God delights in us. God loves us. It delights God when we talk to Him, love Him back and listen to His best for us. Evil only wants one thing from us—death. Evil is our enemy who works among people of all kinds. Some people are easily manipulated to be on his side of destructive living that leads to death. Some were once believers who trusted God but are enticed by the evil’s claim that we somehow deserved more than what God was giving to us.
The evil one lies to get what he wants—souls that turn from God to death. Two forces at work. Evil is aggressively on the move to turn souls against God and to him so they can be used and abused with lies, deception, smoke and mirrors, until these poor souls without a clue or cause follow him right into the fire of agony forever.
“Sewer City” is a good name for evil. Sewers are underground, something nasty that we would rather not see. That’s why sewer systems are hidden from view. Hidden—until it begins to overfill in its hidden place, the smell becoming so atrocious that is too much to control. Something needs to be done about it before the nasty gets into our good water that gives life. Mm.
God turns life around. God is the author and finisher of the “turnaround.”
Zephaniah 3, The Message
1-5 Doom to the rebellious city,
the home of oppressors—Sewer City!
The city that wouldn’t take advice,
wouldn’t accept correction,
Wouldn’t trust God,
wouldn’t even get close to her own god!
Her very own leaders
are rapacious lions,
Her judges are rapacious timber wolves
out every morning prowling for a fresh kill.
Her prophets are out for what they can get.
They’re opportunists—you can’t trust them.
Her priests desecrate the Sanctuary.
They use God’s law as a weapon to maim and kill souls.
Yet God remains righteous in her midst,
untouched by the evil.
He stays at it, day after day, meting out justice.
At evening he’s still at it, strong as ever.
But evil men and women, without conscience
and without shame, persist in evil.
* * *
6 “So I cut off the godless nations.
I knocked down their defense posts,
Filled her roads with rubble
so no one could get through.
Her cities were bombed-out ruins,
unlivable and unlived in.
7 “I thought, ‘Surely she’ll honor me now,
accept my discipline and correction,
Find a way of escape from the trouble she’s in,
find relief from the punishment I’m bringing.’
But it didn’t faze her. Bright and early
she was up at it again, doing the same old things.
8 “Well, if that’s what you want, stick around.”
“Your day in court is coming,
but remember I’ll be there to bring evidence.
I’ll bring all the nations to the courtroom,
round up all the kingdoms,
And let them feel the brunt of my anger,
my raging wrath.
My zeal is a fire
that will purge and purify the earth.
God Is in Charge at the Center
9-13 “In the end I will turn things around for the people.
I’ll give them a language undistorted, unpolluted,
Words to address God in worship
and, united, to serve me with their shoulders to the wheel.
They’ll come from beyond the Ethiopian rivers,
they’ll come praying—
All my scattered, exiled people
will come home with offerings for worship.
You’ll no longer have to be ashamed
of all those acts of rebellion.
I’ll have gotten rid of your arrogant leaders.
No more pious strutting on my holy hill!
I’ll leave a core of people among you
who are poor in spirit—
What’s left of Israel that’s really Israel.
They’ll make their home in God.
This core holy people
will not do wrong.
They won’t lie,
won’t use words to flatter or seduce.
Content with who they are and where they are,
unanxious, they’ll live at peace.”
* * *
14-15 So sing, Daughter Zion!
Raise your voices, Israel!
be happy! celebrate!
God has reversed his judgments against you
and sent your enemies off chasing their tails.
From now on, God is Israel’s king,
in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
God Is Present Among You
16-17 Jerusalem will be told:
“Don’t be afraid.
Your God is present among you,
a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
and delight you with his songs.
* * *
18-20 “The accumulated sorrows of your exile
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those
who’ve made your life miserable.
I’ll heal the maimed;
I’ll bring home the homeless.
In the very countries where they were hated
they will be venerated.
On Judgment Day
I’ll bring you back home—a great family gathering!
You’ll be famous and honored
all over the world.
You’ll see it with your own eyes—
all those painful partings turned into reunions!”
WHAT DO WE LEARAN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
When all is said and done…
- Who will we believe?
- Who do we trust now?
- We do we listen to and follow in obedience? –No matter what is happening around us?
- Who are we waking up to, getting to know as we talk daily as the One and Only who saves us?
- Who do we depend on to help us in all the details of our lives?
If it is God then we have learned that God delights in the details of our lives, loves us unconditionally, helps us by leading and guiding us by His Spirit in us, and even sings over us with comfort and peace! Zephaniah, God’s man, teaches us:
“Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.”
This is the Turnaround that we all have been waiting for all our lives. Run to Him!
The evil one is the opposite of all that is God. Satan is a liar. Jesus tagged him as the “father of lies.” If we trust and believe, really believe in the salvation Jesus provided by his death and resurrection for us, we have power to run from evil’s lies, manipulations and subsequent hold on us and live free in Christ. We will be free from the judgment that will come to those who do not believe and live do evil to others.
This is the Turnaround God provides for us. But it is up to us to chose this day who we will believe, trust, and obey.
“God surrounds us in the same way the Pacific surrounds an ocean floor pebble. He is everywhere—above, below, on all sides. We choose our response—rock or sponge? Resist or receive? Everything within you says harden the heart. Run from God; resist God; blame God. But be careful. Hard hearts never heal. Spongy ones do. Open every pore of your soul to God’s presence.” –Max Lucado, Encouraging Word Bible
“I will be with you always, even to the end of the age”—Jesus’ promise to us. (Matthew 28:20)
There are not enough words in our language to express my gratitude for how you have turnaround my life and how grateful I am that you did. I love you with all that is in me. I delight myself in You. I trust my life and all the details of life to you. It comforts me to know that you delight in my life’s details. I am forever grateful. I will live gratefully today and always. Thank you for being with us.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen