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June 23 | Bible in a Year: Esther 9-10; Acts 7:1-21

The Lord Rejoices

[God] will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17
READ ZEPHANIAH 3:14–20

My grandmother recently sent me a folder full of old photographs, and as I thumbed through them, one caught my eye. In it, I’m two years old, and I’m sitting on one end of a hearth in front of a fireplace. On the other end, my dad has his arm around my mom’s shoulders. Both are gazing at me with expressions of love and delight.

I pinned this photo to my dresser, where I see it every morning. It’s a wonderful reminder of their love for me. The truth is, though, that even the love of good parents is imperfect. I saved this photo because it reminds me that although human love may fail sometimes, God’s love never fails—and according to Scripture, God looks at me the way my parents are looking at me in this picture.

The prophet Zephaniah described this love in a way that astounds me. He describes God as rejoicing over His people with singing. God’s people had not earned this love. They had failed to obey Him or to treat each other with compassion. But Zephaniah promised that in the end, God’s love would prevail over their failures. God would take away their punishment (Zephaniah 3:15), and He would rejoice over them (v. 17). He would gather His people into His arms, bring them home, and restore them (v. 20).
That’s a love worth reflecting on every morning.
By Amy Peterson

REFLECT & PRAY
God, thank You for Your forgiveness and faithful love for us.
How does it make you feel that God rejoices over you with singing? How have you experienced His love?

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SCRIPTURE INSIGHT
Although Zephaniah concludes his message with powerful hope, most of this brief book warns of severe judgment. Why? Despite God’s efforts to correct His people, Jerusalem was “still eager to act corruptly in all they did” (Zephaniah 3:7). Yet God promises them a peace-filled unity. “I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder,” God said through the prophet (v. 9). The emphasis on “lips” is intriguing; God singles out the specific sins of lying and boasting—sins that involve speech. His corrective measures will be effective. “I will leave within [Israel] the meek and humble,” He says. “They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies” (vv. 12-13). It’s God’s judgment that sets the stage for Zephaniah’s encouraging conclusion. Tim Gustafson
 
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