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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Abiding, Bible, Calling, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Idols, Sanctification, Scripture

GOT TO GET THE ROOT

MICAH 5:14

“‘I will uproot your Asherim from among you and destroy your cities.’”

Weeds are a result of the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Before the fall, plants had no “enemies.” Weeds had no purpose. But since then, weeds have plagued farmers and gardeners alike. To get rid of the weeds, you have to get the root. If you just break it off, it continues to grow and spread. You have to really dig deep.

God is going to uproot any Asherim (wooden images of the Phoenician goddess) and destroy (totally exterminate, demolish) their cities. Any place that held an idol was going to be purged. God was going to flatten the surface from any corrupting influence for His people.

APPLICATION 

Idols still exist today. They are all around us. I have said it before, but it deserves repeating. Anything that comes before your relationship with God can be an idol. Anything! God wants and desires first place in your life. He is the only one deserving of that.

Being in the ministry sometimes blurs that line. I think I have been pretty good about protecting my family and keeping them before my ministry. There have been times when the “ox was in the ditch” and I had to work longer hours, but for the most part I tried my best to keep them before my ministry.

But the line gets blurred between my relationship with God and my ministry. They are not one in the same. My ministry is my calling to share the Gospel and disciple men into disciple makers. But I cannot do either of those effectively if I am not abiding in the Vine. That abiding must come first, followed by my family and then my ministry. Take a minute and evaluate your priorities. Do you have something on the shelf above God? If so, take it down a notch or two.

Praise You, O God, for reminding me of Your place in my life. You should always be on the top shelf.

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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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Bible, Calling, Direction, Disciplemaking, Exalting, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

HIGH PLACES

MICAH 4:8

“‘As for you, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come—yes, the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.’”

High places have been used time and time again to make announcements. Politicians take to stages to make speeches. Pastors climb into elevated rostrums to deliver their messages. High places give us visibility and allow our messages to be heard more easily.

It only makes sense that these two sites mentioned by the Lord here in Micah 4:8 are both high places. The “tower of the flock” is the Tower of Adel near Bethlehem. It is the spot where supposedly the shepherds received the message from the angels of the birth of Christ. The “hill of the daughter of Zion” refers to Ophel which is a high place on the south side of Jerusalem which was prophesied as the place the Messiah would appear.

APPLICATION

Okay, Carl, enough with the geography lesson. What does this mean for us? I am glad you asked. When we think of a high place, what does that require us to do? We have to look up. The shepherds looked up to see the angels. We have to look up to see Ophel, if we are in Jerusalem. Keep looking up!

Albert Barnes has this to say about these two sites. “Both then are images of lowliness. The lonely Shepherd tower, for Bethlehem, the birthplace of David; Ophel for Jerusalem, of which it was yet but an outlying part, and deriving its value probably as an outwork of the temple. Both symbols anticipate the fuller prophecy of the littleness, which shall become great in God.”

The lowly baby, born in a manger, became the Savior of the world. He was the long-awaited Messiah. His kingdom is not of this world, but His greatness exceeds them all. God will also lift us up if we humble ourselves. If we make ourselves lowly, He will exalt us. Allow the Lord to set you on a high place, so the message he has given you can be heard.

Thank You, Lord, for setting me up so others can hear. Let me never see myself as exalted, but only allow You to exalt me when I humble myself.

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Bible, Calling, Evangelism, Gospel, Scripture, Witnessing

A CALL TO THE NATIONS

MICAH 4:2

“Many nations will come and say, ‘Come and let’s go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob, so that He may teach us about His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.’ For from Zion will go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

I have been privileged to travel to many nations to teach and preach about the Lord Jesus Christ. In many of these nations I have trained pastors and other church leaders how to present the Gospel and how to make disciples. What a joy to see the Gospel spread far and wide.

Micah prophesies here of the end times when nations will return to the Lord. In the days of Micah, the people already knew of some of the vastness of our globe, but they had no idea just how big the world was. But they still could envision the throngs of people from all over coming to Jerusalem, to the “mountain of the LORD.” A little hope is given.

