Abiding, Affliction, Bible, Deliverance, God's Will, Oppression, Rescue, Scripture

LIVING IN A BOWL

ZEPHANIAH 1:11

“‘Wail, you inhabitants of the Mortar, because all the people of Canaan will be destroyed; all who weigh out silver will be eliminated.’”

The city where I live, Chattanooga, is in a bowl. We sit in this valley fringed by mountains which gives our geographic area a bowl-like appearance. Pollen settles here and makes breathing hard for those with allergies. We do get protected from some storms because of our geography, but at other times, if the weather comes from a southwesterly direction, we can get hit hard.

That is the case here in Zephaniah 1:11. The word “Mortar” is actually referring to the geographical location the people find themselves in. They are trapped in a bowl. Much like drugs are crushed by a pestle inside a mortar, their enemies would crush them in their valley, in their bowl. Judgment is sure.

APPLICATION

You may feel like you are being crushed by life’s circumstances. I know sometimes the pressures of life can be horrible. It seems you are being hit from every side. Can I put all that in perspective for you? Philippians 2:5-8 can do that. “5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. 8 And but being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.”

Sure, we suffer hardship. But compared to what Jesus has done for us, it is nothing. The sins of the world were on His shoulders. Can we even imagine the pressure He was feeling? And remember, He had not done anything wrong. He had never sinned. Can we say that?

I am thankful for the opportunities He gives me to trust Him. Even when I am in that bowl of affliction and there seems to be no way of escape, He is there. He will sustain me. He will lift up my head. He will deliver me. Praise be to Him.

Yes, Lord, You are the lifter of my head. To You I will look for my deliverance during each trial and hardship.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Enemies, God's Will, Judgment, Justice, Oppression, Restoration, Scripture

LOOK WHO IS SHAKING NOW

HABAKKUK 3:7          

“I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.”

People who boast and brag about their exploits can get on your last nerve. Am I right? I am not saying that we should feel that way, but it is hard to constantly hear that stuff. It is especially hard when you know they have hurt people in the process. You see the wake of destruction they have left. Yet they brag about it. It makes you wonder sometimes if God knows what they are doing.

Oh, He does. Habakkuk tells us so right here. Cushan and Midian had been thorns in the side of Israel for years. Midian used to raid Israel and leave nothing for the people. They would leave them impoverished. Both of these nations disappear after their defeats. All their successes vanish into thin air. God will have His vengeance on His children’s oppressors in due time.

APPLICATION

Perhaps you are being oppressed by someone right now. You feel there is no escape. You pray and are wondering if God is even hearing you. Oh, child of God, our God never sleeps and never slumbers. He is totally aware of your circumstances and is preparing to answer you in His perfect time.

So why does God allow suffering in our lives at the hands of unrighteous people? All I can tell you is that everything that touches our lives as believers goes through God’s hands first. I do not understand why He allows certain trials in certain people’s lives. I only know I can trust Him to see me through the trials He places in mine.

It is not my place to plot revenge on those who harm me. God will avenge me in due course. I may not be alive when that happens, but He will handle the situation according to His perfect will in my life. Do you believe that? Do you trust Him? Just allow Him to work. He loves you with an everlasting love.

I trust You, Lord, even when I can’t see You working. I know You are there.

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Abiding, Affliction, Bible, Enemies, Hope, Power, Scripture, Security, Strength

THEY’RE COMING

HABAKKUK 2:7

“‘Will your creditors not rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.’”

We have all heard stories from friends who have suffered financial hardships. The creditors start calling and don’t let up. Answering the phone is scary. Even knocks on the door cause fear to enter. Knowing creditors are literally at your door is a frightening thing.

The Lord is telling Habakkuk that these Chaldeans, who think they are so strong and terrible, will be trembling as their enemies fall on them suddenly. They will collapse under the hand of those who they had so cruelly reigned. They will become the plunder. Their “creditors” are going to destroy them.

APPLICATION

Are you living in fear of something? What or who is knocking at your door? If we are not relying on Jesus, we are living dangerously. There is nothing that can protect us outside of Him. He is the only One Who can! He not only knows what is coming. He knew it before they did.

