Accountability, Belief, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Denial, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture, Surrender

DEVIOUS THOUGHTS 

NAHUM 1:9 

“Whatever you devise against the LORD, He will make a complete end of it. Distress will not rise up twice.” 

I have known a few people in my life who have literally shaken their fists at God. They have decided to live their lives as if He does not exist. They refuse to acknowledge Him and may even seek to mislead others. They are, in a sense, making or devising plans against God and His people.  

These people have lived for centuries. Nahum saw them in Nineveh. In fact, their king thought his success against Israel was due to his own strength and power. He quickly forgot that He was only the vessel God had used to punish Israel. As Nahum attests, God “will make a complete end of it.” No one can escape His judgment. 

APPLICATION 

Are you devising plans against God? Of course not, Carl. I would never make plans against Him. Listen, dear heart, when we do not yield to Him, we are in fact devising plans against Him. We are saying that we know better than Him. We believe our way is better.  

Our devious plans against God’s will for our lives will not succeed. When will we realize that? Sure, we may see some initial success, but it will not last. There is no eternal reward for our temporal plans. However, when we submit to Him, His plans will lead us directly into eternity. Now, that is a plan. 

Looking back at my life, I can see moments when the trajectory of my life turned toward my own selfish desires. My devious plans included choosing to do what I wanted to do, even though the Spirit within was saying something different. Hindsight is always 20/20, but God’s foresight is as well. Trust His plans. 

Lord, thank You for having the perfect plan for my life. Help to surrender to Your will. 

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Accountability, Accused, Belief, Bible, Forgiveness, Justice, Love, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Wrath

SHOT ACROSS THE BOW 

NAHUM 1:2 

“A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; the LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.” 

I love an old warship movie. Watching two goliaths battle it out on the open sea is incredible. Some of the battles the French and English had were historic. They would come up broadside to each other and let the canons roar. One or both ships were probably going down. One may limp away but would be seriously damaged. There were no warning shots across the bow. 

Nahum lets loose with all the canons. God is jealous and avenging. He is avenging and wrathful. He takes vengeance on His enemies. He gives wrath to His enemies. Wow! There was no doubt that Nineveh was in trouble this time. No more Mr. Nice Guy. They had their chance and blew it. 

APPLICATION 

Aren’t you glad our God and Father does not treat us that way? I would be a “dead duck.” No! Our God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. He cares for the wounded and bleeding. He reaches down and brings us up through the healing power of the blood. 

Don’t get me wrong. If you are not a believer, God is wrathful. He will hold you accountable for your sins. But He has given a warning shot across the bow of your life. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you. He is offering you a way of escape from the wrath to come for all unbelievers. 

I am so thankful God gave me that warning shot. I am thankful He pulled me into His family and made me whole. I am so, so thankful for His Word which guides me daily. I do not have to worry about God’s wrath. I have His peace. Do you? 

Father, I know You demand justice. But Hallelujah! You rescued me that day and gave me a new lease on life. 

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Belief, Bible, Miracles, Scripture, Trials, Trust

MIRACLE SHOW 

MICAH 7:15 

“‘As in the days when you went out from the land of Egypt, I will show you miracles.’” 

I have a couple of friends who are illusionists. They do not like the name “magician” because they will quickly tell you that nothing they do is magic. It is all an illusion. One, in particular, is extremely good. He literally blows my mind each time I see him perform. I know there is an explanation for what he is doing, but I cannot figure it out. 

God did not perform illusions when He set the Hebrew children free from captivity in Egypt. Everything He did was a miracle, doable only by Him. Even when the magicians in Egypt tried to replicate God’s miracles before Pharoah, they fell short. God is reminding Micah’s audience of these feats of years ago. He was still in the miracle working business. 

APPLICATION 

Are you ready for a miracle? I am. In fact, I know I have experienced miracles in my life. I am not talking about pillars of fire or anything like that. I am talking about the everyday miracles of salvation, of physical healings and other things we tend to explain away with human reasoning. 

The problem with us today is we do not think God can still do miracles. We believe they all ended way back in Biblical times. But I have seen the miracle of a transformed life. I know God can do anything He chooses to do at any time He chooses to do it. He may just choose to do one in your life, if you believe. 

It is not magic. It is not some man behind the curtain pulling levers like in The Wizard of Oz. No! God is still in power and will work miracles in our lives when He knows we are ready to receive them. He has healed me twice from a terminal disease. I believe in miracles. Do you? 

I believe in You, O Lord. I believe You can still work miracles in my life and in the life of others today. 

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Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Boundaries, Direction, Disciplemaking, Dreams, Encouragement, God's Will, Scripture

EXPANSION 

MICAH 7:11 

“It will be a day for building your walls. on that day your boundary will be extended.” 

I have a friend in Kenya who pastors a local church. This church began a school a few years ago for the children in their town who were too poor to attend the local schools only because they could not afford the uniforms. This school is expanding, thanks to the gifts of donors. They are eyeing some nearby land to expand so they can build some dorms to house some children who are homeless and are wandering the streets. 

