Abiding, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Confidence, Courage, Covenant, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Idols

ABANDONMENT

JONAH 2:8

“‘Those who are followers of worthless idols abandon their faithfulness,’”

I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. In all those years, I saw a lot of children who had been abandoned. Abandonment is not a pretty thing. The feelings of loss and neglect are awful. Those who abandon are thinking only of themselves and not the lives they are affecting.

Jonah draws this analogy in referring to those who have abandoned their faith in favor of worthless idols. Those idols (or really those who peddled them) offered sensual or physical pleasures as part of their worship. The people’s hedonistic tendencies led them to choose those idols over true worship. They walked away from God. They abandoned their faith.

APPLICATION

Have you abandoned your faith? Have you tried to find something else to meet your needs? There is nothing else. Just like Jonah said, those things are “worthless.” They have no true meaning, no eternal purpose. They promise all sorts of things but never deliver. They only enslave.

If you have left your faith or it is weaker than it used to be, return to Him now. He will never abandon you. He will always be there. His love is eternal. His support of you will never end. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

So, is your heart completely His? If it is, He promises to “strongly support” you. There is no reason to abandon your faith. If you are struggling right now, turn to Jesus. He can carry you through. I pray you will stay close to Him. Do not abandon!

I will stay with You, O Lord. I know You will never abandon me.

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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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Alone, Apologies, Bible, Calling, Choices, Commitment, Confidence, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

EVEN THE LOST

JONAH 1:6

“So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’”

Testifying about what Christ has done in your life is more than just words. Your actions speak loudly. If your lifestyle doesn’t match what you are saying, nonbelievers will mock you and reject your message. We all mess up and do stupid things, but if you are outwardly showing a different message, this can be confusing.

The captain of the ship must have known Jonah believed in something. Most people back then had some god they worshipped. The sailors had been calling on their gods without any result. Perhaps Jonah’s god (notice I put a little “g” there) could help. I don’t believe the captain knew just who Jonah worshipped.

APPLICATION

Our testimony is huge. Who do we think we are? We can’t live one way and testify to the other. I have messed up in the past. I have said and done things in the presence of nonbelievers that did not honor my Savior. I have asked God for forgiveness of that and have tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not to do it again.

We can’t ignore our impact on the world around us. Christians are  watched so closely. We have to live like Jesus. We have to strive to be sinless. I know, that’s not possible. But we should be trying to live that way instead of choosing sin. Right?

As I said, I have blown it in the past. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. All I can do is live better, live holier. Through Christ we all can. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O Father, let me stand tall and alert to represent You at all times. When I fail, forgive me. Help me trust Your strength.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fear, Idols, Judgment, Scripture

TREMBLING

OBADIAH 9

“Then your warriors will be filled with terror, Teman, so that everyone will be eliminated from the mountain of Esau by murder.”

When I hear the word “trembling,” I can’t help but think about my little 4 year old daughter singing “Were You There.” She had a little lisp on her “r’s”, so tremble sounded more like twemble. But it was so cute hearing her sing this song. You could almost hear her tremble.

The mighty warriors of Edom were trembling in terror. Everyone was going to be eliminated, according to God. There was nothing they could do to stop it. They were in trouble, and everyone knew it. Tremble, tremble, tremble!

APPLICATION

Do you tremble at the thought of facing the Lord? I hope you don’t. There’s no need to do that, if you know Him as Lord and Savior. He is not a scary God. He loves you and wants to bless you. But you have to be willing to live for Him, which means getting rid of all the stuff that you put in His place.

Carl, I don’t have anything above God. Are you sure about that? We can so easily move God down a shelf or two when we get busy with other stuff. Nothing can come before Him – Nothing! Not even for a minute. He must remain first in your life.

I have learned that through the school of hard knocks. Have you been there? I think I got my doctorate there. I think I am finally at a place where I am more aware of where I place the Lord. He is first in my life. My wife knows that. My boss knows that. I want everyone to know that. Can you say the same?

O Lord, I do not want to tremble in Your presence. I want to walk confidently and boldly into Your arms.

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Allies, Alone, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Deception, Enemies, Friends, Leading, Scripture

ALLIES

OBADIAH 7

“All the people allied with you will send you to the border, and the people at peace with you will deceive you and overpower you. They who eat your bread will set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.)”

