Abiding, Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Discipline, Godliness, Integrity, Purity, Scripture

SOUND THE TRUMPETS

ZEPHANIAH 1:16

“A day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and the high corner towers.”

I have never played a trumpet but have the utmost respect for those who do. One of my favorite trumpeters is Phil Driscoll. He is amazing. He’s been playing the trumpet for decades and using it to praise the Lord. If you haven’t heard him, you need to check out some of his music.

Unfortunately, Zephaniah isn’t referring to Phil Driscoll in today’s verse. Instead, he is reminding the people of the trumpets that were played in times of war. There were different trumpets and different sounds played to give signals and warnings. Now, they are going to hear God’s trumpet as He brings judgment on the land.

APPLICATION

God may not sound a trumpet to give us warnings, but we have every warning sign we need in His Word. All throughout its pages God tells us how to live and the consequences if we don’t. It would be nice if we had red lights that flashed and got buzzed with an electric current every time we came close to straying, but God gives us that infamous free will, doesn’t He?

The only way we can stay holy is to follow His Word. I love 2 Peter 1:3-4. “3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.”

So, what is our excuse? It says very clearly that He has given us everything we need to live godly lives. We want trumpets to blare and sound the warning. We want God to reach down and jerk us away from sin. We have to make the choice – the choice to live holy, to live in purity. Will you today?

Take my life, lead me Lord, take my life, lead me Lord!

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Covenant, Discipline, God's Will, Judgment, Scripture

ACCOUNTABILITY

ZEPHANIAH 1:8

“‘Then it will come about on the day of the LORD’S sacrifice that I will punish the princes, the king’s sons, and all who clothe themselves with foreign garments.’”

I have been privileged to be a leader in several Christian organizations and churches through my almost 44 years of ministry. I have served with several very good leaders. I have also had the misfortune to serve under some poor or maybe even bad leaders. What made the difference in those leaders? Accountability to God. Good leaders are not afraid of being held accountable to do the right thing.

The leaders of Judah had flirted with foreign powers. They had welcomed their idols and pagan worship. They had brought in all kinds of foreign influences which led the nation away from Yahweh. Now it is time to be held accountable. God, the maker of all creation, is now demanding they be judged for these offenses. If only they had “checked in” for often with the Lord, they may have corrected their paths.

APPLICATION

Good leaders seek out accountability. I once had a boss who really just left me alone. He trusted me to do my job, and I did it well. I finally asked him for more regular accountability. I wanted to make sure he was aware of what I was doing and that it lined up with his vision for the ministry. Bad leaders shirk accountability. Ironically, they usually hold their employees to higher level than they do themselves, though.

Let me ask you a question. You may not be a leader in an organization or church, but you will be held accountable for everything you do in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad.” Are you ready for that?

I want to encourage you today to bring it all to the table. Uncover every detail. Confess it all to Jesus. Ask Him daily for your battle plan. Let Him direct your path. Then you can be accountable to Him. Knowing that you are in His will helps make sense of life here on earth.

I want to know, Lord, how I’m doing. Tell me and direct me in Your will.

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Bible, Consequences, Discipline, Evil, God's Will, Modeling, Scripture

SCHEMERS

HABAKKUK 2:9

“‘Woe to him who makes evil profit for his household, to put his nest on high, to be saved from the hand of catastrophe!’”

Some people will stop at nothing to advance their own schemes and plans. All they care about is themselves and their family. Sometimes even the family falls prey to the schemes. It may seem they are getting away with it. They are not. They will face retribution at the hand of God one day.

God is still blasting the Chaldeans in verse 9. All those Chaldeans who are making “evil profit” will get what is coming to them. They think they are going to escape the coming catastrophe, but they won’t. God’s long reach of justice will catch up to them.

APPLICATION

There is nothing wrong with making a profit. The world economy depends on that. Businesses make profits so they can hire employees and expand their business. But to make evil profits is against all that is good. God cannot and will not bless any business or the owners who are harming others to line their own pockets.

There are hundreds of verses about money in the Bible. Do a word search for yourself. You might be amazed. God does not disapprove of us having money. He wants to bless us. Just don’t let your desire for money bring you to ruin.

I know His Word says that the love of money is the root of evil. Use it. Pursue it. Just don’t let it become your sole aim in life. Paul goes on in that passage to say those who are eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grieves (1 Timothy 6:10). Don’t be a schemer!

Father, save me from worldly lusts of money. Show me how to use it wisely and obediently.

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Accountability, Bible, Chaos, Discipline, Eternity, Order, Scripture

CHAOS AND DISORDER

NAHUM 2:4

“The chariots drive wildly in the streets, they rush around in the public squares; their appearance is like torches, they drive back and forth like lightning flashes.”

