Baptism, Bible, Disciplemaking, Guard, Obedience, Scripture, Witnessing

STANDING GUARD

HABAKKUK 2:1

“I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the watchtower; and I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, and how I may reply when I am reprimanded.”

Have you ever been waiting for a message to arrive? Maybe it was a phone call or a letter. Perhaps it was some other type of communication (we only have about a billion types now). The anticipation is excruciating, isn’t it? I remember waiting for my college admission letter. When that envelope arrived, I knew it would be either good news or bad news, but at least now I had the letter.

Habakkuk says here at the beginning of chapter 2 that he will wait on the message from God. He knows his calling as a prophet requires him to deliver the news to the people, whether it is good news or bad news. He is simply the messenger, but he must wait on God’s message. He can’t just make up his own message and pretend it is from God. He waits in obedience.

APPLICATION

God has a message for us to deliver. We don’t have to wait as Habakkuk did. We already have it. It is the story of His Son who came to give us life. We have the best news story of the centuries. For some it will be the news they have been waiting for. For others it will be the death nail in their coffin of disobedience.

Regardless of how others respond, we are commanded, just like Habakkuk, to deliver the message we have been given. The question is whether or not we will be obedient to our calling as believers. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is pretty simply – go make disciples, baptize them and teach them. It’s not complicated. You don’t need a seminary degree to do it. Just do it.

We can all improve in this area of evangelism. I believe with all my heart that time is getting short. That’s not a prophetic statement. It’s just my personal belief. So, I need to be more diligent at sharing with others. You need to join me. Time is wasting. We are the watchmen on the wall.

I will deliver the message Lord. The rest is up to You.

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Abiding, Allegiance, Bible, Bondslaves, Demons, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Obedience, Scripture

GIVE IT YOUR ALL 

MICAH 7:16 

“Nations will see and be ashamed of all their might. They will put their hand on their mouth, their ears will be deaf.” 

I shall never forget football drills and the coach screaming at us, “I want 110% out of you men. Don’t slack off.” I gave it my all. I played hard. I knew when I was giving it my all and when I was not. The coach could tell, too. I would miss blocking assignments or a tackle.  

Micah is now addressing the people again after God has spoken. Here he is showing us that we will always face opposition. The enemies of Israel gave their all against them but failed. The word “all” means whole or complete. In other words, they were all in. But they found out their might was no match for the might of God.  

APPPLICATION 

Are you giving your all to Him today? I am not asking if you are working non-stop for Jesus without taking any breaths. No, I mean are you all in? Does Jesus have all of you? So many of us think we can just say a prayer and go about our business as if nothing has happened. That is not the case. 

I promise you that the enemies of the cross are all in after us. They are giving it their all to try to bring us down. But their “all” is no match for us if we are all in for Christ. It is His power that will defeat them, not our power. I can make you another promise. Christ is all in for you. 

Look at what He did for you. He died a horrible death on the cross for your salvation. You cannot get much more “all in” than that. His love for you cost Him everything. He gave His life to ransom your soul. He deserves your all. Give it to Him today. 

All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Choices, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Fruit, Obedience, Redemption, Scripture

THE FRUIT WE BEAR 

MICAH 7:13 

“And the earth will become a wasteland because of her inhabitants, on account of the fruit of their deeds.” 

I am almost sixty-two years old, and I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. Fortunately, most of them were small and did no harm. Others, however, have left lasting impressions on me and others. I am forgiven and loved by my Savior, but I know that not all the fruit that I have put forth has been good. 

Micah switches from a positive thought in verse 12 to a rather negative one here in verse 13. The fruit of their deeds, their sins against God will cause their land to be a wasteland, to be desolate. In fact, to this day, because of their rejection of Christ, the land of Israel is spiritually desolate, without hope as a nation. 

APPLICATION 

What fruit are you bearing? Well Carl, I think I am doing pretty well. I think my fruit tastes good. Would you make jam with it? Are the deeds you perform for the sake of Christ done out of love for Him or simply out of “duty”? What is your motivation for service? These are questions we should all ask ourselves daily. We should strive to produce only the fruit that gives the glory to God. 

