Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Boundaries, Direction, Disciplemaking, Dreams, Encouragement, God's Will, Scripture

EXPANSION 

MICAH 7:11 

“It will be a day for building your walls. on that day your boundary will be extended.” 

I have a friend in Kenya who pastors a local church. This church began a school a few years ago for the children in their town who were too poor to attend the local schools only because they could not afford the uniforms. This school is expanding, thanks to the gifts of donors. They are eyeing some nearby land to expand so they can build some dorms to house some children who are homeless and are wandering the streets. 

Expansion! Micah prophesies the expansion of the boundaries of Israel. They will rebuild what has been destroyed and live in their land. Building and expanding their nation will take a continued reliance on Jehovah God. Micah is encouraging them to trust Him and believe in His promises. 

APPLICATION 

You are probably saying to yourself Carl, this is all well and good, but how does this apply to me? I am glad you asked. What size box do you have God in? By that I mean, what limitations have you put on how God can work in your life. Most of us do that. We cannot begin to dream of anything more. 

Let me tell you something. You need to think bigger. Now, I am not telling you to start asking for a jet or a bigger home. I am telling you to ask God to expand your circle of influence. Ask Him for greater opportunities to serve. Maybe He wants you to go on a short-term mission trip. Maybe He is calling you into full-time ministry. 

God wants to use us and use us mightily. He wants to see us expand His kingdom. He has great plans for each of us. He desires a willing vessel to use to send His message to others. Will you ask the Lord to expand your boundaries? Trust Him to show you. 

Expand my boundaries today, Lord. Show me how I can influence more people. 

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Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Scripture, Security, Trust

TRUST NO ONE

MICAH 7:5

“Do not trust in a neighbor; do not have confidence in a close friend. Guard your lips from her who lies in your arms.”

Those who remember the show “X Files” remember the statement that was made often. “Trust No One.” In this show about extraterrestrial lives cloaked in secrecy by the government, Fox Mulder, led investigations each week into appearances. If you like that sort of thing, you might enjoy this show.

Micah lived long before Fox Mulder, but his words are the same – trust no one. Well, he actually said, “Do not trust in a neighbor.” The lives of the individuals Micah were addressing were so unreliable and untrustworthy that he admonished them to not put trust in them. There was only one who was and is truly trustworthy.

In whom do you trust? I trust my wife without any doubts. She trusts me the same. But we are not perfect, and we can get things confused sometimes. When I travel, I try to stay in contact with her each day, not to check in, but to let her know she is on my mind. My loyalty to her is what has built our trust.

APPLICATION

I love Psalm 62:5-8. Listen to these words and discover your source of trust. “5 My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my hope is from Him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my refuge; I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my glory rest on God; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”

What else could you ask for? My fortress, my refuge, my rock and my strength. There is nothing else I can fully really on. I have good friends, but I know I cannot completely rely on them. God is the only One. Will you trust Him today? If you can trust Him with your eternity, certainly you can trust Him for your day.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.

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Accountability, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Calling, Choices, Discipline, Faithfulness, God's Will, Looking, Modeling, Scripture

ALL FOR NOTHING 

MICAH 6:15 

“‘You will sow but you will not harvest. You will tread the olive press but will not anoint yourself with oil; and tread out sweet wine, but you will not drink any wine.’” 

I have been trying to learn some more Swahili and, for the first time, some French. The app I am using has some timed lessons. If you do not finish the lesson in the time given, you have to start again. All that concentration and all that work for nothing. It can be a little frustrating. 

God told the people that all their work (sowing and treading) will be for naught. They will harvest nothing. They will not get enough oil for anointing or wine to drink. Somehow, they had to learn that all they had came from Him. Those blessings required obedience, which they had not shown. 

APPLICATION 

Are you spinning your wheels for God and getting nothing back? Well, maybe you are spinning the wrong wheels. We make the mistake all the time of “doing” for God. We think if we just stay busy He will bless us. I hate to disappoint you, but that is not how it works. What He initiates He anoints, not what you initiate. 

Now James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). God does want us to serve Him and to accomplish His plans. That requires “doing.” One person has said we have to put feet to our prayers. Just be careful to make sure you clear it with the Lord first. 

