Abuse, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Encouragement, Scripture

VOMIT

JONAH 2:10

“Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.”

I don’t like to vomit. Excuse me for using a biblical word (lol). The disease I have has attacked my stomach and digestive system. Every two to three weeks, I have a bout of vomiting and upset stomach. My doctor says my gut just shuts down and has to “rest” to keep going. I hate it, but that’s my life.

Jonah, on the other hand, wasn’t vomiting. He WAS the vomit. That big ole fish just upchucked him onto dry land. Wow! I bet that changed some beach lovers’ lives. What would you have done if you had seen that? So, here is Jonah, lying in a puddle of fish vomit. Now what?

APPLICATION

Have you ever been puked on? Once, when our family was at a theme park, I got sick on a simulation ride. I puked everywhere. My kids were so embarrassed. But I didn’t do it on anybody. Luckily, I was sitting on the end of the row up front. But people do get vomited on, and I don’t mean physically.

Being mistreated and devalued is like being vomited on. The feeling of being treated unfairly or abusively are hard to shake. You feel like getting a shower to wash off the disgust. But this stuff doesn’t wash off easy. I have the secret ingredient. It is Jesus.

Before Christ we all feel “less than.” We believe we do not really matter. Our lives are not important. But when we come to Christ, He gives us our value. He tells us we matter. He sees us differently – glorified. There is no vomit here. Only love and mercy. Is that something you want? You can have it in Him.I

give You all the praise, Jesus, because You picked me up in my slimy mess, cleaned me off and called me Your child.

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Advice, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Darkness, Promises, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

SEAWEED WRAPS

JONAH 2:5

“‘Water encompassed me to the point of death. The deep flowed around me, seaweed was wrapped around my head.’”

Did you know there are spas that specialize in seaweed wraps? Can you imagine having your body wrapped in seaweed and lying there on a table? I’ve only been to one spa in my life. That was for a massage. It was okay, but not good enough to get me to go back.

I don’t think Jonah would agree that being wrapped in seaweed is a good thing. Here he is in the belly of fish praying to God. He is lying in a pool of seawater and seaweed, and he is not sure of his outcome. Remember that while he is lying there, the fish’s stomach acids are beginning to bleach his skin. He can probably smell those acids. He’s in the dark praying to the only one who can rescue Him.

APPLICATION

We all have stuff “wrapped around” our heads. We find ourselves in the dark, feeling the burn of our circumstances. What do you do? Who do you turn to? Many of us just continue to struggle and fight. We think we can release ourselves. We can “figure it out.” Men, we are the worst. We don’t want to ask for help.

But, just like Jonah, we can’t get out of our circumstances by ourselves. We need a Savior. Jesus is the answer. He has the power to lift us up out of that miry clay. He can remove the seaweed that is wrapped around our head. Stop fighting and turn to Him.

I am thankful the Lord has rescued me. I was deep in the bottom of the barrel. He scrapped me up, cleaned me off and set me on the firm foundation. He can do the same for you. Stop wherever you are today and reach out to Jesus. He is reaching out for you.

How can I say thanks for all You have done for me? I am thankful for my salvation and my life in You.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Redemption, Rescue, Scripture

RETURN TO FORTUNES

AMOS 9:14

“I will also restore the fortunes of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the desolated cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine and make gardens and eat their fruit.”

I can’t begin to imagine being ripped from my home and sent off to a foreign land with no hope of escape. The horrors of war are all around us. We are all watching the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are all heartbroken at the scenes of children crossing a border into a country that is not their home. What do we do?

Israel had been removed from their land. Now God is promising to restore them after they have been through this trial. The Hebrew text for “I will restore the fortunes” literally could be translated “I will bring back the captives.” So, the Lord is promising not just a return of fortunes but freedom.

APPLICATION

Beloved, listen to me. God knows where you are. He has not lost contact with you. You may feel that way, but He is completely aware of where you have been and where He is sending you. Don’t forget Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Rest in Him. Trust that He will restore you. But you must first return to Him. Repentance is required. You cannot expect a holy God to return you without movement on your part. Oh, but when you take that first step towards Him, He rushes to you to restore you.

I have made the decision too many times to trying to wait out God. Let me tell you – that doesn’t work. The eternal, timeless, ageless God literally has all the time in the world. He can outwait you. Don’t waste that precious time. Run to Him now. Enjoy your restoration.

I love You, Lord, and will quickly return to You, not for any fortunes, but to enjoy Your presence.

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Abiding, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, God's Will, Judgment, Trials

SHAKEN BUT NOT STIRRED

AMOS 9:9

“For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a pebble will fall to the ground.”

One of the classic statements in the James Bond 007 movie series is when James Bond asks the bartender to make his drink. He always says, “Shaken, not stirred.” Well, for some reason when I read this verse, I thought of that. Strange, I know. But his drink had to be prepared a certain way.

