Affliction, Battles, Bible, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Protection, Scripture, Storms, Trials

YOU’RE IT

JONAH 1:7

“And each man said to his mate, ‘Come, let’s cast lots so that we may find out on whose account this catastrophe has struck us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.”

I used to hate when we picked teams in elementary school at recess to play a game. Depending on the game, I would get picked early or late. I wasn’t the fastest guy, but I was one biggest. So, if it was a speed game, I was usually picked near the end. I usually felt unlucky and undervalued.

Jonah was picked by lot. The soldiers knew something about this storm they were in was divine. They could read storms, and this one didn’t fit their knowledge. So, they turned to casting lots to choose who was at fault, who had offended their god. They still didn’t understand who this God was who was trying to get Jonah’s attention. God even guided the lots, and they fell on Jonah.

APPLICATION

The Lord may have chosen you to go through a trial right now. He has tapped you on the shoulder and said you’re going in. It’s your turn. You’re it. That doesn’t make God a cruel God. It makes Him a specific God. He doesn’t haphazardly call us into these tough situations.

I just got an email from a friend of mine who serves in another country. His young son was hit by a motorcycle while walking home from school. He had a compound fracture to his femur and many cuts and contusions. Why? Why would God allow this? For some reason, God tapped them on the shoulder and chose them for this trial, knowing that going through it with Him would make them more like His son. (Pray for their son Ian).

Every trial we go through will shape us and mold us into His image. God is not trying to maim us or destroy us. That’s the devil’s game. God allows trials to touch us only to draw us closer. Do you trust a God like that? I do. I’ve been there. I’ve seen how He works. Watch Him work in yours.

Lord, thanks for picking me to show others how You work. I many not like the process, but I do like the end result.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Darkness, Destruction, Devil, Grace, Horror, Rebellion, Rescue, Safety, Scripture, Storms

BREAKING UP

JONAH 1:4

“However, the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea, so that the ship was about to break up.”

I lived in Florida for about eight years and witnessed the destructive power of hurricanes on several occasions. Those storms can literally destroy a city. I have seen homes obliterated. I have seen neighborhoods so damaged you could not tell where the streets were. It is horrifying.

I imagine the storm Jonah and his shipmates faced was like a hurricane. When God sends a storm, He does not mess around. I bet they had 20- and 30-foot waves. The pounding of those waves on the hull of the ship was beginning to break apart the ship. They were taking on water and getting scared.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been that scared? It seemed the waves of life were crashing in all around you. You are taking on water. You look around and there are no lifeboats to jump into. You are panicking. All hope is gone.

And then you come to the Master who can still the seas. No storm is so dark that He cannot walk right through it. No waves are too high that He cannot safely navigate. No vessel is so wrecked that He cannot put it back together better than it was before. Call out to Him!

Wow! This picture of Jonah in that ship sure is vivid. We can all relate to it. We have done the same thing. We have run from God and gotten into more trouble. When we flee in the dark, we are apt to get hurt. We, instead, need to head toward the light. Then our path is exposed. Then He will lead us safely home.

The storm-tossed waves of life are out there, Lord. But with You at the helm, there is no fear.

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Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Calling, Devil, Direction

DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

AMOS 9:7

“‘Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, you sons of Israel?’ declares the LORD. ‘Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?’”

At times our actions have little to no meaning to us. We do things because we have always done things. We get up, get dressed, go to work, come home and go to bed, only to repeat it all the next day. Our life has lost all meaning. That is not a good place to be.

Israel had reached a point when their lives seemed to have no meaning. All that God had done for them had been forgotten. They had no connection with their God because they had wandered away. Their claim that God had brought them up out of Egypt fell on deaf ears because their lives now rejected Him. That uniqueness that was theirs as God’s chosen nation had been reduced to rubble.

APPLICATION

Have you lost your life’s meaning? Do you feel you don’t really matter anymore? Those are both of the devil. He doesn’t want you to know your purpose in life. He doesn’t want you to walk in victory. He wants to sow discord and despair into your lives so you won’t be walking with Jesus.

If he can get just one more believer to doubt himself, he has won. We will walk in defeat. We will be no better than those Israelites who rejected God and turned to their own selves. This is a sure way to be defeated. God cannot lead us if we aren’t following Him.

If you have ever tried to follow another car in a caravan, you know it is important to keep that car in your sight. You can’t follow what you can’t see. You can’t follow God if you can’t see God. We see God in His Word and in our prayer time. How is that going for you today? Will you commit to the Lord today?

I am so thankful, Lord, that You are leading me. Help me follow closely.

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Asking, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Inheritance, Judgment, Scripture

OUT OF REACH

AMOS 8:12

“People will stagger from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they will roam about to seek the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.

Nothing is much more frustrating than not being able to find something. Recently I misplaced a metal box in which I keep our important documents. I knew where I had last seen it, but it wasn’t there. Of course, like most men, I thought my wife had moved it. Low and behold, it was right where I put it – in my closet on the floor.

I found my box, but the Israelites would not find the word of God. The Lord said through Amos that they would look “from sea to sea and from the north even to the east;…but they will not find it.” That “it” isn’t in the text, but it refers to the word of God. They just couldn’t find it or hear it. How sad!

APPLICATION

Lost and found! In the church where I served there is a box of lost items. We keep these items for a period of time, and if they are not claimed within a few months, we donate them to a charity. Some people have lost the Word of God and don’t even know it. They go on with life without contemplating the significance of their loss.

The Word of God is so important for our Christian walk. We can’t navigate the trials of this life without it. You can’t wait until you need it to pull it out and think that’s going to work. You need to equip yourself with the Word through memorization and meditation, so you can combat the evil one on a daily basis.

I am thankful for the verses I have memorized. I desire so much more. I wish I could just download the entire Bible to a memory chip in my brain. That’s not possible (yet). But I can work diligently at memorizing so I will always have a portion of God’s Word available to me. Is that true for you?

Father God, I praise You for Your Word. I need it every day in my life in order to face the trials that come my way.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Failures, Faithfulness, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Rebellion

THE REBELLIOUS

AMOS 7:9

“The high places of Isaac will become deserted, and the sanctuaries of Israel will be in ruins. Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

Were you ever rebellious? Did you rebel against your parents? I have to say I did. In my teenage years, before Christ, I disobeyed my parents time and time again. I lived a lie. I professed one thing but did another. Fortunately, the Lord saw fit to rescue me before I did anything that would have cost me my life.

Jeroboam’s reign began with a rebellion against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. He split the kingdom by his act. Now, for sure, God used Jeroboam to carry out His plan, but Jeroboam went too far. He constructed idols and places of worship that went against God’s Word. For that he had to be punished. And so it came.

APPLICATION

Seeing the result of Jeroboam’s rebellion, does that make you want to go the straight and narrow? Probably not. If you are like me, my flesh still has a rebellious streak. Left to my own devices, I would choose the opposite of what God desires. But thanks be to God, my flesh has been defeated by the Spirit of God within me.

I am reminded of Romans 6:16 which says, “Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” It’s really our choice whom we will serve. But we cannot choose the consequences for our rebellious acts.

Just like Jeroboam, our rebellion has costs. I am so thankful for the Spirit of God that leads me to obedience each day. I can walk in victory knowing that my sins are forgiven. I can walk in victory because the price has been paid. I can walk in victory because the devil has already been defeated.

Lord God, I praise You for giving me Your Spirit to live in me. He keeps me on the straight and narrow.

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Abiding, Accountability, Devil, Enemies, Exile, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Persecution, Rescue

INTO EXILE

AMOS 5:27

“‘Therefore I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus,’ says the LORD, whose name is the God of armies.”

What does it mean to go into exile? Well, it means to leave your homeland and be carried somewhere else. All through history we have seen that happen when one nation conquered another. This usually followed a war. It was humiliating and disgraceful.

The Israelites were facing this. Their continued disobedience had forced God’s hand. He was through with them (for now). They had to face their judgment. Stripped, beaten and shamed, they were led away to a foreign land by a foreign power.

APPLICATION

You are probably thankful right now that hasn’t happened to you. We have human rights commissions now that try to make sure that isn’t done anymore. But there is more than one kind of exile. You could be in an exiled status due to other things besides war.

We may even choose to exile ourselves. We choose to hide away from others. This is not God’s plan for us. He made us to be part of community. We need others in our lives. The devil loves to get us alone so he can tear us down. Don’t fall for it.

Today I choose to walk with my Savior. I want to stay close to Him. I don’t want to experience exile. I need Him in my life every second of every day. Wherever I go, He is there. As long as I rest in that, there is no exile. Wherever I live, I am in His presence.

Thank You, Lord, for not exiling me. I long to be in Your presence.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Protection, Scripture, Sin

GOD KNOWS

AMOS 5:12

“For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, and turn away the poor from justice at the gate.”

I remember when I was little trying to get away with something I had done to one of my siblings. Like typical siblings, we played hard and sometimes had little “fights.” One of us would run to Mom or Dad and tell and then… Well, you know the result. It seemed our parents always knew what was going on, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Amos reminds us today that God knows our offenses and sins. They are many. And there is nothing we can do to erase those iniquities. The Israelites were guilty, and they knew it. Only Jehovah could forgive those rebellious hearts, but they had to turn to Him.

APPLICATION

God knows every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit. Think about that! He knows it before we do it. So, why doesn’t He stop us? Wouldn’t that be great? Man, if every time I am tempted God would step in and say, “Whoa, there Carl.” Well, He does!

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is constantly reminding us of our walk with Christ. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Spirit brings forth those verses to convict us before we step into that cesspool of sin. We just need to listen to Him.

