Accountability, Accused, Anxiety, Bible, Consequences, Death, Fear, Forgiveness, Judgment, Scripture

HERE IT COMES

OBADIAH 15

“For the day of the LORD is near for all the nations. Just as you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.

Doomsday! You know you can’t avoid it. The weight of it is excruciating. The dreaded bathroom scales. No one wants to step on that thing. Am I right? I am currently on ANOTHER diet, lol. I need to shed some pounds that have creeped on over the winter.

That dreaded moment is nothing in comparison with what was headed Edom’s way. “The day of the LORD” was commonly known as a day of judgment. Obadiah poured out those words, which were very similar to the prophet Joel, when he said in Joel 3:7, ‘thy reward shall return upon thine own head.’ Edom knew exactly what Obadiah meant! Doomsday!

APPLICATION

What are you dreading right now? Are you dreading death? How about the end of the world? Those are both definites. They are going to happen. I hope that doesn’t scare you. That’s not my intention. Fear can motivate you, if it is the right kind of fear. The fear of the Lord is a good thing. Let me explain.

The fear of the Lord is a reverence for His holiness. The fear of the Lord leads me to bow down before Him in awe of His presence. The Lord does not scare me. In fact, it is just the opposite. The thought of the Lord spurs me on to holy living.

I don’t fear the Lord in a negative way because He’s my Father. He’s my Protector. He’s my Shield and Buckler. He carries me in His arms when I am too weak to walk. He soothes me when I am anxious. There is nothing to dread! I welcome Him.

O sweet Lord, You comfort me beyond anything I could ever ask or think.

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Abiding, Accountability, Accused, Bible, Bosses, Death, Deceit, Deception, Denial, Evangelism, God's Will, Scripture

SELF-DECEPTION

AMOS 9:10

“All the sinners of My people will die by the sword, those who say, ‘The catastrophe will not overtake or confront us.’”

You have probably seen a picture of an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand pretending there was no danger. Pretending doesn’t make it true. People ignore warning lights on the dash of their cars in hopes it will stop lighting up. But ignoring the warning light won’t fix the problem.

The people of Israel were ignoring the coming judgment. They didn’t believe the catastrophe would “overtake or confront” them. They seemed to think they were exempt from God’s wrath. But they found out the hard way that they weren’t.

APPLICATION

Are you ignoring any warning signs in your life? When I was in between my first and second stem cell transplants, I got very good at reading my bloodwork from the labs. I knew over a year before the doctor recognized that my disease was returning. I could see the warning signs.

I wish I was as good about recognizing the warning signs in my spiritual life. Often, God flashes me the warning lights about something, but I ignore them. I am certain they will go off by themselves. But you just can’t ignore those warnings.

I have finally learned to stay close to Him (John 15:4-8) so that I can know when I need to make things right. Sometimes I get so involved in ministry that I forget who I am serving. That’s sad. You think I would know better, but I don’t.

God, help me as I help others. I want to be like a You.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Choices, Death, Eternity, God's Will, Hope, Modeling, Scripture

ASHES TO ASHES

AMOS 6:10

“Then one’s uncle, or his undertaker, will lift him up to carry out his bones from the house, and he will say to the one who is in the innermost part of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “No one.” Then he will answer, “Keep quiet! For the name of the LORD is not to be mentioned.”

My wife and I have decided to be cremated rather than buried. It’s really a matter of choice for everyone. There’s no right or wrong way biblically. In fact, our verse today is one of the few verses that speaks about burning a body.

The Hebrew words in this verse actually mean to burn. “Undertaker” carries that definition. Here’s another reason it is so important to study the Hebrew and Greek text to see the real meaning of the text. This person, whomever it is, is the one who takes up the body and burns it, perhaps so the body wouldn’t be abused by those who had defeated Israel.

APPLICATION

The application today will not be a debate about cremation. As I said, that is an individual decision. My body will mean nothing to me at death. This old shell of flesh will eventually disintegrate anyway. For me and my wife, we have chosen the cremation route. But that’s our choice.

The point Amos is trying to make today is not the mode of getting rid of a body. He is pointing out the real hopelessness the Israelites felt. They couldn’t even mention the name of God. They were so low and depressed they felt it didn’t matter at this point.

Oh, but listen. No matter how low you may be, you can always call on Jesus. He is always there. You can’t get too low for Him. His reach exceeds your depression. And whether you are cremated or buried at death, you will be with Him for eternity. Rest in that. Trust that He is near at all times.

Lord, I am thankful that my eternal resting place is not determined by how my body ends up. I am whole in You.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Death, Judgment, Perseverance, Praise

ONLY TEN?

AMOS 6:9

“And it will be, if ten men are left in one house, they will die.”

When I read this verse, I immediately thought back to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you remember that story? The angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham and told him He was about to destroy those cities because of their wickedness. Abraham finally asks him would He destroy them if just ten righteous men were found there. I just wonder if Amos is thinking of this same story.

But here in verse 9 of Amos 6, Amos turns it around and says God is going to destroy them no matter the number. Ten men may be all that’s left in a house, but they will die. God’s mercy has come to an end right here. All the wicked and disobedient must come before the Lord and face their judgment.

APPLICATION

Don’t be in that ten! Don’t push God’s mercy. He will, at some point, make you accountable for your sins. I bet those ten never thought they face death or exile. But here it is. We too must face it. Don’t let it get to this point. Repent!

We may think we are getting away with sin. We haven’t been caught in the act. We are sneaky. But sin has a way of manifesting itself. Before you know it, we incorporate that sinful pattern into our lives. We may hide it for a lifetime, but it will be exposed.

I come before the Lord each morning and confess my sins. Notice I said sins and not sin. I pray for forgiveness and ask for direction. It should come as no surprise that I do that. I am in this world, just like you. I pray that all my sin(s) are unintentional. But sin is sin. It all needs to be repented. 

Lord God, forgive me when I have fallen. Pick me up and give me a new heart.

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Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Mourning

MOURNING AND MORE MOURNING

AMOS 5:16

“Therefore this is what the LORD God of armies, the Lord says: ‘There is mourning in all the public squares, and in all the streets they say, ‘Oh no! Oh no!’ They also call the farmer to mourning and professional mourners to mourning rites.’”

In the past few months, we have seen a lot of death in our community. I personally have been to several visitations and funerals. And I have observed a lot of mourning. Mourning comes from loss. Mourning comes from grief. How do we, as believers, handle such loss?

Amos tells us the Lord’s words concerning this. He was, of course, talking to Israel, but the words apply to us. When we suffer loss we are driven to mourning. I can recall the days after 9-11. Not only my country, but the whole world mourned. We saw prayer meetings and church services being held all over the world for the loss of life on that day.

APPLICATION

How I mourn is so important. We are told that we do not mourn as those who have no hope. When we have a loved one die who knows the Lord, there is a loss here on earth but there is a gain in heaven. We will see them again. The mourning should be short lived.

But when we lose someone who does not know Jesus as their Savior, that is a deeper loss. May I encourage you today to reach out to all those you love who are in that group? You don’t want to grieve in that way. You don’t want your mourning to be that deep.

Someone told me the other day that we spend so much time getting people to agree to go to heaven and then we are upset when they go. They have won the ultimate victory – the victory over death. They moved from this world to the next and received glory. Hallelujah! Praise His name.

O God, help me mourn with those who mourn. Let me also point all I can to You, who can lessen the mourning and lead us home.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Purity, Refreshing, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

DECAYING

HOSEA 14:1

“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing.”

Sometimes when I am in the woods hunting, I come across a dead animal. I always smell it before I see it. It’s hard to not smell it. When I find the carcass, it hardly recognizable. Often, I have to really look to figure out what it was. It has decayed to a point that you really don’t want to touch it or be near it.

Why do I bring that up? Because the Hebrew word for “stumbled” can also mean decayed. Israel has gone so far from God that they had that same stench. Their sins reeked. God was not pleased. Hosea is begging them to return. They can be salvaged if only…

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? I’m not asking if you deodorant is working. What I want to know is if your sins are stinking. All sin smells. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It may not smell to begin with, but it will. Left unconfessed, that sin will begin to turn rank in your life. The stench of sin in your life will begin to be noticed by others.

But praise be to God, there’s a remedy. Confess your sins. Be bathed in the blood of the Lamb. Get refreshed by His life-giving water. He will wash away all your sins. His blood works so much better than any household cleaner out there. If you are tired of smelling like sin, come to Him.

I don’t like the smell of sin. The more I spend time in the Word, the easier it is to smell sin. My nose can sniff it out. It’s like an early warning system to my soul. The Holy Spirit points out sin to me before I go there. Do I always listen? No, but when I don’t the Spirit won’t let me go until I confess it. I want to smell good, don’t you?

O God, cleanse me and purify me. I want to smell like Jesus.

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Belief, Bible, Comfort, Courage, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Heaven, Promises, Scripture

THE STING OF DEATH

HOSEA 13:14

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? Death, where are your thorns? Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.”

We have probably all experienced the loss of a loved one. I lost my brother recently. While I continue to grieve, I am reminded where he is. He is in Glory with his Savior. He wouldn’t return here for anything, but I shall go to him one day and be reunited. That certainly lessens the sting of death for me. It still hurts, but not nearly as bad as it would if I didn’t know Jesus and know that my brother had not known him.

