Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Covenant, Grace, Promises, Scripture

PROMISES, PROMISES

MICAH 2:12

“‘I will certainly assemble all of you, Jacob, I will certainly gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in the fold; like a flock in the midst of its pasture they will be noisy with people.’”

One thing I have been really trying to do is not make promises I cannot keep. There is nothing quite as bad as a broken promise. Parents do it all the time, don’t they? They promise their children things they have no intention doing. I have seen the faces of children whose parent did not show up for a visit which was schedule and promised. That hurts so bad.

Not God! When He makes a promise, He will keep it. Here in today’s verse, He promises to return the people of Israel to their land. He even says, “they will be noisy with people.” In other words, there will not be just a few. He will return a hoard of people, enough to make some noise. What a great promise.

APPLICATION

Do not make false promises to anyone, including God. We have all heard people promise God the moon if He would just get them out of the problem they are in. God, if You will get me out of this fix I am in, I will go to church every Sunday. And when that problem passes, they soon forget that vow.

I remember when I was about 15, I was in a bad car wreck. Oh, I was so thankful to survive. I made God all kinds of promises. That lasted a few months, and then I was back to my old lifestyle, which was not godly. God still showed me grace and never stopped pursuing me. At age 16, I accepted Christ as my Savior.

The Bible speaks to making vows. It says in James 5:12, “Now above allmy brothersdo not sweareither by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your ‘yes’ must beyes,’ and your ‘no’ must be ‘no,’ so that you won’t fall under judgment.” That is pretty clear. So, be careful as you make promises today.

Lord, I know I can depend on Your promises when all others fail.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Battles, Belief, Bible, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Righteousness, Scripture

WOULD GOD DO THIS? 

MICAH 2:7 

“‘Is it being said, house of Jacob: “Is the Spirit of the LORD impatient? Are these His works?” Do My words not do good for the one walking rightly?’” 

As a pastor and a minister of the Gospel, I have been asked many times why God would allow the death of a loved one or a mass killing. I have also been asked by others why God would allow them to get cancer. I do not have answers to all these questions. I can only point them to Christ. I know He has all the answers. 

The Israelites were asking these questions. Would God really do this? Is God really behind this? God answers through Micah with the last phrase of this verse. “Do My words not do good for the one walking rightly?” That is a punch in the mouth, isn’t it? The Hebrew word for “rightly” could be translated uprightly or straight. 

APPLICATION 

You may be one of those people who have questioned God. You may not understand why He has allowed something horrible in your life. Let me tell you something. I understand that. My wife and I lost a little girl, Cathleen, back in 1987. She only lived about six hours. That was hard. There were questions, but God healed our hearts. 

I have also gone through two, count them, two stem cell transplants for treatment of a disease I have. That was not easy either. I prayed to die a couple of times, but God healed me. I am healthier today than I have been in probably a dozen years. As I said earlier, I do not have all the answers, but I do know the One who does. 

I want to encourage you today to lean into Jesus during those hard times. Do not worry about leaning too heavily on Him. He can carry the load. 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Do you believe that? Then trust Him. 

O Father, I do not understand all You are doing in my life. I understand You are in control, so I will allow You to lead. 

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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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Belief, Bible, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Will, Innocent, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

THE INNOCENT

JONAH 4:11

“‘Should I not also have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 people, who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left, as well as many animals?’”

For many, many years I worked with children. Some of those were very young. Young children do not yet understand that their actions have consequences. They do not have the mental capacity to make life altering decisions. They are innocent in so many ways. God does not hold the innocent in the same light as those who know exactly what they are doing.

We see that here in today’s verse. Those 120,000 are referring to those who are innocent of the guilt of Nineveh. This verse reminds me of the passage in Genesis when Abraham asks God if He would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if ten innocent people could be found. Do you remember what He said? He said yes He would. But ten were not found, so He destroyed those cities. God says here, “Shouldn’t I save these 120,000 souls?” He even mentions saving the animals.

APPLICATION

Who have you written off as lost and unredeemable? Anyone? I have to confess that I have done that with a couple of people. I realize I am not God. He is able to do far more than I can even imagine, including saving those people I have marked off. So, what do I do with this knowledge?

