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Merry Christmas!  We are quickly approaching Christmas.  Have you finished your shopping?  Do you have your house ready?  Are all the decorations up?  Wait, don’t shut down your email!  It is easy to allow all of these details to rob us of the joy of the season. This does not make our shopping, or decorations, or preparations unimportant.  The problem for us is that they cannot be a source of genuine joy.  These things make us happy, but after the holiday is over we are left feeling just as alone and disconnected as ever.  Where is the joy?  We turn to Zephaniah 3:12-20 to discover the source of joy for this people and for this historical moment.  They were living in a terrifying, joyless time in which God’s people had lost even the basic compassion for one another.  They could not depend on their leaders or spiritual authorities to guide them!  God was not content to leave them in this pit of despair.  These verses use almost every word in the scripture for “rejoicing.”  He sends this Word through the prophet to them to “Be of good courage, don’t despair!”  (Zephaniah 3:16, JOT)  This was a  revolutionary word because everything was discouraging and fearful!  God’s Word in Zephaniah gave them a source of joy that did not hinge on their circumstances, but on their relationship with a God who longed to sing over them in delight! God has not changed and this Word is for all of us. As you read the Word of the Lord in Zephaniah it is our genuine prayer that regret and fear will flee from your heart because you will be filled with the music  of God’s delight singing over you that you are his child!  Zephaniah 3:12-20: But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the LORD. 13 They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” 14 Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” 18 “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you. 19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. 20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD. (Zephaniah 3:12-1:1 NIV)