Have you given up and allowed yourself to be lulled to sleep. Have you become a zombie, your body is present but your mind is out to lunch? 

"Such fair and timely warning as this did God give to the Jews of the approaching captivity; but they hardened their neck, which made their destruction remediless." ~ Matthew Henry Commentary on Zephaniah chapter 1

How about you? Will you allow the Lord to change you and mold you to his plans and purposes or will you stubbornly continue to go your own way? 
I do want you to see that there is hope for all of us as imperfect as we each are.

In chapter 2:3 It says "Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands, Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger."

In chapter 3:9 it says "Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder."

Chapter 3:11 On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city all who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. 12 But I will leave within you the meek and humble who trust in the name of the Lord. 

Chapter 3:17 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."

I am embedding a video by Hillsongs United of the song Mighty to Save. I urge you to take the time to examine your own heart with the help of the Lord. 


Prayer:
I pray you will find the courage to examine your own heart, to change, to repent and become more and more like Jesus with each passing day. Truly He is mighty to save. None of us deserves the grace and the pardon we have received. I pray you will not get stuck in complacency or indifference but you will in thankfulness make your life bring God glory. So Lord, shine your light first in each of our hearts, help us to see the things that need to change. Then Lord shine your light on our lives so others can see. Let us each become living bibles and living stones. Purify our lips, that we may call on the name of the Lord and serve you shoulder to shoulder.

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