I am reminded of John 15, the chapter that talks about the vine and the branch and the fruit. Verse 8 says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” All glory must go to Him, not us. Any applause we receive for a deed well done must be redirected to Him. 

When I travel and speak, preach or teach others, I often am thanked and told how much they appreciate it. I feel almost embarrassed because that is not my motivation. My motive is to give Him glory. I want to point others to Jesus, to whom all praise is due. Amen? As you do for Him, point to Him. 

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You. O my soul rejoice. 

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Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Boundaries, Direction, Disciplemaking, Dreams, Encouragement, God's Will, Scripture

EXPANSION 

MICAH 7:11 

“It will be a day for building your walls. on that day your boundary will be extended.” 

I have a friend in Kenya who pastors a local church. This church began a school a few years ago for the children in their town who were too poor to attend the local schools only because they could not afford the uniforms. This school is expanding, thanks to the gifts of donors. They are eyeing some nearby land to expand so they can build some dorms to house some children who are homeless and are wandering the streets. 

Expansion! Micah prophesies the expansion of the boundaries of Israel. They will rebuild what has been destroyed and live in their land. Building and expanding their nation will take a continued reliance on Jehovah God. Micah is encouraging them to trust Him and believe in His promises. 

APPLICATION 

You are probably saying to yourself Carl, this is all well and good, but how does this apply to me? I am glad you asked. What size box do you have God in? By that I mean, what limitations have you put on how God can work in your life. Most of us do that. We cannot begin to dream of anything more. 

Let me tell you something. You need to think bigger. Now, I am not telling you to start asking for a jet or a bigger home. I am telling you to ask God to expand your circle of influence. Ask Him for greater opportunities to serve. Maybe He wants you to go on a short-term mission trip. Maybe He is calling you into full-time ministry. 

God wants to use us and use us mightily. He wants to see us expand His kingdom. He has great plans for each of us. He desires a willing vessel to use to send His message to others. Will you ask the Lord to expand your boundaries? Trust Him to show you. 

Expand my boundaries today, Lord. Show me how I can influence more people. 

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Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Choices, Consequences, Contentment, Deception, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Modeling, Scripture

THE RIGHT WEIGHT

MICAH 6:11

“‘Can I justify dishonest balances, and a bag of fraudulent weights?’”

I have this little hand-held baggage scale. You simply wrap the strap around the baggage handle, pick it up and you get the weight. That is necessary when you are flying somewhere because they have restrictions on how much weight you can have in that bag. Too much, and it costs you more. You cannot cheat the scale.

God watches our actions just as closely. He will not tolerate our deceitfulness. The people would try to cheat others in the market by having those fraudulent weight and scales. He had warned the people about this in Leviticus 19:35-36 where it says, “‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or volume. You shall have accurate balances, accurate weights, an accurate ephah, and an accurate hin;’”

APPLICATION

I am reminded of a verse in Job when he was vehemently denying any sin in his life that had caused his suffering. Job 31:6 says, “Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity.” Can you say that? I sure cannot most days.

I want my life to be weighed and found not lacking. I want my deeds and words to be always just right on God’s scales. I trust His scales to be accurate and true. If He says I am lacking, I am lacking. If He says I am okay, I am okay. He sees me as righteous because of His Son. Jesus has tipped the scales in my favor.

We have a bathroom scale in our home. Most mornings I weigh myself. It is interesting, though. I can weigh myself and then go to the doctor and weigh five more pounds. I think they set their scales five pounds heavier so they can tell us to lose some weight, lol. Truth is my scales are off five pounds. What really matters is my spiritual weight. With Jesus, I will always weigh correctly spiritually. Is that true for you today?

I am forever grateful for the blood that washed away the weight of my sin and made me righteous in Your eyes, Lord.

