Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Evil, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHAT A DISGRACE

HABAKKUK 2:16

“‘You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Drink, you yourself, and expose your own foreskin! The cup in the LORD’S right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory.’”

Too many men have fallen into disgrace in the recent years through moral indiscretions, bad choices and just plain being dumb. My first thought when I hear these stories is where were the godly men in their lives holding them accountable. Where were their friends?

God continues in verse 16 with this most recent woe. Here He is warning the Chaldeans of their own self-imposed disgrace. Their shame knew no low. Drunkenness, nudity and immoral behaviors ran deep in their lifestyles. They did not recognize the holiness of God or care that He had warned them of justice.

APPLICATION

Before you start pointing fingers at them, take a look at yourself. You may not live a disgraceful, public life, but how about your private thoughts? How about that secret sin you have hidden away (or so you think)? As believers, we are to live holy lives (check out 2 Peter 3:14). Our actions are to be above reproach.

I know you are probably thinking that your “little sin” isn’t hurting anyone. It’s all yours. It’s not anyone’s business. But our sins do not live in isolation. Sooner or later all those sins affect those closest to you. That secret porn addiction is harming your relationship with your spouse. That second or third glance at someone plants ideas in your mind that will come back to haunt you.

Christ has the answer. Amputation! Don’t get alarmed. I am not talking about any bodily maiming. But I am meaning that you have to take drastic action to rid yourself of these enticements. He has given you the power to do it through His Holy Spirit. Lean into Him. He is there. Listen to Him and obey.

Purify my mind today, O Lord. Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture, Surrender

SANDSTORMS

HABAKKUK 1:9

“All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They gather captives like sand.”

I have mentioned several times in my blog that I grew up in South Georgia. I spent a good bit of time at my Uncle Hugh Lee’s farm where we picked produce and where I worked in the fields with him. In the summers when it got dry, the wind would whip up dirt and just sling it in your eyes. It seemed as if a billion particles of sand were flying through the air.

That’s the picture God is painting for Habakkuk. The Chaldeans will come in swiftly and sweep their captives like sand caught up in a sandstorm. They will be captured and taken away so quickly. That message is one I am sure Habakkuk did not want to deliver to the people, but one that had to be told. There would be no escape from their judgment.

APPLICATION

What is the Lord “whipping up” in your face? What is He trying to get you to see? God does not punish us without warning. We have His Word to direct our decisions and behavior. We, as believers, have His Holy Spirit to convict us and redirect us. But what do we do? We ignore His warnings. We disregard His teachings.

So, we end up under facing God’s judgment. I don’t mean we are going to lose our salvation. No! If you are a believer, you are secure in Christ. But we face those “sandstorms” which God allows in our lives. They are not comfortable. But they are meant to drive us back to Him. We cannot stay in a position of disobedience and please our heavenly Father.

I am thankful that the Lord allows those gritty moments to lead us back to Him. I am thankful He doesn’t just leave us alone. He will not force us to do anything, but He will draw us back to Himself. Choosing to do otherwise will only lead to more heartache and pain. It’s your choice. Do you want sandstorms or gentle breezes?

Lord, bring on Your winds of change in my life. I want to be driven right back in Your arms when I stray.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Choices, Contentment, God's Will, Scripture

BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

NAHUM 3:16

“You have made your traders more numerous than the stars of heaven—the creeping locust sheds its skin and flies away.

You may have heard the saying “You can tell a man from boys by the size of his toys.” We think bigger is always better. Or in Christian terms “busier is better.” If I just do this for God, He will love me more. If I just serve on this committee at church, people will like me more. If I could just sing on the Praise Team, I would be more spiritual.

Nineveh was the biggest and best in the trade world at that time. Because two rivers converged at Nineveh, it was a major trade route to the sea and beyond. And with all that trade, money flowed. There were many wealthy traders in Nineveh. Wealth brings its on set of temptations – idol worship, prostitution, drugs, etc. Bigger is not always better.

APPLICATION

Are you relying on the “size of your toys” to bring you happiness and contentment? It won’t happen. Oh, for a little while, you will be happy with that new car or truck. You will finally buy your dream home or land that dream job. But the things of this world are fleeting. They will not last.

As believers, our contentment is only in Christ. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 tells us something about contentment. “6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it, either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Then Paul tells us what to pursue in verse 11. “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” Those are eternal things. Those bring true happiness. Those are things worth chasing after with all the vigor you can muster. Let’s pursue the better over the bigger.

I desire to follow You, Lord, into a deeper relationship filled with righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.”

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Fruit, Obedience, Redemption, Scripture

THE FRUIT WE BEAR 

MICAH 7:13 

“And the earth will become a wasteland because of her inhabitants, on account of the fruit of their deeds.” 

I am almost sixty-two years old, and I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. Fortunately, most of them were small and did no harm. Others, however, have left lasting impressions on me and others. I am forgiven and loved by my Savior, but I know that not all the fruit that I have put forth has been good. 

Micah switches from a positive thought in verse 12 to a rather negative one here in verse 13. The fruit of their deeds, their sins against God will cause their land to be a wasteland, to be desolate. In fact, to this day, because of their rejection of Christ, the land of Israel is spiritually desolate, without hope as a nation. 

APPLICATION 

What fruit are you bearing? Well Carl, I think I am doing pretty well. I think my fruit tastes good. Would you make jam with it? Are the deeds you perform for the sake of Christ done out of love for Him or simply out of “duty”? What is your motivation for service? These are questions we should all ask ourselves daily. We should strive to produce only the fruit that gives the glory to God. 

I am reminded of John 15, the chapter that talks about the vine and the branch and the fruit. Verse 8 says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” All glory must go to Him, not us. Any applause we receive for a deed well done must be redirected to Him. 

When I travel and speak, preach or teach others, I often am thanked and told how much they appreciate it. I feel almost embarrassed because that is not my motivation. My motive is to give Him glory. I want to point others to Jesus, to whom all praise is due. Amen? As you do for Him, point to Him. 

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You. O my soul rejoice. 

Standard
Allegiance, Bible, Choices, Covenant, Devil, Faith, Following, God's Will, Scripture

BUT AS FOR ME 

MICAH 7:7 

“But as for me, I will be on the watch for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” 

Have you ever had to make a stand about something? Maybe it was a personal conviction or perhaps it was a doctrinal issue. I remember my senior year in high school when I had to take a stand. The years before had been filled with ungodly activities and behaviors. When I became a believer, I had to say “no” to those things. It cost me some friendships. 

Micah is taking a stand. “But as for me.” In other words, you may choose another path, but I am taking God’s side. Joshua had said the same words when he said, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) These words are powerful and strong. They leave no room for compromise. 

APPLICATION 

The world is constantly testing our allegiance to Christ. The devil entices us to compromise just a little. That is all it takes – just a little. A little here, a little there. Before you know it, you have gone a long way from the truth and find it hard to get back. 

Hold firm today, my brothers and sisters. Choose today whom to obey. Paul said it so well in Romans 6:16. “Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” Death or righteousness! 

I choose righteousness. Sure, that may mean I have to give up some of these earthly pleasures. I may choose to give rather than receive. I have to remember that as a believer, this world is not my home. I am a citizen of heaven and I want to represent it well. Will you join me?  

I will choose You, O Lord. I know You will hear me.

Standard
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. 

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Choices, Consequences, Contentment, Deception, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture

THE RIGHT WEIGHT

MICAH 6:11

“‘Can I justify dishonest balances, and a bag of fraudulent weights?’”

I have this little hand-held baggage scale. You simply wrap the strap around the baggage handle, pick it up and you get the weight. That is necessary when you are flying somewhere because they have restrictions on how much weight you can have in that bag. Too much, and it costs you more. You cannot cheat the scale.

God watches our actions just as closely. He will not tolerate our deceitfulness. The people would try to cheat others in the market by having those fraudulent weight and scales. He had warned the people about this in Leviticus 19:35-36 where it says, “‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or volume. You shall have accurate balances, accurate weights, an accurate ephah, and an accurate hin;’”

APPLICATION

I am reminded of a verse in Job when he was vehemently denying any sin in his life that had caused his suffering. Job 31:6 says, “Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity.” Can you say that? I sure cannot most days.

I want my life to be weighed and found not lacking. I want my deeds and words to be always just right on God’s scales. I trust His scales to be accurate and true. If He says I am lacking, I am lacking. If He says I am okay, I am okay. He sees me as righteous because of His Son. Jesus has tipped the scales in my favor.

We have a bathroom scale in our home. Most mornings I weigh myself. It is interesting, though. I can weigh myself and then go to the doctor and weigh five more pounds. I think they set their scales five pounds heavier so they can tell us to lose some weight, lol. Truth is my scales are off five pounds. What really matters is my spiritual weight. With Jesus, I will always weigh correctly spiritually. Is that true for you today?

I am forever grateful for the blood that washed away the weight of my sin and made me righteous in Your eyes, Lord.

Standard
Accountability, Attention, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confidence, God's Will, Listening, Scripture, Wisdom

SOUND WISDOM

MICAH 6:9

“The voice of the LORD will call to the city—and it is sound wisdom to fear Your name: ‘Hear, you tribe. Who has designated its time?’”

My dad was a wise man. He always gave me good advice. Even before he was a believer, I could trust what he said to be true. And once he came to Christ, his wisdom increased because then he had true wisdom. The wisdom of the world does not always match up to the wisdom from God. I miss my wise dad.

In today’s verse, Micah is giving the word of the Lord and says, “and it is sound wisdom to fear Your name.” I like this other translation that reads, “and the man of wisdom shall see thy name.” You see, only the wise can truly recognize the Lord’s voice. Those who are wise according to God’s principles are given that ability to hear Him.

APPLICATION

I want to be known as a wise man. That does not mean I have to grow a long beard and sit on a mountain tip dispensing a secret knowledge. No! Being wise in God’s eyes means listening to Him and doing what He says. It means relying on His Word to direct me in all my decisions. It means recognizing that outside of God, I have no wisdom.

I get asked a lot for my “opinion” on things. My opinion does not mean much. However, my wisdom based on God’s Word can carry a lot of weight. That “weight” is solely dependent on the Word of God. I am helpless without His wisdom. I gladly admit that it is my crutch.

I have been told by some people that religion is just a crutch for people. My relationship with Jesus is so much more than a crutch, but He is One that I will willingly lean on. In fact, I dare not walk anywhere without Him. I know my flesh too well. I pray I can be that wise man who hears the Lord when He calls. His is the only voice I should be tuned in to. How about you?

Lord, I want to hear Your voice and do exactly what You say each and every day.

Standard
Bible, Blessing, Choices, Gifts, Giving, Offering, Sacrifice, Scripture

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

MICAH 6:7

“Does the LORD take pleasure in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give Him my firstborn for my wrongdoings, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

How much do you give to the Lord? Now, I am not asking you to divulge the exact amount. That is between you and the Lord. But have you ever asked yourself how much is enough? Our giving has fluctuated over the years. Some years were more than others. Most years, when I tally it all up, I am surprised we gave as much as we did. God surely made up the difference.

Micah keeps throwing out the questions. Thousands of rams? Ten thousand rivers of oil? Our firstborn? What does God want from me? How much is enough? Does He want it all? When will He stop asking? Micah is building to a point here. We will see that in tomorrow’s blog. He does, however, get our minds to ask the same questions.

APPLICATION

I have friends who are capable of giving tens of thousands of dollars. Some could even give millions. I have other friends who can only give a little. Which is greater in God’s eyes? It does not depend on the amount. It depends completely on the heart of the giver (I mentioned this in yesterday’s blog).

I am reminded of the story in the New Testament when Jesus witnessed the widow give her offering at the temple. We find that in Luke 21:1-4. “1 Now He looked up and saw the wealthy putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two lepta coins.  3 He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4 for they all contributed to the offering from their surplus; but she, from her poverty, put in all that she had to live on.’”

I challenged you yesterday on your giving. I do not need to do that again today. Today, I want to praise you for your obedience in giving. I am trusting that you will follow the Lord’s stirring. And when you give, find that peace that only He can give you as you obey Him.

Take my offerings, Lord, and multiply them to reach the masses.

You can give to my ministry at www.twr.org/carl-willis

Standard
Anger, Battles, Bible, Choices, Compassion, God's Will, Holiness, Judgment, Scripture

GOOD ANGER?

MICAH 5:15

“‘And I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations which have not obeyed.’”

All our lives we are told to not get angry. When our favorite toy is broken by our sibling, do not get angry. When the car breaks down for the umpteenth time, do not get angry. When our friend stabs us in the back, do not get angry. So, why do we see God getting angry at the people of Israel and that is okay?

God’s anger is not our anger. Our anger is birthed out of sin and rage. His out of love. Our anger comes from our unchecked emotions. His out of love. Our anger comes from a desire to get even. His out of love. God’s anger in verse 15 today is due to His holiness. He cannot and will not tolerate sinful actions. Here His anger is directed towards those unruly nations who have oppressed His children. God’s anger is unreproachable.

APPLICATION

We do not have God’s discretion or patience. We lash out in anger and then justify it. We claim we have the right to be angry. Ephesians 4:26-27 comes to mind. “In your anger, do not sin and do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil a foothold.”

My wife and I decided to never go to bed angry. That has led to many sleepless nights. Lol. Just kidding. We do try to do that, but to be honest, we have gone to bed angry. Guess what? That anger does not disappear as you sleep. In fact, it can cause a very restless night.

I believe all conflicts among believers is due to either one or both individuals living out of their flesh rather than the Spirit. There is no situation too big for God to solve. When He says to not get angry, He is not talking about anger over seeing the righteous suffer or children being abused. He is referring to our flesh inspired anger toward each other. That anger must be defeated through our surrender to His Spirit in our lives. Look at your anger today. At whom is it direction? From where does it come?

Oh Father, I am thankful Your wrath over my sin has been taken care of by the blood of Your precious Son.

Standard