I was taught by my dad to show initiative. That is a good trait to have unless your initiative is self-driven and not God-driven. The joy of knowing that you are doing what the Lord has called you to do is so delightful. Do not spin your wheels trying to “do” for God. Stop, pray and let Him show you what it is He would have you do. 

Lord, slow me down and help me see Your grand plan for me. I want to serve where You want me to serve. 

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Modeling, Obedience, Sin, Treasures

ARE YOU STILL DOING THAT?

MICAH 6:10

“‘Is there still a person in the wicked house, along with treasures of wickedness, and a short measure that is cursed?’”

Bad habits are hard to break. I remember back before I came to Christ, I had lots of bad habits (I do not need to name them all here, lol). One of them was smoking. It took me about six months to quit that habit. It was so addictive that to this day if I smell a cigarette, I want one. Oh, the devil knows our triggers.

The Lord is saying through Micah in today’s verse, “Are you still doing that? Are you still doing those wicked things?” The “short measure” meant they kept coming up short, even though they were bringing in “treasures of wickedness.” Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers it little by little makes it grow.”

APPLICATION

I have never been, nor will I probably ever be rich, at least not in the eyes of the world. My family has never lacked for anything because the Lord has supplied our needs. He has even given us some of our wants. I had a bass boat for a while and really enjoyed it.

My point is when we are living for the Lord, He supplies our needs. He knows exactly what we need each day. Being our heavenly Father, He also likes to bless us with things. What father does not like to do that for his children? There is nothing wrong with having things, as long as those things do not become your focus.

The people of Israel, just like us, had shifted their focus to their treasures. That was all that mattered. Their sins were ripe with that desire. We cannot sit back and point our fingers at them. We do the same thing. Take a few minutes today and look over what the Lord has given you. Give Him praise for all He has done.

Lord, I am not worthy of Your blessings in my life. I am truly a rich man, full of Your mercy.

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Advice, Advocate, Bible, Choices, Double-minded, Evil, God's Will, Goodness, Knowledge

DO YOU NOT KNOW?

MICAH 3:1

“And I said, ‘Hear now, you leaders of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know justice?’”

As we grow up, we learn new things. I love to watch a toddler or preschooler learn. Everything is new to them. Little things like putting the square peg in a square hole brings delight and handclaps. As they learn more their knowledge about the world around them grows.

Micah now points his attention to the leaders of Jacob and Israel. He basically says, “You should know what is right and what is wrong! You should, by now, understand justice!” But the sins in their lives had blinded them to right and wrong. They had corrupted not only their lives but also the lives of the people.

APPLICATION

I remember telling my children as they were growing up to learn to recognize good and evil instead of what was right and what was wrong. Why? Because in today’s world what might be right for someone else could be wrong for others. But good and evil are the same everywhere.

The leaders of Israel and Judah had lost their bearings. They had forgotten the goodness of God. They had forsaken their worship and adoration of their Lord. Instead, they turned their attention to pagan idols, as if they could do anything for them. They had led their people down the road to destruction and thought nothing of it.

We are in danger of doing the same unless we recognize and embrace the justice of God. He will always judge correctly. He  knows the difference between good and evil in our hearts. He knows we are not perfect. I love Psalm 103:14 which reads, “For He Himself knows our form; He is mindful that we are nothing but dust.” He knows our frailty. That is why He gave us Jesus. Ask Him, and He will direct you as you navigate this world.

Thank You, Father, for giving me the knowledge through Your Word to know what is good and what is evil, what is right in Your eyes and what is wrong.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Covenant, Grace, Promises, Scripture

PROMISES, PROMISES

MICAH 2:12

“‘I will certainly assemble all of you, Jacob, I will certainly gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in the fold; like a flock in the midst of its pasture they will be noisy with people.’”

One thing I have been really trying to do is not make promises I cannot keep. There is nothing quite as bad as a broken promise. Parents do it all the time, don’t they? They promise their children things they have no intention doing. I have seen the faces of children whose parent did not show up for a visit which was schedule and promised. That hurts so bad.