I prefer things orderly. I would not say I am obsessed by it, but I like things to be put in their place. My parents taught me that. I remember my dad had all his tools displayed on a huge peg board in his shop. Everything hung in place. If you needed something, it was easy to see. Just make sure you put it back in its place, lol.

Nahum is describing a scene of war in which nothing is in order. The chariots “drive wildly” in the streets. They drive back and forth “like lightning flashes” and “like torches.” He is picturing the assault on Nineveh and the chaos that ensued. It almost seems they are fighting without any leaders. That is never good.

APPLICATION

To whom do you look to find order and discipline? Some of us look to ourselves. We think we can do it. Some look to the military to teach them discipline. Still others depend on someone in authority to tell them exactly what to do.

All of those are acceptable sources of order, but none of them are eternal. They will all cease. There is only one source of order and discipline that will last for eternity. That is the Lord Jesus. He gave us the Holy Spirit to live inside of us. He helps guide our steps each day.

Left to my own devices, I would be a mess. I would probably drift into nothingness. I would lay around and mope. But the Holy Spirit in me gives me a purpose for living. That demands I follow His leadership which gives me order and discipline. If there is one thing the Holy Spirit is not, He is not disorderly. Will you let Him direct your steps today?

O Lord, I praise You for keeping me straight. I know I can rely on Your Holy Spirit to guide my steps.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Discipline, Faith, God's Will, Judgment, Restoration, Scripture

NO LONGER

NAHUM 1:12

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Though they are at full strength and so they are many, so also they will be cut off and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no longer.’”

I had to have a test one time to determine if my nerve endings were affected by my Amyloidosis (the disease I have). I will not go into all the details of this test, but suffice it to say, it hurt. And it took a long time. I did not think it would ever end. Finally, the technician doing the test said, “Okay, Mr. Willis, we’re done now. The test is over.” What sweet words!

Nahum is telling Israel that the one He had used to afflict them would afflict them no longer. Their time of suffering had ended. Don’t you know those were sweet words to them, as well? On top of that, the ones who had afflicted them were going to get what was coming to them.

APPLICATION

Are you in a time of affliction right now? This too shall pass. Let me encourage you to not look on your affliction as affliction. Look on it as purification. See it as a testing to make you more like Jesus as you learn to trust your Father in the midst of the storm. I do not know what you are going through. I do not know the source of your trial. But I know the One who does.

There is not a trial that has ever afflicted one person that God is not aware. Some of those trials He has brought on to bring that person to Him. Other trials He has simply allowed. All of them are meant to make us better, not bitter. It all depends on how we surrender in the midst of the affliction.

I have shared numerous times in my blogs about the afflictions I have been through physically. I will hasten to say that I do not want to repeat any of them. However, I also know that God used them all to strengthen me and make me into the image He wants to produce in me. Let Him refine you today.

O God, Redeemer of my soul, make me what You want to make me. I am clay in Your hands.

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Accountability, Bible, Devil, Discipline, Evil, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Satan, Scripture

AMBIDEXTROUS 

MICAH 7:3 

“As for evil, both hands do it well. The leader asks for a bribe, also the judge, and the great one speaks the capricious desire of his soul; so they plot it together.” 

I have known a few people in my life who were ambidextrous. That means they could do things with both hands equally well. Switch hitters in baseball have that trait. I have known artists who could draw or paint with either hand. It is a rare ability. I do good to use one hand. 

These individuals Micah is talking about were ambidextrously evil. Their whole focus was on doing what was bad. Micah calls out these leaders and judges who were doing this. One version of this verse translates the last phrase as “they wrap it up.” This evil was done purposely and with planning.  

APPLICATION 

What is (are) your hand(s) doing? Are you a one-handed or a two-handed sinner? Do you sin on purpose? Do you choose to do evil? Those are tough questions, I know. But, just as Micah called out the people, I feel I need to call us out on this. I know so many believers who choose to live in sin and think it is okay. 

Listen to me, God is still a holy and righteous God who demands obedience. He will not force us. That is not His nature. However, He will hold us accountable for our actions. I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Before we are saved, we chase sin. After we are saved, sin chases us. 

I know the old devil is going to throw his best pitches against me every day. He wants to trip me up. He wants to sideline me. I have to know what my hands are doing – good or evil. I strive to choose good every day. Am I perfect? Far from it! But I will use my hands to do good every chance I get. 

Father, forgive me when my hands do evil. Give me the strength to fight against the evil one. 

