Accountability, Accused, Battles, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Direction, God's Will, Obedience, Safety, Scripture

SPLISH, SPLASH

JONAH 1:15

“So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.”

Have you ever thrown someone into a pool? You know how kids can play. I can remember picking up someone and chunking them, kicking and screaming. It was all in play. No one was intended to be hurt. We laughed and usually did it again.

This was not the case with Jonah. He did not kick and scream. In fact, he probably laid down on the deck of the ship very calmly as the sailors picked him up and threw him in. Can you just see the sailors’ face when the sea stopped raging? They probably instantly went to the side of the ship and looked for Jonah. But he was not there.

APPLICATION

Maybe you’re kicking and screaming right now as God tries to throw you into the deep end of the pool. Does God do that? He certainly does. Most of us don’t go willingly. We may not kick and scream, but we sure argue with God, don’t we? We have all kinds of reasons why His won’t make sense.

I have been thrown into the “deep end” many times. You think I would have learned to go in myself. But no, I am hard-headed. I guess that is why I can relate to Jonah so well. There have been times when God gave me a clear direction, but I went the other direction.

Splash! There I went! Deep end! But I found when I got in that the water was just fine. I did not drown. In fact, I got stronger by learning to swim there. I could not rely on my own strength. I had to have His power to survive. So, I swam and got stronger. Are you still wearing floaties on your arms or are you allowing God to strengthen you in the “deep end?”

Father, Your Will often confuses me. But I know I can trust it because it’s Your Will and not mine.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Direction, Faithfulness, God's Will, Home, Obedience, Restoration, Scripture

THE RETURN

OBADIAH 19

Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin the territory of Gilead.

My family and I lived in TN in the 90’s. We loved it there, but God moved us to FL for a season. We spent eight years there and then were called back to TN in 2007. It was like coming home. Now, you Floridians, don’t take that wrong. Florida was our home while we were there. But Chattanooga always felt like our real home. Coming back just felt right.

In today’s verse, Obadiah is prophesying the return of Judah to their homeland. Not only would they return, but they would expand their lands. God will always stay true to His children. He may take us to the “woodshed,” as He did Judah, but He will restore.

APPLICATION

You may have a story of God’s restoration power. I know I do. I’ve been through two stem cell transplants for this disease I have (Amyloidosis). Borrowing a miracle, I will face another one in the years ahead. But each time, the Lord has restored my physical health. I am forever grateful for the lessons He taught me each time.

You may have been restored financially or emotionally. But the most important restoration we can have is our spiritual restoration. He promises to bring us from death to life. He gives us a true new life in Christ. He died and we live. Isn’t that incredible.

And just like Judah, when He restores us, He gives us so much more than we had before. I don’t mean physical stuff. I mean spiritual growth. We go from infants needing milk to eating the meat of the Word as we surrender to Him and seek Him daily. It truly is a restoration process in our lives.

Lord, thank You for restoring me. I was dead in my sins and You gave me new life.

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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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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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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.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Prophesy, Scripture, Testimony

ONLY WHAT HE SAYS

AMOS 7:16

“So now hear the word of the LORD: you are saying, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you prophesy against the house of Isaac.’”

Some people don’t want to hear the truth, no matter what it is. Hearing bad news is hard. Even though it may be the truth, we don’t want to hear it. Sometimes the truth points out our errors. No one likes that. We all want to be right and speak our minds, right?

Amaziah didn’t want to hear anymore of Amos’ prophesies against Israel. So, Amos says in a mocking way to Amaziah what he has been saying to him. Amaziah want Amos to stop his preaching and go back home.

APPLICATION

How does this verse apply to us? Well, perhaps the Lord has given you a message that you need to deliver. It doesn’t matter what kind of response you get from others. You have to be true to the message you’ve been given. You may get a very cold reception because of your message. Give it any way.

Amos was basically being told to shut up and go away. Have you ever been told that? I remember once in Uganda, I was with a group doing street evangelism in an area known for their resistance to the Gospel. We had some drunks tell us to leave and stop talking to their neighbors. We continued our witnessing and actually got a couple of those antagonizers to listen to us.

Never stop speaking what the Lord has given you. We have all been given the Gospel and should be sharing it. I know it is uncomfortable at times. That doesn’t matter. Do it any way. You may get made fun of. That’s okay. Our obedience to Christ and the message He has given us is all that matters.

Father, thank You for the message You have given me to share to the world. Make me bold and courageous.

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Advice, Bible, Calling, Commands, Direction, Leading

THAT’S NOT WHAT I AM

AMOS 7:14

“Then Amos replied to Amaziah, ‘I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs.’”

Have you ever been mistaken for someone or something you’re not? It can happen to any of us. How do you respond? Do you immediately correct them, or do you play along for a bit? I like to play along. I like to string them along. I am just that way.

But not Amos. He corrects Amaziah quickly. He tells him that he was just minding his own business, tending his herds and fig trees. Then God called him to prophesy. And now that He has, he has to do it.

