I’ve got a new job, I’m making miniature bible figures, so far I’ve made a minor prophet!
When I am in heaven and meet Zephaniah I am worried I have to say “Hi there Zeph, so sorry, I never read your book!”
Joking aside there are some amazing bits of the Bible we hardly ever read, want to share a great verse from Zephaniah.
“The Lord your God is with you!”
He is mighty to save.
He will quiet you with his love.
He will take great delight in you.
And rejoice over you with singing”.
The problem many of us have with God is that he feels remote and distant, that idea that God is sitting on a cloud looking down on us from on high, aloof and seperate -other- this maybe the God of Michaelsngelo, the one painted on the celling of the Sistine Chapel, but not the God of the Bible revealed in Jesus.
One of the most popular peoms of all time is that of the footprints, our lives mapped out before us, with our footprints and God’s foot prints side by side, and then we look a little closer and we see in the hardest and toughest parts of our lives with only one set of footprints, and we ask God “why did you abandon me when I needed you the most?” To which God replies that he would never leave us or forsake us, and the times we see one set if footptints was when he carried us.
Sometimes we needed to be remind that God is with us, Immanuel-a name for Jesus- means God with us. The God of all comfort invisibly carrying us, scripture reminds us that underneath it all is God’s everlasting arms of love. Our God never slumber of sleeps, his ear is not deaf to our call or his arm too short to save. The Psalmidt writes “where can I go from your presence if I go to the furthest end of the earth you are there, and if I make my bed in the depths you are there”.
Maybe there is a situation that we need to remind ourselves that God the light of the world is present within?
Yet too often we think of God as impotent and powerless, nice but harmless, and we need to remind ourselves that God is not weak nor powerless but able to intervene and transform people, circumstances and situations.
God does not lack power, when we pray there is no problem to great for God nor too small for him.
God is able to save.
Too often we place our faith or assurance of salvation not in the completed work of God in Christ, but in our own abilities to sin.
I used to have a wonderful boss, Danny Brown, who used to say “there is nothing stronger or more trust worthy than the blood of Jesus” -A challenge not to put our faith in our sin but in the trustworthiness of Christ.
In the back of my ordination stole there is a verse and a dedication to a friend, Samantha Wood, – the Churchwardens Daughter- who died tragically young after quite a while and colourful life, but the night before she died she prayed with her mum, despite the mess and junk, God is able to save. The verse I have embroidered in my stole comes from John 10.27 “No one shall snatch them out of my hand, for they are in my hand and my hand is in the Fathers”. It’s a big of s double whammy, our hand is in Jesus’ and his hand us in the Fathers. It is an image I think of most mornings when I walk my Daughter Hope to school, her tiny hand can’t hold on to mine, I can easily pull away, but her tiny hand inside mine is safe and secure and not going anywhere.
God is mighty to save, and is bigger than anything may face.
Quieting with love is a funny expression, Mike Pilivachi talks of how a friend’s baby started to scream with a truly vile smelling nappy and understood this verse when the Mother scooped up the smelly baby and cuddled it until it have up crying and it’s baby tantrum and be calm calm and went to sleep… despite maybe we feel as if our lives have gone a bit like that babies nappy, perhaps we can let God just hold us until our tears and rage subside, scripture calls him the God of all comfort and he can cope with our anger, pain and frustrations, sometimes when we are hurting and upset we need to let it out and let God quiten us with his love, holding us to him until the rage subsides and peace breaks through. Something of this we see when we read the book or see the film “the shack”. A God who quitens us with his love.
A God who takes great delight in us.
I remember the first time I held my baby daughter in my arms, at that point she had done nothing to earn my love, but I loved her anyway, and would do anything for her. I understood at that moment something new and profound about the unconditional love of God. Looking at her, I understood how God delights in his creation. He looks at us and loves us.
As I delighted in my daughter, at all her facial movements and expressions, I realised that although she will probably do things I don’t like, I can’t ever imagine not loving her.
Let’s just think about that awesome truth of a God who delights in you and me.
According to Mike Pilivachi, the phrase “takes great delight in you” means to spins around like a top whooping with excitement.
It is a crazy picture of extravagant enjoyment of us and our company. It is probably a poor image but when I was courting my wife I would text and then wait and wait (and wait) by the phone for her to text back… and that excitement or rejoicing when she replied I think gives a snapshot of God’s passionate love for us.
The God of heaven actually wants to spend time with you, to be with you, and you with him. God’s heart rejoices over you. He loves you, really loves you. God doesn’t just love the world, no, he SO loved the world, and the world includes you personally.
For my dad, whose been a Vicar since 1984, had this realisation for him, when he heard a sermon preached and he realised that God’s love for the world included and reached out to him and demanded a personal response.
And lastly, God will rejoice over you with singing.
We are so used to thinking of God through the lenses of Victorian respectability that we fail to see a God who is crazy about his creation. In fact the depth, fire and extent of his love for us is seen displayed through the Cross of Christ. God’s love for us is neither calm, cold or tame.
I never understood this verse, it just sounded a bit naff like one of those weird musicals where people burst into song in a way that if you did that in real life you’d be sectioned!
Yet one day I went to a football match and heard the roar of the crowd, the crowd got behind a player and believed in him “there’s only one….” and he scored a goal.
I loved this image of God’s passion for us breaking out into joyous encouragement, reminiscent of Hebrews 11 “surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses”, where heaven itself is cheering us on as we seek to bring glory to Christ.
I just think when I read this verse “wow” so much wonderful encouraging truth, hidden away in the Bible that probably many of us have missed it:
“The Lord your God is with you.
he is mighty to save,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will take great delight in you and rejoice over you with singing”.