Affliction, Blessing, Exalting, Praise, Thanksgiving

VOICE OF THANKSGIVING

JONAH 2:9

“‘But I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.’”

I love Thanksgiving. This U.S. holiday in November each year celebrates the Pilgrims’ settlement in the New World. They lifted their voices in praise and thanksgiving to God for sustaining them during their first year. It was a tough year, with many lost lives and food shortages. Coming out of that season, they were indeed grateful.

Jonah (still in the belly of the fish) gives thanksgiving to the Lord. He recognized his “salvation is from the LORD.” He did not know, at this time, whether he would escape his fish prison or not. Regardless, he was giving praise. And God heard it.

APPLICATION

What are you thankful for today? Family? Health? I thank God every day for six things. I thank Him for family, friends, my ministry and my health, my country and my church. I don’t just say those flippantly. I truly am thankful for each of those.

When you have a grateful heart, I believe you are more at peace with the world. You see things differently. You get a more spiritual vision of things. Thankfulness is expressed in our worship of our Lord, and that can be done anywhere. You don’t have to wait until you are in church on Sunday.

I am so thankful for all the blessings God has given me and my family. But I am also thankful for the trials God has allowed us to go through. I may not be in the belly of a fish, but I have probably felt just as low as Jonah. Through those times, just like Jonah, God drew me to Himself.

Thank You, Lord, for holding me close, even when I am pushing You away.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Glory, God's Will, Kingdom, Scripture

THE LORD’S KINGDOM

OBADIAH 21

“The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the LORD’S.”

’m in a new ministry now called Every Man A Warrior. God is doing some amazing things through it around the world. Take a look at https://everymanawarrior.com/us-world.html. But with all the activity, we are determined to make sure it is God’s work and not ours. It’s His ministry to men. We are only the vessels He has chosen to use.

After all the previous 20 verses and all the prophecies against Esau, Obadiah comes back to this. The kingdom belongs to the LORD. No matter what, it will be His. He never lost control of it. He will restore Israel to His kingdom. All will be well.

APPLICATION

It should be comforting to each of us that God truly does have the whole world in His hands. He is the only one who has the power to bring back a nation from judgment. He has the power to give back the land to His children. What do you want today.

We are taught to keep our emotions in check. To that I say,“Bologna!”  If we can’t celebrate with a little emotion, then why celebrate at all. Emotion is a good thing, if it’s not what drives us. We have to come together and praise Him for all He’s done.

Jesus’ whole message centered on the kingdom of God. If we follow Him and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are part of that kingdom. Welcome to it. Welcome home.

I am thankful, Lord, to be a part of Your kingdom. May Your kingdom come.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Direction, Faithfulness, God's Will, Home, Obedience, Restoration, Scripture

THE RETURN

OBADIAH 19

Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin the territory of Gilead.

My family and I lived in TN in the 90’s. We loved it there, but God moved us to FL for a season. We spent eight years there and then were called back to TN in 2007. It was like coming home. Now, you Floridians, don’t take that wrong. Florida was our home while we were there. But Chattanooga always felt like our real home. Coming back just felt right.

In today’s verse, Obadiah is prophesying the return of Judah to their homeland. Not only would they return, but they would expand their lands. God will always stay true to His children. He may take us to the “woodshed,” as He did Judah, but He will restore.

APPLICATION

You may have a story of God’s restoration power. I know I do. I’ve been through two stem cell transplants for this disease I have (Amyloidosis). Borrowing a miracle, I will face another one in the years ahead. But each time, the Lord has restored my physical health. I am forever grateful for the lessons He taught me each time.

You may have been restored financially or emotionally. But the most important restoration we can have is our spiritual restoration. He promises to bring us from death to life. He gives us a true new life in Christ. He died and we live. Isn’t that incredible.

And just like Judah, when He restores us, He gives us so much more than we had before. I don’t mean physical stuff. I mean spiritual growth. We go from infants needing milk to eating the meat of the Word as we surrender to Him and seek Him daily. It truly is a restoration process in our lives.

Lord, thank You for restoring me. I was dead in my sins and You gave me new life.

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Abiding, Advocate, Agreement, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Covenant, Discipline, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Goodness, Home, Reward

NO MORE

AMOS 9:15

“‘I will also plant them on their land, and they will not be uprooted again from their land which I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.

I worked over 30 years with children in the foster care system. Most of these children were removed from their homes due to their parents, not due to anything they had done. Some of the children, however, were placed with us because of their behavior. I had the joy on several occasions to see these families restored. Seeing these children go home made our hard work with them so worth it. Our prayer was always that they would remain with their parents.

