Accused, Bible, Commitment, Glory, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture

EAT DIRT 

MICAH 7:17 

“They will lick up dust like a snake, like reptiles of the earth. They will come trembling out of their fortresses; to the LORD our God they will come in trepidation, and they will be afraid of You.” 

During my childhood I had my share of neighborhood scuffles. We were all friends, but occasionally someone would get his feelings hurt and a tussle would start. One phrase we used if we got the upper hand and had someone on the ground was “Eat Dirt.” In other words, I have conquered you. 

The enemies of Israel are described as a snake licking up dirt. Have you ever watched a snake slither on the ground with their tongue going in and out? That’s the picture. They were defeated. All they could do was stay low and try to escape the wrath of God. 

APPLICATION 

I do not like to eat dirt. I prefer to walk proudly and high. I am not saying I want to be cocky and try to be above others. No! I am saying I want to be on the side of the Lord and wear His banner. He says He will exalt the humble. That is what I want to do. 

But there are others among us who really like to try and walk tall and arrogantly. They may do that all their life. But there will come a day when they will be humbled before the King of kings and Lord of lords. He will cause them to lick dust like a snake. They will be put down. 

How do you avoid this? Surrender to Jesus. Lay it all at His feet. Become a soldier in His army. Let Him raise you up. While we are serving Him, our eyes should remain on Him. That will keep us in our place. He is on His throne. We are not. Enter His courts with praise! Come before Him humbly singing His praise. 

Father, thank You for lifting me up. I am not worthy, but You count me worthy. 

Standard
Appeasement, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Commitment, Contentment, Humility, Judgment, Mercy

WHAT DO YOU WANT, GOD?

MICAH 6:8

“He has told you, mortal one, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is hard to please someone if you do not know what they want. I remember going through the Five and Dime store in my hometown of Pelham, GA trying to find the perfect Mothers’ Day gift for my mom. In the end I got this “very pretty” sand sculpture in this glass vase. My mom probably hated it, but she kept it the rest of her life. It was not about the gift to her. It was all about the giver – me.

God has told us exactly what He wants from us. Three things – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with Him. Now, if you have not seen this verse before, you can’t say that anymore. You have been told what He wants. It is the same thing He wanted from His children so long ago. And just like us, they spurned Him. They wanted their own thing and their own way.

APPLICATION

So, what do you need to do? To do justice. What does that mean? It means for you to judge appropriately, correctly, righteously rather than based on your own desires or prejudices. But Micah quickly adds “to love kindness.” Some versions say “to love mercy. This is the flip side of justice. Both are necessary and both are a part of God’s character.

Finally, Micah tells us “to walk humbly with our God.” That’s the hard part. The old country song said, “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” We all think we are doing okay. True humility requires us to put others before ourselves. That is just not the American way.

These things God required then and required now will give us a balanced approach as we seek to serve our King. Will you trust Him in this? If He tells us to do something, we can be sure it is for our good. We may not see it as good at the beginning, but we will eventually. God is going for the long play. Can you?

I place my life in Your hands, Lord, to do with as You please.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Allegiance, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Eternity, Heaven

AS FOR US

MICAH 4:5

“Though all the peoples walk, each in the name of his god, as for us, we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.”

We all have to choose our allegiance to something. Even though I was born in the U.S. and am a citizen by birth, I still swear my allegiance to my country. It is not perfect, but I love it. If called on to defend it, I would not hesitate. When our national anthem is played and I see our American flag waving in the breeze, my heart swells with proud. I have chosen this country as my own.

Micah is declaring that the people of God will swear their allegiance to the LORD their God and walk in His name. They had for too long sworn a false allegiance. They said they loved God but welcomed in the pagan gods. They were not true and loyal to Jehovah. All that has changed now, and Micah writes words that ring similar to the ones we hear Joshua say in the last part of Joshua 24:15 – “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

APPLICATION

To whom does your heart belong? When we come to Christ and surrender our lives to Him, we must give Him all our heart. He deserves our utmost devotion and praise, no matter what our current circumstances may be. He is a watchful king who protects His citizens.