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Abiding, Accountability, Allegiance, Battles, Bible, Commands, Confrontation, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Rebellion, Scripture

YOU CAN’T OUTFOX GOD

MICAH 6:5

“My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab planned and what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.”

Be sure your sins will find you out. We have probably all heard that quote (It comes from Numbers 32:23). We try to hide our sins, don’t we? We can hide them for a while from people around us, but we cannot hide them from the all-seeing eye of God. He knows our most intimate secrets, including our sins. We cannot outfox Him.

Balak thought he could do an end-a-round on God. He knew the people of Israel were a mighty force and thought if he could just get a curse on them, it might improve his chances to defeat them. Wrong! That curse bounced right back in his face as a blessing. What was meant to encourage his troops served to put even more fear into them. God is reminding His people of that here in Micah.

APPLICATION

We are so much better off if we will just seek God’s will and do it rather than trying to sneak around. When we finally realize that God’s will for our lives is all about blessing us, we can rest in Him. Now, that does not mean we will not have some hard times. However, even in those there are blessings if we look hard enough.

We want our lives to be problem free. We want that bed of roses. Life is just not that way. Some people have it easier than others. That is true. But that does not diminish the fact that a loving God cares for you and wants what is best for your life. You just have to surrender to His will.

I wish my life was problem free. I still have to fight this disease I have (Amyloidosis). There is no cure for it, only treatments. But I am thankful for the doctors, hospitals and other medical team members who have served me so well. I am thankful for the opportunities it has given me to minister to others going through the same treatments. There is no end-a-round here. I have to trust my Great Physician in the process. How about you?

Father God, help me to trust You even in the hardest times and not try to hide my sins and acts of disobedience. I want to walk in the light with You.

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Abiding, Bible, Calling, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Idols, Sanctification, Scripture

GOT TO GET THE ROOT

MICAH 5:14

“‘I will uproot your Asherim from among you and destroy your cities.’”

Weeds are a result of the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Before the fall, plants had no “enemies.” Weeds had no purpose. But since then, weeds have plagued farmers and gardeners alike. To get rid of the weeds, you have to get the root. If you just break it off, it continues to grow and spread. You have to really dig deep.

God is going to uproot any Asherim (wooden images of the Phoenician goddess) and destroy (totally exterminate, demolish) their cities. Any place that held an idol was going to be purged. God was going to flatten the surface from any corrupting influence for His people.

APPLICATION 

Idols still exist today. They are all around us. I have said it before, but it deserves repeating. Anything that comes before your relationship with God can be an idol. Anything! God wants and desires first place in your life. He is the only one deserving of that.

Being in the ministry sometimes blurs that line. I think I have been pretty good about protecting my family and keeping them before my ministry. There have been times when the “ox was in the ditch” and I had to work longer hours, but for the most part I tried my best to keep them before my ministry.

But the line gets blurred between my relationship with God and my ministry. They are not one in the same. My ministry is my calling to share the Gospel and disciple men into disciple makers. But I cannot do either of those effectively if I am not abiding in the Vine. That abiding must come first, followed by my family and then my ministry. Take a minute and evaluate your priorities. Do you have something on the shelf above God? If so, take it down a notch or two.

Praise You, O God, for reminding me of Your place in my life. You should always be on the top shelf.

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Abiding, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Covenant, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Power, Relationships, Scripture

NOT BY MY MIGHT

MICAH 5:13

“‘I will eliminate your carved images and your memorial stones from among you, so that you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands.’”

I loved my dad. He could fix just about anything. I learned so much from him about that kind of stuff. I watched and learned. He involved my brother and I in the projects so we could learn to do it ourselves one day. But when he started having some heart issues and was struggling with my mom’s health, he came to the end of his rope and finally admitted to God that he “could not fix this.” Then he gave his heart to Christ at 80 years old.

God is saying in verse 13 that there was nothing they had created by the works of their hands that could save them. Those carved images of wood and stone would not do anything to help them. Those memorial stones they had set up meant nothing. Only their faith and belief in Him mattered. They had to return to Him.