Not God! When He makes a promise, He will keep it. Here in today’s verse, He promises to return the people of Israel to their land. He even says, “they will be noisy with people.” In other words, there will not be just a few. He will return a hoard of people, enough to make some noise. What a great promise.

APPLICATION

Do not make false promises to anyone, including God. We have all heard people promise God the moon if He would just get them out of the problem they are in. God, if You will get me out of this fix I am in, I will go to church every Sunday. And when that problem passes, they soon forget that vow.

I remember when I was about 15, I was in a bad car wreck. Oh, I was so thankful to survive. I made God all kinds of promises. That lasted a few months, and then I was back to my old lifestyle, which was not godly. God still showed me grace and never stopped pursuing me. At age 16, I accepted Christ as my Savior.

The Bible speaks to making vows. It says in James 5:12, “Now above allmy brothersdo not sweareither by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your ‘yes’ must beyes,’ and your ‘no’ must be ‘no,’ so that you won’t fall under judgment.” That is pretty clear. So, be careful as you make promises today.

Lord, I know I can depend on Your promises when all others fail.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Gospel, Listening, Obedience, Prophesy, Scripture

La la la la la

MICAH 2:6

“‘“Do not prophesy,” so they prophesy. But if they do not prophesy about these things, insults will not be turned back.’”

When we were children and we did not want to hear what someone was saying, we would stick our fingers in our ears and say, “La la la la la.” We just did not want to hear it. What would the person do who was telling us what we did not want to hear? One of two things – they would say it louder or stop talking.

The people of Israel did not want to hear what Micah (or any other prophet) was saying. They may have stuck their fingers in their ears. We do not know. It says here there that they said, “Do not prophesy.” In the Hebrew this was a very blunt statement. Kind of like “Shut your mouth.” Hmmm. Does that still happen today?

APPLICATION

Today, people get mad at the preacher if he starts stepping on their toes during a sermon. How dare that preacher say those things to me. Who does he think he is? There is a passage in Malachi 2:6-7 that says, “6 True instruction was in his mouth and injustice was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and justice, and he turned many back from wrongdoing. 7 For the lips of a priest should maintain knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of armies.”

Look at the last part of that verse – “for he is the messenger of the LORD of armies.” That is who is speaking here in Micah – a messenger of the LORD of armies. Today’s preachers/teachers have the same responsibility. And if they are preaching God’s Word correctly, we need to listen. We need to stop putting our fingers in our ears and saying, “La la la la la.” We should do what it says in Malachi – “seek instruction from his mouth.”

I have preached hundreds of sermons in my ministry career. Perhaps thousands – I have not kept count. I know some of those sermons were preached out of my flesh and not from the Lord. That is why I am so careful now to only preach what the Lord gives me. I stick to His Word. Check out whoever you are listening to. Make sure what they say aligns with what God says. And if it does – follow.

O Father, I want to hear Your message from Your spokesman. I want to hear the truth of Your Word.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Leading, Obedience, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

GOING EAST

JONAH 4:5

“Then Jonah left the city and sat down east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade, until he could see what would happen in the city.”

I know people who are directionally challenged. They could not tell you which way was east if their life depended on it. On a recent trip I made to Albania, I got out my trusty phone compass to identify which direction east was so I could watch for the next morning’s sunrise. I had made a lot of turns that day and was a bit confused on the direction. I like that little compass.

In Scripture, going east is used to show men moving away from God. Going east represents the world. Going west represents holiness. Jonah went east (away from God). He had probably waited the forty days of his prophecy and then went out to see what would happen. He still seemed to have hope that God would strike Nineveh for their sins, even though they had repented.

APPLICATION

What direction are you going? East or west? Are you moving away from God or towards Him? Let me tell you something. Going east does not solve anything. We need to always be moving west towards God. Now, I do not mean we need to literally move west. I am speaking symbolically here.

Many times, something bad happens and we withdraw from God. We do not understand His actions or lack of action. For instance, the recent school shooting in Texas has people both crying out to God and blaming God. God did not cause that shooting. Get that out of your head. God has no part of evil. But evil exists in this world. We must cling to God in the presence of evil and trust Him to get us through these kinds of tragedies.

