Altars, Bible, Darkness, Evil, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Idols, Modeling, Scripture

IN THE MIDST OF EVIL

MICAH 3:3

“Who eat the flesh of my people, strip off their skin from them, smash their bones, and chop them up as for the pot, and as meat in a cauldron!”

I have experienced evil in my lifetime – pure evil. It is not a comfortable feeling. I remember many years ago, back in 1985, I had the opportunity to visit Liberia on a mission trip with a couple of friends. We went to several villages with the local missionary to do medical missions and share the Gospel. One village we approached had this huge cottonwood tree on the edge of the village, from which were hung all kinds of animal bones. We were told this was the local witchdoctor’s altar. You could just feel the evil all around.

Micah continues the description of those who were leading the people in evil. These people were totally disarmed and helpless. Their flesh, skin and bones were chopped up for the pot, not literally, but figuratively. They were just food for the leaders, people to be exploited and preyed upon. Pure evil.

APPLICATION

I pray you never encounter evil like I experienced or what Micah is describing. I am afraid our world is becoming more evil by the day. The Word of God is scoffed at. The principles taught in the Bible about marriage, life and godly living are ridiculed and considered old-fashioned. The biblical worldview we believers strive to live by is scorned.

How do you survive this? By relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. There is a pledge I recite as part of the Every Man A Warrior (www.everymanawarrior.com) disciple making curriculum. It is called the manhood commitment. It says:

Created by God in His image to be a bearer of destiny in social and spiritual leadership, I will be a man who, abiding in Jesus Christ and relying on the power of the Holy Spirt –  rejects passivity (the silence of Adam); accepts responsibility to obey God’s will, do God’s work, and love God’s woman; leads courageously through direction, protection and provision based on God’s principles, not my passions; serves humbly giving life to others, not taking life from them; and invests eternally, making disciplemakers.

Ladies, you can adapt that to fit you, as well. But that is how we fight the evil in this world. We abide in Christ and rely on the Holy Spirit. We reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, serve humbly and invest eternally. That is my passion. Try that today in your life and just see what happens.

I shall fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

Standard
Accountability, Accused, Altars, Belief, Bible, Confession, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Idols, Judgment, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

WHERE DOES SIN BEGIN?

MICAH 1:13

“Harness the chariot to the team of horses, you inhabitant of Lachish—she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion — because in you were found the rebellious acts of Israel.”

Do you remember your first introduction to sin? Do you remember when you committed your first sin? Probably not. Most of us were too small to remember our terrible twos, snatching a toy from someone else. Since the fall of Adam, we are born with that sin nature. No one has to teach us to sin. We, however, do have to be taught how not to sin.

Lachish was known as the initiator of idol worship to Judah. It had already begun in Israel (the Northern kingdom). Perhaps because of their trade in chariots and horses they were introduced to them by pagan nations. Lachish was known for its fast horses and chariots. Micah tells them they had better get in those chariots and harness their fastest horses if they hope to escape.

APPLICATION

Listen, brothers and sisters. I don’t care how fast you run; you cannot escape the wrath of God. There is not a plane, train or automobile fast enough. You could travel to another planet and still not escape it. There is only one way – that is through the blood of Jesus.

Assyria came in and defeated all of Israel and Judah. God used them as His instrument of wrath to judge His people. God will use whatever necessary to judge us if we are not under the blood of His Son, Jesus. But, oh the power of that blood. It can wash away our vilest sins and make us new again. Because of that blood, God forgives us of all our sins.

Praise God for His eternal blessings. I do not deserve so great a salvation. But thanks be to God, He had a plan to give me that way of escape. I pray you have made that decision to turn your life over to Him. You cannot outrun God. Stop running and allow the transforming power of the blood make you whiter than snow.

O Father, thank You for saving me. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to rescue me.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Altars, Bible, God's Will, Hearing, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

PRAY ANYWHERE

JONAH 2:1

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish,”

One thing I have learned over the years is I can pray anywhere. I have prayed while being wheeled in for surgery. I have prayed sitting in a deer stand. I have prayed in the middle of a hurricane. I know my God is listening to me wherever I am. He doesn’t care if I am kneeling or standing, with my eyes open or closed. He just wants me to pray.

Jonah prayed “from the stomach of the fish.” Now, I haven’t tried that yet (and I don’t want to). He was truly in a pickle. God had assuredly rescued him from the deeps of the sea by sending the fish, but now what. How was God going to rescue him now? Or maybe He wasn’t. Maybe he was going to meet God with seaweed all over him.

APPLICATION

Pray! Just pray! There are so many passages of Scripture that tell us to pray. Some even tell us how to pray. Matthew 6:9-13 is what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Have you read that lately? If not, take a minute and go do that. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

How did you like that? Our Lord Jesus showed us how to pray. I think He is a pretty good teacher. He knew how to pray. He knew the value of praying. He did it often, probably much more than is recorded in Scripture.

If you haven’t discovered the joy of praying, you really should try it. It sets you free. And the more you pray, the more you want to pray. You begin to hear His voice so much clearer. He wants to talk to you. Did you know that? Don’t wait to get swallowed by a big fish to begin your prayer time.