In the midst of judgment on the nation of Israel, Hosea tells us that God will certainly show mercy to them. The original Hebrew reads a little different than the New American Standard, which is what I used above. It says, “I will ransom them from Sheol. I will redeem them from death.” I like that. God is intentional. He doesn’t wonder about His decisions. He knows exactly what He plans to do.

APPLICATION

If you have experienced the sting of death, take courage. God can and will remove that stinger. Its power is diminished through the blood of the cross. Jesus shed His perfect blood to ransom us from death. Death for the believer is simply a portal into eternity with Christ. It is nothing to fear. We embrace it when it comes, knowing our destination is wonderful.

Now, for us who are left behind, we will grieve. It seems right now all around me there is death. In the past week it has arisen 3-4 times in the lives of my family and friends. And death will not stop. It is never satisfied. But the promises of God reign supreme. We need to be sharing our hope with those who have no hope so they can have that stinger removed.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes envy those who have gone before me into Glory. I wonder what they saw in their first glimpse of heaven. I wonder who they saw as they entered into their reward. I am so thankful I don’t have to fear death. I know death means life everlasting for me. What a trade off!

DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP in victory. WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR VICTORY? WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54c-56

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Bible, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Obedience, Promises, Redemption, Scripture

DISAPPEARING

HOSEA 13:3 

“Therefore they will be like the morning cloud and like dew which soon disappears, like chaff which is blown away from the threshing floor, and like smoke from a chimney.” 

Here in the Tennessee Valley, it is not uncommon to have low morning clouds that cover our mountains. A lot people like to drive up Lookout Mountain and welcome the day above the clouds. It doesn’t take long though, for the clouds to burn off to reveal the valley below. Those clouds are beautiful but fleeting. 

Hosea paints the same picture of Israel. Under Jeroboam it was a glistening nation, ripe with promise. But because of their continual sins, the nation quickly vanished just like the morning cloud and dew, just like chaff which is blown away and smoke from a chimney. All of these are quick to disappear. How sad, when all they had to do was obey Jehovah’s Law and worship Him. 

APPLICATION 

We don’t want our lives to disappear too quickly. We want to be around for a while. There are things we can do to assist in that. We can eat healthier. We can take our medications when prescribed. We can avoid situations where our lives are put at risk. But none of those things can guarantee a long life. There is only one person who can guarantee that – God. 

Now, just because we trust our lives to God doesn’t mean we will live to be in our 80’s or 90’s. God knows the number of our days. What we have to come to understand is when the Lord calls us home, that constitutes our long life. We have lived as long as He has planned. That could be short in the eyes of the Lord. But God does not make mistakes. He calls us home when we are ready, no sooner, no later. 

I had a friend die yesterday at 60. That’s young. In fact, that’s my age. I was surprised, shocked to say the least. But she was a believer and loved Jesus. She is in her heavenly home. And although her death caught us all by surprise, it did not surprise God. He was ready for her to come home. We will miss her, but we shall see her again. Welcome home, my friend. 

Though my days may be fleeting, I shall trust You, Lord. I long to be with You. 

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Death, Encouragement, Fellowship, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Promises, Redemption, Reward, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture

AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

SWALLOWED

HOSEA 8:8

“Israel has been swallowed up; they are now among the nations like a vessel in which no one delights.”

I love to fish, especially for largemouth bass. One of my favorite ways to catch them is with topwater lures like artificial frogs. When that frog is coming across the water early in the morning, I love to see that ole bass blow up on it. It is a thing of beauty for a bass fisherman. But you have to wait until they swallow the lure before you set the hook. When they do, you have a fight on your hands.

For some reason, that image came to my mind when I read today’s verse. “Israel has been swallowed up,” just like that frog. They thought they were free to do just as they wished. But God sent judgment upon them. Just like that bass that came out of nowhere to swallow that frog, judgment fell upon them and swallowed them up.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid being “swallowed up” is to walk humbly with our Father. Without the saving blood of Christ covering our sins, we are all going to be swallowed up for eternity. The wonderful thing about our salvation is it covers us for eternity. Do you realize that? It doesn’t have an expiration date. It takes us into and throughout eternity.

But how many people do you know who don’t have this coverage? They are susceptible any day to be swallowed up because of their sins. We have a responsibility to share that good news with others. We have been commissioned by Christ Himself to do that (Matthew 28:18-20). Do you have a list of people you want to share with? If not, take a moment and do that. Then let the Holy Spirit guide you into each conversation.

As beautiful as it is to watch that bass blow up on that frog and swallow it, it is horrible to watch judgment blow up on someone you know needed Jesus. I want everyone to know Jesus. I want them all to experience His saving grace. Hurry and share. Time is short. We never know how much time we have to be about His business.

Father, put someone in my path today with whom I can share the gospel. I want to see others come to know You.

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