Zephaniah 3:14-20 (EXB)
14 Sing [or Shout joyfully], Jerusalem. Israel, shout for joy [out]! Jerusalem [Daughter Jerusalem], be happy and rejoice with all your heart. 15 The Lord has stopped punishing you [taken away your judgments]; he has sent [swept; cleared; turned] your enemies away. The King of Israel, the Lord, is with you; you will never again be afraid of being harmed [disaster; evil]. 16 On that day Jerusalem will be told, “Don’t be afraid, city of Jerusalem [ Zion; the location of the Temple]. Don’t give up [let your hands grow weak/hang limp]. 17 The Lord your God is with you[in your midst]; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you [take delight in you]. You will rest [or He will quiet you; or He won’t rebuke you] in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.” 18 “I will take away the sadness planned for you [or over the loss of your appointed festivals], which would have made you very ashamed. 19 At that time I will punish [ deal with] all those who harmed[oppressed] you. I will save my people who cannot walk [rescue the lame] and gather my people who have been thrown out [the scattered; perhaps shepherd imagery]. I will give them praise and honor [fame; renown] in every place where they were shamed. 20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you back home [gather you]. I will give you honor [fame; renown] and praise from people everywhere[among all the peoples/nations of the earth] when I make things go well again for you [restore your fortunes; or return your exiles], as you will see with your own[ before your] eyes,” says the Lord.
People have their own unique thinking, feeling, emotion, free will, speech and so on. These things are used for our perspective. How will I view the world? With what method will I live my life? As we live our lives, we may encounter unexpected circumstances or situations and we may not be able to properly handle it in that moment. Some circumstances and situations may be good and some will not. Although circumstances and situations may be sudden, we may or we may not be prepared to face them. When events occur, how do I perceive them? This is perspective. Actually, there is power in perspective. There is a certain level in a person’s perspective. When an incident occurs in our lives, how do we view it? If God allows a certain event to occur in this world this year, we must think and ask, ‘Why would God allow this?’ If something occurs in your church, you must think and ask, ‘Why did this occur in my church?’ If you are a person with a certain sickness, you must think and ask this way, ‘Why do I have this type of sickness?’ If you are a person living in a country having frequent earthquakes, think and ask this way, ‘Why are there so many earthquakes in my country?’
Christians who believe in Jesus must possess spiritual perspective and not common perspective as nonbelievers possess. There is a difference in the level of perspective between the worldly people and Christians. We must possess a different perspective. If you are praying earnestly and zealously and are in spiritually good condition with strong faith, your level of spiritual perspective will soar. If your prayer lives become weak then you will become spiritually weak falling into a slump. You will lose your faith and spirituality. What is the next consequence? You will easily be tempted, tested and offended. Then there is a chance that you will leave the Lord.
In the summertime when a typhoon or storm occurs, it will stir up the ocean from the inside out. There is a condition called green tide phenomenon and a red tide phenomenon. When the green tide phenomenon occurs, the color of the ocean becomes green. When red tide phenomenon occurs, the color of the ocean becomes red. When this phenomenon occurs, this would mean that something is wrong in the ocean. Therefore, when a typhoon or storm hits the ocean and shakes it from the inside out, the red or green tide phenomenon will disappear. When a typhoon or storm hits the sea, much oxygen will be created within the ocean. The bottom of the ocean will become very clean but at the same time, many things will be destroyed on the land.
God shakes the countries with different methods.
Matthew 7:24-27 (EXB) 24 “Everyone who hears my words and obeys [acts on; practices] them is like a wise [sensible] man who built his house on rock. 25 It rained hard, the floods came [rivers rose], and the winds blew and hit [beat; slammed against] that house. But it did not fall [collapse], because it was built on rock. 26 Everyone who hears my words and does not obey [act on; practice] them is like a foolish [stupid] man who built his house on sand. 27 It rained hard, the floods came [rivers rose], and the winds blew and hit [beat; slammed against] that house, and it fell [collapsed] with a big crash.”
Satan always tries to bargain with God. For example, Job’s family, wealth, honor, reputation became the object of bargaining. Sometimes, depending on certain seasons and time, the lives of people can become the object of bargaining. Even believers can become the object of bargaining and the case of Job proves this. When our faith becomes real and alive, satan will come and begin to shake us. When some incidents occur in our country, we need to think what is the relationship to us. If we are able to think and see, we will develop spiritual perspective. We need to know the relationship in all the incidents. We need to develop spiritual perspective. This way we will know that God is allowing and handling it. These days, God shakes the world even more often and with this, many false prophets appear. Please be very careful of the false prophets. In some countries and areas, God judges with earthquakes, storms, floods, and plagues.
Satan continuously tries to stir up and drag out the people of prayer. I have trained many women and men to become fire ministers and servants of prayer. But many of them have left. They turned in one moment! I am not trying to slander them but as I witness their lives after they have left our church, their lives rapidly become bad. My heart aches greatly for them. My heart aches because they have failed to pass their tests. Many of them had come so far but then fallen away! This aches my heart! We must become very alert and awaken!
God said, “Don’t give up [let your hands grow weak/hang limp]” The people of God must not let their hands grow weak/hang limp. We must not stop praying! Raise your hands towards the Lord! Raise them towards the heavens! We need to passionately cry out in prayer. We must pray raising our hands and shouting out to the Lord thinking how can we love the Lord even more! We must always maintain and lit up our passion. People must believe properly in order to go to heaven. But there is not many who properly believes. Even though we are first destined to heaven but as time passes, salvation becomes unstable. God prepares amazing blessings for us. Things are theoretically right, but the reality is not right or lining up. Whose responsibility is it then? Many Christians believe that once you are saved you will always be saved. These Christians confess this with their lips all the time. But in reality, their lives are messed up. Apostle Paul clearly warned to the Galatians and the Corinthian churches that such people who do such things will not enter into the kingdom of God. He wrote about the fruit of spirit and of the flesh.
We must all reverentially fear God because even if we receive the Holy Spirit and are able to visit heaven and hell and become a holy people of God, we all still are able to become corrupted. The possibility of becoming corrupted is written in the bible. Do not guarantee your salvation. Yes, you need to have the assurance of salvation but guaranteeing involves pride. No matter how much you have served, have faith, lived a self sacrificial life, and have been devoted, if pride is involved, you will possibly become corrupted. God is warning us. Pride comes first before a fall. It is a very dangerous thing If going to heaven and hell and encountering the Lord becomes our pride. If you believe that salvation cannot be cancelled, you must become very humble, head towards perfection, manifest the Lord and love others. It is not about the talk. You don’t just talk about how good you can believe. You must bear good fruit in your daily lives. Even if you have served all your life and when you meet the Lord at the judgement seat, what if He said, “I do not know you!” You will be thrown into the darkness gnashing your teeth. The work done by this person was not approved by God.
The Bible also discusses the possibility of not entering heaven. Even if you have built a beautiful house but if it was built on sand and when it rained hard as the “floods come [rivers rose], and the winds blew and hit [beat; slammed against] that house, and it fell [collapsed] with a big crash.” And there will be a time when God will winnow with the Holy Spirit and holy fire. If the work is all crashed and burned, they will be proved to be fake or false. There are more scary things in these last days. In fact, it is very difficult to discern the counterfeit and the real. If we were able to distinguish and see what was really fake and real, then we can rapidly fix it. In the realm of the gospel, the counterfeit can become real, and really can become counterfeit. The people who have received the Holy Spirit can become corrupted and on the other hand, the corrupted person can be restored if the person properly repents. This is the realm of the gospel.
Our salvation can be related to our thinking, our heart, the expression of our words and our action. Salvation has two sides. From the outside, salvation can appear easy, but from the inside, the content of it is very difficult. This is a scary thing. When it comes to salvation, there is an outer appearance and an inside which we need to fill. The people who just begin to believe Jesus and confess that they believe in Jesus as their Lord, they need the assurance of salvation and get fixed. This is the outer appearance of salvation. But the people like you and I, we have heard about salvation many times. Now, since we have been believing the Lord for a while, we need to fill the inside. We need to move toward the content and the perfection of salvation. Yes, we are saved only by our faith, but when it comes to the content of faith and salvation, the Lord measures with a difficult/high standard. Why does the Lord handle in such a way? Because there is a chance we may go astray and become hypocrites. We need to bear good fruit in our daily lives. Believers like you and I, we need to move toward completion salvation with all our strength and being. Our confession should be, “Lord, please forgive my sins. I have not done anything with my own strength.” You must always maintain the state of humility.
We cannot say, “You are cursed”, “You are saved”, “You are corrupted”, from only one incident.
The realm of the gospel has a process. When we stand before God, HE will ask us, “What kind of life had you lived? What did you do in your life, and what kind of work have you carried out during your life?” The most important question God will ask is “Were you seized by My grace? Did you cling to My grace?”
The content of the book of Zephaniah is about God shaking the nations. When God shakes the nation or us individually, the people learn to fear the Lord. Then they will fix their ways and become transformed. We will be cleansed in this way. Sometimes, we may be doing something right and thinking that it is going well but if the side effect or aftereffect occurs suddenly right before us, it could be too late for us control or settle the situation. So before we do something, we must do it with humility. When you encounter or handle any people, do it with humility as you act softly, gently and gracefully as you care for them.
When Satan destroys or attacks, it is all allowed by God. Our lives are subject of bargaining with Satan. Please be alert and awakened. When the Israelites began to give up and their hands grew weak, their spiritual power began to diminish. It is the same when people do not want to pray, do not want to come to church or do not feel the grace of God. There were too many idol worship rituals occurring in Jerusalem. This place was suppose to be holy and pure but had become filth. This place now had no value to God. The Israelites were sinning and depending on their own strength. One of the reasons why people sin is because they believe in their own strength and overestimate themselves. The chosen people of Israel became like the people of Canaan. Jerusalem became the city of disobedient, filth, and immoral. This manifested within their lives. They became flesh and violent. When your inside becomes filthy, it will manifest to the outside. But yes, some people can disguise their outer appearance and action even though their inside may be filthy. Why live disobediently? It is because if they obey and live according to the word of God, they will lose some things within their lives. It will feel like they are disadvantaged. When we humble and act with humility, it may feel like we are not benefiting. We tend to be concerned about our benefits and seek our own greed. The people do not get close to the Word of God. They are far from God and do not come kneeling before God. We need to come close to God so we may obtain the chance to repent. Only when we come to the Lord and pray, we will obtain the chance to repent. But many do not pray.
When the Israelites began to become one with the other nations, God comes to crush the other nations and also His people. In the scriptures, God said, “I am in the midst of you. I am the almighty who grants you salvation.” When we come to church, fervently pray, holy dance and please Him, God will be very joyful. When I met God face to face, He said, “You are very unique. You look very unique.” God Himself created me and He was telling me that I look unique. We are God’s masterpiece. God is in the midst of us.
We all have some kind of difficulty. Do not just experience and cling to difficulty without doing anything. You must give it to God and make it as though it is God’s. We need to cling to God and pray, “God, it is very difficult, I need your help. Please give me strength.”
Then God will respond in such a way, “Your difficulty is Mine as well. Your battle is My battle.”
Make your battle with God’s battle! Because our strength will not make it! God makes us to exam our faith through our difficulties. We must completely entrust all things and difficulties to God. When an incident occurs, we need to possess the spiritual perspective. It is very important how we think in such a situation with the spiritual perspective. If we do not come to our senses and awaken, God will say, “You still do not get it, and you still have not come to your senses. I will force you to pray!”
God will create harsh situations to make us pray a lot. When you come to God, when you kneel down before Him and pray with all your heart, you will move His heart.
You do not know when God will come and work for you. Even a word comes from your pastor, do your best to carry it out and obey. One thing I am always being alerted and have reverential fear. It is when God impresses me or tells me to do something but if I ignore it whether I knew it or not, the blessing that supposed to comes with it will go to someone else. It could be the blessing of tremendous power.
God loves us so much that the above scripture said that God rejoices over you and He will sing and be joyful about you. The Lord waves His hand and tells us to come quickly before Him. When I went to Father God’s throne, He was stomping His feet as HE sang a song. When we were singing and worshipping on the earth, Father was also singing with us as His upper body moved side to side. If you properly serve and obey God, He will give you a piggyback. Father God sings with us and He will lower Himself to our level to encounter us so that we can understand Him. When I met Father God I was fearful to see His face because I thought I was going to die. But when I looked at Him, I did not die.
Father God said, “I am Jehovah. See, I told you. You did not die, did you?”
I said, “No, I did not…Now, what should I do?”
Father said, “What do you mean by what you should do? I said I am your God, Jehovah”
Our God is so good. You must add double power from your perspective so that you will not be shaken when the test comes.
Sermon by Pastor Kim, Yong Doo
Head pastor of the Lord’s Church, Korea
Author of Baptize by Blazing Fire book series
Translated by Pastor Steve & Yoojin Kim
Pastors of Fire of God Church in San Francisco (Fremont)
Fire of God Church is a branch church of the Lord’s Church, Korea and is under the spiritual covering of head Pastor Kim, Yong Doo