Attention, Bible, Busyness, Calling, Commands, Hearing, Inspirational, Listening, Modeling, Scripture, Surrender

THE WORD OF THE LORD

JONAH 1:1

“The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,”

“I give you my word.” We’ve probably heard those words spoken to us a lot over the years. Someone is trying to get you to side with them about something. Perhaps someone is trying to convince you of the reliability of something they are selling you. Whatever the reason, we may just not believe their word is reliable.

BUT…when God says those words, you can take it to the bank. It is dependable. Here, in Jonah 1:1, we see “the word of the LORD came to Jonah.” Don’t read those words and move on. Stop to think about that. The word of the Lord – now that’s something. God spoke to Jonah. He had something to say.

APPLICATION

Is God talking to you? You know, He has something to say to each and every one of us. We just have to be listening in order to hear it. That’s our problem. We are so busy, we don’t hear Him. We don’t hear Him telling us to do this or that. We go on our merry way without regard to the Master’s words.

God doesn’t waste His breathe. When He speaks, it is with purpose. God always has a reason behind His words. When He says “Go” we need to go. He’ll tell us where when it’s time. When He says “Give” reach into the back pocket of the guy in front of you and give like you never have. Just kidding. But we need to give “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Listen for God’s word to you today. You can hear Him in His Word as you study. You can hear Him in your prayer time (stop talking and listen). But then, when you hear Him, DO WHAT HE SAYS!!! Amen?

Father, I want to hear Your word today. I want to hear Your instructions for my life.

Check out our ministry site at www.twr.org/carl-willis

Standard
Abiding, Advice, Battles, Bible, Busyness, Commitment, Encouragement, Fear, Scripture

EARTHQUAKE

AMOS 8:8

“Because of this will the land not quake, and everyone who lives in it mourn? Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile, and it will be tossed about and subside like the Nile of Egypt.”

When my daughter was a little girl, I would often wake her in the mornings with an “earthquake.” I would put a hand on the bed on each side of her and start shaking very slightly. I would gradually shake her stronger until she was literally bouncing off the bed. She loved it (well, at least most mornings she did, lol).

Amos uses the imagery of an earthquake causing the earth to rise and fall, like the Nile River rose and fell. The undulations of the earth would be felt through the whole nation. There would be no mistake of what was happening. Fear would be rampant.

APPLICATION

Has God shaken your world yet? We all need our world shaken. Now, I don’t mean a physical earthquake. I’m referring to a spiritual earthquake. We need to be so shaken that nothing remains as it was. Everything is rearranged.

We tend to have our priorities messed up most of the time. We put so many things above God. We delegate God to the time we have left in the day. God deserves the best part of our day. He deserves to be first on our agenda. Everything else comes behind Him.

The only way I can do that is to get up early in the morning. If I don’t spend my time with Jesus then, I get sidetracked and busy, and He loses His spot. I am not saying everyone should get up at 4 a.m. and pray. Most of us would be asleep by 4:03, lol. But you have to find that time when it’s set aside for God. God will honor you with His presence, I promise.

I look forward to spending time with You, Lord. You have truly shaken my world for the better.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Busyness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hearing

Hear ye, Hear ye

Amos 3:1

Hear this word which the LORD has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire family which He brought up from the land of Egypt:

The older I get the more hard of hearing I get. I used to blame it on selective hearing. But I have noticed in the past couple of years that I have lost a lot of hearing in my left ear. It’s not so bad yet that I need a hearing aid, but I know that is probably coming down the road. It is kind of convenient when my wife asks me to take out the trash. I can always say I didn’t hear her, lol.

The Lord wanted the sons of Israel to hear what He was about to tell them. He wanted their attention. He wanted the entire family to hear Him, not just certain people. This word from the Lord was for the entire nation, and He did not want them to miss one word. Listen up, Israel. Pay attention!

APPLICATION

Are you listening to the Lord today? He is talking to you. He has a plan for your life. But if you aren’t listening, you will miss the message. We get so busy with our stuff that we tune out the voice of God. Where do you hear that voice? In His Word. In your prayer time. When you are meditating on Him and His goodness. God still speaks, but you have to be listening.

