â€œFor the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals;
you will be disgraced no more.
And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you.
I will save the weak and helpless ones;
I will bring together those who were chased away.
I will give glory and fame to my former exiles,
wherever they have been mocked and shamed.
On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again.
I will give you a good name, a name of distinction,
among all the nations of the earth,
as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes.
I, the Lord, have spoken!â€ Â Â Â Zephaniah 3:17-20 (NLT, my emphasis)
Lectionary texts: 3rd Sunday in Advent â€“ Zephaniah 3:14-20, Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18
The Lectionary texts continue to bring our eyes on what promises we should believe and live in the reality of that truth. I have heard those who believe the ‘prosperity gospel’ quote some of these texts as proving that God intends for us to be blessed in this life with abundance. Dear ones, this is not the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus promised. This is pale by comparison! Let’s look at the texts.
Zephaniah. Zephaniah is written so beautifully. Its words flow like a brook down a pebbled bed. God is going to do all this saving, giving, loving, gathering and restoring. He will calm my fears about circumstances of this world. If I mourn (cry, grieve) because I cannot participate in festivals (holidays) because I have no money for offerings (gifts), God will draw me close to Him and I will no longer feel sad and disgraced. He will show me the eternal gifts that I leave behind in those I love that will never rust or decay. God Himself sings and dances with joy over my life when I see with His eyes. WOW. Let me just stop here and take some time to receive that!
Isaiah. God’s anger has been assuaged (it no longer exists) by Jesus my Savior. I now have a relationship that is about love and comfort. Let me thank Him and tell others what God has done and will do. May my words and my life magnify the LORD to others, just as Jesus showed me.
Philippians. Rejoice and do not be anxious for anything but lay it all out before Jesus and He will give me peace. Notice it doesn’t say He will give me what I ask for but that He will respond and it will be with the best. And those things that are best is what I am to focus on. Look and listen to Jesus! Was He concerned about having a home or wondered where His next meal would come? Oh, this is simple but not easy!
Luke. John tells me that if I have truly repented (turned away from my old sin) then my life will produce fruit that reflects the new direction I am walking in. And John shows me how to always, always turn the eyes of anyone, who may think they should follow me, back to the One I am not worthy to even tie His shoes!
Let us praise our LORD this week and receive the abundance that He desires to give us.
O Come All Ye Faithful by John Francis Wade (1751) and sung by Casting Crowns