If that doesn’t calm your heart, nothing will. The God of Ages has your back. I do not mean to imply that you won’t go through hard times. We all do. But knowing that the Lord is there to defend you should give you the confidence to forge forward.  I am not trying to paint a rosy, pie-in-the-sky picture. I know this to be true because His Word tells us.

He tells us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Dy 31:6; Heb 13:5). He is our strong tower and the righteous run to Him (Pr 18:10). I could go on and on, but there are literally hundreds of verses that tell us He is there. Trust Him. Let Him defend you.

You are my strong tower, Lord. I will run to You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture, Surrender

SANDSTORMS

HABAKKUK 1:9

“All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They gather captives like sand.”

I have mentioned several times in my blog that I grew up in South Georgia. I spent a good bit of time at my Uncle Hugh Lee’s farm where we picked produce and where I worked in the fields with him. In the summers when it got dry, the wind would whip up dirt and just sling it in your eyes. It seemed as if a billion particles of sand were flying through the air.

That’s the picture God is painting for Habakkuk. The Chaldeans will come in swiftly and sweep their captives like sand caught up in a sandstorm. They will be captured and taken away so quickly. That message is one I am sure Habakkuk did not want to deliver to the people, but one that had to be told. There would be no escape from their judgment.

APPLICATION

What is the Lord “whipping up” in your face? What is He trying to get you to see? God does not punish us without warning. We have His Word to direct our decisions and behavior. We, as believers, have His Holy Spirit to convict us and redirect us. But what do we do? We ignore His warnings. We disregard His teachings.

So, we end up under facing God’s judgment. I don’t mean we are going to lose our salvation. No! If you are a believer, you are secure in Christ. But we face those “sandstorms” which God allows in our lives. They are not comfortable. But they are meant to drive us back to Him. We cannot stay in a position of disobedience and please our heavenly Father.

I am thankful that the Lord allows those gritty moments to lead us back to Him. I am thankful He doesn’t just leave us alone. He will not force us to do anything, but He will draw us back to Himself. Choosing to do otherwise will only lead to more heartache and pain. It’s your choice. Do you want sandstorms or gentle breezes?

Lord, bring on Your winds of change in my life. I want to be driven right back in Your arms when I stray.

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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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Affliction, Bible, Death, Flesh, Rapture, Scripture, Sin

INCURABLE

NAHUM 3:19

“There is no relief for your collapse, your wound is incurable. All who hear about you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom has your evil not come continually?”

I have an incurable disease. I have shared that on this blog in the past. It’s called Amyloidosis, technically it’s called Primary AL Systemic Amyloidosis, not that that matters. I have gone through two stem cell transplants and will face another unless one of three things happen. 1) Jesus comes back before I die, 2) I die before a cure is found or 3) a cure is found. Guess which one I am hoping for. That’s right – number 1.

Nahum closes out his letter addressing the king of Nineveh. He wants him to know for certain that there is no returning to his kingdom. It’s gone. It’s finished. All his enemies will rejoice at his fall because of the horror he had inflicted on them in the past. Judgment has come, and he has been found wanting.

APPLICATION

We all have an incurable disease. It’s called the flesh. We are born sinners and to our flesh we will succumb. We have no hope of redeeming ourselves. Look up Romans 6:23 if you want proof. Read the first part of that verse. We are destined for a fiery judgment unless… That’s right; there is hope in One.

The cure for our fleshly disease of sin is Jesus. He came to give us life. He came to perform a life-giving act by dying for us on the cross. The second half of Romans 6:23 gives us the good news. He is a free gift. All we have to do is accept it. Sadly, millions die every year refusing that gift.

I pray you have accepted that gift. I pray you know Jesus as your Savior. If you haven’t, you can today. Simply admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believe Jesus died and rose again. Confess him as Lord and you shall be saved. Glory be to God! He is the cure!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Captivity, Defeat, Enemies, Protection, Scripture, Victors

CAPTIVITY 

NAHUM 3:10 

“Yet she became an exile, she went into captivity; also her small children were smashed to pieces at the head of every street; they cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound with shackles.” 