I know when I am tuned in to the Spirit by meditating on the Word, I am able to avoid the sins which can so easily entangle me. When I don’t do that, I am an open target. Sin seeks me out. The devil wants to distract me and bring me down. But thanks be to God, I have the power to avoid those traps as I rely on the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Will you tune in to the Spirit today?

Lord God, I am so thankful that You have given me the power to avoid those sins that await me. And I am also thankful for the forgiveness You offer when I fail.

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Advice, Bible, Choices, Devil, Drought, Refreshing, Scripture

STAGGERING

AMOS 4:8

“‘So the people of two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water, but would not be satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I can relate to this verse a little. I remember working in the tobacco fields with my cousin when I was young. A tobacco field in South Georgia in July is deadly. I can recall a few times being so thirsty I literally staggered to the igloo for a drink. I was light-headed and weak. But how refreshing that water was.

The drought God put on Israel had the same effect. People had to travel to other places in an attempt to find water. But even there it wasn’t enough. You would think that would drive them to return to the Lord, but it didn’t. They didn’t seem to connect the dots.

APPLICATION

Listen up! When God allows trials in our lives, it is always to make us better. It is always to drive us closer to Him. He will allow hardships from time to time when He needs to refine us a little more. He has to knock off the rough edges. At least He does with me.

What does it take to get your attention? A sledge hammer? I hope not. That can get old. That can cause you to get bitter instead of better. Satan will whisper in your ear that God doesn’t care about you. Don’t believe it. God is just making you more like Him.

I have learned (once again, the hard way) to respond quicker. I need to repent quicker. I need to listen more. I need… You get the picture. I have to check myself every day. I can’t go one day without checking in with the Master to get my marching orders. If I don’t, I will go the wrong direction so fast. How about you?

I am thirsty, Lord. Will you send Your quenching rains to refresh my spirit?

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Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Devil, Enemies, Freedom, Judgment, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

CAPTIVE

AMOS 4:3

“‘You will go out through holes in the walls, one in front of the other, and you will be hurled to Harmon,’ declares the LORD.”

I have never been held captive. I can’t imagine what that feels like. I have read first person accounts of that and marveled at that person’s stamina and faith to survive. But to be torn from your home and carried off as a prisoner would certainly be horrible. God has promised, however, to see us through any trial.

Israel is facing captivity. The Lord is telling them here that they will be led out of their cities through the holes in the walls that were made by their captors. They will be lead like cattle, one in front of the other, to their place of captivity. They will go from luxury to slavery.

APPLICATION

If you are not a believer in Jesus, you are being held captive by your enemy, the devil. The sad thing is you may not even realize it. As long as you are not walking with Christ, you are walking with him. He may even treat you kindly here on earth because he knows he will have you for eternity.

But God rescues us from our captor through Jesus. Jesus conquered death and the grave for you. His blood paid the price for your freedom. You can be set free through Him. And the best part is that it is free. You just have to ask for it. If you haven’t done that today, will you?

I am thankful the chains of sin have been broken. We are no longer held down by Satan’s grip. The moment we said yes to Jesus, we were made free. The jail doors were opened. We now walk with the One who set us free. Remember – we walk from victory, not towards it. The battle has already been won. Praise Jesus!

Lord, You are the one who set me free from the power and penalty of sin in my life. Thank You for saving me.

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Belief, Bible, Confidence, Devil, Encouragement, Heaven, Hell, Holiness, Judgment, Praise, Rapture

HOOKS

AMOS 4:2

“The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, ‘For behold, the days are coming upon you when they will take you away with meat hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.’”

I love to fish. I don’t get to do it as often as I like, but I love it. If you have ever gone fishing, you know you need hooks to catch the fish. Those hooks can be on an artificial bait or used with live bait. But you have to have hooks. And when you catch a fish, you jerk it and bring it to the boat or shore. It’s kind of a violent act, if you think about it.

In the same way, Israel was going to be snatched away. The imagery of the meat hook and the fish hook was one every Israelite could relate to. Because of their rebuke of God’s holiness, their judgment had arrived, and they would be snatched away by other nations – violently and aggressively snatched away.

APPLICATION

We face the same, if we are not children of God. At death, we will be snatched away by the evil one to an eternity of torment. But praise be to God, as children of God, we are protected. We will be snatched away, but into the loving arms of our Lord. If we are alive when He returns, God’s Word says we will be snatched away to meet Him in the air.

Unlike the snatching away that happened to the Israelites, our snatching away won’t involve sharp hooks. Sharp hooks are painful. I know from experience. I’ve had more than one hook stuck in my finger or hand. Our snatching away won’t be painful. It will be peaceful and gentle.

I am so ready to be snatched away. I look forward to our Lord’s return. But my heart aches for those who don’t have this confidence in our Lord. Their snatching will be painful. Will you join me in trying to reach as many as we can for Christ before His return? Let’s help them avoid those hooks.

Thank You Jesus for the promise of Your return and the snatching away I will experience in You.

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