God removed Israel from the Promised Land for repeated unrepentance and rebellion. He had to discipline His children. But now He is telling them He would bring them back home to never leave again. That land was theirs. He had promised it and meant for them to keep it. What great news! What a great way to end this book.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Have you wandered from home? Are you far away from the Master? Maybe you are like that prodigal son who found himself in a pig pen instead of at home with his father. Wherever you are today, stop and take notice. Ask yourself if you are residing with Jesus.

Your physical location is of less importance than your spiritual location. What do I mean by that? You can be in the pit but free in Him. You could be going through the valley of the shadow of death but walking unafraid because of your reliance on the King. The Lord wants us to feel safe. He wants us home.

I can only speak for myself, but I find myself sometimes feeling like I’ve moved to a foreign country spiritually. I go through dry spells and struggle to pray. But when I persevere and stay in the Word, God brings me home. I had always been secure. I just needed reminding whose I am. How about you?

Lord of my life, lead me home. I want to dwell with You in Your Promised Land.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Fruit, Holy Spirit

SUPERABUNDANCE

AMOS 9:13

“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when the plowman will overtake the reaper, and the one who treads grapes will overtake him who sows the seed; when the mountains will drip grape juice, and all the hills will come apart.’”

Once, when I had a garden, we grew some green beans in a raised bed. The bed was about 5’x10’. That one bed produced well over 40 quarts of beans for the winter, not counting what we ate during the summer and early fall. It produced superabundantly.

Amos is describing such a scene, but even bigger. God is saying here that He is going to bless Israel so that there will be no time in between the harvest and the seed time. The crops will be so massive that they will keep right on producing right up to the time to plant the seed again. Wow! That’s not how it is supposed to happen.

APPLICATION

How are your crops? Are you producing a meager harvest or one that is overflowing? We could all use some Miracle Grow, couldn’t we? For some of us, our harvest is anemic. If we had to live on what we are producing, we would starve to death. We all need to pay more attention to our harvest.

We nourish our harvest through the watering of the Word. Only the Word can produce the fruit we long to distribute. The Word shows us how to yield ourselves to the Spirit, so His fruit overflows in our lives into the lives of others.

Don’t forget that any fruit we produce is for the benefit of others. We don’t eat our own fruit. The love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control we produce is directed toward others in the name of Jesus. It’s kind of like when I shared some of my bounty from my garden with others. The joy I received from doing that was all the payment I needed.

Thank You, Lord, for the superabundance of gifts You have given me. Direct me to those to whom I am to share.

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Abiding, Battles, Blessing, Completeness, Consequences, Destruction, God's Will, Goodness, Harvest

FRUIT BASKET

AMOS 8:1

“This is what the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit.”

I love most fruit. I especially fresh fruit. I have been blessed to be in Uganda during pineapple season. Wow! If you’ve never eaten fresh pineapple, you have missed out. It is so sweet and juicy. Man, I want some now.

So, why did the Lord use this image to give a message to Amos. Albert Barnes says, “The sight gave an idea of completeness.” The end of the harvest had arrived. A sense of finality. That’s what Amos is implying here to Israel. They had come to their end.

APPLICATION

We will all come to our final day at some point. Only God knows when that will be. We must do all we can to prepare for that day. That preparation has to begin with our spiritual being. It belongs to God, so He draws us towards Himself. That wooing is intentional, but we have to choose to respond.

Have you done that? Don’t be like that basket of summer fruit that has reached its expiration date. All that can be done then is to throw it out. We are meant for so much more. Will you yield yourself to Jesus and allow Him to use you while you are here on this earth?

I don’t want to “spoil.” I want to be used in God’s eternal plan. There are times when I don’t do that well and other times when I do it extremely well. It all depends on my current walk with Him. That’s why it is so important to stay close to the Master. Will you do that today? Allow Him to use you.

God, You are so good to me. I don’t deserve anything You give me, but I am so thankful.

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Accused, Anger, Bible, Blameless, Blessing, Confrontation, Consequences, Encouragement, Gossip, Holy Spirit, Jealousy, Lying

SQUEELER

AMOS 7:10

“Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words.’”

No one likes a tattletale. I can remember growing up with my three siblings. We were constantly tattling on each other, usually to get the monkey off our own back. We figured if we blamed someone else, we could sneak by getting caught ourselves. It seldom worked, lol.

Amaziah runs to Jeroboam and tattles on Amos. But he says something that is completely false. He claims that Amos has conspired against the king hoping to get the king upset about losing his power. This imposter of a priest has no idea what is truth and what is falsehood.

APPLICATION

I bet you have had others tattle on you. I bet you have even had others spread falsehoods about you. It hurts, but what do you do about it? How should you respond? Luke 6:27-28 tells us. It says, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

What? You mean I can’t retaliate? Not according to Jesus. The truth will come out eventually. We have to be willing to endure the sufferings of doing what is right. We know that leads to God’s blessings. To lash out would undermine our witness and tear down the truth.