First of all, I must pray for those lost individuals. I must claim them for Christ. I must look for every opportunity to be Jesus to them and also to share the good news. I must see them as Jesus  does – someone He loves and wants to come home. I have a responsibility to do that. God expects me to do that.

The next time you say Oh, that person is just too far gone, think about all the saints in the Bible who God redeemed and used for His glory. And think of all of those lives who will spend eternity in eternal damnation without the saving power of Jesus. Let’s be bolder in our witness. Let’s risk ridicule for the sake of the cross.

I want to see everyone as You see them, Lord. Give me eternal eyes.

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Compassion, Covenant, Destruction, Distractions, Encouragement, Family, Flesh, Gifts, Holy Spirit, Scripture

MISPLACED COMPASSION

JONAH 4:10

“Then the LORD said, ‘You had compassion on the plant, for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.’”

As a believer, I struggle with people who have more compassion for a sea turtle nest than an unborn child. They will fight to defend that spot on the beach where the turtle will lay its eggs but demand the right to choose to end the life in the womb. Misplaced compassion, in my view.

Jonah was accused by God of a similar misplaced compassion. Jonah was more upset about the dead plant that gave him shade than the tens of thousands of lives that had been facing destruction from God. His thoughts were not on them. He was thinking more of himself.

APPLICATION

Ouch! Isn’t that the same with us? We are so self-centered that we totally ignore the needs of others. If we are believers, if we are following Christ, then we have to have our eternal eyes turned on. We have to see the world around us and do all we can to share the good news with them.

But we look out for #1. Our needs come first. Our comfort is more important. We think all of that ranks higher than the lost soul we just passed on the street. When will we stop and get our priorities right? Jesus wants us to put others ahead of ourselves. That is what He did, isn’t it?

I am guilty of doing this way too often. I get busy, even busy doing ministry, and sidestep the homeless person on the corner. I avoid eye contact with the guy begging at the intersection. I have plenty to share. I could skip a meal and give that money to a struggling single mom. Would you pray that I am more sensitive to these needs? Would you join me by meeting the needs around you?

Forgive me, Lord, of closing my eyes to the needs around me. Help me seek out someone to help each day.

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Bible, Boasting, Commands, Compassion, Consequences, Enemies, Envy, Loyalty, Mercy, Protection, Rejoicing, Relationships, Scripture

NO GLOATING

OBADIAH 12

“Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah on the day of their destruction; yes, do not boast on the day of their distress.”

I haven’t mentioned that my alma mater, the University of Georgia, won the National Collegiate Football Championship. The only thing better than that is seeing my school’s archrival, the University of Florida, lose. Lol. When they lose and my team wins, I can gloat just a bit. Sorry Gator fans.

God warned Edom to stop their gloating over Judah’s demise. They were actually celebrating the fact that Judah was being defeated by their enemies. They didn’t come to their defense. They were cheering on the nations who were carrying their brothers into exile. That’s kind of messed up.

APPLICATION

Whose demise are you rejoicing over? We still do this today. We watch people we don’t like have troubles, and we inwardly rejoice. What?! Yes! Even believers do this. That’s right. Believers rejoice when others suffer. You don’t believe me? Just listen to the conversations around you.

We have to stop doing that. We have no right to watch someone else suffer, friend or foe, and rejoice. Don’t get me wrong. I believe enemies of the cross should be confronted. If they don’t repent, they will suffer. But I don’t believe the Lord wants to see that. He desires that all be saved. He doesn’t want to see anyone face judgment without Him.

I am so grateful that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am filled with His Spirit, so I should see everyone as He does – a sinner in need of a Savior. Will you join me in clarifying our view of others – all others? Let’s link arms and lift up those who have fallen – not look on and gloat.

O Father, forgive me when I have that inner twinge of self-righteousness brought on when I see someone suffer.

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Abiding, Bible, Compassion, Covenant, Disciplemaking, Following, Modeling, Remembering

A HUT

AMOS 9:11

“On that day I will raise up the fallen shelter of David, and wall up its gaps; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old;”

Growing up in Southwest Georgia was a blessing. Behind my parents’ home was a stretch of woods that went for some distance. The neighborhood boys spent a lot of time in those woods exploring and playing. We even built little huts in the woods of small saplings and vines. They were great places to spend time in during the heat of those Southwest Georgia summer days.