As His children, we are citizens of heaven already. The U-Haul truck just hasn’t showed up yet to move us home. As a citizen of heaven, I need to be thinking about it as I speak to people. I need to invite as many as I can to join me there. We want to pack that place, even though there will be room for everyone who surrenders to Christ.

Some people preach that there are many ways to reach our heavenly home. There is only one – Jesus Christ. Only He can usher us into the kingdom one day. Only He shed His blood to ransom our souls. Only He died, was buried and rose again the third day. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

I can’t wait to see my heavenly home, Lord. I know You have been preparing it just for me.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Fruit, God's Will, Judgment, Loyalty

PARTING GIFTS

MICAH 1:14

“Therefore you will give parting gifts in behalf of Moresheth-gath; the houses of Achzib will become a deception to the kings of Israel.”

When my wife and I got married over 36 years ago, we were given wedding gifts by friends and family. Some gave money (something a new couple can always use) and others bought things we would need for our home. Wedding gifts are pretty customary in most countries. Some actual require a dowry.

The phrase “parting gifts” can have that meaning – a dowry. You see Judah had so broken their covenant with God that He was giving them over to the pagan invaders. He said to even give them the dowry. He was parting company with them. The deception of idolatry had penetrated the very heart of Judah.

APPLICATION

We need to be very careful what we allow to enter our lives. Satan is sneaky. He loves to slither into our lives and get us to do things we never thought we would do. 2 Corinthians 11:3 says, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

It can happen so quickly. Before you know it, we are participating in things that God frowns on. God will not allow His children to live in sin. Rebuke will come. Correction will happen, sooner or later.

So, what do we do to protect ourselves? We wrap ourselves in Jesus. If you have not read John 15 lately, do that. John explains it so well. We have to abide in the vine. If we do that, if we cling to Him, we will be doing His will and not ours. Abide in Him.

Father, I would never want to hear You tell me to depart Your presence. I know I am secure in Christ. Help me walk closer each day.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Boasting, Choices, Commitment, Distractions, Following, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

NO MOUNTAIN TOO HIGH     

MICAH 1:3

“For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.”

My wife and I have good friends who live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They have a view of Pike’s Peak right from their back door. It is breath taking. On a visit out there a few years ago, we drove up the mountain as far as we could. We did not get to the top due to snow. That is a big mountain.

Micah says in today’s verse that God could come down and walk on mountains like Pike’s Peak. For Him, that is nothing. There is no mountain too high for God. Those high places were also the places of idolatry. Micah was declaring God’s judgment on all those who thought themselves too high and mighty.

We cannot see ourselves as high and lifted up. We have no right to do that. Outside of Christ in our lives, we are nothing. Sure, we can be successful in life in the world’s eyes without following Christ. We see that all the time. Just look at the list of the richest people in the world. How many of them are devout believers?

APPLICATION

We are no better than the people of Judah whom Micah is addressing. We are prone to wander. We give lip service to following Jesus, but if something better comes along, we hop right on it. There is no room for other things. Jesus has to be the top priority in our lives.

I strive to make Him first every day. I do pretty good with that unless there is fishing or hunting available. Then I can get sidetracked. Now, there is nothing wrong with those two things. I just cannot let them misplace Jesus. I have to have my Quiet Times and prayer time first. I love Him that much. Will you put Him first in your life today?

Lord, forgive me when I let other things distract me. You are first in my life!

Standard
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.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Agreement, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Covenant, Discipline, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Goodness, Home, Reward

NO MORE

AMOS 9:15

“‘I will also plant them on their land, and they will not be uprooted again from their land which I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.

I worked over 30 years with children in the foster care system. Most of these children were removed from their homes due to their parents, not due to anything they had done. Some of the children, however, were placed with us because of their behavior. I had the joy on several occasions to see these families restored. Seeing these children go home made our hard work with them so worth it. Our prayer was always that they would remain with their parents.

God removed Israel from the Promised Land for repeated unrepentance and rebellion. He had to discipline His children. But now He is telling them He would bring them back home to never leave again. That land was theirs. He had promised it and meant for them to keep it. What great news! What a great way to end this book.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Have you wandered from home? Are you far away from the Master? Maybe you are like that prodigal son who found himself in a pig pen instead of at home with his father. Wherever you are today, stop and take notice. Ask yourself if you are residing with Jesus.

Your physical location is of less importance than your spiritual location. What do I mean by that? You can be in the pit but free in Him. You could be going through the valley of the shadow of death but walking unafraid because of your reliance on the King. The Lord wants us to feel safe. He wants us home.

I can only speak for myself, but I find myself sometimes feeling like I’ve moved to a foreign country spiritually. I go through dry spells and struggle to pray. But when I persevere and stay in the Word, God brings me home. I had always been secure. I just needed reminding whose I am. How about you?

Lord of my life, lead me home. I want to dwell with You in Your Promised Land.

Standard
Alone, Bible, Commitment, Consequences, Direction, Judgment, Scripture

NOWHERE TO RUN

AMOS 9:2

“Though they dig into Sheol, from there My hand will take them; and though they ascend to heaven, from there I will bring them down.”

Oh, how I recall being told by my mother, “Wait until your dad gets home.” Now, my dad worked at a textile mill on the first shift (7 a.m. – 3 p.m.) I would go to my room and watch the clock. I listened for his truck. I did not want to face my dad because I knew what was coming.

Today’s verse in Amos gives us a clear picture of God’s judgment. Those facing it would try to hide in Sheol by digging down to it. They would try to hide in heaven with the same result. God’s reach is everywhere. He is omnipresent, after all.

APPLICATION

I believe the application is clear. Don’t try to run from God. There is no place to hide. There is no hole deep enough or mountain high enough. People try to run from God all the time and never succeed. Their only hope is to stop running and turn to Him. He is not going anywhere.

Are you running from God right now? Maybe there is something He has asked you to do, but you are refusing to listen. That’s running! Perhaps you are hiding some personal sin that you know you should confess to Him. That’s running.

Stop running! God is right there waiting. His arms are wide open wanting to embrace you. But you have to turn to Him. He won’t chase you down. He won’t make you come to Him. It is so sweet when you come and sit at His feet and hear Him say, “You are my child. I love you.”

Thank You, Lord, for not letting my hide from You. I want to be in Your presence.

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
Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Idols, Praise, Prayer, Scripture, Surrender

SPECIAL VESSELS

AMOS 6:6

“Who drink wine from sacred bowls while they anoint themselves with the finest of oils — yet they have not grieved over the collapse of Joseph.”

I’ve got a favorite coffee mug. I’ve had it since 1982. Yep, that’s 40 years. I bought it at a pottery shop in N.C. It holds the heat of my coffee great. I love how it feels in my hand. I have no idea how it has survived this long, but I am careful to not drop it or crack it. I bet you have one too.

The problem Amos points out here again points to the idolatry the Israelites were practicing. They were using the sacred bowls of the temple, reserved only for use there, to drink from during their idol worship. They were possibly using the special oils reserved for the sacrifices on themselves because they smelled good. They were abusing God’s special items and didn’t seem to care. They showed the same lack of concern as Joseph’s brothers when they dumped him in that well.

APPLICATION

Let me give you an analogy right now. We are God’s holy vessels. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says so. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” As vessels of the Holy Spirit, we belong to God. But what do we do? We abuse these vessels.

I am as guilty as the next person of doing this. I eat things I shouldn’t eat. I don’t exercise like I should. I could do so much more to keep this vessel in good shape. But you can be the healthiest person in the world and still not be a holy vessel. Our holiness doesn’t come from our perfect physical condition. Our holiness only comes from complete surrender the Lord. That’s the kind of vessel He is desiring to use.

How do you become that kind of vessel? By spending time with Him. You have to pray and read His Word. You need to spend more time on your knees praying than doing pushups. You need to raise your hands in praise more than lifting weights. Yes, continue to treat your physical body with respect. But more importantly, exercise your spirit.

Forgive me, Lord, for not caring for this vessel better. Help me to realize just what I am “housing” as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Standard