God Is Mighty

God Is... June 2, 2024 Zephaniah 3:14-20 Notes


Do you feel out of control today? Are you immobilized by some fear, perhaps of some confrontation or some difficult step? Do you wish you were strong enough to face it? What if you had the might to control time and matter? That’s the joy of today’s message. We can know God who is mighty in the ultimate kind of way.

In the book of Zephaniah, the prophet told the people of God that they could know God is mighty by recognizing His powerful deeds. We too can know that God is mighty by recognizing His powerful deeds.

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Transcript

God is mighty. We, as humankind, really like the idea of might, of having great power or strength. And if you look at the past, like, twelve or so years, it's what's made Marvel and DC into the money makers that they are, because we like to witness the mighty. And in fact, what do the Avengers call themselves? Earth's mightiest heroes.

We get amped up in that scene where Captain America finally picks up Thor's hammer, and we're like, yeah, I knew he was worthy, you know, and he throws it. Or when he tells Hulk to, hulk smash. And then Hulk just wreaks havoc on the enemy. We like to see their might on display. So what is our infatuation with superheroes?

Well, you know, I think a lot of us, if we're honest, you kind of, even if you just barely like superheroes, you can at least name one that you're like, all right, I kind of like that one. And the reason why you like them is because there's something about them that maybe either you identify with, or there's something about them that you long to be. And there's something that's just wired into us that yearns to behold something mighty. And even beyond that, to be something mighty. You want to have a fun warm up question at community group one week?

Ask your people, what if they had to pick one superpower? What would it be? And I've actually asked this question at my group before, and you'd be surprised some of the answers you get. You know, you'll get the classic, like, I want to be able to fly. I want to be the strongest person.

But you might also get somebody to say, I want to be able to eat anything I want and still have ripped abs. I've actually heard somebody say that answer before. That would be their superpower. You know, watching superheroes and contemplating what we would do if we had superheroes is fun. But if we're honest with ourselves, then we know that there's a kind of might that we lack and that we cannot attain, though we may long for it.

All forms of might. You think about them, they allow us to do something physically, mentally, emotionally. Might grants us a level of control. But ultimate might would be to control everything, not just in oneself, but also everything outside of oneself. To be able to control time and weather and seasons, to be able to control even life and death.

That would be ultimate might. And some of us this morning are in a state of suffering from your past. Maybe you're dealing with a suffering of difficulty that you brought in with you. Today. And maybe you're anxious about what's getting ready to happen tomorrow or in the distant future.

None of us, the truth is, have control over those things outside of us. In fact, when I speak to the person who's anxious about tomorrow, what causes anxiety? It's the desire to control something that you simply can't. And because you can't control that thing, you're anxious. You know what you really are longing for?

You're longing for might. But it's a might that is beyond your reach. So do you feel out of control today? Are you immobilized by some fear of the future? Do you feel like you're not strong enough to face what's coming before you?

Wishing that you had the might to control the past, the present, and the future? And maybe that's why we. Why superheroes have gotten so popular is it's a brief escape from our surroundings. Well, that's the joy of today's message. See, we've got a book that's better than any comic book and that it gives us a pathway to knowing God.

And by knowing God who is mighty, he is mightier than any hero that we can fathom. We can actually not just behold, but also experience his might. See, studying the Bible takes us so much further than just reading a story about God. Studying it gives us the opportunity to know God personally and to witness his mighty deeds and to see his work in and through you, to see the stories come up off the page and for you to actually be written into a great and mighty story that he's telling. See, today we will learn how to know and experience that God is mighty, allowing us to not only behold his might, but to become a vessel of his might.

My question to you, friends, based on what we have just heard, are you ready to know more about our mighty God? Are you? Are you ready to know more about our mighty God?

Well, then we're going to be turning to the book of Zephaniah today. Zephaniah, that's not one you turn to every day. Right? And in that book, the prophet Zephaniah told the people of God that they could know God is mighty by recognizing his powerful deeds. And we, too, can know and recognize that God is mighty, given us the opportunity to see and experience his might.

And as we look at the text, we'll see three ways that we can know that God is mighty. So if you would turn with me to the book of Zephaniah, chapter three, and doing something just a little different this morning, let's stand to our feet as we read this part of the word. And in Zephaniah, chapter three, those of you who have a physical bible with you, just FYI, it's toward the end of the Old Testament. It's in what we call the minor prophets. And there's.

Zephaniah is only a three, chapter one, man. It's like in this Bible, I think it's two pages, so you got to be on it also. Right there. Zephaniah, chapter three, verse 14. It says this.

Sing aloud, o daughter of Zion. Shout, o Israel. Rejoice and exult with all your heart, o daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord has taken away the judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies.

The king of Israel, the Lord is in your midst. You shall never again fear evil. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem, fear not, o zion. Let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save.

He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with his. He will exalt over you with loud singing. I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that last, at that time, I will deal with all your oppressors, and I will save the lame and gather the outcasts, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.

At that time, I will gather you in at the time when I gather you together, for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord. And may God bless the reading of his word. Amen. You can have a seat again.

So we said earlier three ways that we can know that God is mighty. First way that we can know our God is mighty is by recognizing that he has taken away our sin. He has taken away our sin. So we're kind of, this passage kind of walks us through this. We're going to talk about something he has done, something he is doing, and something he will do here, talking about what he has done.

And it does us a favor to go ahead and address in the middle of the passage in verse 17 where he's called the mighty one. Let's go ahead and just talk about that, because that's our key word today. This word mighty in the Hebrew is the word gibbor, which is loaded. It means warrior, champion, hero, chief. It can mean a giant, that they are strong.

And I love this commentary here from Bailey. It says, often translated, hero, or warrior. It is used most frequently with military activities to describe one who has already distinguished himself by performing heroic deeds. So here, the divine warrior has declared peace. So when we call him mighty, that's giving you the idea of this is what we're talking about.

He's not self. He's not just self declared mighty. We see that he's mighty because of what he's already done. And so because of what he's already done, it gives us confidence to trust that if he says he'll do it, he could do it again and believe that he would do it again. Does that make sense?

So it's important that we first of all understand what that word itself means. And then when you look at verse 14, Zephaniah, there's four things it says to do right here. Sing, shout, rejoice and exalt. Now, if you study the passage closely, you'll see that verses 16 through 20 are actually in quotations. And the reason for that is Zephaniah is actually quoting what God is speaking through him.

Here in verses 14 and 15, Zephaniah is speaking for himself as his response to the might of God and to what God has done is doing and will do. He says, this is what we've got to do. Our response to God's might ought to be worship. When we understand who he is, what he has done, and what he will do, we should have this exuberant gratitude within us. What do we do when our favorite team scores?

When we're watching our favorite team, maybe they score a touchdown. We're watching football. What's the first thing we do when they score? Cheer. Yeah.

And did somebody have to teach you that? Oh, hey, when your team scores, you need to go crazy, stand up and make a fool of yourself. No, it just is instinctive when our team scores. And maybe it was a nail biter, you go, whoa. And you stand to your feet, and then you're like, oh, wow.

That was a response I didn't mean to do. I'm kind of a quiet person. All right, I'm gonna sit back down now, you know, because you witnessed something that was incredible. You witnessed something that was mighty. And so that is our instinctive way to respond to it.

Here, Zephaniah here is saying, follow that instinct. When you witness the might of God. Sing, shout and rejoice and exalt. And I would even challenge us this morning that we just finished, you know, a few songs of worship. We have the sermon right now, and then there's gonna be a few songs at the end that if you have not yet sung a word, if you've not yet rejoiced in your heart, you've not yet maybe shouted out loud, then you have every opportunity between now and the end of the service.

And guess what? This right here is also worship us, hearing the word of God spoken. This is also worship. And so you can talk during this time, too. Just don't be distracting, you know, make sure it's, you know, got a purpose behind it.

But you can shout during this time, too. That's why you hear some people saying amen. Yeah, that's. We can be involved here. Whoa.

I'm going to a little sidebar there. But that's. That's what our response should be. And then he says in verse 14, also, he's speaking to the daughter of Zion. Well, what does that mean?

You know, that's a word that we've heard in movies, even. And so it's a name that in the Bible is chosen to represent the people of God. That when you look at this passage in Zephaniah, it's meant he's speaking to the people of Israel, and he's speaking to those who, they've actually been conquered by Assyria, and they've begun to be scattered. But it's also previous to the time where Babylon ultimately conquers them and exiles them. And so that's kind of where this falls in history to people who have been through a lot.

Okay. But when he's speaking to ZIon, he's also speaking to us. He's speaking to the church. And here's what he says to us. This is where he first is GOing to put his MIC on display.

And what warrants that worshipful response? He says in verse 15, the Lord has taken away what the judgments against you. Now, he uses this word, judgment here to show that this is a judicial type of thing. You actually have a judgment against you because all of your acts in life up to this point are being weighed before God. And guess what?

They're incriminating. Even on your best day, you doing the best you can, guess what you still think and say and do things that sometimes fall short of his glory. And in court, if you were to try to lay it all out there and say, I never sinned once, they'd find it all over you.

You are covered in red. And so what he's saying here is that this judgment that you have against you has been lifted. It's been taken away. It's been abolished. And how was it done?

By the cross of Jesus Christ. He nailed your judgment to that cross. And so that right there, if we're honest with ourself, that's a pretty mighty thing that Jesus did, that he would actually lay down his life for us and that would allow our judgment to be lifted. Man, we could stop right there because that's something I couldn't do. That already proves his might.

But it continues to get better as we read. Check this out. He has taken away the judgments against you, and he has cleared away your enemies. Now, when it's, if you study the word enemies, it actually is a singular enemy in the word, in the, in the Hebrew original language. And, and what it's saying here is that, okay, sure, yeah, we know the story here.

You know, he exiles eventually Israel to Babylon, but then they eventually get their country back. Okay? And so he's truly speaking to them, saying that he's going to wipe out their enemy, but also he's speaking to the singular enemy that Israel and the church have in common. And that is what we're going to see here in Ephesians, chapter six. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

We have an enemy that is unseen. We have an enemy that shows himself through maybe other people, but our enemy is not that person. Our enemy is the one who is operating in the unseen world. And if you're sitting here this morning saying, I'm good, man, like I'm friends with everybody, I try to make peace with everybody I possibly can, well, there's one who is not at peace with you. In fact, he accuses you and judges you non stop.

It says in revelation, chapter twelve of Satan, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God, day and night, has been hurled down, we all have a common enemy. And guess what? We also are our own worst enemy. We have this little chatter in our heads, right? That's in a constant state of, like, pointing fingers and accusing and wanting you to be just stuck in the past, thinking about all the ways you failed, thinking about all the ways your friend or your family failed, thinking about all the ways that you think God failed you.

And they're just constantly just nagging at those things because the enemy, the place he wants to see you is those judgments, even though they've been lifted by Jesus Christ, that you would not see that those judgments are lifted. It says in Colossians two, you were dead because of your sin, and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. And then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. And in this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities.

He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. So, yes, our sin is taken away. Our judgment has been lifted. But we don't always live as though we have that kind of freedom. It reminds me of something that happened a year ago.

I was preparing for vacation, and my dog, blue, has an underground fence around our yard that keeps him where I, you know, keeps him in the ark, keeps him from escaping. And so he's got this collar that's got a battery in it. So that way it gives him a little. Give him a little shock if he tries to leave the barrier. Okay?

And so before vacation, I took the collar off just to make sure he had a fresh battery in there. And then I thought I put it back on him. Six days later, I come back home, and I'm greeting blue, and he's all happy to see me. And I'm looking at him, petting him, going, his collar's gone. And so I walked the whole yard trying to find this collar, and I'm going, where's that thing going?

And then I finally look on my desk where I'd been doing the battery work, and there it sits. I had left it on my desk the whole time. But blue didn't run away. He stayed in the yard. He's a good boy.

Okay. But there's something about this that I relate to in that Christ has lifted that judgment. Yet I still live as though those judgments are still hanging over me. I don't experience the freedom that Christ has called me to.

And it's because of that enemy and that self enemy that's constantly just chattering in my head. So how can we recognize that God's might has taken away our sin? Well, we heard this earlier. Zephaniah gave us a way to do it. He said to sing, shout, rejoice and exalt.

See, there's a purpose. Maybe you're new to our church or new to church in general, or maybe you've been in church for a long time and you've just never understood the singing part. What's the deal with that? Because maybe you're not a singer yourself, and you're like, why y'all gotta make me do that every week? Well, there's a point to it in that when we celebrate what God has done, it reminds our souls that we are free.

It challenges us to step past the barriers that our past has placed over us. It lifts our eyes to God, who is mighty enough to save us from our very worst error and to defeat our biggest enemy. God has removed your sin and he has cast away that accuser. Someone here today is getting a small glimpse of God's might for the first time in your life and in that you're seeing your own sin and your own. The boundary that's between you and him.

And I pray that you are seeing in this word here how Jesus has given you the opportunity to see that boundary lifted, that there would be no barrier between you and God, that you will let Jesus set you free and that you would live for him. Today we can know that our God is mighty also by recognizing that he is strengthening us by his presence. He is strengthening us by his presence. He has taken away our sin. This is what he's currently doing now.

He says one of the most important parts, I think, in this passage, at least to what it meant to me this week, and that was in verses 15 and 17, it says, God is in your midst. This is when we talk about the mighty God. We're not talking about someone who is far beyond our reach. That as I study him. Okay, that's great.

Well, you know what? Good for him too. He's so mighty. Yeah, you know, but I can't. He's too far away.

He is declaring here that he is in your midst. In fact, I believe with all my heart that even right now in this room, he is among us. He's not far away. And it's not because of something that you or I did. It's because he has decided that no matter how much of an enemy we've been to him that he would be in our midst despite those things.

In fact, the prophet Isaiah gave this name to Jesus and the name EmmanueL, which means God with us. He repeats it. He says it in verse 15. He says in verse 17 to kind of like, if you didn't get it the first time, just, this is pretty good. He's in your midst.

Make sure you walk away from this knowing that he's here. And because he's here, you will never again fear evil. That's the type of might that God has in that when you're in his presence, you have no reason to fear. So then in 16 he says, on that day, and we're going to see a couple of these kinds of terms in this passage, as we're studying it, as he says on that day, he says at that time, and it's speaking here of certainly to point Israel to a promise that's coming for them. But it also is pointing to a promise that has actually already happened between US and Israel's exile.

And what students of the Bible call this is Yom Yahweh, which means the day of the Lord. This is the day that Jesus died on the cross. When he says on that day, it's pointing to that as well. And so because Jesus has died, he says, let not your hands grow weak. And just remember that that strength that you're drawing on is not coming from you.

Don't be weak. Draw on God's strength. He will be your strength. And then he says in verse 17, he's a mighty one who will save. And now later in that verse, he says, this mighty one who you just kind of imagine, humongous God, who can do all things, control time and seasons, will quiet you with his love.

He's this mighty. But then he will quiet you. The chaos that you feel in your life, the constant worrying and anxiety, and he will quiet that with what his love. Mike Laramie last week talked about God is love. And if you missed that, I encourage you to look on YouTube, find that sermon.

And he broke down this word. But I'll just say very simply that this love is agape love. This is an unconditional love. No matter what you've done or will do, he loves you. And he will quiet, quiet your soul.

And then he says something that, as we were studying this, this week, my brother Jonathan is our campus pastor in Rocky Mount. And we both were kind of, like, taken aback by what he says right after that. He says, I will quiet you by his love. And then he says, I will exalt over you with loud singing. And it didn't seem to fit like it.

Why? Because I'm picturing this. He's in my midst. It's personal. He's quieting me with his love.

And then all of a sudden starts singing really loud. And I was thinking about this last night. I was putting my son, Deacon, in his crib and kind of just rubbing his head and saying, singing, you are my sunshine. Singing real quietly to him. And it reminded me of the sermon.

I said, I'm not going to end this scenario. Go. You are my sunshine. No, not trying to get him rattled and wake him up again and scare him to death, but so why, why the loud singing? I genuinely think that he's doing this because he quiets you.

It's almost like you've gone to the top of the mountain, and it's cool breeze is the quiet up there. And then he says, all right, we gotta go back down. We gotta go back out there. We gotta go back into the battle. And we're gonna need a battle song.

And I'm gonna sing over you, exulting over you with this loud sing to send you out with the confidence and the strength and the no fear. You're gonna be. You're gonna be. You're gonna throw away cowardice, the confidence that comes with knowing that God is in your midst. My soul is quiet, but my hands are strong because of Jesus.

But he doesn't send you back out alone. It says in Isaiah 41, don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. Personal. I will strengthen you and help you.

I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. He's a hero when he steps on the battlefield. The people, as soon as they see he's there, they're like, we got this. We can win. I saw the enemy, but he's with us now.

I believe we can do this. And that reminds me of one of my favorite movies of all time, the movie Braveheart. Have you guys seen this movie before? I recognize. Nobody said anything just now.

So nobody in this room seen it? Have y'all seen it? Okay, it's 1994. Some of y'all might not have been alive yet. I understand that dating myself here.

But in the movie, Braveheart is one of the best scenes and probably, you know, one of the most popularized speeches coming from this movie. And it starts here with these two fellas here who are looking at this humongous army against them, and they're looking at themselves and going like, there's so few of us. And so it starts with one guy saying to his friend, so many. And then his friend says, the nobles will negotiate. And if they deal, they'll send us home.

And if not, we'll charge. And when we are all dead and they can call themselves brave, then they'll withdraw. Then this friend responds, well, I didn't come to fight so that they could own more lands and just so that I could work those lands. And the other friend says, well, nor did I, not against these odds. So they put down their pikes and they began to retreat.

And so then comes their Lord Lochlann. He says, stop. Don't retreat. Give us time to negotiate. You know, it's just this like, cowardly leader.

Nobody's following this guy. They're retreating. And then all of a sudden, the man shows up. William Wallace, coming in on his horse with his mighty men around him. They're wearing the blue on their faces, and as soon as they see William, you can see this wildness in their eyes.

They're like, that's William Wallace. And so he gives one of the best motivational speeches of any movie I've ever heard, right there. And he ends with the classic line that probably, even if you haven't seen the movie, maybe you've heard this line. He says, they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom. I couldn't just say that.

They'll never take our freedom. Like, you gotta say that with some passion. And then the guys are all like, yeah. And they go and they win that battle, even though they were outnumbered, simply because William Wallace was with them. And that is who God is for us.

He's our champion. When we want to retreat, he stirs us up to stay and to fight. He puts a fire in us to see how the victory is possible. He makes us rise above what mere mortals could accomplish. And he calls us to do things that actually will make a difference for all eternity.

His mere presence strengthens our will to fight. What are you facing right now? Does it strike fear in your heart? Does it seem like it's too big to handle? And you're honestly, you're thinking about retreating.

You're thinking about quitting your marriage. You're thinking about quitting your job. You're thinking about leaving Wilson altogether and just moving far away from here and just restarting. Maybe you're thinking about leaving the church. Maybe your hands feel weak this morning, and you've been serving the Lord, but you've been growing weary, and you kind of want to just go on a permanent retreat to just clear your schedule and just be like, you know what?

I'm just going to go to work, and I'm going to go home, or I'm just going to go school and I'm going to go home. And the only reason I'm even doing work is because, man, if I don't do that, I won't have any money to eat. But I wish I could just do nothing and just be at home. That might be where your heart is this morning. But I want you to consider something, and this might.

If you're going to pay attention to anything in this sermon, would you pay attention to this one little nugget that I'd like to send us home with if you want to witness a mighty God, then you have to follow him to a place where his might needs to be displayed. I'm going to repeat that. If you want to witness a mighty God, you have to follow him to a place where his might needs to be displayed, where his might has to be known, or the battle won't be won.

As long as your eyes are lowered and just thinking about the problems you've got, or they're looking at your spouse, or they're looking at your friends and your neighbors, then, and they're not lifted to him, you might miss him. God is in your midst, whether you recognize it or not. And if you want to really know that he is there to recognize his presence, stay. Fight. Think about what Jesus did.

We read about him in the garden of Gethsemane the night that he was betrayed. And he's getting ready the next day to go on the cross for us. And he is like sweating blood. He is so just nervous about what he's getting ready to go through. He was mighty enough not to go out there and conquer the Romans and take them down and take a crown.

He was mighty enough to lay down his life for you and I. And maybe that's what the fight has to look like for you. Maybe your fight is to lay down your life for others.

He may take you down a path that frightens you, but he says, do not be afraid. He will quiet your shrub soul and then he will sing over you, strengthening you with every note. Remember, my friend, he is with you. And if God is for you, who can stand against you? And one question that we should all be asking ourselves this morning, maybe the biggest question that we can ask when we consider God's might, do you trust him?

Do you really trust him to trust him with your life, your past, your present, your future? And then finally we can know that our God is mighty by recognizing that he will gather us to himself. He will gather us to himself. Now here when you look at verse 18, we see this word, I will gather those of you. And so we're seeing this assembly of all people to himself.

And just know that Jesus, when he says he's going to gather you, nobody's fallen through the cracks, nobody's going to get forgotten. Maybe you feel like you're the lost sheep, he's going to gather you. And then it says at that time, okay, so we're looking at something here that as we read the rest of that passage, we see this is something that hasn't actually happened yet, in fact, Barnes notes on the Bible says that time is the whole time of the gospel. It's the one day of salvation in which all who shall ever be gathered shall be brought into the new Jerusalem. This is a day that has yet to come.

And if you weren't part of our heaven series that we just did, we just finished it two weeks ago, we did a heaven series where we actually talked about the things that are coming. I definitely encourage you to chime in on that on the YouTube, but we see here this time. And then he says, he will gather who, those who mourn. He will gather the lame. He will gather the outcast.

So you kind of get this idea. Those who are considered the least of these, what is he going to do? In verse 18, he says, I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. Even if this morning you think I'm a screw up. My version of Christianity has just been messed up.

I feel like I got, like, a raw deal or something like that. Maybe I just. Maybe, maybe he just didn't have quite enough power to save me entirely because I'm messed up. Well, he's saying that if you consider yourself the least of these, then you will have praise and renown. In fact, he speaks on in verse 20, and he says to the church, I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth.

And so this is the idea here, that one of these days, God's church will be famous. God's church will be celebrated by every people, not just the church, but every people on earth will see our renown. They will praise what Jesus has done. And then he gives us one last little, like, take this out. Kicks us out with this.

He says, I will restore your fortunes. What fortunes is he talking about? Like, I know that was it, like a year ago or maybe a little longer. That stock market was having some issues and our 401 ks had a little hit. That what he's talking about.

Like, those kind of fortunes, that's small stuff. He's going to restore the fortune that we once had in the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve walked in peace and fellowship with God, where he wasn't just in our midst in the sense that we have right now. That, like, I know God's there, but, like, I don't see him. They saw him and they had peace with him. They had peace with one another.

They had purpose, they had love. They had a joy unending. That's the kind of fortune that he's talking about, that he's going to restore. And that's the kind of prosperity that we will get back in heaven. God is mighty enough to gather us all and to make that happen, not just to declare it back in, you know, thousands of years ago with Zephaniah, but that he is going to bring this to pass.

And that, as I was speaking earlier, that maybe you feel like, man, I'm just too far away. Like, man, I hadn't even been to church. Like, you caught me on a good day. I came today. All right?

But, like, you gotta know, I'm just pretty far from God. He will gather you as well, if you will surrender your life to him and say, jesus, you know what? I'm tired of being in charge. You're lord. I'm putting you in charge because all I do is mess this up.

He will gather you. It says in John six, and this is the will of him who sent me. This is Jesus speaking, that I shall lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day you are given to him. He will not lose you. And then we get one of many depictions of something that is going to come in revelation seven.

After this, I saw a vast crowd, too great to count from every nation and tribe and people, in language, standing in front of the throne. And before the lamb, guess what? That's us. Like, when John was seeing that, he might have saw your face, because Jesus is going to gather us together. Okay, so, like, that's exciting.

Like, I greatly look forward to that day right when he's going to gather us. But what do I do with this information right now? Well, he actually calls us to gather now. He says, in hebrews ten, let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as this is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. And all the more as you see the day drawing near, he's saying, look, that day's coming.

Gather now. Stir one another up when you do it. And just know this, that when he gathers us together, it's a glorious thing to behold. It reminds me of when I was this past April, my family and I went up to West Jefferson. Has anybody ever been to West Jefferson?

Mountains there? Yeah. Beautiful place. And it was April, and so the weather was like they had. They hadn't experienced spring there yet.

And so, like, there was no leaves on the trees yet, and so it was cold. It was like in the twenties at nighttime. And so one of our favorite things to do, of course, is have a bonfire when it's that kind of weather. And so we. What do you do when you're gathering wood?

I go out in the woods and get it. I'm not, like, looking at the different wood and going, well, there's walnut and there's oak and there's hickory, and I'm not burning, you know, I'm not picky. If it's on the ground and it's dead and dry, I'm burning it, you know? And so what do you do then, when you go to build the fire? You just lay, like, one log out and then.

And then just kind of like that? No, you start with the small stuff and get it going. And then as it gets going, you add more wood.

Once it gets big, you go, all right, well, it's big. Now let's spread it out. No, that's how you put it out. You spread the logs out. You see, if you think about the church, when it comes together, we feed off one another.

We stir one another up. And so the thing that we create to the rest of the world, it's a light, it's a warmth that almost like they're like in the dark wilderness. They're drawn to it, and they just want to be part of it. Because when the church gathers, when the church comes together, the glory of God is made known. And so when we talk about the lame and the outcast, the lame and the outcast, and then who else?

The strong and the popular. Doesn't matter who you are, what color, what culture, all come together for one purpose, to exalt a worthy and mighty God. And then. Check this out. This came to me this week.

What's the best wood for a fire? Do you go out and find a fresh tree and chop it down and then try to burn that? You get the fire hot enough? Sure. That's not the best wood.

The best wood is the wood that's been sitting out there long enough to be dry and dead. In fact, my wife reminded me between services that my Christmas tree from this year is sitting out in my woods right now ready to be burned. Man, I'm just waiting on it to be good and dry. And maybe that's you this morning. You feel like Steven.

You nailed it, man. I'm dry and dead. Well, guess what? You're right where you need to be for God to use you. And when you come together, God will create something glorious as you gather.

So are you outcast this morning? Are you in mourning? Do you doubt your own usefulness? Don't isolate.

Don't try to be that one log off by itself. Come together. God has something I believe is mighty in store for you, and he wants to gather you, not just to each other, but he wants to gather you to himself. So quit living in the past. Quit spending all your time gazing in the mirror and thinking about all the problems you've currently got.

Quit spending all your time worrying about the future. Bring what you have, bring who you are, and let God use you together with his church. It says in colossians three, let the word of Christ dwell in you, richly teaching and admonishing one another. You can't do the one anothers without one another, okay? So you gotta gather in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

So when you gather, bring something. Bring whatever you got. You might not feel like you have much to bring, but bring what you have to the gathering. And then maybe you're finding yourself as you're thinking about what you bring. Maybe you're like, man, I feel like I'm burned out, man.

Even you talking about that fire, like, I feel like there's hardly any fire left in me. Well, maybe the answer isn't to quit, just like I said, just. I'm gonna clear my schedule. But maybe the answer is that God actually has something even bigger in store for you. Maybe you've just grown too comfortable where you're at.

Maybe he wants you to lean in, take it up a notch to look for the next step, and think, what's it going to take a mighty God to do? That's the thing I'm going to do. And consider then as you go to do that thing. If it's a path towards isolation, remember, he's a God who gathers, not scatters. And then the last thing I would say is, when you think about the future, do you worry about where you'll go when you die?

And maybe you sat through the heaven series, but you're still unsure about what's beyond this life. Remember that God is mighty to save. He's mighty to finish the work that he started. And mighty to gather is like. I would never have said that about like I was trying to pick a superhero, the gatherer.

But when I think about what he's doing, this is a might that stirs me up, because I know what I'm capable of. I know that I can be that sheep that goes off, but that he's the good shepherd who gathers every single one of us. He is mighty to do that.

So the question is, do you trust him? I asked that earlier. Do you trust him? Do you trust that God will restore you fully? Then he's mighty, and he will make you part of that great gathering in heaven that we read about earlier.

In conclusion, our God is mighty. He is far beyond physical or mental strength. He has power over the universe, over space and matter and time. And not only is he mighty, but we learn today he's not far away. He's in our midst.

Will you lay down your attempts to control your life with your own limited might? And will you just come before him and trust him? Let him quiet you with his love. Will you trust in his might over your past, your present and your future? And will you know him who took away all your sin, who is strengthening your hands even now and will gather you to himself without fail?

Let's pray.

God, you are mighty, Lord. And we've just seen a small little evidence in your word today of your mighty acts. We know that there's many more things that you have done. We've seen you do things in our own lives that are not even in the scriptures. We've seen it personally.

And, Father, because of that, because you are mighty, Lord, we worship you. Forgive us, God, for where we often lower our eyes and fail to see who you are and what you're up to. Maybe you're here this morning and you're seeing God's might for the first time. You're realizing right now that there's a judgment over you and that you've tried to do things right, but you just continue to mess up. And that there's a judgment and a barrier between you and Jesus, between you and God, between you and heaven.

Brian, if that's you right now, would you pray this with me? Jesus, I ask that you would take away this judgment of sin from me. Would you forgive me? I want to be who you created me to be. I want you to be in charge, and I trust you with my life.

Would you be my savior and my lord in Jesus name? And maybe you're here this morning that you've prayed that prayer. You're a believer. You're a follower of Christ, but you're finding yourself weak today. You're finding yourself ready to retreat.

You're finding yourself ready to isolate. And maybe you've already been isolated, and it was just by the some sort of happenstance that you even came here today.

And maybe you're. You just feel like, you know, you feel like you've gone too far away, that God can't gather you anymore. Would you pray with me? God, I call upon your strength. My weakness is your strength.

Would you take away this fear that I have over the future? Would you take away this burned out feeling I had that's making me want to isolate and retreat? And, Jesus, would you? Would you? I ask that you would show me the path that you would display your might on and help me to follow you down that path and to see your glory.

And as I gather with your church and other brothers and sisters that I would be part of that glory and be part of your strength and mind, we ask all these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Audio

Transcript

Good morning, church. It's good to see all of you. I'm so thankful you're here. I'm also thankful to get to preach to you this morning as we're continuing this series, simply titled God is. Last week we talked about this really overarching idea that God is love.

And so much of his character comes from his main characteristic of love, perfect love, if you will. And so if you missed that, you can go back and check it out at Eastgate.church. But we're going to continue this, this theme for a few weeks together. And that is, what are the attributes of God? What does he tell us about himself and how does this impact us?

You could argue that knowing God is the most important endeavor in your life, that knowing your creator is what you were truly made for. I think the Bible really backs that up. Our series theme verse for the next few weeks is out of John, chapter 17, where it says, and this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. So that's eternal life. To know God.

Ji Packer, in his famous book, literally knowing God, he writes this what were we made for to know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction, no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.

We were made to know him. So this is a wonderful endeavor for us as a church to spend a few weeks together, really trying to dig in on his character and his attributes and who he is to us. And this morning we're going to talk about his attribute of might, strength, power, that God is mighty, that he is what we were made for. Now, this idea of might and strength, we have to admit, as human beings, we really love it. We are really passionate for power, if you think about it.

We celebrate some form of might, some form of power in every aspect of our lives, literally, almost every aspect, if you break them down. We celebrate sports because these are people that have athletic prowess. They have power and strength normally beyond ourselves. Right? When you watch these things, you don't want to watch the weakest men and women that exist.

No, you want to watch people that can dunk and jump and run fast and hit hard. That's why we're interested in athletics. This is why we award Nobel prizes to smart people who have intellectual might. This is why we celebrate these little game shows like Jeopardy. For instance.

We're all watching it, hoping we can figure it out. But in the end, we're rooting for whoever gets those answers right. We end up finding ourselves really passionate for somebody like Ken Jennings. We're like, how would we have known his name if it weren't for the fact that we're interested in knowing things? For those of you who don't know, he won, like, way too much on Jeopardy.

If you missed that, he won like 200 weeks in a row or something crazy like that. But we celebrate these things that might is definitely something we honor and certainly desire. But if we're honest about something, there's a kind of might. There's a kind of power that we lack, and we long for it, and we simply cannot attain it. It's out of our reach.

It's out of everyone's reach. See, there's a lot of forms of might that allow us to do something. They allow us to physically move mentally, get through some challenge emotionally, even their strength. Might gives us this sense of control. But ultimate might is control out of things that are outside of yourself, even time, even space and matter.

It's control over the past, the present, and the unknown future. Now, that's a kind of power we wish we could have, or maybe we don't. Maybe we know ourselves well enough to know that's the kind of power I can't be trusted with. But we all know this, that we suffer our pasts, that we have difficulties of today, and that we certainly, as many of us in the room, have anxiety about tomorrow. And we know that there's unforeseen circumstances that we have no control over, and none of us have any control over those things around us and our surroundings.

We have very limited control. I wonder today, do you feel that? Do you feel kind of out of control? Does your life seems to be unraveling and there's. Seems there's no way you can put your finger on the dial and make it stop.

Are you immobilized by some fear? Perhaps there's a confrontation that you need to address right now, and you know it, and you're. You're. You're avoiding it with all costs. You wish you were strong enough to face it?

Do you wish you could control how you feel about the past and how you feel about the future? See, that's the joy of today's message when we're talking about God's might. Sure, God can outrun Osain bolt. He certainly could. He made the fastest man who ever lived.

He made the smartest man who ever lived. The wisest man, the Bible says, is Solomon, who made him God. Sure, he has that kind of power, but I want you to know something. He has ultimate might. See, God stands outside of time.

He's in control. That's the kind of might we wish we had. But here's the great news. This same God who has what we call omnipotence, that means all power, this same God loves us and cares for us and made us for himself. That means he's in our corner in a sense.

We're in his first, but he's in ours in the sense that his power is going to be distributed for us in a way that shows his greatest love and passion for us. And so we're going to be in the book of. Yes, you're hearing this, right, Zephaniah, if you've got your Bible with you, have some fun finding that. All right, it's a little bitty guy, and I feel good about this. Now I can get to heaven and meet Zephaniah and go.

At least one time I preached out of your book. I'd like to do more. As I studied this week, I ended up reading the whole book and going, wow, okay, this feels sort of like Habakkuk. If you were with us in the Habakkuk series, there's some similarities. Although Zephaniah, I have to admit, end is even more positive because Habakkuk kind of left us going, yikes.

But Zephaniah, as we'll see today in the book, in his book, chapter three, we're going to see this really positive ending here. The prophet tells the people of God that they can know that God is mighty. By recognizing his power and his powerful acts, we can know that God is mighty. As we study this today, we can know it. I believe the text is going to give us three really clear ways to know that God is mighty.

Here we are, Zephaniah, chapter three, verses 14 through the end. Sing aloud, o daughter of Zion. Shout, o Israel. Rejoice and exult with all of your heart, o daughter, o Jerusalem. For the Lord has taken away the judgments against you.

He has cleared away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord is in your midst. You shall never again fear evil. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem, fear not, o zion, let not your hands grow weak. Listen to this church, for the Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty one who will save.

He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you by his love. He will exalt over you with loud singing I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that time, I will deal with all of your oppressors, and I will save the lame. I will gather the outcast.

I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth at that time. I will bring you in at that time, when I gather you together, for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord. I can say amen to that. How about you? Amen.

That's a great way to end. Some weeks I end, and you're like, whew. Here we go. But this is a really positive note, and it's all about. It all centers around verse 17, where it says, the Lord, your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save.

We can know that our God is mighty by first recognizing that he has taken away our sin. He has taken it away. This whole text is about this word here. In the Hebrew, it's the word gibbor, which means mighty. It means hero.

It means champion. In fact, the nat commentary, one of my favorite commentaries, it says this about this word, that it's often translated hero or warrior. It is used most frequently with military activities to describe one who has already distinguished himself by performing heroic deeds. So here, the divine warrior has declared peace. Our God is a mighty warrior.

He's a champion. He's a hero. And he's already done heroic deeds. This is the wonder of being the church of today, 2000 years after the cross, is that we can say with clarity that our God is our champion and has removed the judgments against us, that he's taken them away. So this whole scripture today starts with four imperatives.

Sing aloud. Shout, rejoice, and exalt. Now, that's why we start service like that. Some of you, you know, you might not be interested in singing. I've never met anyone that didn't like music.

Everybody seems to like music now. We have different tastes in it. And you might come here today and go, eh, I miss the hymns, or, ah, they kind of botched that song, whatever you were thinking. But the imperative to you today is show up with praise. Shout aloud.

Why? Not? Because of what we're doing. It's irrelevant whether we're great or not. It's irrelevant.

What's relevant is your heart towards God. Is this shouting with praise. Why? Because he has taken away the judgments against you. Well, I can't help but praise him.

It doesn't matter if I'm a little bit atonal. It doesn't matter if my voice is a little sour. I'm going to go ahead and praise because he has taken away my sin. This is verse 15. This is this beautiful text that has a present promise.

Because, remember, Zephaniah is talking to the people of God who are about to be exiled to Babylon. They have screwed up. They have messed up. They have turned against God. They have turned for other gods.

And the northern nation of Israel has already been taken away by the Assyrians. Already been conquered. Now we're left with Judah. And Zephaniah is preaching and proclaiming to them that, hey, terrible stuff is coming. But sing because the Lord has taken away.

The Lord is removing, clearing away your enemies, and he's gonna gather you back. That's the present promise of Zephaniah. But this will. This future tense that he offers so much of, it hasn't happened even now. That God will gather the peoples of all nations to himself.

Oh, he started. This process has begun. Do you understand that? Zephaniah is preaching to them about a physical truth that we can now know spiritually. When he says, I have taken away your sins, I have taken away those judgments against you.

We can know that with certainty. He has removed these judgments. How? Well, the way in which he did it for Zephaniah and the people of God then was really through discipline. That's what the exile is as much as anything.

I'm gonna remove you from your prosperity for 70 years. A whole generation's gonna pass away. And this next generation and the one after are gonna look to me. Because in the midst of pain, they're gonna go, there's gotta be a better thing. There's gotta be a greater God.

They're gonna finally look to me again, and then I'm gonna restore them. Oh, that's how he's removing those judgments. Through discipline, through pain. He's done the same for you and I. But it looks different because he's a gibbor, because he's the hero.

He's done it again through pain, but pain on himself. The judgments he's now removed for us. Do you understand this church? There are judgments waged against you that you couldn't do a thing about. No.

Death on the cross would have done anything for you. Oh, you could have paid that price, but it would have been irrelevant. You'd have died like every other murderer and criminal before you. But this sinless one, this Christ Jesus, has taken away your sins. He's removed those judgments because he alone was capable.

So we can know this with certainty. Now, he goes on in verse 15 to say, I've cleared away your enemies. And I was having a conversation with someone earlier this week about this. Some of our songs, some of the things we sing. And sometimes when we go into, I don't know, the book of psalms, we see these enemies on display, and this person was talking about how they generally kind of live at peace with people.

This idea of having enemies is kind of strange to them. And I had to think about that for a little while because, I mean, honestly, I think most of us are friends. I hope we're getting along pretty well. You know, sometimes we'll be at odds with one another, but we're not enemies. And, I don't know, maybe your workplace is a little toxic.

Maybe some of you are experiencing a little bit of that, but most of us aren't. We're not sure we can really get after this word enemy. So I wanted to address that for just a minute, because here's what's funny about this word right here in verse 15. The word here in the Hebrew is oyib, which is actually in the singular. It's translated to kind of keep with.

Keep in line with its previous. The idea of judgments is in plural, but here, he has cleared away the translators, made a choice to keep it in uniformity with the previous, but technically, it could have been translated. He has cleared away your enemy. Your enemy. It's a singular hebrew word.

And that's. Now, that made me think, because here's something I know with confidence. We all have an enemy, and maybe you never considered this. Maybe you'd like to not even go down this supernatural kind of world and go, I don't even want to consider the possibility, but whether you like it or not or have thought about it or not, it's a fact that we have an adversary. This word means foe, adversary.

It's in the singular. And it is certainly true that in the present day of Zephaniah, he's casting out their enemies. God is going to deal with Assyria. He's going to deal with Babylon. He's going to deal with Egypt.

He's doing this. But that's not. I don't think what he's talking about here, and it's not what he's saying to us now. Always not saying, oh, I'm going to keep America safe. I'm going to keep these people.

Okay. It's not even in his interest. I don't think. No, he's saying, I'm going to clear away your primary adversity. The Bible calls him your accuser.

Oh, there's one who's accusing. You think you have no enemies? You definitely have one. Paul says in Ephesians six that we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in the dark world, against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Of this person, of this one that the Bible refers to as Lucifer, Satan, the evil one, the devil.

In revelation it says this about him. The accuser of our brothers and sisters who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down. Well, this is what is to come. God's getting rid of this accuser. There's someone up there and this is, I think, what he's doing in your life.

Constantly pointing the finger. You're a mess. I can't believe, Jonathan, that you would get up there and try to preach to these people. Do you remember what you did and thought this week? Just pointing at you in the chest?

Oh, he's a great accuser. But the Lord says, I've cleared him out. I've hurled him down. He's not just gotten rid of the sins against you, the accusations. When you have a sense, when you're living in your guilt and shame, and some of us do this, we have the hardest time standing up and getting out of this experience of guilt and shame that just washes over us.

I want you to know something that is not God. God has cleared your name. He has made you righteous. He has taken your sin upon himself and given you his righteousness. When he looks at you, he says, I love you, my son.

I see Jesus when I see you. So when you feel guilt and shame and anxiety and brokenness, the accuser, and he has no real power over you anymore. God has cleared out our debt. Our guilt has removed that sin. The psalmist writes in chapter 32, the psalm 32, it says, oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight.

Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete unity, honesty. Oh, what joy to live in forgiveness. In colossians two, it says, you were dead because of your sins and because of your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ for he forgave all your sins. He canceled the record of the charges against you.

Do you see that? And he took it away by nailing it to the cross in this way. What has he done. He's disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He's shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

The cross is then a token, a thing in history that sits and stands with all of the accusations nailed there and the judgments are done.

This is in fact why Christ came. This is his primary purpose. It says in one John, and you know that Jesus came to take away our sins and there is no sin in him. That's his primary purpose. Are you living free?

Do you understand? Do you understand this? That's how mighty God is. He didn't halfway do this thing. He didn't barely pay.

He was more than enough. So if you're living in this broken state, in this state of guilt and shame, I want you to understand something. That is a sign that you aren't trusting in him. You aren't walking with him and leaning in. You're looking inward and you're hearing the accuser and you're deciding, I can't.

I'm just not sure. God, is that mighty. Now you would never say that with your mouth, but it's how you're living. And sometimes I fall into that. Are you truly living free?

We already have this tendency as human beings. There's some prolonged, terrible effects of keeping people incarcerated for too long. Some of you have probably heard about this. The word that's often used is this word institutionalized, that after a while, if you keep someone incarcerated for long enough, they can never manage to really get right again. They come back into the public world.

They don't know how to be social. They don't know how to work. They have developed habits that are only good and useful in the prison. And I read article after article about this week because for some reason that really was what hit me is that some of us, even believers, have received the gift of salvation, and yet we live in prison. We're not free.

We've so been institutionalized, if you were, by our sin, that we don't know how to set it aside.

Christ says to you today, I pray this just hits you. Your judgments have been canceled. The stuff you did, even this week, he paid for that. The stuff you thought, the brokenness you carry, he was way more mighty than it. He has complete power over it.

I pray you believe that today. No longer does the past have to eat at you. He has paid. He has taken away your sin. Lay this now at the feet of Jesus.

He is mighty over your past. He has paid for your sins, his forgiveness. Today, place your faith in him. This isn't just for non believers in the room. I want you to know this, believer.

You can live imprisoned, though you've been set free spiritually. You could physically stay there, let it go, set it at his feet. Oh, you might have some bad friends and some bad family that when they see you, they go, there's that old fellow, that old mess, that attic, that piece of work. That's not what Christ sees. Sat it at his feet.

Zephaniah tells us how to respond. Worship, sing, shout, rejoice. For God has removed your sin and cast away your accuser. He has no power in your life. Here's the second.

The second way we can know that God is mighty by recognizing that he is strengthening us by his presence. You'll see. I'm working on time, if you will, here. There were four times in this back half where it said on that day. And at this time.

And at this time, that means that Zephaniah saw the prophet, saw that there was a timing to which God was working. And so we just spoke of he has taken away. Past tense, he's done it now, present tense, he is in your midst. This is great news for the people of God in Israel, first of all. But it's a reminder to us people of God today.

It's fascinating that the people of God could be saved and could receive the Holy Spirit of God and somehow not feel a sense of spiritual power, because we live still in a sense of prison, instead of the fact that God literally is in our midst. This is what the word Emmanuel means when it came to Isaiah. God with us. This is what he's done. That's unique.

Now look, if go back and read your Old Testament, you will see that the spirit of God falls on people and is removed from people. It doesn't stay. David, in fact, often prays, God, don't let your spirit leave me, believer. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. Do you understand that promise that the holy spirit of God is in your midst and won't go away, always strengthening you by his presence.

He's in your midst now. He has just told them. We didn't read this today, but I wanted to take a look back, just a few verses prior to what our main text was today. In Zephaniah, 311, it says, on that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me. For then I will remove from your midst those proud, exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.

But I will leave in your midst, a people humble and lowly. So he's playing on this idea of what is. When he says holy Mountain, he's talking about Jerusalem, but he's also talking about this holy mountain. You see in the book of revelation that there's a time coming where those prideful ones, those haughty people who don't look to God, they're removed from his midst. But I'm leaving behind the humble.

But the best news he reveals right here in verse 17, and I'm going to be there. I'm in your midst. Verse 15 is where it starts. Verse 17, he repeats himself, and so you don't have to fear anymore. And then you get this first time word in verse 15.

Look, it says, on that day. Excuse me, verse 16. On that day, it shall be said. The word here is yom yom, which should make you think if you know a little bit about the JEwish festivals or things, you might have heard of Yom Kippur. That is day of atonement.

That is Yom Kippur. There's this other thing that runs throughout the Old Testament and somewhat in the Book of Zephaniah, and that's the idea of Yom Yahweh. That is the day of the Lord, the day of salvation, the day that is to come, when the Lord will return and take his people home. That seems to be the type of yom he's speaking of here, that there is a time to come. Now, this present promise is there.

Certainly, God is delivering his people from their Oppressors, but he's going to say some words here to finish this up. That simply did not happen in Zephaniah's day. They haven't happened yet. That he's going to gather peoples from all nations and restore their fortune. He's only done that in part.

He says, on that day, I'm going to be in your midst. You're going to be in mine. And so you don't have to fear evil anymore. Let not your hands grow weak, he says in verse 15. That is, don't let them faint.

Don't let them be feeble. So the mighty one, then, is in complete contrast to what he's saying about us. We look at ourselves and we look at our mess, and sometimes we feel like, man, I'm powerless to do anything about this. I feel weak. Hands.

This is a hebraic idiom to talk about this idea of weakness and out of control, the weakness of hands, because they're doing everything. It's this kind of culture where they can't accomplish much like this. They need strong hands. He says, I know. I know where you've been at, but the Lord in your midst is a mighty one.

Let not your hands get weak. He goes on to say three really great things there. And I had to chew on this this week. Verse 17. Yes, the Lord your God, the Lord your God is in your midst, and he will save.

He will quiet, he will exalt. These are amazing things that he's saying here. First of all, that he will save. Now, why would he reiterate something that he's kind of already said? He said, already I've taken away your judgments.

I've cleared your name and I will save. This is this idea of finish what you started, that God is mighty enough to finish the job. He's removing physical enemies from the people of God. Then he's removing spiritual ones. Now he will save.

And he goes on to say, he will quiet you with love.

I don't know what sort of chaos you got going on in your own life. This word quiet means rest. It means silence. You don't have to be crazy to have some voices in your head.

We all have them. We all have these. Some of them are loud sometimes. You can't do that. You won't accomplish that.

Oh, you think God told you to do that? Those are those. Oh, you think you can overcome that addiction, that brokenness? Oh, you think you can be a good husband? Look what you've already done.

You've messed up so badly. You've ruined your kids. Look at a terrible parent you've been. Oh, you don't have to be crazy to have those kind of voices. Oh, that's normal.

In fact, that's the sin nature of man. That's who we are. Oh, you can go ask your boss for that time off. Oh, you can go ask for that raise. Oh, you might deserve it.

But he's going to say no. There's these just constant anxiety and worry, and some of it's laced with truth. There's some things you have messed up. There are conversations, things you've said you shouldn't have. There have been fights you've had with people in your life that didn't go the way they should have gone.

And just. Do you hear this verse that the mighty one who will save will quiet. He will bring rest by his love. He will quiet your chaos, silence your erratic thoughts. Now, how does he do that?

I love that the new testament kind of gets into this in certain moments. I really reflected on this this week. There's one verse that I've often leaned in on to, I think, do the very thing God has said he will do. And that is the idea of taking every thought captive. That what partially what you should be doing in prayer.

If your life is riddled with concern and worry, and we all tend to have some things we're working on that we're are difficult, and we're not sure how we're going to get through them. The New Testament writers say, take every thought captive. That is the idea. That part of my prayer is to grab that, oh, I'm not doing good as a father. I said this, what should I do?

And we worry. Worry is just like running it into the mud and digging it in and getting sloppier and getting messier and never feeling like I can solve it, but taking every thought captive, grabbing it and going, okay, here's this thought, lord, can you tell me what's true here? Is this true about me? Am I doing terrible as a father? Oh, no, my son, you're not.

But you ought to go apologize to your son for saying that. Oh, you sure? Cause, like, he's terrible at apologizing. Should I really be? No, you need to model that.

You need to go apologize to your wife for that. You take that thought captive and you go, okay, God, what would you have me do with this? Is this legit, the way I'm feeling? Oftentimes he's going to look at it and go, some of it's true, my boy, but a lot of it's just you've added in all of this malice and all of this other stuff that no one has ever even said to you. You've decided that this person hates you, and they never said that.

You've added all this extra malice. Let's remove all that. Here's who you really are. Do you understand this idea that the Lord's part of his purpose to you and what he's doing in your life is to quiet you with his love? That if you would bring this stuff and lay it at his feet and say, I don't know how to deal with a, b, and c, I'll test.

Test this church. I'm not saying test the Lord your God, but I'm saying test him in this. Bring yourself worries into prayers.

All I can say is, my own experience in it is that when I spend all my time worrying and in self help, I don't seem to conquer my problem. Oh, I might. I might get through it, but it's gonna be a future problem that I'm gonna have to this same issue with. But when I lay it there, the mighty one will quiet you with his love, and then he will do this last thing, which I gotta admit, I don't fully understand. It talks a little bit about this in the book of Hebrews that the Lord God, the mighty one, will exalt over you, that is, rejoice with joy over you with loud singing.

That means there is a time to come in which God will sing over us. Bring that. Bring that on. I don't know what that's. And it's gonna be loud.

So all of you who have been complaining about the decibels here at church. Oh, it's so loud. Get ready. I bet he's got super pipes. I mean, it's coming.

I don't know exactly when this is gonna happen, what it looks like. I was studying with my brother earlier this week. He's the one preaching this message in Wilson. And he's kind of a. He's a heart guy.

If any of you have met him. He does life based on his heart. I don't. I'm the opposite. Everything goes through here.

It goes through my brain first. In fact, sometimes my brain has to tell my heart. You probably should feel some emotion about this. That's who I am. Get mad if you want.

That's how God made me. I have strengths and weaknesses. So does my brother. Strengths and weaknesses. But as he read this verse, I could see his eyes welling up with tears.

God is going to sing. He loves music anyway. It's who he is. But like, you're telling me that the Lord loves me so much, he's going to rejoice over me like this. Oh, yeah.

Wow. God is mighty. His present strength and his present help is yours. It's in your midst. Psalm 46.

It says, God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble. He's our refuge, our strong fortress. In him we should put our trust. Psalm 62. For God alone, o my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress. I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory. My mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him then at all times.

O people, pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us. Selah, God is your hero. You see this? He is your champion.

Now, I didn't get into this yet because I wanted to save it for this moment. This idea of champion is not something we really talk about all that much in current culture. Because we don't go to battle like this anymore. When we go to war, we assemble our many tools, our tanks and our planes, and we go to war with all of this stuff. But in ancient times, literally, armies would march towards each other into the field of battle with their armor or whatever they had, and they went to it.

But there was oftentimes an opportunity for champions to fight. That's what this word is talking about, that God is our hero in the sense that he is willing to fight the battle for us. This idea of champion is on display. If you ever seen the movie Troy, there in Homer's Iliad is this character named Achilles. And Achilles is often the champion of his people in Achaia.

And there's this battle in the opening scene of that movie where he fights this big bruiser. But the people are not terrified. If you watch their faces, they know who Achilles is. They know that he's some kind of mythical legend. He's almost godlike in his physical prowess.

And so when he comes and takes the field of battle, the people are not nervous. There's a wonder. This is this amazing thing that God is saying he is and has done. We took the field of battle and did not have to lift a finger. We didn't have to spill a drop of blood.

We didn't sweat, not one drop of sweat. He took it on for us, and he won, now and forevermore.

And this is a foreshadowing of what is to come, that he will also permanently conquer evil in the last day. And I get the impression we're watching. I told one of y'all recently I was having lunch. I can't remember, but I'm kind of down. If he wants me to swing, like, once, right?

Like, just. I'm good to get in on this. Not that I want glory, but I'm good to fight. Like, I've been kind of interested in it, so. But I don't think that's how that's gonna go.

He comes with blazing fire for eyes, and I don't know what all that's gonna look like, but he's our hero. He's our champion. He has conquered sin and death forever. It's done. And he's walking in our midst, the holy spirit of God.

Now, those who have received Christ have the spirit of God in them, and he will never leave or forsake. Do you see this? I don't know what you're going through today. Do your hands feel weak? Are you afraid about what you've got to face this week?

Some conversation. Some. Some. Some co worker. Something's terrible going on.

Maybe there's a brokenness in your home. You do not have to be afraid. The Lord is in your midst. Lay it at his feet. Trust him with it.

And here's the third. Here's the third. And while I have very little time, very little time, he will gather us to himself. I love y'all. I want y'all to have lunch today and not be mad at me.

He will gather us to himself. Now, this is a perfect point to kind of come off the back of this heaven series we had been on for several weeks, because I have to admit something. I've run into people often who doubt, I guess, the perseverance of God. They don't doubt so much that God is saved. They're good with the cross and all that.

But are we sure that God is going to finish this? That he's not going to get sick of me at some point? I know some of you in the room, these believers in the room that have felt like I have done the same mistake 100, a thousand times. Surely at some point, God will be sick of me. And yes, he comes to you in justice and in holiness and in discipline, and he wants you to change.

But to say that, hey, if I do this one thing for the 10,000th time, it will now nullify. The cross of Christ is insane.

There's nothing that can nullify it. Nothing. Now that doesn't give you license to keep on in your mess. No. The conviction you feel is of the Holy Spirit.

But if you feel guilty and shame and like, God won't come and won't show up anymore, that's not from him. No, he is future tense here. Everything verse 18 and on is in the future tense. He will do this stuff. He will gather, that is, he will harvest.

He's collecting us all. He's bringing in the morning. The lame, the outcast. Some of you are in one of those positions today. I got news for you.

You may feel some suffering here. You will not feel it there. The mourner, some of you are mourning desperately right now. Look, he is the one who comes first to give you present hope. But future hope is perfect.

The lame, some of you have got some serious physical ailments. Things are not getting better. Things are only depleting. The older we get, my friends, we don't get stronger so much. The best we can do is hang on like, we work out now.

I'm at that point, it's just happened where all I can really do is try not to get worse. And I'm not doing good at that. I'm not doing so good. And some of you have really experienced and maybe figured that out. This is what's coming.

But he says, I'm gathering the lame. I'm gathering the outcast first, Thessalonians five tells us that we get to partake in this very kind of work. Paul writes to the thessalonian church, we urge you, brothers, then admonish the idol, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak. Be patient with them all. This is who we should be as a church is to get on board with this gathering, that God is already doing, that we would get beside one another and say, I know this is difficult, but let's go.

And then he says, here to finish this text, all the peoples of the earth. Verse 20.

He started this way. I considered reading all of Zephaniah three, nine and on, because he starts in verse nine with, I will change the speech. I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord. This whole text is this idea of what God is doing in the life of Zephaniah and his people, but what he is doing permanently, this word peoples here, has to do with the idea of nations.

Barnes, when writing about this, in fact, fully sees it as end times, he says that time is the whole time of the gospel, the one day of salvation in which all who shall ever be gathered shall be brought into the new Jerusalem. I want you to know that God isn't just mighty enough to save you and take away your sins. He isn't just mighty enough to be present in your life, that he walks with you. He is mighty enough to complete, to finish this heaven we've been speaking of, this heaven you can read about, it's not fiction. It's not fiction.

It's real, and he's prepared and he's ready for you. This stuff isn't dreams. Persevere in the faith then, friends, because God will finish what he started. In fact, verse 20 tells us exactly what he's up to. It says, he will restore to the peoples of all the earth, I will restore your fortunes before your eyes.

Restore your fortunes. This literally means that God will take away your captivity. The word here, fortune, really means captive. This, I think, might be referring to what it says in Ephesians four, that he led captivity captive. He's taken it over.

No longer are we enslaved, we are free.

Does he mean here simply, I'm going to restore the fortunes of former Israel, their former glory.

He means that in part, but not really. What's the former glory.

There's a time coming where he will restore us to the most former glory. That is a time when man walked with God in the cool of the day. That's what is to come. That's what he's working on. When we talk about new heaven and new earth, we're talking about a complete rehabilitation.

We're talking about God reinstating what he always desired for us, an opportunity to walk with him physically, an opportunity to be with him and to enjoy the things he's created without sin. He's doing this. He's gathering his people. In fact, he's already encouraging us to yield to this work. If you read Hebrews chapter ten, we're going to be in Hebrews later this year.

I think we'll dig in heavier on this text. But Hebrews chapter ten, it says in verse 24. Then let us consider how to stir up one another, to love and to good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. And all the more as you see the day drawing near, the day, the yom Yahweh, this day is coming. Don't start bugging out of church more.

No, be with each other. All the more that what we're doing on Sunday morning is not enough. Be with each other. Get close, encourage each other, push each other towards love and good works, and God is mighty. To finish what he started.

He's going to gather us up. John, chapter six, it says, this is the will of him who sent me, that I should not lose. I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise them up. On the last day, revelation seven said this. I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, all standing in front of the throne and before the lamb.

This is what he's doing, and he's mighty to do it. Now that might not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, this is the kind of might that's beyond me, because I can say at any point, I will do this tomorrow. I can say, hey, tomorrow I'm going to get up and have a cup of coffee and study his word. I can say that, but I can't say it with confidence. I have no idea what's going to go on tonight or tomorrow.

He can say with complete assurance, I will gather you and I will not fail, because I am in charge of time, matter and space. I am above them.

This idea of gathering. I want to finish with this thought. This idea of gathering is synonymous with the word harvest. That what God is saying is, I will harvest. I will bring you all.

I've become more and more fascinated with this idea of harvest over the years. I don't know if this is. Y'all can tell me later if something happens to you at about 35, where you start acting like you love your grandparents and want to be like them. I don't know what happened to me. All of a sudden, I wanted to farm.

I really love gardening. I just like being outside. Like, I could. I'm ready for suspenders and big hats and flannel shirts. I'm like, let's just bring that on.

Overalls. I mean, there's this one wonderful pastor up in Virginia, still pastor, and he's pushing 90, y'all. And he's like, I don't think I can live up to this dude. Because what he does every day is he gets up, he showers. He goes ahead and puts his suit and tie on, and then puts his waders on and goes and works in his garden for a little while, takes that off and goes to work.

First of all, I don't have a lot of suit and ties, and I sweat a lot, so I don't know if it would work for me, but that's kind of the vision I have for myself. It's like, what if. What if I get the chance to do more of this? Like, just working with my hands? I don't know.

It's something I really have passion for now. But I recently read this article from the USDA, and it's talking about this food problem that we been kind of wrestling with. And I don't know if you're aware of this, but a lot of what we eat isn't so good for us. But anyway, this thing was talking about how 30% of the global food loss actually occurs at the harvest stage. Did you know this?

This is very interesting. Is as good as our equipment has gotten and our knowledge, we still lose a ton of food in the harvest stage. That means we're imperfect at gathering these crops. I've observed this for myself. I have this little bitty garden.

Every once in a while, these cucumbers, they get really wild. They start running amok, and they start trying to eat all my other vegetables. The zucchini does this, too. They just go and take over. And sometimes there'll be a cucumber hiding in there that I've missed for a while.

And it'll get out of there like Bam Bam's club from Flintstones. I mean, it'll be like, bigger than my arm. And if you ever try to eat that cucumber, it's awful. It's just been there too long. It soaked up too much of the plant.

The thing won't grow anything else. Oh, I've done that a bunch at my house. Those cherry tomatoes, they make way too much. I can't even collect enough half the time. Oh, I understand this very well, that I am imperfect.

We, as a people, are imperfect at harvesting.

But God isn't. He's a perfect gatherer, if you will. And maybe you feel like one of them little veggies in the. In the garden, like he's going to forget about me if he knew what I've been doing lately, even though I've known him all he's. I don't know if he'll harvest.

No, he's not going to miss. He's perfect. Do you have anxiety about your future? Not sure what's coming? You feel unsure about the beyond God?

Is he mighty enough to finish? Yes, sure, maybe he did these things, and historically, maybe that can be proven. But do you trust God to restore you fully? Are you in sync with what he's doing and gathering his people? Paul writes to the corinthian church.

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation. Let all things then be done for building up. When you come together, be singing and be preaching and be shouting and rejoicing and exalting. Our God is mighty.

He's far beyond physical and mental strength, emotional. His power is over all things. How do I know this? Because all things are his. He's created them.

Time itself. Oh, as much as that'll blow your mind. Time itself, he created, which means he's over it. Will you trust him? Will you trust him over your past, your present, and your future?

Strengthen your hands. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that you are a God who loves us and that you put that on display for us in power. That part of what you're doing with your might is to display how much you care for us, to display how much you're interested in what we're doing. I'm fascinated by who you are, God.

That you yourself would come and take away the judgments on us, that you would remove the accusers. You don't owe us that. In fact, we owe you everything. And yet God and your love and mercy and power, you overthrew the accuser, and you've cast down all sin against us. In fact, you say in your word, you have canceled the debt.

Wow. Thank you for who you are, Lord Jesus. Thank you. All I can give you is my singing, my shouting, my rejoicing, my prayer, my life. You are worthy of all of it and more.

Here I am, Lord. I offer it to you as a fragrance, as a sweet offering to you. Thank you for who you are to us. Dear friend. Maybe you came here today and you really are worried about the future.

You're anxious and you're broken past. It's just walking right in here with you. You don't have a sense at all that you're forgiven. Maybe you've heard some of these truths before. Maybe you've bumped into a church before and you've heard some of these things.

But I pray today, maybe you're hearing clearly. God calling you to himself, welcoming you in, saying, look, my friend, my son, my daughter, I've paid for this. I have taken away the judgments. Your sin is done. If that's you today and you recognize, oh, I need to receive that forgiveness.

I need to lay my brokenness and my shame and my guilt at his feet. I've never done that before. If that's you today, why wait? Pray right along with me. Simply this.

Jesus, I believe today. I believe that you died on the cross to take away my sin, to cancel the record of my mess, my brokenness. You've done that. I believe that today, Lord. And I'm asking you now, Lord Jesus, to be in charge of my life.

Now show me the purpose you've designed me for. Guide my steps. I want to live for you. God, I believe that you raised Jesus from the grave. This cross and resurrection gives me outrageous hope.

Now, God, thank you for saving me. Now guide me, my friend. Welcome to the family. If you prayed that that confession of faith is power, power to save, and he is mighty to follow through in that confession. And we all pray right along with you.

Lord Jesus, help us to trust you in all things, that we would lay our past, our present, and our future at your feet, knowing that, God, you are mighty to save. You are mighty to finish what you started. Pray all of this in Jesus name. Amen.


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