APPLICATION

We have a role in this end-time prophesy. We are to share with all who will listen about what Jesus has done. We will have a part in seeing these nations return to Him. You do not have to pack up and travel to some remote village. In our day, we can zoom around the world by computer, literally using Zoom. It is an amazing tool.

Covid shut down the world, but at the same time it opened it up. There were more sermons posted online than ever before. There were more live streamed church services than ever before. I have a friend in a small town in Kenya who is still streaming their church services each Sunday. His messages are traveling around the world.

But this all starts with our own Jerusalem. We need to be busy sharing with our neighbors and friends. We can change the world one person at a time. Will you join me today by sharing with at least one person about Jesus?

Father, I praise You for allowing me the privilege to share Jesus with all I meet.

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Advocate, Bible, Calling, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Leading

IMPACT A NATION

MICAH 1:1

“The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and which he saw regarding Samaria and Jerusalem.”

How can we, as mere citizens, impact a nation for Christ? We often complain and moan about what the elected officials are doing. So, how do we change that? I have friends who have served or are serving in some elected position. I pray for them. I pray for God’s wisdom as they make decisions. I also pray for those elected officials whom I did not vote for. I pray that, too, will make decisions based on godly advice.

As we begin this study in Micah, we notice in verse one that Micah had influence over three kings of Judah. That’s a lot of opportunities. It’s interesting that while Jotham and Hezekiah were known as good leaders and good men, Ahaz took a different trek. He was an evil man and a very poor leader. But through the reign of all three of these men, Micah prophesied to Samaria and Judah. His heart was for his country and his God.

APPLICATION

We have opportunities every day to impact our communities for Christ. How is that possible? One, by praying for our leaders. Two, by sharing Jesus with those around us. They may have ways to impact your city that you are not even aware of. And three, by being the best leader you can be when given the chance.

Many of us will never lead. We are followers. That’s okay. We can’t all be chiefs, as they say. We need some Indians, lol. But we all can lead our families. We can lead in our churches. We can ask the Lord for leadership opportunities. If you want to change a culture for Christ, our men must be taught to lead and lead well. They need to know the tools so they can lead.

I am serving now with a ministry called Every Man A Warrior (EMAW), the Men’s ministry of Trans World Radio (TWR). Our goals are to help men walk with God, succeed in life and multiply spiritually. We want to build men who can lead other men and change our world for Jesus. Will you pray for us as we strive to do that? Check out our website at www.everymanawarrior.com. You can take a look at my ministry site at www.twr.org/carl-willis.

Father, let me be an influencer rather than someone who is influenced by others. I want to see lives change for Christ.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Distractions, Enemies, Fear, God's Will, Gospel, Obedience, Scripture

A LARGE PLACE

JONAH 3:3

“So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk.”

I’ve been to some big cities – New York City, London, Nairobi, Minneapolis. I could go on. Fortunately, I did not have to walk to them. I had a car or another mode of transportation. But you know, I seldom thought about how big those cities were or too much about all the thousands of people in them who needed to hear about Jesus. I usually was on a mission to get something accomplished and didn’t want someone or something to slow me down. I repent of that. That was wrong.

Jonah was now going to Nineveh, that “exceedingly large city.” It was known for its greatness. Even though it was physically great, it was spiritually weak. The gods the Ninevites worshipped were not gods at all. We know that. Jonah knew that. And he was sent to tell them that.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s think about this for a second. Jonah was sent into enemy territory, to one of their greatest cities, and was told to tell them to repent. He probably expected laughter, at the very least. Jonah may have expected to be arrested and perhaps even killed. Why shouldn’t he expect that? No one likes to be told they are sinners.

But Jonah responded in the positive as fast as he had responded in the negative. He “got up and went” as compared to “got up to flee.” He was ready now to deliver God’s message no matter the cost. How about you? Are you willing to risk it all for Jesus? He may call on you to do just that.

I am finally at a point in my life where I really don’t care if people think I am a little crazy about Jesus. I have seen some amazing things in the past few years which have required me to reexamine how I see the Spirit moving. Living that out may put me at odds with some people. That’s okay, as long as I am true to my Savior’s calling. Will you do the same?

Father God, give me a Nineveh! Show me where you want me to be used.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Testimony, Witnessing

SPILL THE BEANS

JONAH 1:8

“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, now! On whose account has this catastrophe struck us? What is your occupation, and where do you come from? What is your country, and from what people are you?’”

Have you ever been asked to “spill the beans”? We are often asked to share information about someone or something, revealing something that was unknown to the asker. But did you ever stop to think about where that phrase came from? It probably originated from the ancient Greek process of voting. Votes were cast by using two different colored beans. After all had voted, the beans were spilled out to reveal the outcome.

The beans had been spilled. Jonah had been chosen by lots. Now the questions began. The sailors wanted to know what Jonah was doing and why his God was so upset with him. Remember, up to this time, they probably didn’t know exactly who God was. They were soon going to find out.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were grilled with questions about something? It’s bad when you get those questions and don’t have the answers. It’s even harder when you have the answers but aren’t sure how to give them. Kind of like being in between a rock and a hard place.

Let me encourage you to share the truth, no matter the consequences. If you are asked to “spill the beans” about why you are the way you are, go for it. Testify of the amazing works of the Spirit in your life. Tell them about God’s saving power in your life. Give your testimony from salvation to the present. Spill the beans!

I try to spill the beans whenever I can. I want to tell others about the Lord. Sometimes, that is not received well. Other times it is. My job is simply to share. So is yours. Will you help me spill the beans more and more to a lost and dying world?

Lord God, You have commanded me to share the good news to the poor. Give me the opportunities to do that.

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Alone, Apologies, Bible, Calling, Choices, Commitment, Confidence, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

EVEN THE LOST

JONAH 1:6

“So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’”

Testifying about what Christ has done in your life is more than just words. Your actions speak loudly. If your lifestyle doesn’t match what you are saying, nonbelievers will mock you and reject your message. We all mess up and do stupid things, but if you are outwardly showing a different message, this can be confusing.

The captain of the ship must have known Jonah believed in something. Most people back then had some god they worshipped. The sailors had been calling on their gods without any result. Perhaps Jonah’s god (notice I put a little “g” there) could help. I don’t believe the captain knew just who Jonah worshipped.

APPLICATION

Our testimony is huge. Who do we think we are? We can’t live one way and testify to the other. I have messed up in the past. I have said and done things in the presence of nonbelievers that did not honor my Savior. I have asked God for forgiveness of that and have tried my best, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not to do it again.

We can’t ignore our impact on the world around us. Christians are  watched so closely. We have to live like Jesus. We have to strive to be sinless. I know, that’s not possible. But we should be trying to live that way instead of choosing sin. Right?

As I said, I have blown it in the past. I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. All I can do is live better, live holier. Through Christ we all can. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

O Father, let me stand tall and alert to represent You at all times. When I fail, forgive me. Help me trust Your strength.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Confrontation, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Gospel, Judgment, Listening, Obedience, Repentance

REPENT

JONAH 1:2

“Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.”

Many years ago, while moving from South Carolina to Mississippi, I was following my wife through the hills of northern Alabama. She had our infant daughter in the car with her, while I was following in the moving truck with our four-year-old son. She was falling asleep and weaving all over the road. In the truck I could not get her attention by flashing my lights or honking my horn. I just knew I was going to watch her drive off the road and down the hill. I was trying to save her, but she wouldn’t listen. (She did finally wake up).

God tells Jonah to go tell the Ninevites how to get saved. He was sending Jonah on a specific mission to a specific people. God had seen “their wickedness” and decided it was time to take action. He wanted to give them the chance to be forgiven and come to Him.

APPLICATION

Are you trying to get someone’s attention about God? Some people are like my wife in that car. They can’t seem to hear the cries from God for them to come to Him. They are locked on to their own path and nothing is going to deter them. They don’t even know they are about to drive off a cliff.

Others God knows are just ripe for the harvest. He has already prepared their hearts. That’s why sometimes it is so easy to lead someone to Christ. They are like the Ninevites – eager to know the truth.

Boy, I am so glad I heard the words of the Lord. I am thankful He has caused me to turn towards Him and receive salvation. I am trying to be more mindful of those opportunities to share the Gospel. I’m not judged by their response. I am judged by God only by my decision to be obedient. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving me and giving the opportunity to share with others.

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

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