In this study of Nahum, there has been a lot of talk about captivity. That got me thinking about what holds me captive. What do I allow in my life that holds me captive emotionally, spiritually or even relationally? I bet you have the same captors in your life. 

Nahum is continuing to address the Ninevites in his prophetic statements. He is painting a picture of the horrors of human captivity – children killed and adults led away as slaves in chains. Both their present and future were taken. How defeating.  

APPLICATION 

As horrible as that sounds in today’s verse (and it is horrible), we willingly or naively put ourselves in similar chains. We stay in relationships that we know are not good for us spiritually. We continue in behaviors that will only lead to trouble down the road. We even sit under teaching that floods our minds with ideas that run contrary to God’s Word. 

Paul warned the Colossians of this in chapter 2 of his letter to them. Colossians 2:8 reads, “See to it that there is no one who takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception in accordance with human tradition, in accordance with the elementary principles of the world, rather than in accordance with Christ.” 

We have warnings all through Scripture, if we will just heed them. There lies the problem. We don’t read the Scriptures to know of these warnings. We don’t memorize and meditate on them to build our defenses. The only way to combat captivity is to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Get in the Word today. 

I am armed with Your Word to battle against any evil force that may come my way. You are my tower of safety. 

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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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Accused, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Defeat, Devil, Evil, Power, Scripture, Victors

LED AWAY

NAHUM 2:7

It is set: She is stripped, she is led away, And her slave women are sobbing like the sound of doves, beating their breasts.”

I had a friend, who is now with the Lord, who was captured and was a prisoner of war during World War II. He survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines that was led by the Japanese. He told me once how hopeless and helpless he felt. I cannot imagine what he went through.

Nahum is describing Nineveh as a woman being led away in captivity – stripped, sobbing, beating their breasts. Hopeless, helpless! When Nineveh was defeated, the surviving inhabitants were led away. Nineveh would never be the same. Rebellion against God never ends well.

APPLICATION

We often feel defeated. We feel hopeless and helpless when the enemy is upon us. When we give in to the attacks, he can rob us of our joy. But we must remember what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

We are not defeated. We are victorious because of Christ. We are the victors. The war has already been decided, and we are on the winning side. Never forget that. We will face battles in the future, and we may fail at times. But we are not captives.

Aren’t you glad that you are not on a death march? When you  get discouraged, look up. You need allies in your life who can come alongside you during those trying times. Most of all, turn to Jesus, who can take all your pain away. You are NOT DEFEATED!

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming love.

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Accountability, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Enemies, God's Will, Protection, Scripture

OPENINGS

NAHUM 2:6

The gates of the rivers are opened and the palace sways back and forth.”

I was recently in Florida and had the chance to walk a beach. Immediately upon my arrival at the beach, my wife and I spotted a sandcastle that had been built. It looked a little bit well worn, but it was still standing. If you have every built a sandcastle on the beach you know that if it is built too close to the waves, the tide will come in and wash it away.

In a similar fashion, the gates of Nineveh had been opened by a swelling river, which exposed it to the enemy which was outside the walls in the midst of a siege against it. Once those gates were opened, the enemy had only to use the flow of the river to invade and ultimately conquer the city. “The palace sways” indicates the fall of the empire.

APPLICATION

What have you opened yourself up to? We do it without thinking. We allow small cracks to form, and before we know it, we are engulfed with the world. Just like the crashing waves on the sandcastle or the open gates allowing the river to flow, we have exposed ourselves to outside influences.

That is never good. The world has no interest in making you more godly. I am reminded of 2 Peter 1:3-4. It reads, “3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.”

It is only His divine power that can prevent us from being sucked into a worldview of life. But we can be “partakers of the divine nature.” Isn’t that great? Divine nature? Us? That is what God’s Word says, so it has to be true. Guard your hearts, my friends. Only open yourselves to His truth.

I open my eyes and ears to You alone, O God. You are the protector of my soul.

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