Affection, Alone, Asking, Bible, Confession, Despair, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Mercy, Prayer, Rescue, Scripture

THE PITS

JONAH 2:6

“I descended to the base of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.

You may have heard the expression, “this is the pits.” But where does that come from? Well, I looked that up. It can refer to armpits which implies body odor, something that is undesirable. It also can refer to someone who is in the depths of despair. That is what I think of when I hear this. Well…Jonah was in the pits.

Remember where he is when he says what we read in today’s verse – the belly of a fish in the depths of the sea. It’s hard to get much lower than that. He was low. He was in despair. Look what he says, though. He says, “You have brought up my life from the pit, LORD my God.” Wait just a minute. He’s still in that fish. But now he realizes no matter the circumstance, God can lift you up from the depths of despair.

APPLICATION

If you are like most people, you have found yourself in “the pits” at some time. How did you manage that? How do you get out of “the pit”? So many of us turn to counselors or doctors for help. They can be very helpful. But so many of us don’t look at the spiritual side of our despair. We are spiritual creatures, as well as physical.

I want to encourage you the next time you find yourself in “that pit” to turn to Jesus. Ask Him why you are feeling the way you are. Ask Him what He would have you do to get out of that low place. He may reveal some hidden sin in your life that needs confessing. He may point you to someone who has gone through what you are going through at the time.

I have had the privilege to share my journey through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants to others who are going through the same thing. Let me tell you – chemo will bring you down into a pit. You need others to encourage you during that time. What have you gone through and what lessons have you learned that you can share with someone today? Do that.

Being in “the pits” is no fun, Father. I thank You that You have lifted me up each time I have called on You.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL THE MOMS OUT THERE READING MY BLOG!!

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Commands, Eternity, Heaven, Hope, Refuge, Scripture

REFUGEES

OBADIAH 14

“Do not stand at the crossroads to eliminate their survivors; and do not hand over their refugees on the day of their distress.”

Man, we have all seen the flood of refugees from Ukraine these past few weeks. People are fleeing a war-ravaged land seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Poland, in particular, has welcomed hundreds of thousands. People of all ages, women, children and the elderly are leaving their homes behind to find a safe place to live.

God warned Edom to treat the refugees from Israel (their brothers) with care. They should not mistreat them in any way. They were to not hand them over to their enemies or kill any trying to escape. God cares for those seeking refuge in times of trouble.

APPLICATION

I love Psalm 62:8 which says, “Trust in the Lord, you people; pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.” We are all refugees. We have all left our earthly home to move to that heavenly abode. We seek refuge in the God of the universe. He welcomes all.

A refugee forsakes all to find a new home. They may leave behind homes, businesses, cars, boats – everything. Their hope is in that place they are headed. They are seeking somewhere to call home. We are just the same. We are seeking that home with God.

I am so thankful that my permanent residence is already prepared for me in Glory. I may have a home here on earth, but my permanent dwelling place awaits me. I will make that journey one day and never return. I am ready. Are you?

Take me home, Lord, whenever You are ready. The longer I stay here, the more I long for home.

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Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

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Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Love, Scripture

LOVE YOUR BROTHER

OBADIAH 10

“Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be eliminated forever.”

I just finished a weekend with about 170 men at a conference in the hills of Tennessee. It was awesome. The one thing that was apparent was the love the guys had for each other. That love crossed cultural and racial lines. Looking around the room while these men worshipped together has to look a lot like heaven.

Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, had warred against his brother. God was not pleased with that. He had not shown love to him. Quite the contrary. When they battled, they were brutal. Their aggression toward their blood relatives was horrendous. God expects us to love our brothers.

APPLICATION

What does it mean to love your brother? It means accepting their faults and not judging them for everything. It means coming alongside them when they are down. It means coming to the rescue. It means bearing their burdens.

Who is your brother? God’s Word tells us. We have a family that is eternal. All those who are of the household of God, no matter where they live, are our brothers (and sisters). We don’t have the right to pick and choose whom we love in God’s family. We love them all.

