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A birthday card arrived in my mail box from a friend who knows me well.

On the front, surrounded by flowers and butterflies,

and graceful designs of sweeping swirls,

is my most favorite verse:

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The Lord your God is with you…

He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.

–         Zephaniah 3:17

This obscure passage in an Old Testament book

from ancient times,

written by a lesser-known prophet,

has become my life verse…

the one I go to in my lowest points,

during darkest nights, mid blackest storms.

In a world where sensitive souls are often trampled and misunderstood,

my God says,

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I delight in you so much, I can’t help but sing for the joy of our relationship.

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The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible

includes divisions with headings to guide the reader

through the writer’s progression of thought:

1:1 – Introduction

1:2-13 – The Coming Judgment on Judah

1:14-18 – The Final Judgment Day

2:1-15 – Judgment on Israel’s Enemies

3:1-7 – The Wickedness of Jerusalem

3:8-13 – Punishment and Conversion of the Nations

3:14-20 – Song of Joy

Sin cannot abide in God’s presence.

Because God loves us, if we do not correct our own waywardness,

eventually He is obligated to deal with it.

Because to Him, the sin greatest of all

is the sin found in those closest to Him.

Throughout the Old Testament we read time and time again

when Israel strayed from God,

only to be on the receiving end of His discipline.

Many times He used Israel’s enemies to bring chastisement.

After gloating in their victory, the enemies met with their own demise.

When Israel repented, God rewarded His people once again with favor—

relationship and blessing restored.

This book may be taken as literal,

meaning the incidents took place near the time of writing,

but also as prophetical, eluding to future events

that will culminate with the Millennial Kingdom.

Verse 17 sits near the end of the book.

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Once God’s people are scolded for their lack of faith,

After spiritual leaders are rebuked for their disobedience

and seeking their own welfare,

those paying attention will see: God is still at work.

He will right the wrongs;

And those who love Him, those who seek to be like Him,

will find a happiness that comes only from holiness,

Causing Him to celebrate and exalt the humble—

those called by His name.

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