I love to talk to You, Lord, and to hear Your voice. Lord, speak!

Standard
Altars, Bible, Choices, Confession, Disciplemaking, Double-minded, Eternity, God's Will, Idols, Obedience

I SWEAR

AMOS 8:14

As for those who swear by the guilt of Samaria, and say, ‘As your god lives, Dan,’ and, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives,’ they will fall and not rise again.’”

My mama didn’t allow any swearing in her house. If one of us said, “I swear,” she would wear us out. We weren’t allowed to say, “My God!” She had a high respect and awe of God and didn’t allow her children to say or do anything that went against that.

The Israelites were warned by Moses and Joshua not to swear by any other God besides Jehovah. This “guilt of Samaria” probably referred to the calf that was there and was worshipped by the people. “The way of Beersheba” more than likely referred to the avenue of their idols they had set up. God despised this and held them accountable for their idol worship.

APPLICATION

We still make vows and swear by God. When I married, I made vows to my wife before God. When I go to court and have to testify, I am asked to raise my hand and vow to tell the truth. Swearing to God isn’t bad. Swearing to another god is a different story. That still isn’t okay with God.

You are probably thinking I would never do that. I would never swear to another god. You may not do that consciously. But have you ever put something above God in priority? Have you chosen something of the world above something that has eternal value?

We swear in all kinds of ways. We can’t allow ourselves to get sidetracked or out of focus. Satan loves to get our eyes off what is eternal and onto the temporal. We can become so obsessed with worldly things that we totally forget what is important, what is righteous, what is pure. Take a step back today and evaluate what you put first in your life.

Lord, keep me on the straight and narrow. Help me to focus on the eternal things.

Standard
Accountability, Altars, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Scripture

WEEPING BEFORE THE LORD

JOEL 2:17

“Let the priests, the LORD’S ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare Your people, Lord, and do not make your inheritance a disgrace with the nations jeering at them. Why should those among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”

I remember a time when I went to a Promise Keeper’s Conference in Atlanta, GA. It was sometime in the 1990’s. At one point in the conference, the speaker asked us to pray for our fathers. At the time, my dad wasn’t saved. He was a good man, but he was lost. I knew that and was broken by it. I wept and wept for my dad on the shoulders of some of my friends who had gone with me to the conference.

Joel is calling on the priests to weep for the nation. He is calling for brokenness. Look at his words. He is begging God to spare His people. He doesn’t want the pagan nations to make fun of Judah and point their fingers at them. But look at what his motive is. He is wanting to protect the name of Jehovah. Reread that last sentence in today’s verse.

APPLICATION

What motivates you towards brokenness? Is it your desire to save your reputation or is it to honor the name of the Lord? When is the last time you have wept over lost souls? We need to stay broken. I don’t mean we need to be bent over and droopy. I mean we need to have a humble spirit, one that is pliable in the hands of God.

I want to encourage you to go to your altar. You may say, What altar, Carl? If you don’t have one, make one. It can be temporary. Put a pillow on the floor in your bedroom or office. Get on your knees and beg God for forgiveness. Beseech the Lord of the universe for the souls of your lost friends or family members. If the tears come, let them flow. Pour out your heart to the One who hears.

My dad did come to Christ at the ripe, old age of 80. It was a marvelous experience. He was a different man the last four years of his life as he walked with Christ. I don’t want to even think my tears at that conference caused that. All I know is I prayed for my dad all those years and God heard my cry. One day I will see my sweet daddy in heaven.

Father, I ask that You draw my lost friends and family members to You. I love them all and want to see them with me in eternity.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Altars, Bible, Choices, Destruction, Double-minded, Faithfulness, Idols, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Sincerity

GOD THE DESTROYER

HOSEA 10:2

“Their heart is deceitful; now they must suffer for their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and destroy their memorial stones.”

There is something about tearing something down. I can remember as a boy using my dad’s big sledgehammer. I used to ask my dad if I could swing it when he had to tear apart stuff. Man, when that big hammer hit the wood, it would just splinter that stuff. Tearing down stuff was fun.

But here in today’s verse, the Lord is tearing down some stuff, and He wasn’t having fun. He was angry at Israel’s sin, at the way they had built these altars to their false gods. He was determined to destroy any sign of their idolatry. And He didn’t need a sledgehammer.

APPLICATION

Are there things in your life that you need to tear down? We all have things that we have built up that get between us and God. They may just be small things, but anything between you and the Lord is an idol, a distraction. It must come down. It has to be removed. If you leave it there, it will affect your walk with Him.

Now, you don’t need a sledgehammer to do that. You just need to turn to the Lord. It seems when we prioritize Jesus in our lives, all those other things seem to disappear or take a back seat. The “altars” and “memorial stones” we have placed in our lives have to come down. There is only room for Jesus.

From time to time I have built up “altars” in my life. I have placed too much emphasis on things at the expense of worshipping the Lord. One by one the Lord showed me those “altars” had to come down. As I got rid of them, my love for the Lord grew stronger. Sole devotion to Jesus is what is required. My knee will bow to no one else.

Help me Lord to keep my altars torn down. I desire to worship only You.

Standard