APPLICATION

Well, this application is pretty much in your face, right? What are you trying to prove to God by continuing to try to do it all on your own? I know people who have said, “I do not need your God. I am fine on my own.” That may sound noble, but it is really foolish. Self-reliance leads to self-destruction.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of armies.’” That is the key right there. It is only by the leading of the Holy Spirit that we can accomplish anything. Isaiah said something similar in 26:12. “…all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” It has never been about what we can do for God. It is only about what He can do in and through us.

I am thankful that God broke me of my self-reliance years ago. Going through two stem cell transplants will cause you to rely on others and especially Him. I could do nothing. I was weak physically, spiritually and emotionally during those times. But He showed me His strength. Do you know that today?

O Father of heaven and earth, You care enough for me to invest Your time and Spirit in me. You have made me Your own.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Following, Listening, Scripture, Shepherd

OUR SHEPHERD

MICAH 5:4

“And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.

Have you ever watched a shepherd call his sheep? It is pretty amazing. No matter what they are doing, if they hear his voice, they come (or so I have been told). They do not respond to any other voice, but his. I hope you can view this link. It is a great example of what I am talking about.  Do sheep only obey their Master’s voice? – YouTube

Micah is sharing with the people the rise of the Messiah. He will come and shepherd His flock, if only they will listen. I just love the last phrase of this verse – “because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth.” Look what has happened in the world for the cause of Christ. It has indeed spread to the ends of the earth.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you hear His voice? Do you hear the Shepherd calling you? You know He is. He wants to guide you. He wants to lead you to green pastures. He wants to guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). Will you let Him?

We are just like those dumb sheep sometimes. We wander off near dangerous bluffs. And when Jesus tries to prod us to safety, we rebel and wind up crashing over the side. Then we blame Him for not protecting us. We place ourselves in danger time after time, when all we have to do is listen for His voice.

I have learned that to hear His voice, I must be spending quality time with Him. That involves prayer, meditation and the study of His Word. His Spirit speaks to me through those. And as I spend more time, I have a clear channel to the throne of grace. How sweet it is to hear His voice early in the morning. Are you listening?

Father, speak to me. Guide, guard and graze me.

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Bible, Calling, Direction, Disciplemaking, Exalting, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

HIGH PLACES

MICAH 4:8

“‘As for you, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come—yes, the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.’”

High places have been used time and time again to make announcements. Politicians take to stages to make speeches. Pastors climb into elevated rostrums to deliver their messages. High places give us visibility and allow our messages to be heard more easily.

It only makes sense that these two sites mentioned by the Lord here in Micah 4:8 are both high places. The “tower of the flock” is the Tower of Adel near Bethlehem. It is the spot where supposedly the shepherds received the message from the angels of the birth of Christ. The “hill of the daughter of Zion” refers to Ophel which is a high place on the south side of Jerusalem which was prophesied as the place the Messiah would appear.

APPLICATION

Okay, Carl, enough with the geography lesson. What does this mean for us? I am glad you asked. When we think of a high place, what does that require us to do? We have to look up. The shepherds looked up to see the angels. We have to look up to see Ophel, if we are in Jerusalem. Keep looking up!

Albert Barnes has this to say about these two sites. “Both then are images of lowliness. The lonely Shepherd tower, for Bethlehem, the birthplace of David; Ophel for Jerusalem, of which it was yet but an outlying part, and deriving its value probably as an outwork of the temple. Both symbols anticipate the fuller prophecy of the littleness, which shall become great in God.”

The lowly baby, born in a manger, became the Savior of the world. He was the long-awaited Messiah. His kingdom is not of this world, but His greatness exceeds them all. God will also lift us up if we humble ourselves. If we make ourselves lowly, He will exalt us. Allow the Lord to set you on a high place, so the message he has given you can be heard.

Thank You, Lord, for setting me up so others can hear. Let me never see myself as exalted, but only allow You to exalt me when I humble myself.

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