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Accountability, Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Calling, Choices, Discipline, Faithfulness, God's Will, Looking, Modeling, Scripture

ALL FOR NOTHING 

MICAH 6:15 

“‘You will sow but you will not harvest. You will tread the olive press but will not anoint yourself with oil; and tread out sweet wine, but you will not drink any wine.’” 

I have been trying to learn some more Swahili and, for the first time, some French. The app I am using has some timed lessons. If you do not finish the lesson in the time given, you have to start again. All that concentration and all that work for nothing. It can be a little frustrating. 

God told the people that all their work (sowing and treading) will be for naught. They will harvest nothing. They will not get enough oil for anointing or wine to drink. Somehow, they had to learn that all they had came from Him. Those blessings required obedience, which they had not shown. 

APPLICATION 

Are you spinning your wheels for God and getting nothing back? Well, maybe you are spinning the wrong wheels. We make the mistake all the time of “doing” for God. We think if we just stay busy He will bless us. I hate to disappoint you, but that is not how it works. What He initiates He anoints, not what you initiate. 

Now James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). God does want us to serve Him and to accomplish His plans. That requires “doing.” One person has said we have to put feet to our prayers. Just be careful to make sure you clear it with the Lord first. 

I was taught by my dad to show initiative. That is a good trait to have unless your initiative is self-driven and not God-driven. The joy of knowing that you are doing what the Lord has called you to do is so delightful. Do not spin your wheels trying to “do” for God. Stop, pray and let Him show you what it is He would have you do. 

Lord, slow me down and help me see Your grand plan for me. I want to serve where You want me to serve. 

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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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Bible, Blessing, Contentment, Coveting, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Gifts, God's Will, Greed, Inheritance, Jealousy, Modeling, Scripture, Seeking

COVETING

MICAH 2:2

“They covet fields, so they seize them; and houses, so they take them. They exploit a man and his house, a person and his inheritance.

I was sitting with my wife the other night in our family room. I looked around at our home. It’s a nice two-story townhouse with plenty of room, more than we need now. I turned to her and said, “We are so blessed, you know? Just look where we live. God has given us so many blessings.”

These people Micah is confronting with God’s message are coveters. What does that mean? It means they desired these things greatly, so much so that they stole them. They even lied and devised ways to steal a man’s inheritance, thus robbing his children as well. These were unscrupulous people.

APPLICATION

I did not tell you where I live to make you covetous, but I am sure some people would look at where I live and covet it. To be honest, I do not deserve it. God provided this home for us. As I drive around my city of Chattanooga, TN, there are many far beautiful homes than mine. I do not have a covetous bone in my body for those homes. I am content where I am and so grateful.

That is what I want you to see in today’s verse. These people were not grateful at all for what they had. They wanted more and more. Are you that way? Are you not content? Paul tells us in Philippians 4:12, “I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” That should be our heart each and every day.

O Lord, thank You for all the blessings in my life. I am content with what I have and forever grateful. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Destruction, Discipline, Following, God's Will, Goodness, Mercy, Scripture

CUT WORMS

JONAH 4:7

“But God designated a worm when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered.”

I have mentioned several times in my blogs about my gardens that I have had in the past. I loved gardening, especially raised bed gardening. There is just something about planting something, watching it grow and then enjoying the harvest. I wish I had a spot to garden today. I would definitely do it again. But one thing I do not miss is those infernal cut worms. Those worms can literally cut your plants down overnight. They attack the stem and chew it right into. The next morning there is your plant, flat on the ground.

Jonah experienced that. God had appointed a plant to grow up in one day to cover Jonah. He had enjoyed the shade it provided. Then, just as quickly, it was gone. What he perceived as “deserved” was suddenly gone. Now, take note here. God has appointed a large fish, a plant and now a worm. God can truly use anything to send us a message. He commands His creation to this day.

APPLICATION

God was trying to get His message across to Jonah. He was not done yet. There is more to come. Why do you think Jonah was not receiving it? Do you think he was a little hard-headed? Sounds just like us, doesn’t it? We are no better than Jonah. We think we have it all figured out. We think we know better than God. If I was God, I would do this. Really?

Now, we may not say that out loud, but our actions speak louder than words. We ignore His precepts. We avoid godly counsel from friends. We go our own way and expect God to bless us. Well, beloved, that is not how it works. God will get our attention if He has to use a fish, plant or worm to do it.

As for me, I prefer to hear from God through His Word and through prayer. That is a lot less painful. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I want to at least go down swinging. I want my mistakes to truly be that – mistakes. I want to try to live for Him every day. I still have to deal with sin while I live in this fallen world. I know that. But I want to be able to say honestly to the Lord, “Today, I am going to follow You.” How about you?

Thank You, Father, for making my path clear. It may not be the easiest path, but it is the surest with You as my guide.

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