Zephaniah: Quieted By His Love

Quieted by His Love
By: Emily Burnette

Zephaniah’s prophecy came near the beginning of King Josiah’s reign. King Josiah was trying to reform Judah after two previous kings had established evil trends in Judah. Zephaniah was a descendent of King Hezekiah.

Zephaniah’s message was one of judgment for sin and then hope for the future. Chapters 1 and 2 focus on the judgment of Judah and the nations.
Chapter three begins with Zephaniah addressing Jerusalem’s apparent stage of rebellion and sin. After describing in detail the sins of Jerusalem, Zephaniah reminds the people of Judah about God’s previous judgments. However, Zephaniah concludes the chapter on a joyful note. He reminds Judah that after judgment comes, there will be blessing for those who remain.

Through Zephaniah, God is quieting Judah with His love. When I first tried to imagine what it would look like for God to quiet me with His love or to rejoice over me with singing, especially if I was a part of such a rebellion as Judah was at the time, I couldn’t even put into words how it would feel. After further reflection, I was able to describe how it would feel through an image. I came up with an image of a sunset on the ocean that I couldn’t shake from I head. I then realized that for God to quiet me at a time of such rebellion of Judah, I would be in complete awe and totally still before the Lord. What would it look like for the Lord to quiet you with His love or rejoice over you with singing, especially if you were a part of such a rebellion as Judah was at the time?

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Zephaniah: Beyond Darkness

Zephaniah: Beyond Darkness
By Lauren Murphy

Zephaniah 2:11
“The Lord will be awesome to them when He destroys all the gods of the earth. Distant nations will now down to Him, all of them in their own lands.”

Background
The book of Zephaniah was written by Zephaniah during the reign of King Josiah. But a detail that is often overlooked is the kings who reigned before Josiah. First is Manasseh. Well to put it simply, Manasseh was bad. Manasseh’s father, Hezekiah, had done a pretty good of bringing the nation of Judah back to fearing God. Hezekiah was human and sinned, but was on the right track. Then comes Manasseh. His dad had worked so hard and diligently to remove the ungodly things from the temple. With the help of God, Hezekiah was successful. The next thing you know, Manasseh has brought all the idols back in. So the entire nation of Judah follows the example of the king. The nation rebuilt the temples dedicated to idols and false gods. They even filled God’s temple with idols. This pattern of lifestyle continues through Manasseh’s son, Amon. Amon is murdered and his replaced by his son Josiah. As you can imagine, the entire nation is in trouble, and to top things off, is being led by an eight year old. But God proves that he can work through anyone. I forgot to mention before, but Judah was having some problems with Assyria. The people of Judah are in some serious trouble- they are rejecting the God, who delivered their ancestors from slavery and they are not fearing the one true God, but Assyria. This is where Zephaniah comes in. It’s pretty obvious that Judah needs somebody to step up to the plate- and Zephaniah does. He wrote this book to Judah and all the areas surrounding it that they would now the power and awesomeness of the one true God.

Context
The book of Zephaniah is pretty much God saying if you think that the punishment Judah is going to get for their sin is big, then just wait until God comes back a second time. Chapter 1 starts out by God saying that one day He will destroy everything. All the idols, animals, temples, even mankind. He makes it very clear that He is sovereign and in control. Verse 15 talks about judgement day and says, “That day will be a day of wrath— a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.”
Zephaniah 1:15

God is telling everyone, not just the people of Judah, that on judgement day there will be no gray areas. You are either on God’s team or you aren’t.

Chapter 2
The second chapter is written more to Judah, but can still be applied to us. The message translates the first verse like this, “Get yourselves together! Shape up!” They are being told to seek God with everything they have and to follow after Him with all of their heart. It goes on to say that all the idols, the ones that were talked about on chapter one, will all be blown away. Nothing will be left standing but the one true God and everyone will fall to their knees and worship Him.

Chapter 3
The last chapter goes on about Judah’s disobedience. They refuse to listen to instruction and remain unrepentant.
But God does not leave it at that. God says he will redeem he nation of Judah, he will but them back despite all of their sin. He will oppress of all of their enemies and take care of them. All Judah has to do is rest their eyes on God and his awesome power. His awesomeness will be so great, all other the other nations will recognize it and bow down.