Expansion! Micah prophesies the expansion of the boundaries of Israel. They will rebuild what has been destroyed and live in their land. Building and expanding their nation will take a continued reliance on Jehovah God. Micah is encouraging them to trust Him and believe in His promises. 

APPLICATION 

You are probably saying to yourself Carl, this is all well and good, but how does this apply to me? I am glad you asked. What size box do you have God in? By that I mean, what limitations have you put on how God can work in your life. Most of us do that. We cannot begin to dream of anything more. 

Let me tell you something. You need to think bigger. Now, I am not telling you to start asking for a jet or a bigger home. I am telling you to ask God to expand your circle of influence. Ask Him for greater opportunities to serve. Maybe He wants you to go on a short-term mission trip. Maybe He is calling you into full-time ministry. 

God wants to use us and use us mightily. He wants to see us expand His kingdom. He has great plans for each of us. He desires a willing vessel to use to send His message to others. Will you ask the Lord to expand your boundaries? Trust Him to show you. 

Expand my boundaries today, Lord. Show me how I can influence more people. 

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Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Scripture, Security, Trust

TRUST NO ONE

MICAH 7:5

“Do not trust in a neighbor; do not have confidence in a close friend. Guard your lips from her who lies in your arms.”

Those who remember the show “X Files” remember the statement that was made often. “Trust No One.” In this show about extraterrestrial lives cloaked in secrecy by the government, Fox Mulder, led investigations each week into appearances. If you like that sort of thing, you might enjoy this show.

Micah lived long before Fox Mulder, but his words are the same – trust no one. Well, he actually said, “Do not trust in a neighbor.” The lives of the individuals Micah were addressing were so unreliable and untrustworthy that he admonished them to not put trust in them. There was only one who was and is truly trustworthy.

In whom do you trust? I trust my wife without any doubts. She trusts me the same. But we are not perfect, and we can get things confused sometimes. When I travel, I try to stay in contact with her each day, not to check in, but to let her know she is on my mind. My loyalty to her is what has built our trust.

APPLICATION

I love Psalm 62:5-8. Listen to these words and discover your source of trust. “5 My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my hope is from Him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my refuge; I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my glory rest on God; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”

What else could you ask for? My fortress, my refuge, my rock and my strength. There is nothing else I can fully really on. I have good friends, but I know I cannot completely rely on them. God is the only One. Will you trust Him today? If you can trust Him with your eternity, certainly you can trust Him for your day.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.

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Abiding, Affliction, Allegiance, Battles, Belief, Bible, Encouragement, Sickness, Suffering, Trust

DOES THE LORD MAKE YOU SICK? 

MICAH 6:13 

“‘So also I will make you sick, striking you down, making  you desolate because of your sins. 

What a title for today’s blog! But the verse called for it. So, let me tell you from personal experience, God does not “make” you sick. He “allows” sickness to come into our lives for various reasons. We will talk about that more in just a minute. I needed to express this thought first, before we went any further. 

God, however, was giving out judgment to a rebellious people. He allowed all kinds of maladies to come on them. They were all for the same purpose. He was trying to draw them back to Him. This verse isn’t very encouraging, is it? But we are going verse by verse, not just seeking out the good verses. 

APPLICATION 

Now, back to this discussion about sickness. Most of you who read my blog regularly have read about my two stem cell transplants (SCT). They were about ten years apart (Nov 2010 and Feb 2020). But you need to know God used those two episodes and everything that followed differently. 

The first SCT was to test my faith to prove me faithful. It was intended to drive me and my family to trust Him more. The second SCT was not about me. He used me to show others how to be faithful. I did not necessarily like being used as an example, but He used me any way. 

Suffering and sickness is never fun. But we have to know as believers that if we are going through it, God has allowed it. He would never allow something to touch you to drive you away. It is always to bring you closer. Believe me, those two SCTs brought me to a sweeter intimacy with Him. I can say now, looking back, that I am grateful He allowed me to be used. Can you say that today? It may be hard at first but just trust Him. 

Lord, You are always there, no matter what I am going through. Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death…” 

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Hearing, Listening, Relationships, Sanctification, Scripture

ANSWER ME

MICAH 6:3

“My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.

I have mentioned before that I spent over three decades working with children and youth in the Child Welfare system. Give me a kid that is vocal and shouting rather than one that will not talk. Even when caught in the act of disobeying, these children will most often not respond to questions. Passive-aggressive is one term used for them.

The people God had chosen to love were acting that way. They had been caught in their sins, and now they were refusing to confess them and talk to their God. Unlike me, God is extremely patient. Psalm 103:8 say He is compassionate and gracious. He just wants to hear from them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear the Lord speaking to you? If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit who indwells you speaks for the Father. He is drawing you towards Him. He is speaking. Will you not talk back? Carl, that is plain crazy. I am not going to talk out loud to Him. Why not? He is as real as you and I.

I love to pray out loud. It helps me clarify what I am saying. It reduces distractions for me. And when I talk to the Lord, guess what? He almost always talks back. Not in an audible voice, but in my spirit. You may ask, How do you know that is the Lord? Because the words line up with His Word.

