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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Appeasement, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Commitment, Contentment, Humility, Judgment, Mercy

WHAT DO YOU WANT, GOD?

MICAH 6:8

“He has told you, mortal one, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is hard to please someone if you do not know what they want. I remember going through the Five and Dime store in my hometown of Pelham, GA trying to find the perfect Mothers’ Day gift for my mom. In the end I got this “very pretty” sand sculpture in this glass vase. My mom probably hated it, but she kept it the rest of her life. It was not about the gift to her. It was all about the giver – me.

God has told us exactly what He wants from us. Three things – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with Him. Now, if you have not seen this verse before, you can’t say that anymore. You have been told what He wants. It is the same thing He wanted from His children so long ago. And just like us, they spurned Him. They wanted their own thing and their own way.

APPLICATION

So, what do you need to do? To do justice. What does that mean? It means for you to judge appropriately, correctly, righteously rather than based on your own desires or prejudices. But Micah quickly adds “to love kindness.” Some versions say “to love mercy. This is the flip side of justice. Both are necessary and both are a part of God’s character.

Finally, Micah tells us “to walk humbly with our God.” That’s the hard part. The old country song said, “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” We all think we are doing okay. True humility requires us to put others before ourselves. That is just not the American way.

These things God required then and required now will give us a balanced approach as we seek to serve our King. Will you trust Him in this? If He tells us to do something, we can be sure it is for our good. We may not see it as good at the beginning, but we will eventually. God is going for the long play. Can you?

I place my life in Your hands, Lord, to do with as You please.

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Advocate, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Mercy, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

FOLLOW THROUGH

JONAH 3:10

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way, then God relented of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them. So He did not do it.

Follow through is a term used in a lot of sports. In golf, it is important to follow through on your swing. That means to not stop halfway through it. In basketball, follow through is applied to your shot of the basketball. Let your arms and hands follow through. And in baseball, follow through is important as a pitcher to get the full action or speed of the ball. Follow through is important.

The people of Nineveh followed through on their acts of humility and repentance. They came to Jehovah God asking for forgiveness, and He granted it. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way…” Their follow through of what they said they would do caused the God of the universe to relent “of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them.” They moved the heart of God.

APPLICATION

Did you know our actions today move God’s heart? When He sees us reaching out to help someone less fortunate, it blesses Him. When He watches us serve our fellow believers in church, He is well pleased. When we give to support a missionary who is serving in some foreign country, God takes that gift and blesses that person.

We don’t do these things to get God to love us, though. That’s not what this is about. God loves us – period. We do all these things because we love Him. We obey the One we love. We want to please Him. We want to see our heavenly Father smile (I’m sure He does). Do all these things just because of all He has done for you.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t outdo or outgive God. I do and I give because I want to express my love for Him. His Son was sent to die on that cross to secure my salvation. God wanted me with Him in heaven. Isn’t that awesome? He wants you there also. If you have never asked Christ into your life to be your Lord and Savior, do that today. Let the journey begin.

Father God, I love You. That’s why I obey You. That’s why I do all that I do in Your name.

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Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Blessing, Faith, Gifts, Obedience, Scripture

NO THANK YOU

AMOS 5:22

“Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fattened oxen.”

Have you ever refused a gift from someone? Maybe it was because you didn’t like the gift or because you felt it was too extravagant. Whatever reason you had, you rejected it. You didn’t want it. You didn’t need it. Gifts are not gifts until they are received, right?

God is refusing the gifts of the Israelites. Their burnt offerings and grain offerings are not going to be accepted by Him. He knew the hearts of the givers. He knew of their unconfessed sins, so He was not going to take their sacrifices as if everything was just fine. God is a God of justice and righteousness.

APPLICATION

We half-heartedly offer God our sacrifices, don’t we? We bring our tithes and offerings to Him with impure motives. We want something back. We think if we give, He will give back. Even our time is a sacrifice. Do we give that joyfully or under compulsion?

As we give our tithes and offerings or our time and energy to the Lord, let’s examine our heart reason for the gift. Do we do this out of our love for Him? Are we only wanting to please Him to get something back in return? Remember, God knows our hearts. He knows what drives us to give to Him.

I am so thankful that I can give back to Him. He blesses me in so many ways every day. I could never repay Him. I can’t even try to. So, I give just because I love Him. I give my time and resources to further His kingdom. I want to honor Him and show that He is worthy of my praise and worship. Don’t you?

Lord, please receive my offering and sacrifices as I worship You. You deserve all the praise and glory and honor given.

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Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Following, Forgiveness, Jealousy, Repentance, Scripture

IF MY PEOPLE…

JOEL 2:18

“Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, and will have compassion for His people.