Don’t you just hate it when someone is betrayed by “friends”? It’s one thing for your enemies to attack you. But when so called allies turn their back on you, that’s hard. I am fortunate to say that has never happened to me (yet). I believe I can trust all my friends to have my back, if needed.

Poor Edom – they were betrayed by allies who knew them well. When push came to shove, the bailed on Edom and chose their own safety. Not only did they betray them, but they gave up many of their secrets to help the enemy. That’s like sticking in the knife and turning it. Not good.

APPLICATION

Who are the friends you can depend on? I serve now with a ministry called Every Man A Warrior. We teach men how to walk with God, succeed in life and multiply spiritually. One aspect of that training is teaching the need to have allies, guys in their corner. We know you can’t do this life alone.

It is beautiful when you see these groups of allies come together for one of their own. No betrayal. No turncoats. All coming together to give aid to one of their brothers. Whether it be a physical, emotional or spiritual need, these allies come together.

On the flip side, I’ve seen men try to do this on their own. What happens? They usually fall flat on their face. They are fine until they face that first hurdle and then wham! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down he has a friend to help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” Be that ally today for someone else. You will need them yourself one day.

Father, You made us to need each other. Surround me with godly men who can help me navigate this life.

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Alone, Bible, Commitment, Consequences, Direction, Judgment, Scripture

NOWHERE TO RUN

AMOS 9:2

“Though they dig into Sheol, from there My hand will take them; and though they ascend to heaven, from there I will bring them down.”

Oh, how I recall being told by my mother, “Wait until your dad gets home.” Now, my dad worked at a textile mill on the first shift (7 a.m. – 3 p.m.) I would go to my room and watch the clock. I listened for his truck. I did not want to face my dad because I knew what was coming.

Today’s verse in Amos gives us a clear picture of God’s judgment. Those facing it would try to hide in Sheol by digging down to it. They would try to hide in heaven with the same result. God’s reach is everywhere. He is omnipresent, after all.

APPLICATION

I believe the application is clear. Don’t try to run from God. There is no place to hide. There is no hole deep enough or mountain high enough. People try to run from God all the time and never succeed. Their only hope is to stop running and turn to Him. He is not going anywhere.

Are you running from God right now? Maybe there is something He has asked you to do, but you are refusing to listen. That’s running! Perhaps you are hiding some personal sin that you know you should confess to Him. That’s running.

Stop running! God is right there waiting. His arms are wide open wanting to embrace you. But you have to turn to Him. He won’t chase you down. He won’t make you come to Him. It is so sweet when you come and sit at His feet and hear Him say, “You are my child. I love you.”

Thank You, Lord, for not letting my hide from You. I want to be in Your presence.

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Alone, Battles, Bible, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Hearing

NO WORD

AMOS 8:11

“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD.’”

I have a friend who goes on “Silent Retreats.” These retreats are designed for the participant to spend a weekend in total silence. After the initial instructions on Day 1, you spend the rest of the weekend without saying a word to anyone – no phone calls, no texts, etc. He says it really helps him hear from the Lord.

Amos is sharing God’s warning that there will come a famine of His words. That prophecy did come true during the almost 400 years of silence from God between the book of Malachi and the New Testament. Deafening quietness. No word for God. Despite the cries of the people, no word.

APPLICATION

I’m a talker, especially in the mornings. My wife bans me to another part of the house until she’s had her coffee because of that, lol. I can’t imagine going one day without talking to her. I love to talk to her. I want to know how she’s doing. I love to just hear her voice. Why? Because I love her.

So, I can’t imagine 400 years of not hearing from God. I get up every morning and spend time with Him. He talks to me through His Word. He talks to me through my prayer time. I hear because I’m listening. When those dry spells come, and they will, I search my heart for what is blocking His voice. It’s always me. It’s always my sin.

I want to hear from the Lord daily. That means I have to confess my sins to Him daily. The days I can’t recall a sin, I ask Him to forgive my forgetfulness. I know I have sinned in some way because I am still flesh and blood and subject to it. But with Christ as my guide, I can avoid most of those sins that so “easily entangle us.” Do you hear Him? Listen.

O Lord, I long to hear Your voice each day. I love the sound of Your voice as You guide and direct me.

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Abiding, Alone, Battles, Bible, Deception, Direction, Dreams, Following, Hope, Leading, Scripture

NON-THING

AMOS 6:13

“You who rejoice in Lodebar, and say, ‘Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?’”