Now, there have been times when I did not want to answer God when He talked to me. In those times I was not living as I should. I was rationalizing my sins. I was simply resting in my salvation but not living to be sanctified. There is a big difference. Oh, how wonderful to hear His voice. The next time you hear it, answer Him.

Speak Lord, and I will answer. I love to carry on conversations with You.

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NOT BY MY MIGHT

MICAH 5:13

“‘I will eliminate your carved images and your memorial stones from among you, so that you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands.’”

I loved my dad. He could fix just about anything. I learned so much from him about that kind of stuff. I watched and learned. He involved my brother and I in the projects so we could learn to do it ourselves one day. But when he started having some heart issues and was struggling with my mom’s health, he came to the end of his rope and finally admitted to God that he “could not fix this.” Then he gave his heart to Christ at 80 years old.

God is saying in verse 13 that there was nothing they had created by the works of their hands that could save them. Those carved images of wood and stone would not do anything to help them. Those memorial stones they had set up meant nothing. Only their faith and belief in Him mattered. They had to return to Him.

APPLICATION

Well, this application is pretty much in your face, right? What are you trying to prove to God by continuing to try to do it all on your own? I know people who have said, “I do not need your God. I am fine on my own.” That may sound noble, but it is really foolish. Self-reliance leads to self-destruction.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of armies.’” That is the key right there. It is only by the leading of the Holy Spirit that we can accomplish anything. Isaiah said something similar in 26:12. “…all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” It has never been about what we can do for God. It is only about what He can do in and through us.

I am thankful that God broke me of my self-reliance years ago. Going through two stem cell transplants will cause you to rely on others and especially Him. I could do nothing. I was weak physically, spiritually and emotionally during those times. But He showed me His strength. Do you know that today?

O Father of heaven and earth, You care enough for me to invest Your time and Spirit in me. You have made me Your own.

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Allegiance, Battles, Belief, Bible, Blasphemy, Darkness, Devil, Evil, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Idols, Satan, Scripture

SORCERY FORBIDDEN

MICAH 5:12

“‘I will eliminate sorceries from your hand, and you will have no fortune-tellers.’”

I will never forget the evening when I lived in Lakeland, FL when my wife and I decided to go to the local outdoor mall. It was new to Lakeland and had become a major evening and weekend destination because of the shops, restaurants and entertainment. We were walking along, and while my wife looked in one shop, I decided to step into this store that caught my attention. As I walked in, a chill ran up my spine. All I saw was occultic images and products. I ran out of that store as fast as I could. Such darkness.

This is what the Lord is cutting out of the land. No sorcery or fortune telling would be allowed. These were based in the pagan idolatry of the land, the very thing the Lord had warned the people of when they came into the Promised Land. Nothing had changed. These evil practices were still around and were now going to be purged. Evil was evil then and still is now.

APPLICATION

So many Christians today dabble in the occult, thinking it is frivolous or meaningless. Satan loves for us to believe that. I am not saying that a demon is going jump out of the Ouija board and tackle you to the ground, but the devil has a way to hook us into this stuff. Tarot cards and astrology are still listed in God’s eyes as sorcery and fortune-telling. That has not changed.

If you are into these things or have been in the past, let me urge you to put them down and confess that as sin. Renounce any allegiance you had to these items and get rid of them. Burn them if you can. Does this all sound extreme? You bet. Our battle with the forces of darkness is real and extreme. You must have your armor on and be free from any form of darkness.

Once you do that and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, He will make you very sensitive to these things. You will be able to recognize any form of idolatry. God wants you and me to walk in holiness, free from the entanglements of evil. Walking free is so much easier than dragging around a chain of darkness.

O Father, thank You for protecting me from evil. I know You have my back at all times.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Calling, Encouragement, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

REBUKE

MICAH 5:8

“The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, among many peoples like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which, if he passes through, tramples and tears, and there is no one who can rescue.”

No one likes to be rebuked or corrected. Well, at least I do not. I had much rather receive praise for something. Hadn’t you? I remember my high school football coaches rebuking me for a missed block or missed tackle. Their words were not so kind. They wanted to get my attention and correct my actions. It usually worked.

Micah told us in the last verse that the remnant would be like dewdrops. Not so much in this verse. Here the remnant is compared to a lion which “tramples and tears.” The remnant would be firm and strict in their exhortation to the sinners. This was no time to be gentle. A fierceness was needed.

APPLICATION

There is a time to be low key and soft-spoken. And there is a time to be direct. We are in that direct time, I believe. Time is running out. Christ could appear anytime. We need to share with everyone we can about the encroaching judgment.

I know, I know. People may get offended. Better to be offended and saved that unoffended and spend eternity in hell. I am not saying we should grab people by the collar and beat them with a big, black Bible. But I am saying we need to be bold in our witness without fear of being ridiculed.

The risk of being bold is that we may turn some people off. That is not our goal. Our goal is to turn them on to Jesus. I need to live what I preach. It does no good to preach Jesus and live like the devil. So, my sharing moves me to live more holy. I want others to see Jesus in me. I do not want them to simply hear my words. Will you share Him with someone today?

Lord, give me the courage and the boldness to witness to those around me today.

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