Accountability, Accused, Advice, Bible, Blasphemy, Deception, Defiled, Elders, Following, Leading, Scripture

NOT GOOD DESCRIPTERS

ZEPHANIAH 3:4

“Her prophets are insolent, treacherous men; her priests have profaned the sanctuary. They have done violence to the Law.”

When I read this verse, my mind instantly went to the stories of the preachers who buy their multi-million dollar jets. They have mansions and are covered with fine clothes and jewelry. Many of them have been caught stealing from the churches they are supposed to serve. They are wolves in sheep clothing.

The same held true for the priests in Jerusalem. Zephaniah describes them as insolent, treacherous, profane and violent. Not a good way to be described. I am sure Zephaniah put himself in danger saying these words. These men who he is prophesying against would not take kindly to being called those names. But truth must be told.

APPLICATION

This behavior was nothing new. We see it in 1 Samuel concerning the sins of the sons of Eli. In 2:17 it says, “And so the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD disrespectfully.” The saying goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Men who hold positions of power have to be careful how they use that power.

And we must be aware of who we sit up under as our spiritual leaders. We must check what they say and do against Scripture. Only the Word is the complete truth. Our spiritual life is too important to be held captive by someone who corrupts the Word and leads falsely. This is a Biblical concept found in Acts 17:11 when the Bereans checked out Paul and Silas. “Now these people were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” 

I am not saying all preachers are bad. Far from that. Most of these men are humble servants who only want to love their people. Follow these men. They are men who heed to the words in 1 Peter 5:1-3. “1 Therefore, I urge elders among you, as your fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and one who is also a fellow partaker of the glory that is to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not with greed but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as domineering over those assigned to your care, but by proving to be examples to the flock.” These are men worth following.

Lord, protect Your servants from the schemes of the devil. Keep their eyes clearly focused on You.

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Advice, Bible, Leading, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

LEADING THE WRONG WAY

ZEPHANIAH 3:3

“Her leaders within her are roaring lions, her judges are wolves at evening; they have no bones to gnaw in the morning.”

I have had the privilege to have served under some great leaders. I have known others who led well. I have always tried to learn from these role models. However, others I have known have not led well. Their employees were uncontented. The turnover rate was high. What made the difference between these two types of leaders? Integrity!

Jerusalem’s leaders and judges were treating the people horribly. Zephaniah compares them to lions and wolves. Not exactly a great compliment. They were taking advantage of their positions and causing harm to the people. People were starving, and they were feasting. For this, they would be judged more harshly.

APPLICATION

If you are a leader in your church or place of work, you have the responsibility to lead well. James 3:1 gives us a warning. “Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” Teachers are leaders. God holds us to a higher standard. Why? Because we are leading others. They are trusting us to lead well.

Another great verse about the importance of good and godly leaders is Proverbs 11:14. “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.” Isn’t that good? We need good leaders, not leaders who use their power to put people down. Pray for your leaders. Ask the Lord to give them wisdom.

I have been in some type of leadership role for the past four decades. I have to admit that I have not always led well. I have allowed my ego to get in the way at times. But God has forgiven me of those failures and has put a servant leadership heart in me. I try to lead by serving now. Will you do that? Allow Jesus to show you how He led and imitate Him.

Lord, without Your guidance I will fail as a leader. Show me how to lead and love well.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conviction, Correction, Forgiveness, Guilt, Judgment, Messages, Scripture

GETTING PERS0NAL

ZEPHANIAH 1:4

“‘So I will stretch out My hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will eliminate the remnant of Baal from this place, and the names of the idolatrous priests along with the other priests.’”

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was complaining about people? You may actually agree with them and name a few people you have issues with. But then that person begins to name things about you that bother them. Whoa, wait a minute. Now they are getting personal. They are meddling too much, right?

I am sure those who heard Zephaniah’s message agreed with the first few verses, but now he’s getting personal. Now he is naming Judah and Jerusalem. But Zephaniah isn’t pulling any punches because he is delivering God’s message to the people. He is calling a spade a spade. Those in Judah and Jerusalem who have bowed to Baal and all those priests will be eliminated.

APPLICATION

How do you handle your Pastor’s sermons? As long as he is preaching on someone else’s sins, he’s fine. But when he starts naming yours, well…that’s a different story. How dare he get personal. How did he know about that sin? Was he watching me? Who told him about that?

I have preached a lot of sermons in my ministry, but I have never preached one pointed at one person. No one has divulged a sin of someone I needed to nail from the pulpit. But there have been numerous times when people came up to me after a message and told me how I had really spoken to them that day about their life. God’s Word will penetrate the hardest heart.

If you are a Pastor or have the ear of your Pastor, tell them to just preach the Word. Don’t get fancy with all your eloquence. Just preach the Truth. Let it convict those who hear the message and draw them to point of repentance. Our job is to simply deliver the message, like Zephaniah. It isn’t to judge.

Father, thank You for entrusting me with Your Truth. Help me deliver it faithfully.