APPLICATION

You may not feel like you are worthy of God’s calling, but you are. God calls those who are available and willing to be used. I believe every one of us who have been called as His child has been given a very specific purpose. God wants us to fulfill it. It’s our purpose, not someone else’s.

Now, let me ask you a question. What is your calling? What has God called you to do? God has given you the skills or will give you the skills to do exactly what He has called you to do. Do you think for a second Amos felt qualified?

You may have heard it said before – God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. That’s who you are. You are called, and He will qualify you. He promises that. The question is will you allow Him to use you. He wants to and will.

I am willing, Lord. Qualify me!

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Abiding, Alone, Battles, Bible, Deception, Direction, Dreams, Following, Hope, Leading, Scripture

NON-THING

AMOS 6:13

“You who rejoice in Lodebar, and say, ‘Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?’”

Sometimes we place our hopes and dreams in things that are impossible. Everyone tells us that. But we just don’t believe it. We are sure we can accomplish this on our own. We haven’t prayed about it, but we are sure God will bless it. Been there – done that. This usually doesn’t end well.

Israel was rejoicing in nothing. Actually, that should read non-thing. That’s what Lodebar means. It was a non-thing compared to God. Their idols were non-things. And they also claimed they had taken ahold of the horn – that’s what Karnaim means. Their strength was obtained on their own, they thought. What a rude awakening they had coming.

APPLICATION

Everything we have and have done is because of the Lord. He gives and takes away. He restores and tears down. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves, right? So, why do we continue to try to do things on our own? Why do we insist on going it alone?

Our flesh is strong, especially among us men. We think we can “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” While that mentality works in the world’s eyes, it doesn’t so much in the spiritual realm. We can do nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit. Read John 15:4-8. That will give you a good picture of what I am talking about.

I know from my own life that I cannot achieve one thing without the Lord. Anything I try to achieve on my own will not last. It will become a non-thing, a Lodebar. I cannot take Karnaim, the horn, on my own. It’s only through Jesus that I can find success. He will lead me and give me the strength I need to face life. How about you?

I know I am nothing without You, Lord. You make me what I am, and I am so thankful.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Seeking

WHAT ARE YOU SEEKING?

AMOS 5:14

“Seek good and not evil, so that you may live; and so may the LORD God of armies be with you, just as you have said!”

Hide and seek is a wonderful childhood game. My almost four-year-old granddaughter loves to play it when she is over at our house. She loves for me to scare her when she finds me. She will scream and then burst out laughing. For her, seeking Poppy is a good thing. I hope she always feels that way.

Oh, but Amos is talking about a whole different kind of seeking. He tells us plainly to seek good and not evil. Carl, I don’t seek evil. It just kind of finds me. And it will, time and time again unless you are busy seeking good. Good is only found in Jesus. We are told to seek first His kingdom. That’s the key.

APPLICATION

So, what are you seeking? What do you spend the majority of your time trying to achieve? I spent decades in my ministry trying to achieve things, some good and some not so good. I wouldn’t call any of them evil, but when you are not seeking the best the Lord has for you, can it be considered good?

The LORD God of armies wants you to seek the best. And He gives us all we need to do that. We have His Word to point the way. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us each day in our decisions. He has given us direct access to the throne room of heaven to petition Him when we are confused. What else do we need?

I choose to seek good and not evil. I flee from evil. And the more I seek good, the easier it is for me to recognize evil. That makes it so simple. Seek good and not evil is not a complicated command. Let’s do that today.

LORD God of armies, I praise Your name that You have given me everything I need to seek good and not evil. Keep me safe as I follow You.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Commands, Direction, Encouragement, Scripture, Worship

GOD’S HOUSE

AMOS 5:5

“But do not resort to Bethel and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and Bethel will come to nothing.”

I have always had a deep respect for God’s house. Even before I became a Christian, I felt an awe for church buildings. Now, I know the building does not really matter. We can worship God anywhere. I have worshipped under trees, in alleys and in fancy buildings. The question is “Does God reside there?”

Amos is telling Israel that all the places they have been going to “worship” God are imposters. Jeroboam had made Bethel the place of worship for Israel to prevent them from going to Jerusalem. Gilgal and Beersheba were also used for worship, but the one true location (at this time) was the temple in Jerusalem. 

APPLICATION

Where do you go to worship? This is so applicable to 2022. So many people have decided to stay home and worship God from their couch. They simply watch a preacher on the television or online and consider that worship. Worship is so much more than that. Worship involves the body of Christ. We need to be with the body to do that.

Now, I understand there are still some who feel, because of their health, they can’t put themselves at risk by attending in person. I am not talking about them. I am talking about the millions of individuals who have gotten comfortable at home. They need to reengage with the body of Christ and get out of their pj’s.

I may get in trouble because of this blog. There are many who disagree with me. That’s okay. Just don’t settle for a Bethel,  Gilgal or Beersheba. You need your Jerusalem. You need your local body of believers to worship together. Try it this week.

I want to worship You, Lord. Let me join others and lift up Your name.

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