Is there someone in the family that you need to show love to today? Give them a call. Send them a text. Let them know they are loved. I try to text at least one person a day and let them know they are loved. Try that for a week and see how you feel. You will be amazed.

Father God, thank You for loving me. Help me to love all Your children as You do.

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Accountability, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Calling, Confidence, Encouragement, God's Will, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Redemption, Remnant

A REMNANT

OBADIAH 5

“If thieves came to you, if robbers by night—Oh how you will be ruined!—Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape-pickers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings??

My Uncle Hugh Lee was a produce farmer. He grew large fields of tomatoes and cabbages for the market. Every year, at the end of the season, he let us come out and get all we wanted that was left in the fields. My mom canned the tomatoes for winter and cooked up a big mess of cabbage.

Obadiah is using an analogy of common, everyday life to not only let them know what was coming (judgment), but that there would also be a remnant left to return. God was not done with them yet. He still had plans for His chosen nation. They, however, had to deal with the judgment to come.

APPLICATION

You may be going through a hard time right now. You may feel like the Lord has forgotten you and left you to wander. That is not our God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He must discipline us at times, but He will not leave us there. You can trust that truth.

Where are you right now? Do you need assurance? We all do. That’s normal. But if you are in a pit of despair right now, thinking that God has forgotten you, stop. He knows exactly where you are. Call out to Him today. He hears, even from the deepest pit.

I honestly don’t know what I would do if didn’t have the knowledge that God loves me. I don’t understand why He does, but He does. I certainly don’t deserve it. But He has called me His own. If you are in Christ, so are you. So, today, live like it.

From the deepest valley, you hear my voice when I cry to You, O Lord. I know You are there and ready to rescue Your remnant.

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ONE TOUCH

AMOS 9:5

“The Lord GOD of armies, the One who touches the land so that it quakes, and all those who live in it mourn, and all of it rises up like the Nile and subsides like the Nile of Egypt;”

One touch can make all the difference. Do you remember the poem and the song about the touch of the master’s hand? There was an old violin that wound up at an auction. It looked beat up and useless. The bid started very low, like around $5.00. The auctioneer couldn’t get any bids at all. Then an old man walked up and asked to see the violin. He took it in his hands, plucked some strings and adjusted them for a minute. Then he took the bow in his hands and began to play this magnificent tune. When he finished, he laid it down and walked back to his seat. The auctioneer began the bids again. This time he started at $1 million dollars. The bidders protested, wanting to know what caused the great increase. He said, “It’s simple. The touch of the master’s hand.”

God’s touch can be like that. He can create something out of nothing. He can touch and heal. He can touch someone and cause them to shift the course of their life. But He can also touch and destroy. He can flip His little finger and cause earthquakes and landslides. God’s touch is powerful. Unfortunately, here in Amos 9:5 His touch is judging the world.

APPLICATION

What side of His touch do you want to be on? I know which side I choose. I have experienced His touch is so many ways. He touched me and saved me. He touched me and restored my health in 2010. He did it again in 2020. But He has also touched me and corrected me.

No one likes to be corrected, least of all me. I don’t like it. I believe I am right most of the time. That gets me into trouble. Each and every time, He is there to touch me and put me back on the right path.

What kind of touch do you prefer? Come to Him today and ask for that gentle touch of your Redeemer. Come to Him and let Him touch you so that you are about His business and not your own. One touch – that’s all it takes.

Gentle Savior, touch me today. Heal me and cleanse me.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Gentleness, Inspirational, Looking, Scripture

MY FATHER’S EYES

AMOS 9:4

“And though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword and it will kill them, and I will set My eyes against them for harm and not for good.”

When my children were growing up, they were very different. My son, the eldest, was typically more compliant. He was the one at whom you could just give a look (you know what I mean) and he would straighten up. He didn’t want to that look. My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t respond too well to that look. She didn’t ignore it, but she didn’t quite respond as quickly as our son.

The Israelites ignored the fact that God’s eyes see all. When you read that phrase “I will set my eyes against them for harm and not for good” you may get the impression that God is some kind of cosmic zapper, just waiting for you to mess up. No! God’s eyes are on us all. He just won’t tolerate the wicked, especially those who pretend to be His. He will deal with them.