If…then. That is a principle used by a lot of parents. “If you clean your room, then you can have a treat.” It makes sense. Our choices often determine our consequences. I know if I exercise, then I will feel better. If I eat healthier, then I will possibly lose some weight. But the “if” is hard to do sometimes, isn’t it?

The previous verses in chapter 2 of Joel tell us the prerequisite for this verse to be true. The people of Judah had to come to the Lord in repentance. When they did, the Lord responded. I love what Joel says here. Then He will be zealous for this land. That word “zealous” in the Hebrew has the idea of the Lord being jealous for Judah. That’s meant in a good way. “Compassion” means He will spare them the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

If the Lord asked you to do something, would you do it? Most of us would say “yes.” But how many of us would actually do it? The Lord wants so much to bless us. But the Lord expects certain things from us. If we live godly lives, His blessings flow. If we forgive others who trespass against us, He forgives us our trespasses.

The Lord is still jealous over us. He will guard and protect us. He wants to show us compassion and spare us the possible consequences we deserve. For His jealousy and compassion to come forth, we have to respond to Him. We need to come to Him in a spirit of confession. Will you do that?

I long for God’s blessings in my life. I know those blessings are dependent on my obedience to Him. Now, listen to me. I am NOT saying I obey to get blessed. I obey because I love my Savior. As a result of my obedience, the Lord desires to bless me. If…then.

Lord, I long to please You. I know Your blessings flow when we follow You.

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Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Child Bearing, Confession, Forgiveness, Judgment, Repentance

CHILDBIRTH

HOSEA 13:13

The pains of childbirth come on him; he is not a wise son, for it is not the time that he should delay at the opening of the womb.”

Do you remember when you were born? Of course, you don’t. No one remembers that. However, I do remember my children’s births. I was there watching and holding my wife’s hand. She almost broke my finger with our first child. I can remember her birth pains. Even with medication they were rough. But when it was time for our children to be born, they came. There was no stopping them.

Hosea compares Ephraim to childbirth in today’s verse. He was not very smart in that he ignored the birth pains associated with God’s judgment on the land. He says he is out of time, just like you can’t delay the coming of a child. When it’s time, it’s time.

APPLICATION

Are you ignoring God’s coming judgment? Are you denying that there are consequences for your actions? You can’t do that. Ignoring and denying won’t make it go away. We all have to deal with our sins. Confession and repentance are the only way.

That’s where the good news comes in. Jesus is only a prayer away. When we come to Him admitting our need for forgiveness, He responds immediately. His grace is extended to us. His mercy covers us. And God’s wrath is appeased by the blood of the Lamb.

I am grateful I am forgiven. I am so thankful I can go the throne of grace anytime. The Father is listening. The Word tells us He inclines His ear to us. Do you believe that? He is! He is ready to hear your words. Honor God by talking to Him today.

You are a good God who is always listening to my prayers of confession and repentance. I thank You!

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Abiding, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Devil, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Kings, Loyalty, Obedience, Protection, Scripture

GIVE ME A KING

HOSEA 13:10

“Where then is your king, that he might save you in all your cities; and your judges, to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?”

We always want what we don’t have. It seems we are never satisfied. I can remember when I was a young boy, I always wanted the new toy that someone else had. I just had to have it. I would save up my money until I had enough to buy it. And when I finally had the money and bought it, the thrill lasted about a week. Then I wanted something else.

Hosea is referring to such a time in the life of Israel. Do you remember it? They cried out for a king like the other nations. They were disregarding the fact that God was their King. They needed no other. But the cried out for one, so God gave them Saul. That didn’t turn out so well, did it?

APPLICATION

Are you crying out for another king? Are you disregarding God’s kingship in your life? Stop it! Jesus is your King. He will lead you wherever you need to go. He will provide for you as no other. But you have to follow Him. You have to obey His edicts. Then He will bless you and keep you.

A king demands obedience. A king expects his people to yield to his voice. Jesus is the same. He is a benevolent King. He is the only King who has died for you. No earthly king would do that. They may send others to die for you, but they would not lay down their own life. Jesus has done that. Isn’t that the kind of king you want?

I will serve King Jesus. We are going to serve someone, Jesus or the devil. I served the devil long enough before I came to Christ. He is never satisfied and impossible to please. I serve Jesus because He is so loving and caring. He is always listening and looking out for me. Why wouldn’t I want to serve Him? How about you?

King of my life, I love You. I will serve You here and in eternity.

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Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Confession, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Inspirational, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Surrender

SWIFT AND VICIOUS

HOSEA 13:7 

“So I will be like a lion to them; like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside.” 

My daughter had the opportunity to visit Masai Mara several years ago while she was living in Kenya. Going on a safari there was a thrill of a lifetime. She was able to see so many animals. As cute and adorable as the lion cubs appeared, she was reminded how deadly they are. When they attack it is swift and vicious. 

