Sunday, October 9, 2011

"JOY IN GOD'S FAITHFULNESS"

A quick note before getting started, the Challenge Answers are at the very end of this post, so don't give up before getting to the end. This is a little longer than usual because I added a special section just for this one post. As I saw it while doing my research for my post, and felt lead to include it. Thank you for understanding.

Good Evening to All!

Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! (15) The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more.

(16) In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. (17) The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
(18) I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, Who are among you, To whom its reproach is a burden. Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you;
Zephaniah 3:14-19 KJV

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God and Angels often spoke the words "Do not be afraid", each time with a message of hope or combined with a message to have courage. Zephaniah wrote to wake up God's people to what they were doing .and urge them to urge them to repent, changes their ways and come back to God.

He let them know that if they continued to worship idols and if they kept on sinning that God would punish them. Even with this warning message, he also promised the people that God would have mercy when they turned back to him in faith. This passage is from that message of hope and God's mercy.

An easy way to understand this passage is through this example. People go through the pain of surgery know that on the other side, after all is said and done it will heal us and make us well. When we have ordeals that cause us to have to take physical therapy, we do so and cope with the pain knowing that it has to be done to make us stronger.

If we have hope in something, that chases away the fear of the pain and helps us to see the other side, the healing process.

God wants us to trust in Him, and let hope in Him take away fear of any temporary suffering we have on earth. He promises that new life and joy will come.

If you are facing surgery or suffering through abuse or divorce, let hope chase away fear. Hope in God and know that the difficulties will end.

NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE FACING, GOD CAN HANDLE IT. Ask Him for help. Ask Him to give you strength. There is NOTHING too big or too small for God to handle. He wants to help us.

I have heard people say "I only pray about the major, important stuff." To God, everything about us is important. It doesn't matter what our need is, He will help us. I know this is true because I have prayed at both ends of the spectrum. I have pray for God to help me find my car keys, and He did . I know it was Him because I looked and looked for them, and finally said, "OK God I give up. I know You are looking at my keys right now, please show them to me and He directed me right to them. AT the other end, I prayed when my husband had his heart attack. He died three different times on the table but they were able to bring him back. I give God the glory. He was also blown up in a motor home. He and the side of the motor home were blown clear across the road. My husband had 2nd and 3rd degree burns all over his body, but he lived and has very little scarring from it. This was all due to prayer.

It has served to make me stronger. No, my husband still doesn't go to church, and to my knowledge doesn't read his Bible, but if you ask him how he made it through these ordeals, he will tell you "by the grace of God".

The more we show faith in God the stronger our faith becomes. The more we pray and see results the more we want to pray.

My mom used to roll my hair every Saturday night for church on Sunday morning. I remember her pulling my hair quite a bit, and when I would squeal, she would constantly tell me "beauty knows no pain". In other words, "if you want your hair to look nice, you have to put up with me pulling it a little bit". Of course I didn't agree at the time because it wasn't her head being yanked or hair pulled.

The thing is, we may have to go through some unpleasant ordeals to get to the pleasant ones. God doesn't make us go through trials just for fun. He has a reason for every thing we go through. Just like leading the Israelites around the desert for 40 years. I learned in a Bible study, that truth be told, from where the Israelites were located it would not have taken them long at all to get to the "Promised Land" if they had been faithful, and done what they were supposed to do. God was teaching them. He didn't feel they were ready. Even at that, having them walk through the desert all that time, they never ran out of food, they never wore out their clothes or shoes. We sure can't say that today. I go through shoes and clothes pretty fast. So, even though He was displeased with them at the time, He still provided for them.

The next time you are going through a trial, or having hard times, I hope you
remember this post. Remember that even though you may have to go through some problems be they physical, emotion, or anything else, God is with you. He wants to help you, just ask Him. We go through things for so many different reasons, sometimes it's to increase our faith, other times it to help us learn a lesson, other times it's even to help someone else learn a lesson. If we will remember to trust God no matter what the circumstances are, our trial or problem won't seem near as bad, big or painful. We will always come away from it happier, healthier and stronger (even if it doesn't seem like it at the time). We must also remember that God's timing is not our timing.

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A POINT OF INTEREST
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I read something interesting in my reference Bible while looking at Zephaniah that I thought my "friends" over in Africa and Ethiopia may be interested in. It is titled "Beyond the Rivers of Ethiopia"

Christians of African descent may be interested in Zephaniah's prophecy that the Lord would restore His "dispersed ones" from "beyond the rivers of Ethiopia" (3;10). This was a remarkable promise, given the map of the world in Zephaniah's day.

As far as we know, Ethiopia represented the southwestern limits of Judah's knowledge of the world. The interior of Africa, "beyond the rivers of Ethiopia," was literally "off the map" for the ancient Israelites. It was uncharted territory for them.

To what, then was Zephaniah referring? The context shows that he was anticipating the day when the Lord would bring people from the ends of the earth to form a holy people who would worship and serve Him with true hearts (3:9, 12, 13). Among them would be people from "beyond the rivers of Ethiopia."

The prophet called this new people "the daughter of My dispersed ones" (3:10) and "the remnant of Israel" (3:13). thus Zephaniah's vision seems to tie in with Jeremiah';s predictions of a scattering of the Jews throughout the world, followed by an eventual restoration (Jeremiah 20:10, 11, 18-22, 31:1-40).

Beginning the sixth century, many Jewish colonies were established along the Nile and the Mediterranean coast of Africa. In fact, some have suggested that Zephaniah's prophec
y pertains to the Jewish community in northern Abyssinia. However, the prophecy may look beyond a strictly Jewish restoration. It seems to correspond with a prediction by David that Ethiopians would someday "stretch out [their] hands to God" (Psalm 68:31).

As far as we know, Zephaniah himself had no idea of the vast tribes of people living "beyond the rivers of Ethiopia." but every time one of their descendants turns to faith in Christ, Africa adds one more member to the "peoples [of] a pure language" who are called to serve the Lord "with one accord" (Zephaniah 3:9).

The answers to the Bible Challenge are as follows:
1. b) Philistines ( Deuteronomy 20:17)
2. d) none of the above; after being mortally wounded at Thebez, he ordered his armor bearer to stab him so it couldn't be said that he died by a woman's hand. (Judges 9:52-54)
3. b) the armor was too cumbersome for him (1 Samuel 17:39)
4. True (1 Samuel 17:49)
5. b) sword (17:51)
6. c) Abner (2 Samuel 2-3)
7. d) he killed himself (1 Samuel 31:4)
8. b) it was hung on a wall, then cremated (1 Samuel 31:8-13)
9. c) Abishai ( 1 Samuel 23:18)
10. a) donkeys' heads and doves' dung (2 Kings 6:24-25)

Good Night To All and May God bless!

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