Sometimes we place our hopes and dreams in things that are impossible. Everyone tells us that. But we just don’t believe it. We are sure we can accomplish this on our own. We haven’t prayed about it, but we are sure God will bless it. Been there – done that. This usually doesn’t end well.

Israel was rejoicing in nothing. Actually, that should read non-thing. That’s what Lodebar means. It was a non-thing compared to God. Their idols were non-things. And they also claimed they had taken ahold of the horn – that’s what Karnaim means. Their strength was obtained on their own, they thought. What a rude awakening they had coming.

APPLICATION

Everything we have and have done is because of the Lord. He gives and takes away. He restores and tears down. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves, right? So, why do we continue to try to do things on our own? Why do we insist on going it alone?

Our flesh is strong, especially among us men. We think we can “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” While that mentality works in the world’s eyes, it doesn’t so much in the spiritual realm. We can do nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit. Read John 15:4-8. That will give you a good picture of what I am talking about.

I know from my own life that I cannot achieve one thing without the Lord. Anything I try to achieve on my own will not last. It will become a non-thing, a Lodebar. I cannot take Karnaim, the horn, on my own. It’s only through Jesus that I can find success. He will lead me and give me the strength I need to face life. How about you?

I know I am nothing without You, Lord. You make me what I am, and I am so thankful.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Encouragement, Fire, Friends, Relationships, Scripture

LOG FIRE

AMOS 4:11

“‘I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a log snatched from a fire; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

There’s a simple rule about log fires. They burn much longer when there is more than one log on the fire. I guess you could call that fire synergy. The combined heat and fire of all the logs is much more than the heat and fire of the individual logs added together. Confused?

God uses this analogy in today’s verse. A log snatched from a fire will soon go out. It will quit burning. Israel had lost its fire. It refused to return to the Lord and was overthrown – just like Sodom and Gomorrah, two wicked cities destroyed by God with hellfire and brimstone during the days of Lot.

APPLICATION

If you are trying to “burn your fire” all alone, it won’t last long. We are made to do life alone. First of all, you need the Lord in your life to give you direction and purpose. Secondly, you need other believers to encourage you and help you along. You need those other “logs” in your life to keep your fire going.

I pray you have other “logs” in your life right now. If you don’t, you need to find some. Get in a church where you can be loved on and supported. Find a group of fellow believers with whom you can do life. Their fires will help fuel your fires, and together you can build a bonfire for the Lord.

I have said it before, but I need others in my life. I need other men to hold me accountable. I need friends with whom I can share my needs and hurts. God has made us this way. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Ask Him today to put others in your life. Don’t be a log snatched from the fire, slowly burning out and losing its flame.

I want to burn brightly for You, O Lord. I know to do that I need others in my life who can help me.

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Abiding, Alone, Bible, Christ's Return, Consequences, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Healing, Home, Leading

NO HOMEPLACE

AMOS 1:15

“‘Their king will go into exile, he and his princes together,’ says the LORD.”

My family moved a lot during my ministry. In fact, my wife and children have moved five times. We know each move was directed by the Lord. The events leading up to our decision to move were not our own making. Only God could have done it. But all those moves can leave you feeling homeless. Thankfully, we have settled in Chattanooga, TN. That is our home. Now, God may move us again, but it will always be home for us.

Amos ends his prophecy against Ammon by prophesying the royal family’s exile. Do you know what that means? They would be taken out of their palaces, their homes, and placed in another country which the conquering army had defeated. Wherever they were placed, it wouldn’t be home. They will lose everything that is familiar.

APPLICATION

Have you lost your familiar place? Do you feel homeless? I want to remind you of something. If you are believer, you don’t belong here anyway. This world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and when it is time, He will take us home.

But while you are here, where do you belong? Wherever God has placed you. My wife and I tried to make everyplace we lived home. Some places were easier than others, but we really tried to make it home. Home is where your family is. Don’t be bitter or angry about where you are. Accept your placing as from God.

God has a master plan for our lives. I will never understand it this side of glory. But I trust His wisdom. I know He will never place me anywhere that is not meant to make me more like Him. The people I meet there and the experiences I have are heaven-made. God has allowed each and every interaction for a reason. The journey is exciting. Embrace it.

Father, I trust that You know what is best for me. I will go along for the journey.

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