Application
When you think about it, we are very similar to Judah. We don’t always fix our eyes on Christ, we put things in front of God, and we rely on our own strength and power to beat the enemy. We totally ignore God and try to handle all of our problems on our own in our own power. But God is waiting with open arms. We just need to hand over everything- our sins, worries, problems, and concerns over to the awesome and mighty God and he will take care of us. He will rescue, gather you, and bring you honor and praise. Our God is so awesome, sovereign, powerful, amazing, and in control that every single human being on this planet will one day bow before Him. We have two choices. We can decide to do it our own way, with our own fake gods that have no power, and ultimately fail OR put your faith in the awesome God who never fails. Which one will you choose?

Senior Trip: Day Two

It’s not often that throughout the course of everyday life I have the occasion to need to use the word “billion” to describe something. I guess if I were an economist or an accountant or some kind of government worker, or person monitoring hits on google or something of the sort I might. But when you are laying under a clear South Dakota sky in the middle if the summer at night there’s an immediate necessity to grasp for descriptions, adjectives, words… anything to try to describe or even just take in the 360 panoramic sight that envelopes you. I’ve never counted to a billion, but the number seemed appropriate to describe the number of stars sprawled out before us…

As we were getting back from a sunset hike and getting ready to set out to our night time camping spots, we ran into a fellow hiker that commented on how spectacular the day had been and how much he was looking forward to the “light show.” What a light show it was, kicked off by a couple of shooting stars as we were heading out on our night time hike. What’s unfortunate is that this “light show” that points to the majesty and wonder of the Creator happens every night, but so often its missed. Often i don’t have the eyes to see… it just takes slowing down enough to be able to take it all in. In our group conversation last night Paige commented about how sometimes God uses the opportunities we are given to experience things that are out of our norm so that when we go back to the familiar we appreciate what we have all the more. May being at a loss for words be a reality that continues in the rhythm of everyday life more and more.

Senior Trip: Day One

Badlands

It’s been a little over 24 hours since we hit the road in Indy. The bus has been running great and we haven’t had to change a tire yet! We had a great evening meal with Mike Beam and his friend Katie at Bob’s Your Uncle Pizza in Iowa City, IA last night. A weary night of driving was rewarded by a prairie sunrise bursting across the South Dakota plains and lighting up the terrain before us, beckoning for exploration. After a breakfast stop at Wall Drug in Wall, SD, we were off to begin our adventure…

This afternoon we commenced our exploration of the Badlands National Park. It has been a journey that has taken us down crevasses, across jagged peaks, through wandering valleys, sliding down hills, and enjoying every moment. You can check out many of today’s photo highlights at: http://www.instagram.com/chapelrockym

The Badlands are hard to take in. There’s beauty in the arid desolation wherever you look. From rainbow painted hills, to erosion carved mountains… the scale, the detail, the depth, and the wonder of it all are amazing. There have been so many awe inspiring moments that keep us on the edge of our seats in eager expectation of what’s around the next corner. Our spiritual journey is taking us through the life of Christ and all that he experienced in the wilderness. We look forward to trusting Him in all that’s ahead.

Trusting Through Uncertain Times

Intro to Habakkuk
By Casey Showalter

The book of Habakkuk is unique in the fact that it is not a letter written to Israel, but it is a conversation between Habakkuk and God. Yet the book was meant for Israel. It was composed to be a voice of godly men trying to understand the ways of God.
The message uses the word “complaints” to describe the way that Habakkuk prayed to God. His first complaint was that the evil that he was watching in Judea was breaking his heart and he was upset at God that it was going unpunished. God responds with a promise. He promises that Babylon will punish Judea. Habakkuk’s second complaint was that it was not fair that Babylon, an evil city full of sin, was to punish Judea, whom Habakkuk saw as more righteous than Babylon.

Not much is known about Habakkuk, but we can believe that he was a righteous man of God. Even this man, whom God spoke to directly, could not understand God’s ways. If this man of God, had moments in his life when he could not understand God’s plans, why do we let ourselves get discouraged when we feel like we don’t know what God is doing or why he lets things happen? Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Even when we face moments of uncertainty and wonder how God is working we can trust that he knows what he’s doing. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Nahum: God’s answer to Injustice

Nahum 1: God’s Answer to Injustice
By: Madyson Elmore

Nahum 1:2 “God is serious business. He won’t be trifled with…” (The Message) and He sent Nahum to prove it!

Nahum wrote this as a poem. Chapter one was written to share God’s majesty and might. He wrote chapter two & three to share details about what happened in Nineveh.

Nahum was sent as a prophet, around 612 BC, to Nineveh to warn them that they would soon be destroyed. Just like Jonah, and later Zephaniah, he was to tell them that their sins against God had continued on for too long.

Nineveh was known for its wealth, but the Bible emphasizes their problem with prostitution. God was not pleased with the way the people of Nineveh were acting. Jonah, reluctantly, had already been sent to Nineveh to warn them. They had changed their ways for the time being. Later, they returned to their old ways and God was not happy. Nahum 1:7-8 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh (NIV). God is a loving and caring God, but He had to put His foot down when He saw the things that were happening in Nineveh.

Nahum’s prophecy was fulfilled about 10-15 years later. Nineveh went up in flames just like he had prophesied. Verse 3 says that Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished… it’s safe to say He’s serious.

Micah 4-5

Micah 4-5
By Eric Murphy

“The Gospel is good news to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.”

John R.W. Stott

In the first verse of the book Micah he says the the word of God came to him during the reign of Jotham. The word of God that came to Micah was the prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ. Micah’s name means,”who is like God. During the time of Micah Israel was full of sin and corruption, all across the nation. While Micah was bringing a message from God, a message of redemption and salvation.

Micah 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” This prophecy of the coming of Christ is significant because this is prophesied over 400 years before it is fulfilled.

Now, many of you have heard the message of the Gospel and how Jesus died to save us from our sins and hell. But I encourage you to be like Micah, who brought the good news to the people around him who were caught in sin. Many comparisons can be made between Israel in the time of Micah and our nation today. I hope that you will be the one that will bring the good news to others around you, not only by telling them, but by setting an example in the way that you live your life.

Will you be the one who changes someone else’s life through what you say to them or how you act? Or, will you be content with not speaking up knowing that what you say has an impact on someone else’s eternal destination?

CIY MOVE: ANYTHING CAN BE REDEEMED

CIY MOVE: DAY FIVE

It’s hard to capture in words the incredible ways in which the Lord has been moving among us this week. It’s not been easy… Even praying for God to “MOVE” is a dangerous prayer, that if asked of Him in earnest requires some expectation of the work that He needs to do. He has been answering our prayers. The past couple of days we’ve looked at themes of our hurts, forgiveness, kingdom work, and God’s presence as they parallel God’s work in the life of Joseph from Genesis 37, 39-47. We’ve had a total of 13 students make significant decisions, public confessions, apologies, statements of release and forgiveness of those who have wronged, hurt, abused, and taken advantage of them… and we’ve seen and felt God’s presence through it all. One statement in particular that rang out as clear as a bell from this morning’s speaker was the statement “Anything can be redeemed.” We were simultaneously challenged by Michael Defazio (@mighael_defazio) to never again utter the statement “Everything happens for a reason…” The reason we shouldn’t say that in reference to God is that it’s simply not true to the fact that God doesn’t cause everything to happen… Sometimes things happen because of people’s bad choices, selfish motivations, and misused freedom… God doesn’t cause those things, but He does promise that He can and will in all things “work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)… and when difficult things happen we can have confidence to know that God will never leave us, and nothing is beyond His redemption. So with confidence, we say… “Anything can be redeemed” and mean it. We have seen it. We are seeing it. We are being blown away by story after story of His incredible redeeming work in unbelievably difficult situations. It’s messy. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable… but it’s reality. It’s a reality that’s breaking in and washing over us and leading us in God’s timing and God’s way of restoration. Please pray for all that’s yet to come as we finish the week strong and continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

– Nick Wilkes

CIY MOVE: DAY TWO

CIY MOVE: DAY TWO

There’s nothing quite like the sound of hearing students lifting one another in prayer, passionately crying out before God on behalf of their brothers and sisters… Tonight we had 8 students make decisions for Christ and share a piece of their story of what God is doing in their lives, and how they need God to meet them where they are at and not leave them there. Please join us in rejoicing with and praying for Nate, Abby, Hannah, Conner, Tiffany, Kennedy, Taylor and Lexi. Tonight we were challenged specifically from the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 and how even when Joseph found himself beat up by his brothers and thrown into a pit to die, God provided for him and rescued him. We were called once again by Rachel Oblon, our evening speaker, to invite Jesus into the pits of life that we find ourselves in and allow Him to rescue us, even when there seems to be no hope. More to come tomorrow.

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