PERHAPS Zephaniah 2: 1-3

Always ruffles my feathers when preachers promise more than they can produce.  Wild assurances way beyond what God’s Word teaches.  Know what I mean?  I try to stick with the Bible, plain and simple.  Keeping within its boundaries.  That should be enough, shouldn’t it?

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I’ve seen the differences He’s made in my life… and for others.  Creating new people.  But let’s not get carried away.  For then I’d have to do a good cover-up job.  Make myself look  better than I am.  Being careful what I disclose, not allowing others to get too close.  The cover-up becomes a snow job.

That’s where Scripture is helpful.  Honest, but never to a fault.  Transparent, even showing scars and welts.  Some may think that being a Christian exempts them from life’s inevitable troubles.  Or overconfident and cocky as if God will only bless us now that we’re on His team.  Receiving special treatment, guaranteeing all His goodies.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Not going to happen.

Of course, the Lord blesses us.  In more ways than we realize.  But Jesus alerts us– ‘In this world you will have trouble’ (John 16:33).  We will?  St. Paul gives an almost endless list of hardships he endures from following Jesus (1 Cor. 6:3ff).  Not all candy and roses.  What about the persecuted church today?  They know about punishing times.  I haven’t the foggiest.  Not even a clue.

Why reference Zephaniah, this obscure Old Testament prophet?  Well, he’s from God with a word we need to hear.  Zephaniah warns ancient Israel about judgement to come.  The Day of the Lord with accompanying destruction due to unrelenting sin by people who should have known better and acted accordingly.

However, glimmers of hope flicker in Zephaniah 2: 3–‘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’.

Seek the Lord.  Come to Him.  Humble yourself.  Sit at His feet.  Obey Him.  And then what?  ‘…perhaps…’

Perhaps… you’ll be sheltered and survive.  Perhaps.  No money-back guarantees.  No false promises.  No 10-year drivetrain warranties, either.  Life may not always work out as we want it to.  Perhaps… it doesn’t.  Then what?  Here’s where God’s promises overrule any of this perhaps-business.

They may kill the body, but the soul is secure with the Lord!  May lose it here, but never there.  His promise.  Good enough?  Is for me.  All we’ll ever need.  His Word.  Even facing all of life’s uncertainties?  Yes!  Especially there.

Thank you, Lord, for confidence in Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.




Prayer too often happens in dire emergencies.  When all else fails.  As if prayer only effective when I’m not.  Hardly what the Bible teaches.  Just look at Peter’s first letter, chapter 4.

This premier apostle of Jesus writes from Rome.  Reminds believers that if Jesus suffered, guess what?  Right!  Verse 3 grabs hold of me, where he mentions their past lives.  None puritans.  Not any of them.  Nor lily-white Sunday School teachers.

They’ve lived like the devil in times past.  They’ve wasted too much time walking earth’s back alleys as pagans–drunks, perverts, worshippers of other gods.  Wasteful and wasted.

I don’t like to remember my own squandered times, when I could have been ministering dependably for my Lord.  Those who rarely heard from my lips an invitation to receive Jesus.  Churches who had a pastor not in best stead with his Master.  Times wasted.  Frittered away.

Only me?  You’re not off the hook.  Used every opening God has given you for witness?  Always did what He asked of you?  Have you?  Honestly?  Scout’s honor!

Peter in no way wants us live in the past.  Time to move on.  The clock keeps ticking.  1 Peter 4: 7–‘The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray’.   We’re edging ever closer to the end.  One day nearer than the last.

So, clear up your mind.  Determine to live a godly lifestyle.  Why?  To unlock the world of prayer.

Opens a window to God’s heart.  A door to Jesus’ will.  A gate wide open, ushering us directly into the Lord’s heavenly palace.  Again, so ‘…that we can pray’.

When Jesus motivates us, we want more and more prayer in our lives.  Not only for dire emergencies.  No.  Always.

Thank you, Lord, for hearing us as we pray.  All for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.


HELP! 2 Corinthians 1: 3-11

Sometimes I don’t know how to help others.  Maybe I’ll just make things worse.  Develop a co-dependent relationship (whatever that means).  Bullying,  gaining control, weakening the resolve of whoever I want to help.  Again, will I make a big mess even bigger?

The Corinthian believers must have wondered how in the world they could ever assist a spiritual giant such as the Apostle Paul.  Surely, he needs nothing from them.  And that’s probably what they feel they have to offer–a big, fat zilch!  Not so, Paul says.  Help is on the way.  Even from a puny believer like me.  And you.

For in our hearts we know how much we’d like to help.  To make a difference.  Doing what the Lord wants us to do.  Nothing less and lots more…to help!  But how?  Toss a few dollars at someone’s problems?  Sometimes, yes; most times, no.

What help does the Apostle Paul ask for?  2 Corinthians 1: 10-11–‘On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.’

On whom or what does our hope rest?  God, of course.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The same God who delivers us from whatever troubles we find ourselves in.

How can we help?  You know.  Prayer.  From lots of believers.  All without any unexpected, unpleasant, toxic side-effects.  No messing up what should have been left alone.  None of that.  All good.  All free.  All releasing God’s will in His way in His time.

By asking Him.  Through interceding.  Coming to our Lord, sitting at His feet, who’s so ready and able to hear us, sending the right answer at the right time in the right way.

Do I know what or when that is?  Yeah, right!  I only wish!  But we know who does.  So, let’s commit to pray more.  The best help that’s just out of this world.  Do it!  Pray…

Lord, we come to you asking your help for others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.



NO SHILLY-SHALLYING! 2 Corinthians 1: 17-22

Could the Apostle Paul be any clearer?  More forthright and definite?  I don’t think so.  He puts it all on the line here in 2 Corinthians 1.  When Jesus says ‘Yes’ to us, that’s it.  Settled.  Promises kept.  No doubt about it.

Possibly you’re wondering if the Lord is still there for you.  Or if He’s relocated off-sight, leaving you stranded and alone.  Feeling that way?  You’re not flying solo.  Count me as a fellow traveler who sometimes wonders as he wanders.

Reading 2 Corinthians 1: 20, I hear whispered in my ear and then shouted from the rooftops–“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.  And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God”.

Our pleas for God’s help always receive a ‘Yes’ in Jesus.  The details of His answers to prayer are always in His hands.  We may have little or no clue.  But He does.  Yes!  From our lips to His ears comes the ‘Amen’.  Yes, Lord!  So be it.  We agree.  And we’re grateful.  Amen!

So why the waffling?  Our uncertainties and questions?  Paul says it’s all taken care of…by Christ.  No fudging needed.  No hemming-and-hawing.  No this-or-that.  Indecisive and tentative.  Straddling a wobbly fence.  Humpty-Dumpty falling once again.  Wishy-washy, blowing hot-and-cold.  Iffy.  Shilly-shallying around on one foot and then the next.  You get the point!  Why not accept the Lord’s gift of certainty?  He gives us His Word.  Yes!  Amen!

What?  There’s more?  Paul says this–‘He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (v.21-22).  His seal.  Deposit made.  Guarantees given.  By God Himself, the Holy Spirit.

Now do you get it?  I’m starting to.  That’s progress.  Even for me.

Thank you, Jesus, for promises made and always kept.  Yes, Jesus.   And Amen.