This “shelter” Amos mentions here refers, probably, to the crude huts the Israelites built during the Feast of Tabernacles. They constructed these huts to remind them of their journey through the wilderness and their reliance on God. So, once again, God will build them up for that purpose.

APPLICATION

What reminds you of your reliance on God? Every day I am reminded of that. I suffer from neuropathy in my feet, the result of the chemotherapy I received. Every step I take reminds me of my reliance on Him. I can’t walk without His strength. Most days my feet are just numb and tingling. But some days, there is intense pain.

That pain, though uncomfortable, serves as a reminder of the pain my Savior went through for me. His pain was much more intense. His pain ended in death. It says in Isaiah 61:3 that the pain that brought us peace was upon Him. That is so true. His pain equals my peace.

I am thankful for my neuropathy because it reminds me of the journey I underwent. I have asked God to remove this neuropathy, but for now it remains. As long as I have this reminder, I won’t need to build a hut, lol. What is your reminder of His grace and mercy in your life?

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me each day of all You have done for me.

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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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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Direction, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Healing, Innocent, Intimacy, Judgment

ONE TOUCH

AMOS 9:5

“The Lord GOD of armies, the One who touches the land so that it quakes, and all those who live in it mourn, and all of it rises up like the Nile and subsides like the Nile of Egypt;”

One touch can make all the difference. Do you remember the poem and the song about the touch of the master’s hand? There was an old violin that wound up at an auction. It looked beat up and useless. The bid started very low, like around $5.00. The auctioneer couldn’t get any bids at all. Then an old man walked up and asked to see the violin. He took it in his hands, plucked some strings and adjusted them for a minute. Then he took the bow in his hands and began to play this magnificent tune. When he finished, he laid it down and walked back to his seat. The auctioneer began the bids again. This time he started at $1 million dollars. The bidders protested, wanting to know what caused the great increase. He said, “It’s simple. The touch of the master’s hand.”

God’s touch can be like that. He can create something out of nothing. He can touch and heal. He can touch someone and cause them to shift the course of their life. But He can also touch and destroy. He can flip His little finger and cause earthquakes and landslides. God’s touch is powerful. Unfortunately, here in Amos 9:5 His touch is judging the world.

APPLICATION

What side of His touch do you want to be on? I know which side I choose. I have experienced His touch is so many ways. He touched me and saved me. He touched me and restored my health in 2010. He did it again in 2020. But He has also touched me and corrected me.

No one likes to be corrected, least of all me. I don’t like it. I believe I am right most of the time. That gets me into trouble. Each and every time, He is there to touch me and put me back on the right path.

What kind of touch do you prefer? Come to Him today and ask for that gentle touch of your Redeemer. Come to Him and let Him touch you so that you are about His business and not your own. One touch – that’s all it takes.

Gentle Savior, touch me today. Heal me and cleanse me.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Gentleness, Inspirational, Looking, Scripture

MY FATHER’S EYES

AMOS 9:4

“And though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword and it will kill them, and I will set My eyes against them for harm and not for good.”

When my children were growing up, they were very different. My son, the eldest, was typically more compliant. He was the one at whom you could just give a look (you know what I mean) and he would straighten up. He didn’t want to that look. My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t respond too well to that look. She didn’t ignore it, but she didn’t quite respond as quickly as our son.

The Israelites ignored the fact that God’s eyes see all. When you read that phrase “I will set my eyes against them for harm and not for good” you may get the impression that God is some kind of cosmic zapper, just waiting for you to mess up. No! God’s eyes are on us all. He just won’t tolerate the wicked, especially those who pretend to be His. He will deal with them.

APPLICATION

Amy Grant had a song in 1979 that really launched her Christian music career. It was her first number one song. It was called “My Father’s Eyes.” That was 43 years ago. Wow! I was still a teenager. Check it out at Amy Grant – Father’s Eyes (Lyric Video) – YouTube (pardon the YouTube commercial).

Part of the lyrics say:

        Eyes full of compassion

        Seeing every pain

        Knowing what you’re going through

        And feeling it the same.

The Father will not leave you hopeless. His eyes are upon you. If you are truly seeking Him, He is there. His eyes are indeed full of compassion, and He does see all your pain. Look fully into the eyes of Jesus today and allow His gaze to wash over you.

Lord, I thank You that Your eyes are always looking at me. You see all.

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