Well, Carl, I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and I’ve never heard the Lord. Well, what have your been doing? God has probably been screaming at you but just haven’t heard the voice. Why? Because your ears are not in tune to hear Him. Does God try to hide His voice? Of course, not. He wants you to hear from Him. So, listen closely. God is speaking,

Sometimes when I tell people I have heard from God, I get strange looks. Some think I’m crazy while others think I am super spiritual. Neither is true. I miss God’s voice sometimes. When I do, it is because I have become so busy that my mind and heart weren’t clear. Or I was harboring ill feelings towards someone. I want to hear from Him daily. So, I have to keep myself tuned in. How about you?

Lord, I praise You for speaking to me in some of my darkest moments. I praise You for Your still, small voice.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Busyness, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Satan, Scripture

TAKE MY YOKE

HOSEA 10:11

Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh, and I passed over her lovely neck; I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow, Jacob will harrow for himself.”

I have never used a yoke and harness on an ox or horse. I have in my front yard a seed and fertilizer spreader that is meant to be used with an animal pulling it. It’s probably 150 years old, but it just sits there in my yard idle. It hasn’t been used in decades. It’s not much use except for a yard decoration.

Hosea tells us in this verse that God had harnessed and placed His yoke on both Judah and Israel. They had been trained to pull for Him. In fact, Hosea says Ephraim loves to thresh. That’s an image of threshing grain unmuzzled so they could enjoy the grain they were crushing. But we know they both rebelled in the end.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord “trained” you to do? Are you in His harness and yoke? Are you pulling for Him? If you aren’t, you are pulling for the devil. You can only pull for one master. Don’t you know that? Carl, I’m not in anyone’s harness. I’m free. Yes, you are. You are free to serve either master, but you will serve one or the other.

God only calls us to do tasks that are good and productive. We shouldn’t be wasting our time doing things that don’t really matter. Fruitless, unproductive, time-wasting activities bring no glory to the Father. After all, that is our purpose – to bring glory to Him. Ask yourself if the things you are so busy doing are doing that.

The older I get the more precious time becomes. It seems the days get shorter and shorter. I don’t want to waste my time not pulling for my Lord. I want to wear His harness proudly. I want to pull for Him boldly. I want to please the One who has done so much for me. Don’t you?

Thanks for placing Your yoke around my neck. When I get tired remind me who I am pulling for.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Busyness, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Godliness, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Promises, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

PALACES

HOSEA 8:14

“For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities, but I will send a fire on its cities, and it will consume its palatial buildings.”

The closest I have been to being in a palace is the Biltmore House near Asheville, N.C. It was built by the Vanderbilt family and has been described as an American palace. It really is a sight to behold. The rooms and grounds are incredible. I can’t imagine what it cost, but it took over six years to build the 178,000 square foot mansion.

Palaces don’t mean a thing, though. Israel and Judah found that out. No matter how many they built, they would not stand. There is nothing man can build that can withstand the judgment of God. Perhaps they thought if they “impressed” God He might change His mind about judging them. It didn’t work.

APPLICATION

We tend to try to impress God by the things we do. We may not build mansions, but we build other things. We build up our worldly wealth – that won’t stand. We build beautiful churches and sanctuaries – they won’t impress Him. We build up our reputations – they also won’t sway God. God simply wants our hearts.

Have you surrendered your heart to Him? Perhaps you are struggling with that decision today. Give it to Him. Let Him build you up. Let Him use His Spirit to guide you in your decisions. That pleases Him. If your heart isn’t totally surrendered to Him, He can’t use you in ways He would like. He has such great plans for you. Don’t you know that?

I want Him to use me. I want to do His bidding. However, I know I can’t do that unless I yield to Him. I have to stop building my own palaces to impress Him and others. I have to stop spending so much time worrying about what others think about me. What truly matters is what the Lord thinks. Don’t you agree? If we are in His will, that is all that matters.