APPLICATION

Amy Grant had a song in 1979 that really launched her Christian music career. It was her first number one song. It was called “My Father’s Eyes.” That was 43 years ago. Wow! I was still a teenager. Check it out at Amy Grant – Father’s Eyes (Lyric Video) – YouTube (pardon the YouTube commercial).

Part of the lyrics say:

        Eyes full of compassion

        Seeing every pain

        Knowing what you’re going through

        And feeling it the same.

The Father will not leave you hopeless. His eyes are upon you. If you are truly seeking Him, He is there. His eyes are indeed full of compassion, and He does see all your pain. Look fully into the eyes of Jesus today and allow His gaze to wash over you.

Lord, I thank You that Your eyes are always looking at me. You see all.

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Affection, Bible, Comfort, Encouragement, Grief, Modeling, Mourning

SACKCLOTH

AMOS 8:10

“Then I will turn your festivals into mourning, and all your songs into songs of mourning; and I will put sackcloth around everyone’s waist, and baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son, and the end of it will be like a bitter day.”

I remember the old burlap bags I used to bag up potatoes on my grandmother’s farm. We would dig the potatoes, bag them in those bags and carry them to the old farmhouse and pour them out on the floor for storage. Burlap bags can do a number on your knuckles and hands after a day of lugging those things around.

I can’t even imagine wearing those around my loins. That’s what they did during their mourning. The coarseness of the sackcloth (burlap bag) rubbed them reminding them of their fallen state. It was uncomfortable. They didn’t realize changing your clothes doesn’t bring about true repentance.

APPLICATION

Here in the U.S., we are accustomed to wearing black when we are mourning. A widow or widower will dress in black when their spouse passes away. If you think about it, if the loved one who passed was a believer, we should be celebrating. We should wear bright and festive clothes.

I preached a funeral recently where the widow wore a beautiful turquoise jacket. I bet there were some in the crowd who questioned that. No need to. Her husband loved Jesus. We were giving praise to Jesus for his homecoming. I know she was grieving, but she was also celebrating.

How do you face mourning? Are you trusting in the One who truly knows our griefs? He can restore your joy. He can cause you to celebrate. Let Him lead you during those times of mourning and you will come out the other side singing for joy.

I trust You in the good times, so I will trust You in the hard times.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Commands, Compassion, Discipline, God's Will, Hatred, Modeling, Scripture

HATE IS A STRONG WORD

AMOS 5:21

“I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your festive assemblies.”

I am sure at one point in your life you have told someone you hated them. It may have just slipped out. Perhaps you really didn’t mean it, but out it came. Maybe you did mean it. Perhaps that person had hurt you so deeply all you could feel at the time was hate. Whether or not this has happened to you, you can understand the depth of that word.

Would it help you to know that God hates? Yep, He does. But He only hates those things we do (not us) that are against His commands. Amos told the Israelites that God hated and rejected their festivals that were filled with such hypocrisy. The Hebrew word for “delight” actually means savor or smell. He doesn’t even want to smell the sacrifices because He knows how they are given.

APPLICATION

Oh, beloved. Listen to me. Be careful how you offer your “sacrifices” to God. He knows the intent of your heart. He knows when you drop that money in the offering plate or give online, how you felt about it. We are told to give with a cheerful heart, how we have decided to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

But our hearts are about so much more than our sacrifices to God. There is just no room in your heart for hate if the love of Christ is present. 1 John tells us that over and over. We can’t say we love Christ and hate our brother. We just can’t. So, lose that word from your vocabulary. Don’t allow your children use it. It’s a harsh word with harsh meanings and doesn’t belong in the mouth of a believer (unless he is talking about sin).

I just learned a new verse in Psalms. It’s Psalm 101:3. It says, “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do. I will have no part of it.” That kind of hate is okay. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Can we try that today?

Father, give me a divine hatred for anything sinful. Let it burn my nostrils. Instead, let me show the love of Christ to all around me.

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