I am thankful the Lord has taught me that. My flesh would want to get that person back as quickly as possible. But the Spirit within me tells me otherwise. He tells me to love that person. He tells me to pray for that person. He tells me to trust the Father. Do you?

I am so thankful that You are my protector and defender. People may attack me and try to accuse me, but You know the truth.

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Advocate, Bible, Blessing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Hope, Judgment, Listening, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture

ANSWERED PRAYER

AMOS 7:6

“The LORD relented of this. ‘This too shall not be,’ said the Lord GOD.”

How do you see God answering prayers? I have seen Him answer them in all kinds of ways. I have seen people healed from illnesses. I have seen people come to Christ. I have even seen storms diverted. I know my God still answers prayers, even if I don’t always like the answer.

We saw this same action by God back in verse 3. God changed His mind then and changed it again here. He heard Amos cry out for Israel and withheld His hand of judgment again. What does this show about the Lord? I believe it shows He listens to us, even if we repeat ourselves. I believe it shows God’s mercy, even when we deserve judgment.

APPLICATION

God answered Amos’s prayers the same way. He withheld the planned and current judgment. He may answer your prayers in the same way. Then again, He may decide to answer it in a whole different way. The Lord knows what is best for us even when we don’t. We may think we know how we want Him to answer. We just don’t see what lies ahead.

I have prayed for healing for my children, protection on the road and even for our pets. There is really nothing I haven’t prayed for. In my years as a Pastor, I prayed for all kinds of family needs. What a joy to see so many of those prayers answered.

But the most joyous answered prayers are the ones for salvation. When I have the privilege to pray with someone as they accept Christ as their Savior, my heart overflows. That’s a prayer with eternal value. That’s a prayer that will last forever. I praise Him for hearing us and answering according to His Will for our lives and the lives of others.

I know You are still listening, Lord. I know You are working even now to answer my prayers.

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Prayer

REPEATED PRAYERS

AMOS 7:5

“Then I said, ‘Lord GOD, please stop! How can Jacob stand? For he is small.’”

Have you ever prayed the same prayer over and over? I have been guilty of that. In fact, I am still guilty of that. Jesus taught us a lot about prayer. But He never said to stop praying. In fact, He instructs us just the opposite. We need to pray like the neighbor who would not give up until his friend came to the door to meet his need.

Amos repeats the almost exact prayer he prayed in verse 2, begging God to stop his judgment of Jacob. Amos didn’t hesitate to pray again. He had Jacob (Israel) on his heart and didn’t want to see them completely destroyed. We will see tomorrow God’s response. I wonder if it will be the same as in verse 3. Hmmm?

APPLICATION

Don’t hesitate to pray the same prayer. I have heard some people say you should just pray it once and then leave it in God’s hands. I can’t find that in Scripture anywhere. Nowhere does God say to stop praying. In fact, He says to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Grab ahold of the very throne of God and don’t let go. Pray every day until you get an answer. We should always pray according to His Will. And when we get our answer, we have to accept it. We trust God with the outcome.

I will continue to pray every day for my family and friends, my ministry and my health, my country and my church. That’s on my daily prayer list. I am not embarrassed to pray every day through that list. I will not cease to pray as He has directed me. I pray every day for the Lord to put a hedge of protection around my family. I have a couple of personal prayers that I pray every day. When God answers, I will stop praying for them. But until then…

O Precious Father, You hear my prayers, and for that, I am thankful. I know You will answer in Your time and according to Your Will. I trust You with that.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Contentment, Modeling, Scripture

IN THE LAP OF LUXURY

AMOS 6:4

“Those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge around on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the fattened cattle,”

I have never lived in luxury, compared to the “rich and famous.” I don’t drive a luxury vehicle. I don’t eat caviar and drink fine wine. I don’t consider myself wealthy. However, compared to most of the world, I would appear that way. Living luxuriously is very relative, depending on where you live in this world.

In Israel, during this time of Amos, though, there were those who were flaunting their wealth. They lived in luxury while the poor suffered. This image of beds of ivory and eating lambs may have been a little exaggeration by Amos, but he was trying to get a point across. Wealth and privilege mean nothing in the eyes of God.

APPLICATION

Look at how you are living right now. You have heard it said, “Waste not, want not.” Living frugally is not a sin. My wife and I have been “purging” our home of things that we have not used in years. We have kept so much stuff through the years and are just ready to part with it. We are sure others can use these items more than we can.

Most of these “purgings” go to one our local thrift shops, where the sale of these items can be turned into services to those who are less fortunate than we are. Other items have been given to individuals directly. The older we get the less stuff need around our house.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with nice things. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. I am thankful for those whom God has blessed with wealth. Just don’t let what you have become who you are. There is so much more in life than that.

I praise You Father for the blessings of this life. Lead me to share those with others as You direct.

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