Hosea uses this same imagery when he describes God’s judgment of Israel. His would be a swift and ferocious judgment. He had tolerated the sins of the nation long enough. They would be completely caught off guard and powerless. God still loves them dearly, but He will not allow them to continue in their rebellion. 

APPLICATION 

We walk around the same way. We think we can ignore God’s law and skate through life unscathed. In fact, we might just do that. But judgment is coming. God will hold every single person accountable for their sins. There is no escape. When we take our last breath, we will come face to face with our decision to follow or not to follow the Lord. 

But praise be to God, there is a solution. God provided it. Jesus has shed His blood to cover our sins. All we have to do is claim that forgiveness. Have you done that? Have you asked Jesus into your life and surrendered your heart to Him? If so, that judgment is paid. God’s wrath is appeased. You are in His family. I pray you have made that decision. If not, do it today. 

The peace that overwhelms me because of my decision to follow Jesus is indescribable. Knowing my eternity is settled allows me to concentrate on the present. I want to live in such a way that others are influenced to follow Him too. I know too many people who aren’t walking with Jesus. It breaks my heart. Will you join me in doing all we can to bring them along with us to Glory?  

You are all I need today, Lord. I am thankful You rescued me. 

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Abiding, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hypocrisy, Inspirational, Modeling, Offering, Sacrifice, Testimony

UNCLEAN BREAD

HOSEA 9:4

“They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the LORD, nor will their sacrifices please Him. Their bread will be to them like mourners’ bread; All who eat it will be defiled, because their bread will be for themselves alone; It will not enter the house of the LORD.”

Have you ever grabbed the bread out of the panty and made an awesome sandwich only to discover that the bread was molded? I’ve done that a couple of times, so I try to examine the slices I pull out before I assemble my sandwich. Even then, if I don’t have my glasses on, I can miss some mold on the edge. Not very appetizing.

Hosea is comparing their sacrifices, specifically their bread sacrifices, to bread that is unclean. It is not acceptable to God. In fact, when they were taken into exile, they were told not to offer any sacrifices. Their drink offerings and burnt sacrifices were unpleasing to Him. They didn’t have the right motives behind them.

APPLICATION

The same applies to us today. Our sacrifices to God (not animal sacrifices or drink offerings) have to be given with the right heart. We can give thousands of dollars to the church, but if we do it grudgingly, we have not offered the right offering to Him. We can sacrifice time to the kingdom, but if it is done out of guilt, that too is not pleasing.

We give because of our love for the Lord. We offer our sacrifices of praise because of all He has done for us. Examine why you offer any offerings, tithes or sacrifices of any type. If they aren’t offered in the spirit of devotion and love, don’t bother. God is not pleased. You are no different than the Israelite.

I want my gifts to the Lord to be given to honor and give glory to Him. I want to pray over each and every gift I give, whether that be my time or my money. I want all my offerings to be a sweet aroma in the nostrils of God. How about you?

\I offer myself and all I give to You to honor You, Lord. I want You to know the smell of my offerings and recognize them immediately.

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Abiding, Accountability, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Commands, Confession, Confrontation, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Submission, Surrender

WRONGS UNCOVERED

HOSEA 7:1

“When I would heal Israel, the wrongdoing of Ephraim is uncovered, and the evil deeds of Samaria, for they practice deception; the thief enters, a band of robbers attack outside,”

Have you ever had a wrong exposed? Boy, I have. I can remember trying to hide some of my sins when I was growing up. I got pretty good at it. I knew where to hide things. I knew how to sneak around my parents. I thought I was getting by, but I wasn’t. God knew, right?

If that is true (that God always knows), why do we think we can hide those wrongdoings? Ephraim thought they could but found out differently. God held them accountable for every single breach of their covenant. Nothing escapes His eye, and they found out the hard way.

APPLICATION

Can we live our lives without every doing wrong? I wish. But it’s not possible. As hard as we try, we will slip up from time to time. God tells us to live holy lives but will forgive us when we make those mistakes. What He can’t tolerate is our lying to Him and refusing to repent. That can bring out His wrath.

Why would God be wrathful? To protect His name. Once we take on the name of Jesus, we must protect that name. Our actions reflect on Him. Remember, God is holy. He expects us to live like Him – holy. Ephesians 5:3 says, “There must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or of greed, for these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have a higher standard to live by.

The beauty of this high standard, though, is that God doesn’t expect us to live it on our own. The Holy Spirit lives in and though us, empowering us to that level. It’s not us living like Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit in us. We just have to submit. Will you do that today?

I want to please You in my living, Lord. I want to be holy and above reproach.

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