God was preparing Israel for something. Certainly, they had to face the coming judgment, but God wasn’t done with them yet. He promises that not one pebble (or grain) would be lost. He would preserve the nation, even though it might mean exile into a foreign country. He would keep them safe.

APPLICATION

I once watched a woman in Liberia pound and then sift rice. She pounded the rice grain in her large pestle and then poured the crushed grain into a large, flat, wicker platter. She would shake the grain so that the chaff (the husk that had been pounded away) was blown away by the breeze. It was a fascinating thing for me to watch.

That reminded me of a passage in 2 Corinthians 9:8-9 which says, “8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed;” God’s got our backs, even when we feel He doesn’t.

I am thankful (usually after the fact) for God’s discipline. I don’t particularly enjoy that process, but I know He is making me into a better man, a better husband, a better father and grandfather. I want to be better so that I can point others to Jesus. Will you submit to the pestle and mortar of God today?

I thank You, Lord, even though the process may be painful. I am confident You are shaping me into something more like Jesus. 

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Bible, Choices, Cleansing, Completeness, Consequences, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Foundation, God's Will, Judgment

PLUMB LINE

AMOS 7:7

“So He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand.”

My dad was a great carpenter. I have mentioned that before. He had the ability to build just about anything. He was meticulous. He never hurried a project. When building a wall, he made sure the walls were plumb. He used a level most of the time, but he had a plumb line that he occasionally used, just to make sure.

The Lord used a plumb line in this vision He showed Amos. You see, God is a perfectionist. He will only allow to stand what is perfect and whole. Israel had gotten out of plumb. They were leaning the wrong direction. The Lord knew He had to tear them down in order to build them back straight.

APPLICATION

He will do the same to us. If we claim to represent Him, He demands that we stay in plumb. We can’t lean crooked. When we do, we put the whole structure in danger. If we lean too far or too long the rest of the building can collapse. We are part of a larger structure than just ourselves.

People are watching us. They see how we live our lives. If we lean out of plumb, we endanger them. We could cause them to reject the teachings of Christ because of the way we live. Our leanings could crush them.

O beloved, we are called to be God’s workmanship. 1 Corinthians 3:10 says, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, but someone else is building on it. Each one should be careful how he builds.” There you are. We have to be careful. Use the plumb line. Make sure your walls are stable.

Lord, help me to build straight and true. Let whatever I build be built on You.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Cleansing, Destruction, Eternity, Fire, Judgment

A CONSUMING FIRE

AMOS 7:4

“So the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, the Lord GOD was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the farmland.”

I have mentioned I grew up in a rural community. That meant I was surrounded by farmland. Every once in a while, a farmer would burn off his field. It was a controlled burn, but it still was hot and moved fast. I have watched farmers do this and have even helped on occasion. The fire destroyed everything in its path.

Fire is a symbol of God’s judgment. Amos had just stilled God’s hand in verse 3 (God relented). But here, we see God once again sending forth His judgment on the land. And just like that fire that farmer set, His fire will destroy whatever is in its path. His judgment is sure.

APPLICATION

Don’t think for a second that you can escape the fires of God’s judgment. He won’t excuse us. We have been warned. Many live their lives with no fear of eternity. Just because they don’t believe doesn’t make it untrue. God is real! His Word is true! God will have the last word.

And when God’s judgment comes, it will be too late to say, “Hold on God. I was going to get around to accepting Your Son.” Nope, that won’t work. If you are a believer, praise Him for your salvation. If you haven’t made that decision to follow Jesus, do it today.

I do not fear God’s judgment because I know I am secure. I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and am headed to heaven. But there are many I know that aren’t secure. They haven’t made that decision. Others I know aren’t walking with the Lord. They are living to please the flesh and not the Spirit. Will you join me today in living for His Son? Will you trust Him to secure your eternity?

O God, my Savior, I praise You for the security I have in You. I pray others will come and experience the freedom they can have in You.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Cleansing, Confidence, Mourning, Offering, Rejoicing, Scripture

IN YOUR MIDST

AMOS 5:17

“‘And in all the vineyards there is mourning, because I will pass through the midst of you,’ says the LORD.”

I’m an extrovert. I love to be around people. It fuels me. I simply love being in the midst of people. Right in the center. Not everyone is that way. Others shun crowds and had rather be alone. I love today’s verse, but I must say it confuses me.

The Lord says His presence would bring mourning. You would think His presence would bring rejoicing. But He is passing through to bring judgment. His presence exposed their sins, thus the mourning. And when God exposes sin, consequences fall. There are always consequences for our sins.

APPLICATION

How much better would it be to welcome God’s presence everyday with nothing to fear? When I worked in children’s homes, we would often go through inspections (health, fire, licensing, accreditation). I wanted to ensure that we were ready for any inspection any day.

I had worked in some locations where inspection days meant extra cleaning and extra work before they arrived. Needless to say, this method did not work when we had surprise inspections. The same applies for us. We need to keep our lives so prepared that when the Lord visits us, we are not embarrassed.

I can honestly say today that I have nothing to hide. I am ready. It is my prayer to do that every day, but I do slip up time to time. I don’t want God’s visit in my midst to bring mourning. I want to rejoice and sing. Can you do that today? Is your life ready for His visit?

I welcome You, Lord. Let Your presence bring for rejoicing and not mourning.

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Advice, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Cleansing, Commands, Double-minded, Encouragement, Following, Justice, Scripture

WORMWOOD

AMOS 5:7

For those who turn justice into wormwood, and throw righteousness to the earth.”

I have read about wormwood in the Bible for years but never really took the time to see what that means. I just figured anything called wormwood had to be bad. It is. Wormwood is a bitter herb that was used to get rid of intestinal worms. Now, that’s just plain gross.

Amos uses the imagery of wormwood (which any Israelite would have known) in this verse today. Amos says they have turned justice, which is a good thing, into wormwood, which is bitter and nasty. Israel had become accustomed to doing as they pleased, regardless of what the Lord had told them.

APPLICATION

We do the same thing. We can take something good and make it bad. Things that help us end up hurting us. Can you think of a few things like that? How about the internet? It has the potential to aid us in so many ways. But man has turned it into something evil through the prevalence of pornography. It has become wormwood in so many ways.

How about food? We Christians are such hypocrites about this. We overindulge and become obese and unhealthy. I am speaking from personal experience. I love to eat, but sometimes I eat just to eat, not for nourishment. Food can become wormwood if not eaten in moderation.

Wormwood is a nasty tasting herb that many of us eat all the time. Our attitudes are bitter. Our relationships become bitter. Even our spiritual life is bitter. And we accept that. May I encourage you today to examine your own life and see if you have any wormwood in it. If you do, get rid of it. Seek justice and righteousness. That’s where you will find the Lord.

Forgive my bitter attitude, Father. I want to always choose Your justice and Your righteousness.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Fire, Godliness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Purity, Scripture

UNEXTINGUISHABLE

AMOS 5:6

“Seek the LORD so that you may live, or He will break through like a fire, house of Joseph, and it will consume with no one to extinguish it for Bethel,”

Recently, there was a wildfire that swept through parts of Colorado near to where some friends of mine live. They had to evacuate their home and flee for safety. Thankfully, their home was spared, but many homes and businesses were totally consumed. This fire was aided by over 100 mile per hour winds. It seemed it was unextinguishable, but firefighters finally got it under control.

God’s fire is unextinguishable. No one or nothing can put out His fire. Amos warns Israel that the result of not seeking after God is His fires of judgment. He will consume everything in His path. God’s fire will purify the nation of Israel. Bethel, the site of their rebellion, will be consumed.

APPLICATION

What is standing between you and your loyalty to God? We need to put those things down or risk the fires of God. As believers in Christ, our salvation is sure. Nothing can take that away. But all those things that are “wood, hay and stubble” will be burnt away.

Can you name some things right now in your life that you need to lay down? For me, it’s television. I can get lost watching a ballgame or some movie. Before I know it, I have spent 3-4 hours in front of that “one-eyed monster.” I am choosing to lay that down this year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying television is evil. But when I spend more time in front of it than I do in God’s Word, something’s wrong. Will you join me in evaluating your own life? Instead of facing the fire of judgment, let’s enjoy the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let’s let our fire burn brightly so others can be drawn to Him.

May the things in my life that prevent me from being with You, Lord, be burned away. I want to be fireproof when I face You at judgment.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Modeling, Relationships

LEAVEN

AMOS 4:5

“‘Offer a thanksgiving offering also from that which is leavened, and proclaim voluntary offerings, make them known. For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,’ declares the Lord GOD.”

I have been guilty of coming to the Lord with guilty hands. I went through all the motions and appeared from the outside to be doing all the right things. It’s easy to fool others in the church. As long as you attend regularly, give your offering and serve somewhere, people think you are living holy. That is not necessarily true.

Just look at the Israelites. They were offering their sacrifices and making them known. From the outside they appeared to be doing it right. But look closely. They were offering leavened bread in their sacrifices which was clearly forbidden. In Leviticus 2:11 it says, “‘No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD.’” You see, they knew that but did what was convenient to them.

APPLICATION

I am sure you have never been guilty of that. Of course not, Carl. I am always living right. Yeah, right. We all pretend, don’t we? We don’t want others knowing we are struggling in our faith. We don’t want our friends, especially at church, to know we aren’t living right.

But those are exactly the right people to turn to. If you are not in a small group right now, find one. You need people in your life to whom you can pour out your heart. We all need others in our life to hold us accountable. Doing life with others is what Christ wants for us.

My wife and I are in a small group at church with two other couples. These couples are dear friends to us. We can share just about anything with them. But there is the problem. We should be able to share everything with them. Right? Would you pray for us that we could all share everything, knowing that we have these people in our lives who love us and want what is best for us.

Thank You, Lord, that You hold me to a higher standard. I must live holy before You and offer only the best I have to You.

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