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Advice, Bible, Debt, Payment, Rescue, Scripture, Sin

DECEIT OF DEBTS

HABAKKUK 2:6

“‘Will all of these not take up a song of ridicule against him, even a saying and insinuations against him and say, “Woe to him who increases what is not his—for how long—and makes himself rich with debts!”’”

I really hate debt of any kind. I know it is hard to avoid it, especially when you are buying a home. Most people don’t have that much cash. I am trying to pay off my home as quickly as I can. Debt deceives you into thinking you have more than you really do.

God speaks the first of five “Woes” here. The Hebrew word recorded by Habakkuk for “debts” is only used right here in all the Bible. Some translations translate it as “thick-clay.” It is weighty. It slows you down. Debts are one thing God warns about here.

APPLICATION

Don’t go and say Carl said all debt is bad. I am just saying we need to be careful. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.” That’s pretty plain, isn’t it? Sometimes we cannot avoid debt. Medical bills pile up after a lengthy illness. As I mentioned earlier, buying a home usually requires debt. Just be careful.

But aren’t you thankful that the one debt that we could never repay was paid for by Jesus. You may have heard the saying, “I owed a debt I could not pay, and He paid a debt He did not owe.” Jesus rescued us from a certain damnation. We could never pay the debt of sin which was on our life.

I am debt free spiritually. I owe nothing to the wrath of God. He is satisfied with the shed blood of His precious Son. There are so many around us who are drowning in debt spiritually. They have no hope. No banker on earth can satisfy that debt – only Jesus. Let’s share with them God’s plan for debt relief.

Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

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Advice, Affliction, Answers, Bible, Despair, Evil, Looking, Scripture

I CAN’T STAND IT!!!

HABAKKUK 1:3

“Why do You make me see disaster, and make me look at destitution? Yes, devastation and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises.”

Too much of anything is well…too much. Whether that be good or bad! When I was going through my chemotherapy, there were days when all I could see was the misery. On the outside I put on a fairly, brave face. Most people would not have known I was struggling. But on the inside, I was throwing in the towel. I was done. All I felt was bad, with no end in sight.

Habakkuk’s eyes are full of disaster, destitution, devastation, violence, strife and contention. That would depress anyone. He is finding it hard to comprehend this. God had promised blessings to Israel, not curses. God was about to tell him why these things are here. But right now, at this moment, Habakkuk is simply continuing to cry out to God.

Do these words describe your life right now – disaster, destitution, devastation, violence, strife and contention? If so, may I be so bold as to say to you that your eyes are on the wrong thing. When we look and look at all the evil around us, we are mesmerized by it. We can’t stop looking away.

APPLICATION

It’s kind of like if you are in your car and come across an accident. You slow down and look. You don’t want to stop looking. You know it’s not good, but you can’t help it. Sin can captivate us. And suddenly, we are stuck in this pit of disaster, destitution, devastation, violence, strife and contention. We too are screaming at God that we can’t stand it.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want those things in my life. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:8-9a, “8 But now you also, rid yourselves of all of them: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you stripped off the old self with its evil practices,…” If we stop looking at these things, we will soon discover that God has been there all the time, just waiting for us to look His way.

I want to focus my eyes on You, Lord, and not on the things of this world.  

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Abiding, Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Caregiver, Comfort, Dependence, Faith, Promises, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

IN TIMES LIKE THESE

NAHUM 2:10

“She is emptied! Yes, she is desolate and waste! Hearts are melting and knees wobbling! Also trembling is in the entire body, and all their faces have become pale!”

A couple of years ago, when I was going through treatment for my Amyloidosis, I got very weak. I was deathly ill. I had fainting spells and lost a lot of weight because I could not keep anything down I ate. My face was pale. My knees were wobbly. I felt as if my heart was melting. I guess you could say I could relate to the description in today’s verse.

Nahum, of course, is describing the condition of the Ninevites. Joel uses a similar description in Joel 2:6. “Before them the people are in anguish; all faces turn pale.” We find this description again in Jeremiah 30:6. “Ask now, and see if a male can give birth. Why do I see every man with his hands on his waist, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale?”

APPLICATION

The application, to me, is clear. We are weak and frail without Jesus. He is the source of our strength. You may think you are strong, but let a trial come your way and you will see what you are made of. Our flesh, in itself, can only bear so much. But it is amazing what we can endure with the help of the Lord.

Perhaps you are going through a very trying time right now in your life. You may be sick or grieving. Whatever it is, Jesus is your strength. Your knees may be wobbly, and your heart may be faint, but Jesus has you. Quit trying to manage it on your own. You can’t, He never said you could. He can and He always said He would (to borrow a quote from a dear brother-in-law).

I am so thankful that both times I went through my stem cell transplants I knew who held me. It was not the doctors or their medical knowledge. It wasn’t the great treatment I received at the hospitals. It wasn’t my wife, as precious as she was through both of those events. It was Jesus. He carried me through. He can carry you, too.

In times like these you need a Savior. In times like these you need an anchor. Be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.

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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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