The Day of the Lord-The 4th Day of Christmas

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me a look at His judgment and His peace (Zephaniah 1:2-7).

Sunday is also known as the Lord’s Day, the time when Christians focus on God, giving Him their all. This is our day, but God has a day, too, the Day of the Lord, where He gives the world His all—His judgment and to the remnant of Israel His blessing. These are the pictures we see in Zephaniah.

“I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom, those who have turned back from following the LORD, who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him.” Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the LORD is near; the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests.—Zephaniah 1:2-7

The Lord reveals that no man or beast will miss His wrath except for those “the LORD has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated…,” the remnant of Israel. This sacrifice is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His guests are those who accept Him as Savior and Lord (Hebrews 10:12, Matthew 10:6, 15:24). And we know this group is not just the remnant of Israel but anyone who makes such a decision for Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10). We escape God’s ultimate wrath and rest in Him. Zephaniah details God’s presence, power and protection for the remnant (3:17-19), three attributes Jesus has for all believers (Hebrews 13:5b; 1 John 2:14b; and John 10:29).

No one has to endure God’s wrath. Everyone has a chance to receive Him. And those of us who have Jesus as Savior and Lord should make it a priority, especially this advent season, to share with others about Jesus’ presence, power and protection, which is reserved only family. If given the opportunity, make sure to invite them to our family.

For help leading someone to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, read John 3:14-18; Romans 3:23, 6:23, 8:1, 10:9-10 & Ephesians 2:8-9.

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith

Right Now Salvation-The 5th Day of Christmas

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me feet like hinds’ feet (Habakkuk 3:19).

One of the problems I had with Christianity before I became a Christian was when the saints only looked for hope in the “by and by” and not the here and now. They talked so much about heaven and only longed to be there that some of their prayer meetings could have easily been pity party suicide watches. While they talked about their rough lives that Jesus would save them from in the by and by, I wondered when the day might be that they would check out of the here and now to hurry the by and by. Perhaps some of the saints never read Habakkuk 3:18-19:
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God’s Two Sides-The 6th Day of Christmas

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me His peace in the midst of wrath (Nahum 1:2-8).

This world is full of Cumbayah feel good images of God. We cry out to Him and He will be there to fix what ails us, whether we belong to Him or not, whether we are righteous or unrighteous. We expect God to be there because He is a loving God. Yes, He is a loving God. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) and “God is love” (1 John 4:8) tell us this, but when we have an imbalanced view we forget the other side to God.

God [is] jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and [is] furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth [wrath] for his enemies. The LORD [is] slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit [the wicked]: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds [are] the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. . . .But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies (Nahum 1:2-6, 8).

We see a picture of God who has a right to expect us to be loyal to Him and to avenge the hatred from His enemies. He is a just God. One of God’s characteristics is righteousness. Anytime God displays wrath is an act of justice. He is never violent for violence sake, striking out of pure evil. This picture in Nahum is a horrific image of the other side of God, one we see in the attributes of Jesus, but it’s never one that we see right away.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God doesn’t want anyone to spend eternity without Him nor does He want us to walk unrighteously after accepting Him as our very own. So he waits and waits and waits, giving us a chance to walk in His way. Even in the midst of His fury, like what we see in Nahum, He sees us who continue to walk after righteousness. Verse 7 says: “The LORD [is] good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” This is our God of two sides—equally loving and equally just, but His love doesn’t cancel his justice, and we should never make the mistake and thinking that it does (Galatians 6:7-8). And always remember when His wrath comes, we can be spared in the midst of it.

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith

Hope in Small Beginnings-The 7th Day of Christmas

My girl Carla hooked me up on Sunday. She didn’t know that I’d missed church to nurse the two little ones who had colds. She didn’t know that I had tried to go to her church’s live webcast but the connection wasn’t working. She didn’t know that I had missed hearing a sermon and tried to hear her pastor’s sermon, but she knows and listens to the Holy Ghost. She called me on her way home from church so she could drop off Sunday morning’s message to me. She said she thought of got me as Bishop Ben Gibert of Detroit World Outreach in “The Necessity of Hope” told his congregation not to despise small beginnings because greatness usually starts out as a baby, just like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).

This is the major prophecy we see in Micah that announces to the world 700 years before Jesus comes to earth that He would come and where he would be born.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2).

Bishop Gibert reminded people that Jesus wasn’t born doing miracles and prophesying but lay in a manger; no place greater was available to Him. And this is the same with us and is what Carla wanted me to remember: That just because my ministry now occurs in my home through telephone and couch conversations and writing on my laptop on the dining room table, I must remember the prophecy given of greater things. Whatever God has given you may start in Bethlehem, the smallest town of the tribe of Judah, but, like Jesus, is destined for greater things, if that’s what God has told you. We must have hope.

“You got to have your hope in God and you got to have some hope,” Bishop Gibert said. “You got to have a picture of better, not just because it sustains you when things are bad, but when something good is coming you have an expectation that will allow you to notice even a small manifestation when it comes.” And I will remember this word, every time my opportunities don’t seem to happen when I think they should. And I want you to remember this word, every time opportunities don’t happen the way you think they should. We cannot despise small beginnings, especially when our destiny has always been wrapped up in something great (Ephesians 2:10).

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith

The Stench of Salvation-The 8th Day of Christmas

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me an offer to repent after day three (Jonah 1:17 & 3).

Imagine the stench of acid-drenched, four-day old garbage. This is likely the scent Jonah wore after traveling a day’s journey to Nineveh to tell the people to repent of their sins. It seems like his smell would have repelled the people, caused them to reject Jonah’s message. But it was the miracle of his survival, his staying deep in the belly of the fish (with his scent as evidence of his being vomited out after a three-day, three-night stay) that probably caused their swift turn. Perhaps this mess, brought about through this type of death, this going down in the fish, this dying to himself so God could shine through him, is what made Nineveh change so quickly. And we, like Nineveh, had a chance at forgiveness, because of the death of Jesus Christ, who was buried deep in the earth and rose again on the third day so sinners could repent of their sin.

But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.—Matthew 12:39-41.

Nineveh repented after Jonah’s survival of what would otherwise have been a sure death without God’s hand upon his life. We repented because Jesus conquered death, arising from the grave by the power of God’s Spirit (Romans 8:11). This three-day, three-night sign of the supernatural made us believers and challenges us to die so others might be believers too. Like Jonah and Jesus, we must die so others can live. We must die to our agendas and pride, die to self-serving principles and tell others of Jesus’ healing through salvation and our continuing sanctification yet with the stench of our deaths still upon us. These are the stories, with their smells, that cause others to stop and listen to the message that Jesus saves and changes even the most rebellious among us. And his saving and changing give Him great pleasure (Jonah 3:10 and 1 Corinthians 1:21).

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith