Week 44 Friday

Gathered Again

Today’s scripture selection: Zephaniah

Key verses: Zephaniah 3:20

It isn’t long – and it isn’t pretty.

I’m talking about the message we find in the book of Zephaniah.  It’s only three chapters – and all but a few verses of it are pure judgment; real hellfire and damnation stuff.

It’s not the kind of thing I like to preach, though I don’t dispute that sometimes it’s the right message.  Righteous judgment, as doled out by a holy God – and not self-righteous people – has its rightful place.

Still, I like the last few verses of the book the best – because it is there we find hope – also from God.

After the judgment; after the punishment; after the exile – God says

“At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.”

Have you ever needed that kind of grace?  Have you ever needed that soft voice of hope that reassures you that you can have a fresh start and begin again?  I know I have.

And time and again we find that in the Scriptures.

God is holy – and righteous in His judgment.  And no power on earth can stand for a minute when He executes that judgment.

But God is also “slow to anger” and “merciful.”  That is the other side of the coin.  Unlike His children, who often don’t offer them – God actually does offer second and third and fourth chances.

Amazing Grace…how sweet the sound…

Prayer: Lord, thank you for gathering the lost home, when they…when we… most need to come home.  AMEN.

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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