Tear down any palaces I have built from my own flesh. Tear down those things that put me above You. You are all that matters, Lord.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Belief, Bible, Blameless, Bondslaves, Busyness, Choices, Cleansing, Commands, Confession, Disciplemaking, Faith, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

NETTED

HOSEA 7:12

When they go, I will spread My net over them; I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will discipline them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly.

I have never used a net to catch birds, but I have used a cast net to catch fish. There’s quite an art to it. You need to know how to fold it in your hands and swing it just right to cause the net to open as it hits the water. Otherwise, you just have a mess of a net in a wad in the water. When you throw it correctly, you have the potential to catch some bait fish to use later.

The Lord has cast His net over the dove mentioned in verse 11. Ephraim may have thought they could escape capture and judgment just like a dove to quickly fly off and escape. But the Lord’s net it sure. He knows exactly how to throw it. His cast is always perfect. He would hold them down to earth to face the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

Oh, be sure, my brothers and sisters, you will not escape the wrath of God. Unless we all turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will all face His wrath. We will pay for our sins. We have no excuse. We can’t claim ignorance. We can’t say we were too busy and meant to get to it. No! We will face judgment one day.

But thanks be to God, He has provided a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) for us. All we have to do is turn to Jesus, admit we are a sinner, believe He is the Son of God who died on that cruel cross for us, was buried and rose again. Then we confess our sins and ask for His shed blood to cover them. Then God extends His loving arms to us and grants us forgiveness and gives us the faith to live obediently to Him.

You have a choice today. You can be a netted dove, caught in your sins, awaiting judgment or you can be set free by the blood of Jesus. Which is it? I am so thankful I am free. I am free to live a life dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life is in His hands. I am secure and protected. What a feeling. I feel just like that dove soaring high in the sky, knowing I am protected by my loving Father. How about you?

I am free because of Jesus’ blood. Thank You, Lord, for cutting loose the net that bound me to my sins.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Busyness, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Healing, Inspirational, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

MAKE YOUR BED

ACTS 9:32-35

“32 Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up. 35 And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”

When I read this passage my eye was drawn to that phrase, “make your bed.” I literally laughed out loud. Here’s a guy who has been in his bed for eight years, and the first thing he’s told to do when he gets healed and stands up is to make his bed. Wow! I know a lot of folks who are completely healthy and never make their bed, lol.

I wonder why Peter told him that. Do you think it was a symbolic move? That bed hadn’t been made in eight years. Aeneas lived in it. Making that bed symbolized a finish to the bedridden state. He no longer was confined to that bed. I bet Aeneas did not mind at all making that bed. In fact, I bet he enjoyed standing and seeing it made. He was out of it!

APPLICATION

When our kids come to Christ, they need to be taught that their former life is DONE. They have a new life in Christ. They are no longer paralyzed by sin. They are no longer bedridden by guilt and shame. They are free to walk and stand with Jesus. They can make that bed. Well, don’t tell them that, lol.

Seriously, making our bed sends a signal to the brain. We are no longer sleeping or slumbering. We are awake and about our Father’s business. Teach your kids to make their beds but tell them why they are doing it. It’s not just about making their room look neat. There’s a purpose behind it. It ends one thing and begins another.

Are you a bed maker? I like my bed made each day. Do I do that? Well…to be honest, there are days when my wife and I just pull up the sheet and go about our day. But when the bed is made it looks so nice. I want to begin each day afresh, ready to serve my Master. How about you? Then get up and make your bed.

I am ready to serve You, Lord. I want a fresh start today. I don’t want yesterday’s troubles to follow me into the new day.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Busyness, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Contentment, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Scripture, Wisdom

PUT ON YOUR SWIMSUIT

JOHN 21:4-8

“4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.”

I love this fish story. I really love how Jesus asked the question. Take it from a fisherman. That was a little jab. He could have asked, “Do you have any fish?” But He asked, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” He already knew they didn’t have any fish. Remember, this is the Son of God. He’s all knowing.

But the funny part of this story to me is what Peter does. When John tells him the man on the beach is Jesus, He puts on more clothes and jumps in. You normally take off clothes if you are jumping in water. More clothes make you heavy. Maybe he was hoping Jesus would walk on the water again and bring him to shore. Peter had a strange swimsuit.

APPLICATION

Do your children like to swim. Most kids love the water. The next time you are helping them get ready to go swimming, tell them this story. Ask them why they think Peter put on more clothes before he jumped in. Ask them if they would do that. I think I will ask Peter that question when I meet him one day, lol.

The real lesson here is Peter wanted to get to Jesus. Remember how he left Him. He had seen the resurrected Jesus earlier, but he had not had a chance to talk about his denial of Jesus. I think Peter wanted to get to shore before the others to talk privately with his Lord. I am just speculating here, of course. Remind your children that they can talk to Jesus any time.

Are you putting on your swimsuit to jump in and talk to Jesus?

Are your conversations with Him one way or do you listen as well? Jesus will find you wherever you are. He is ready to meet you, even if you are worn out and tired from fishing all night or working night and day. Take the time to talk to Him. Run, don’t walk, to Him today. He’s waiting.

I need conversation with You today, O Lord. I depend on Your guidance to make my decisions. Talk to me, and I will listen.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Busyness, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Light, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting

JUST TO MAKE SURE

1 PETER 2:6

“For this is contained in Scripture: ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’”

Peter hinted at this verse (Isaiah 28:16) a few verses earlier. Perhaps he just wanted to make sure we didn’t miss his reference to it, so he actually quotes it here. He wanted to leave no doubt. He didn’t want us to miss this point. There is something to be said for repeating ourselves.

Have you ever needed to repeat yourself to get your point across? Boy, I have. In fact, when I teach kids, I often will repeat my points two or three times. Repetition is a great way to learn something. I bet you already knew that, though.

APPLICATION

Have you ever helped your child learn a new memory? How did they learn it? I know how. They said it over and over. Repetition helps us remember. The real question isn’t if they can memorize. The question is what are they memorizing.

Challenge your kids to memorizing verses. Make it a game with real prizes. But be ready. Kids are notoriously competitive. The more verses the bigger the prizes. But don’t stop with quoting them to each other. Challenge them to share those verses with friends and strangers.

Are you memorizing any verses? Don’t use the excuse you are too old. You are never too old. Don’t use the excuse you don’t have time. You make time for everything else. Remember, repetition is the key. Make sure you share your newly memorized verse with someone also. Maybe even challenge them to memorize.

Lord, thanks for reminding me over and over again. You aren’t afraid of repeating Yourself to get Your point again. I’m glad Peter heard You and did the same thing.

Standard
Busyness, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Faith, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Parenting, Testimony

GREETINGS

TITUS 3:15

“All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”

When you greet someone, what are you really doing? The Greek word here means I greet, salute, pay my respects to, welcome.” Is that true for everyone you greet? Think about it. We truly should be welcoming because we represent Jesus. We really should be respectful because He would be.

Greetings today are usually rushed. We are all in such a hurry. Paul was purposeful in his greetings. He passed on the greetings from those who were with him and asked Titus to give his greetings to those who were with him in the faith. He didn’t just say, “Bye.” It was thoughtful. It was meaningful.

APPLICATION

We teach our children to say thank you, your welcome and all the other proper words, don’t we? How about greetings? Giving a proper greeting is respectful. Refusing to acknowledge someone is just plain rude. So, we teach our children to say hello or good-bye as appropriate.

But it isn’t just about manners. As I said earlier, we represent someone bigger than us as believers. If your child is a believer, remind them of that. As they meet people, they may be the only “Jesus” that person meets today. They need to greet them in the name and spirit of Jesus. Just a simple “Hello, how are you today?” can mean a lot.

This is a strange way to end Titus, but it’s how Paul ended the letter. If he ended it this way, it must have been important. So, from me to you, greetings from all those who are with me. Greet all those who are with you in the faith. May God’s grace be upon you until we meet one day here or in heaven.

Help me greet those around me today with the love of the Lord. May they Him and not me. May my greeting be full of Jesus.

Standard