I choose west. I choose to move towards God, no matter the ramifications. I know I can trust Him. I know He knows what is best for me. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will trust Him. Will you join me on my westward journey?

I will move towards You, Lord. Westward I will go!

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Asking, Bible, Bitterness, Deceit, Forgiveness, God's Will, Mercy, Scripture

RATIONALIZATION

JONAH 4:2

“Then he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Please LORD, was this not what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore, in anticipation of this I fled to Tarshish, since I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy, and One who relents of disaster.’”

Rationalization! Do you know what that means? It is “the action of attempting to explain or justify behavior or an attitude with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate.” People do it all the time. I have seen people rationalize drunk driving (well, I had to get home where I would be safe). People use it to justify their anger (If he/she wouldn’t act that way, I wouldn’t get mad).

Jonah is rationalizing his anger. He thinks he is justified in his anger. He is basically saying, “God, I told you so. I knew You would be merciful.” Jonah wanted these people gone. Remember, they were the enemy of Israel. They were hated by Israelites. Jonah felt his anger was justified because of what they had done to his nation.

APPLICATION

Be careful what you rationalize. Be careful of the behaviors or attitudes that you think are okay. The world today allows just about anything. In some states in the U.S., criminals are arrested and let go with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. They rationalize their behaviors because of the lax justice system. “If they don’t care what I do, why should I?”

Rationalization can be very dangerous. We only have one true way of knowing what is right and what is wrong. Do you know what that is? It is God’s Word. I am currently in a country where only a few decades ago, communism reigned. That government justified all its actions on their belief that it was “best” for the people. Ask those who lived through if they think that was best. Not hardly.

I will trust the Lord to show me how to rationalize the things around me. I will follow His lead. If the Lord says it’s right, it’s right. Jonah could have stopped and just asked the Lord why He decided to forgive the Ninevites. God would have probably gladly told him. Don’t be a Jonah. Don’t rationalize your behaviors. Go to the Lord.

Forgive me, Lord, when I try to justify my attitude or behaviors. If I line up my life with Your Word, I know I will be just fine.

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Advice, Anger, Battles, Bible, Bitterness, Darkness, Faith, God's Will, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

MAD AT GOD

JONAH 4:1

“But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry.”

Have you ever been mad at God? Maybe something didn’t go your way, so you blamed God. Perhaps you got sick and suffered greatly, so you got angry and refused to talk to Him. Maybe you lost a loved one prematurely, so, of course, it’s God’s fault. You are not alone. We’ve all done it at some point, I guess. Even Jonah!

Nineveh repents of their sins, and God spares them. Jonah should have been jumping up and down and claiming a victory for Jehovah. But Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites. He would have been just as happy if they had been wiped off the face of the earth. You know what? I don’t think God was too concerned that He “displeased Jonah.” God was looking at the big picture.

APPLICATION

What application do you see in this passage? One that I see is something a friend of mine used to say. “There is a God and I’m not Him.” I do not know the mind of God. I do not understand why He does the things He does. It is not for me to know. If He wants me to know, He’ll tell me. Until then, I trust His sovereign hand and serve Him.

Another thing I learn is it is okay to get mad at God. God did not strike Jonah dead because of his anger. If He had, Jonah 4:1 would be the end of the book, but it is not. We have ten more verses to see how God handles this anger of Jonah. God knows we are but dust. He understands the limitations of our minds and our mercy. But He will teach Jonah something.

I have to admit that I have been mad a God before. When I went through my chemotherapy in preparation for my second stem cell transplant, I had a few days when I was angry. I didn’t lash out at Him, but I just didn’t talk to Him for a few days. I wanted out of this misery I was in and saw no escape. I knew and believed God could have healed me instantly, if He had wanted to, if that had been His plan. But He chose to leave me in the fire a little longer. I understand now, but back then I didn’t. I learned to talk to Him and just spill my guts. He can handle it. There is nothing you can’t tell Him. Talk to Him today.

I praise You, Father, for not getting angry at my anger towards You. Hold me close and remind me how much You love me.

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