Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture

A LONGING 

MICAH 7:1 

“Woe to me! For I am like harvests of summer fruit, like gleanings of grapes. There is not a cluster of grapes left to eat, nor an early fig, which I crave.” 

When I travel, I get a longing for home about the end of the first week. I can just feel the warmth of my own bed at home. I can taste a big glass of sweet, iced tea. Those longings do not go away until I reach home and can fulfill them. You have probably experienced similar longings. 

Here, at the beginning of chapter 7, Micah in voicing some of his longings in the face of the judgment of God. He compares his longing for the Lord’s comfort to the longings of a harvest, both grapes and figs. They both bring pleasure, as does the presence of the Lord. 

APPLICATION 

What are you longing for? If it is for the things of this world, that longing may be met, but it will be a fleeting pleasure. We are to long for the presence of the Lord with more passion than we have for other things. Those other things will not last. They are not meant to. 

But the presence of God in our lives will last for eternity. Did you get that? You can pursue and obtain only one thing that will truly last. If that is true (and it is), why do we spend so much time in pursuit of other things. 2 Peter 4:2 says it well. “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 

Examine your longings today. Do they match up with God’s Word and His will for your life. All those things you strive to obtain need to be seen in view of what will give God the most glory. By doing that, you please the Father.  

O Lord, You have given me so much to be thankful for. Help me to strive for only those things that give You pleasure. 

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Abiding, Bible, Comfort, God's Will, Harmony, Peace, Scripture

HE IS OUR PEACE

MICAH 5:5

“This One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, when he tramples on our citadels, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of people.”

I find peace in the outdoors. When I am fishing (whether I am catching anything or not), I am at peace. When I am sitting in a deer stand or ground blind, I am at peace. I find peace in a quiet morning reading God’s Word or a book that can edify my walk with Him.

Micah declares the Messiah will be their peace. He was and still is. “The Assyrian” here represents all the nations that had and would come against the people. They are no match for their Redeemer. The “seven” and “eight” here are interesting. Of course, seven means wholeness and completeness. When coupled with eight, they mean a countless multitude. What a promise.

APPLICATION

In Isaiah 9:6, Christ is called the Prince of Peace. Paul, in Ephesians 2:14, say, “For He Himself is our peace,…” All through both the Old and New Testaments, we see peace. I have said before in my blogs, that peace cannot really be discovered until you are at peace with God. Are you?

Once your peace with God is secured through the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, that peace begins to spread. You become a more peaceful person, thus making your other relationships more at peace. It may take some time for that to become your lifestyle, but you learn to rest in Him.

Peaceful may not be the first word used to describe me, but I am surely at peace. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff. I have learned to trust Him with those decisions that are facing me each day. Big ones and small ones, it does not matter. Every decision I make is run by Him, and I allow His peace to be the barometer. If I do not have His peace about a decision, that decision is either no or not now. I wait. Are you at peace today?

Peace like a river, there’ll be peace like a river, peace like a river floods my soul

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Following, Listening, Scripture, Shepherd

OUR SHEPHERD

MICAH 5:4

“And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.

Have you ever watched a shepherd call his sheep? It is pretty amazing. No matter what they are doing, if they hear his voice, they come (or so I have been told). They do not respond to any other voice, but his. I hope you can view this link. It is a great example of what I am talking about.  Do sheep only obey their Master’s voice? – YouTube

Micah is sharing with the people the rise of the Messiah. He will come and shepherd His flock, if only they will listen. I just love the last phrase of this verse – “because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.” Look what has happened in the world for the cause of Christ. It has indeed spread to the ends of the earth.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you hear His voice? Do you hear the Shepherd calling you? You know He is. He wants to guide you. He wants to lead you to green pastures. He wants to guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). Will you let Him?

We are just like those dumb sheep sometimes. We wander off near dangerous bluffs. And when Jesus tries to prod us to safety, we rebel and wind up crashing over the side. Then we blame Him for not protecting us. We place ourselves in danger time after time, when all we have to do is listen for His voice.

I have learned that to hear His voice, I must be spending quality time with Him. That involves prayer, meditation and the study of His Word. His Spirit speaks to me through those. And as I spend more time, I have a clear channel to the throne of grace. How sweet it is to hear His voice early in the morning. Are you listening?

Father, speak to me. Guide, guard and graze me.

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Advocate, Anxiety, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Hope, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

BEAT TO PIECES 

MICAH 4:13 

“‘Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze, so that you may pulverize many peoples, and dedicate to the LORD their unjust, and their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.’” 

Have you ever beaten anything to smithereens (that is a good ole Southern word)? That is the same idea as the word “pulverize” here in today’s verse. I can remember taking one of my dad’s hammers outside and crushing rocks with it. I would pound those things, so they were just dust. Ah, childhood memories! Lol 

The Lord is telling Israel that one day they will pulverize their enemies. They will be defeated and blown away like chaff. They will be totally destroyed. This was welcome news since they were on the other end of that timeline, being defeated themselves. But the day was coming when He would restore them. 

APPLICATION 

Maybe you are feeling pulverized right now. Perhaps the weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders. You cannot get rid of that beaten down attitude. I have good news. The Lord of all creation knows exactly where you are and how to get you out of that spot. We must remember that Satan wants us to feel that way. When we are down, we usually are not about the Father’s business. 

I only know one way to get rid of that feeling – time with Jesus. As you spend time in the Word and in prayer, that dark cloud seems to lift. Jesus tells us to cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Suffering is not all bad. I know that sounds too spiritual for you. But believe me, it is true. 

I have learned to bring all my cares to Him each day. When I am faced with a difficult decision or things do not seem to be going well, I pause and pray. I listen for His voice. Psalm 118:5 says, “From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place.”  Let Him set you there also. 

Father, thank You that You hear my cries for help. When I am in distress, I know I have Your ear.  

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Accused, Bible, Comfort, Dreams, Goodness, Holiness, Inspirational

DREAMING OF SIN

MICAH 2:1

“Woe to those who devise wrongdoing, who practice evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, because it is in the power of their hands.

I do not dream a lot. I do have a few, though, that stick in my head. I have dreamt of falling and find myself jerking awake. I have also dreamt about trips I have made. Before Christ I would dream about sinful stuff. That is the thought behind today’s verse.

The audience receiving Micah’s message were accused of even dreaming about sin, dreaming about how they could practice evil. And a first light, they would do it. Wow! They had abused a holy sanctuary of the bed with their sinful thoughts and desires. They had not allowed that place to be a place of peace and rest, but rather a place of chaos and rebellion.

APPLICATION

I have a friend who practices HWLW. That stands for His Word Last Word. He meditates on a passage of Scripture, usually one he is in the process of memorizing, right before bed. That way the last thing on his mind is the Word of God. He swears that gives him peaceful nights and dreams.

Another friend will place his memorization verse pack next to his bed. Just before he goes to sleep, he will review some verses. The Word of God is the last thing on his mind also. He wants God’s Word to permeate his life, even his sleep. I have not asked him how he sleeps, but I bet it’s good.

How are you sleeping at night? Are you having bad dreams? Try HWLW. Let God’s Word be the last thing on your mind. Often, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I will either start praying or start quoting verses in my head. Before I know it, I am back to sleep. God’s Word can be better than a sleeping pill. Put it to the test and see.

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

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Advocate, Affection, Bible, Brokenness, Comfort, Compassion, Despair, Grief, Holy Spirit, Mourning

HOW TO MOURN 

MICAH 1:8 

“Because of this I must mourn and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must do mourning like the jackals, and a mourning like the ostriches.” 

I have been to a lot of funerals throughout my ministry. Some of those who were grieving were really upset at the funeral. I have experienced some extreme mournings during those services. I have seen people hold onto the casket of their loved ones and just wail and moan. I have seen others fall on the floor sobbing uncontrollably. Everyone mourns differently. 

When I looked at today’s verse in the Hebrew, I discovered something interesting. The four words – mourn, wail, do mourning and mourning – are four different Hebrew words. They each describe the action differently. Look it up yourself. Why would the Holy Spirit lead Micah to use four different words to describe this? I believe it is because one word just can’t express our emotions. Micah is mourning and mourning greatly. 

APPLICATION 

Mourning is an important part of our lives. When we lose a loved one or a pet, we naturally feel empty. I am reminded of a passage from 1 Timothy 4. Verse 13 says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope.” 

Aren’t you glad our mourning isn’t based on earthly guidelines? God is with us in our deepest grief. He holds us tenderly as we weep and mourn. He understands. He created our tears. When we can’t find the words to pray, the Holy Spirit groans for us. 

I have grieved over the loss of a child, a dad and a mom. Other relatives have gone on to their heavenly reward. With each one I grieved differently. Just as Micah used different words to describe his grief, no one word could explain mine. Those are the times when I just rested in Jesus. Words were not necessary. Rest in Him today. 

Father of compassion and God of all comfort, I praise You for the words You give during our times of grief. 

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Affliction, Belief, Bible, Choices, Comfort, Death, Deception, God's Will, Grace, Healing, Hope, Scripture

JUST LET ME DIE

JONAH 4:3

“‘So now, LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.’”

Unfortunately, I have heard those words from too many people. I remember a young lady that was on my caseload at a children’s home who tried to kill herself. I was called to the cottage to find that she had cut her wrists. We quickly bandage them, applied pressure and took off for the hospital. She kept saying all the way there that she just wanted to die. “Just let me die.” Fortunately, she did not and worked out the issues that led her to this decision.

Jonah wanted to die for two reasons. The first was because he just could not stand the idea that Nineveh was saved. He wanted them dead. He had rather die than see that. Secondly, Jonah did not want to see his own country suffer under the hands of these Assyrians. He had just as soon die than see that. Life simply was not worth living, or so it seemed.

APPLICATION

I pray you never feel this way. I pray you never feel so hopeless that taking your life seems the only option. God has so much for you. I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “‘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.’” That is still true today.

When all seems lost, turn to Jesus. When troubles and trials flood your days, turn to Jesus. He can soothe any wound. He can heal any broken heart. But you have to ask Him. He will not intervene where He is not wanted. But the very second you make that first step towards Him, He is there with a warm and kind embrace.

Trusting Jesus with your life is more than just an eternal decision. It is a daily decision. He longs to guide and direct us. He does not want to see us stray off the narrow road. But He will let us. We are not tied to Him and drug along. Run up beside Him today and grab His hand. He will gladly hold yours.

Oh Father, for the thousands of souls out there today who have no hope, will You send someone in their lives today to share Jesus?

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Fasting, Flesh, Forgiveness, God's Will, Hearing, Humility, Salvation, Scripture

PROCLAIM THE FAST

JONAH 3:5

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.”

When is the last time you have fasted? For most people, this is a rare thing. We either don’t think about it or we don’t believe in it. I have to admit that I don’t fast regularly. Usually, I fast for a specific reason. I want to hear from God about something. I really should make it a regular thing in my life. Will you pray for me that I would do that?

The people of Nineveh believed in God because they heard Jonah’s message. He told them their city was going to be overthrown in 40 days. That would wake you up. They repented, which is evident by the fasting and the sackcloth. They humbled themselves before a holy God seeking forgiveness. Would God forgive them or not? We’ll get to that in a few days.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t just about going without food. It is much more than that. It is humbling yourself. It is making a sacrifice. It is denying yourself of physical things in order to receive spiritual things. What do I mean by that?

When you fast, your mind becomes clearer. The initial hunger pains remind you to pray. As you deny yourself food and concentrate on the Lord, those pains subside. Don’t get me wrong. You still get hungry, but now you know why you are doing this. God is speaking.

I really can’t fully explain the spiritual benefits of fasting. It is something you have to experience yourself. If you are able physically to fast, let me encourage you to do that. As you humble yourself, the Lord will speak. His voice will come through. Now, fasting isn’t required to hear God’s voice, but it clears the path. Give it a try. It’s easier than wearing sackcloth, lol.

I deny myself in order to hear You clearly, O Lord. I do want to hear You.

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Affliction, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Drought, God's Will, Rescue, Scripture

I’M GOING TO FAINT

AMOS 8:13

“On that day the beautiful virgins and the young men will faint from thirst.”

Have you ever felt like you were going to faint? When I went through my chemotherapy a couple of years ago (boy, it feels like yesterday), I had several episodes of fainting. One second I’m upright and talking. The next I’m on the ground. It’s really a strange feeling.

But I have never fainted due to thirst. The young virgins and the young men, who are the ones filled normally with the most hope, are at their end. They see nothing in their future when it should be full of hopes and aspirations. So they collapse as if fainting from thirst.

APPLICATION

Let me turn this a little. How thirsty are you for Jesus? Do you pant after Him? Do you crave His Word like you do a cool drink of water on a hot day? We should! We need to have our thirsts quenched by Him each day. We shouldn’t let ourselves get “spiritually dehydrated.”

Just picture yourself sitting before a flowing fountain. The water is crystal clear. A sign is there telling you to drink to your heart’s content. It also says the water will allow you to live forever. Would you turn that down? Of course, not. So, why aren’t we diving headfirst into the Word each day?

My thirst is quenched each and every day through the Word. Writing his blog fills my soul. I can’t imagine not hearing Him speak to me through His written Word. I pant, but I don’t pant out of desperation. I pant because I long for His Word and because I know how it refreshes my spirit. Will you join me?

O God, You are the source of all life. Quench my thirst with Your Word.

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Affection, Bible, Comfort, Encouragement, Grief, Modeling, Mourning

SACKCLOTH

AMOS 8:10

“Then I will turn your festivals into mourning, and all your songs into songs of mourning; and I will put sackcloth around everyone’s waist, and baldness on every head. And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son, and the end of it will be like a bitter day.”

I remember the old burlap bags I used to bag up potatoes on my grandmother’s farm. We would dig the potatoes, bag them in those bags and carry them to the old farmhouse and pour them out on the floor for storage. Burlap bags can do a number on your knuckles and hands after a day of lugging those things around.

I can’t even imagine wearing those around my loins. That’s what they did during their mourning. The coarseness of the sackcloth (burlap bag) rubbed them reminding them of their fallen state. It was uncomfortable. They didn’t realize changing your clothes doesn’t bring about true repentance.

APPLICATION

Here in the U.S., we are accustomed to wearing black when we are mourning. A widow or widower will dress in black when their spouse passes away. If you think about it, if the loved one who passed was a believer, we should be celebrating. We should wear bright and festive clothes.

I preached a funeral recently where the widow wore a beautiful turquoise jacket. I bet there were some in the crowd who questioned that. No need to. Her husband loved Jesus. We were giving praise to Jesus for his homecoming. I know she was grieving, but she was also celebrating.

How do you face mourning? Are you trusting in the One who truly knows our griefs? He can restore your joy. He can cause you to celebrate. Let Him lead you during those times of mourning and you will come out the other side singing for joy.

I trust You in the good times, so I will trust You in the hard times.

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