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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Bible, Boasting, Conceit, Exalting, Humility, Scripture, Stubbornness

WALKING RIGHT 

MICAH 2:3 

“Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘Behold, I am planning against this family a catastrophe from which you cannot remove your necks; and you will not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time.’” 

I have to admit something. Sometimes I can get a little haughty or arrogant. I jokingly say most mornings when I get up and look in the mirror, “Well, it happened again last night.” That’s when my wife would ask, “What happened?” I reply, “I got better looking. It’s just the Willis curse.” LOL 

The people of Israel and Judah were walking haughtily. That means to be too big for your britches (according to local Southern colloquialisms). That Hebrew word for “haughtily” only occurs right here in Micah 2:3. It comes from the Hebrew word rum which means high and lifted up. Get the picture? They were walking around with their noses up in the air. Stuck up people. 

APPLICATION 

Have you known people like that? Unfortunately, I have. They are not much fun to be around. They look down their noses at you. I have even known Christians who acted that way. That is no way for a believer to live. We have to be better than that. Remember, God said He would humble the exalted and exalt the humble. Even the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar said this about proud people. “He is able to humble those who walk in pride” (Daniel 4:37) 

I want to encourage you today to humble yourself before a holy God. Go to Him on bended knee and ask Him to show you the pride in your life. He will gladly point this out because pride (in this sense) is not the kind of character He wants to build in you. 

I said earlier that I can be proud sometimes. When I start to get puffed up, my sweet wife reminds me of who I am in Christ. The Holy Spirit kicks in and reminds me that my place in the kingdom is solely dependent on my Savior, not my abilities and genius. I want to serve as His humble servant. Will you bow with me today? 

God, forgive me when I try to exalt myself. Remind me to sit at the end of the table waiting to be asked to sit in the place of honor. 

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Advice, Bible, Boasting, Brokenness, Exalting, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

HUMBLE LEADERS

JONAH 3:6

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, removed his robe from himself, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the dust.”

I have been fortunate in my ministry to have worked for some very humble men. Humility is a trait that goes a long way with me. If someone is arrogant and too sure of themselves, I will give them plenty of room. Those traits drag me down. But being led by a humble person makes me want to emulate them. I truly admire that.

The king of Nineveh lowered himself to the same level as his people. He didn’t think himself too good to hear the message which reached his ears. The word for “word” here isn’t just referring to Jonah’s message. It is also referring to the response of the people that was reported to him. He removed his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat in the dirt. That’s humbling yourself.

APPLICATION

Are you humble? If you answered “yes,” you probably aren’t, lol. We have a choice about humility. We can humble ourselves or be humbled. I prefer the former. If I humble myself, someone else may exalt me. But if I exalt myself, I may get humbled. Jesus said the same thing when He referred to coming as a guest to a meal. He said sit at the end of the table and let the host move you up.

The question then arises. How do you show yourself humble? Putting others before yourself is one way. Serving someone less fortunate than you is another. How about keeping your mouth shut in that business meeting even when you know you have the right answer? It’s not easy being humble.

Humility is spoken of all through Scripture. Let me encourage you to do a word study on humility. Do you know what that means? Find a good concordance or go to a good website like Biblehub.com and do a search. Take some time to study those passages that speak on humility. Search your own heart and see how you measure up. We all have room to improve with humility.

O Lord, I want to be humble before You and men. Help me keep my heart broken before You.

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Bible, Commands, Distractions, Exalting, God's Will, Gospel, Hearing, Inspirational, Scripture

PROCLAIM

JONAH 3:2

“‘Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.’”

Whenever I have a sermon to prepare, I spend as much time praying about the passage as I do studying the passage. I want to make sure I am hearing from the Lord as to what He would have me say. I can come up with a sermon. That’s not a problem. But I want to speak His message, not mine.

The Hebrew text could be translated “preach to it the preaching.” In fact, the Hebrew word translated as “proclamation” is only used one time in the OT – right here. Why is that? I always wonder that. I believe the Lord wants us to take a good look at His message to Jonah. Notice how His message differed a little from the first time. “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me.” The Lord, I think, wanted Jonah to get to Nineveh and then He would reveal His message.

APPLICATION

What is the message the Lord has given you today? To whom do you need to go and proclaim it? As I write this blog, I am in Norway preparing to take part in a men’s conference. Our main speaker is always sensitive to receiving “downloads” from God. He wants to make sure what he is speaking is from Him.

Right now, he is still waiting on his luggage to get here. That’s a distraction. He is aware of that. So, we are gathering in few minutes to pray for clarity of thought and message. When we get that message from the Lord, the devil does not want us to deliver it and will do everything he can to distract us. Don’t let that happen.

Receiving God’s message is sweet. Hearing His voice and knowing it is Him is precious. But sweeter still is delivering that message and seeing people come to Christ. It is His message, not yours. It is His results, not yours.

Let me hear Your message clearly, Lord. I want to speak only Your words to others.

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Affliction, Blessing, Exalting, Praise, Thanksgiving

VOICE OF THANKSGIVING

JONAH 2:9

“‘But I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.’”

I love Thanksgiving. This U.S. holiday in November each year celebrates the Pilgrims’ settlement in the New World. They lifted their voices in praise and thanksgiving to God for sustaining them during their first year. It was a tough year, with many lost lives and food shortages. Coming out of that season, they were indeed grateful.

Jonah (still in the belly of the fish) gives thanksgiving to the Lord. He recognized his “salvation is from the LORD.” He did not know, at this time, whether he would escape his fish prison or not. Regardless, he was giving praise. And God heard it.

APPLICATION

What are you thankful for today? Family? Health? I thank God every day for six things. I thank Him for family, friends, my ministry and my health, my country and my church. I don’t just say those flippantly. I truly am thankful for each of those.

When you have a grateful heart, I believe you are more at peace with the world. You see things differently. You get a more spiritual vision of things. Thankfulness is expressed in our worship of our Lord, and that can be done anywhere. You don’t have to wait until you are in church on Sunday.

I am so thankful for all the blessings God has given me and my family. But I am also thankful for the trials God has allowed us to go through. I may not be in the belly of a fish, but I have probably felt just as low as Jonah. Through those times, just like Jonah, God drew me to Himself.

Thank You, Lord, for holding me close, even when I am pushing You away.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Exalting, Following, God's Will, Light, Scripture

OUT OF SIGHT

JONAH 2:4

“‘So I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.”’”

I was up on Lookout Mountain recently. That mountain overlooks the city of Chattanooga, where I live. It’s famous for the “Battle Above the Clouds” in the Civil War. That day I was up there was a perfect day with no clouds and nice temps. I could see the cooling towers of the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant which is about 30 miles away. My sight was not restricted. It was amazing.

Jonah feels as if now he has been cast of God’s sight. Well, I guess so. He was in the belly of a fish in the ocean. Yet Jonah says, “Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.”His vision was never clearer. His position wasn’t the issue. He had opened his eyes.

APPLICATION

Have you had your eyes checked lately? I called this week to get an appointment with my eye doctor and found out my last exam was almost two years ago. It’s no wonder my glasses don’t seem to be working like they used to. My eyes have gotten worse since my last exam, but I wasn’t aware.

We need to check our vision regularly. Now, I am not talking about our physical eyes. I am referring to our spiritual eyes. You have to have the right light (Jesus) in order to see our Lord clearly. He calls us to keep our lenses clean through washing them with the Word.

I am so glad I have a good eye doctor. But I am more thankful for my spiritual eye doctor. He makes sure I am looking at the right things and spending the time necessary sharpening my vision with my Master. How are your eyes?

Father, You have given me two eyes for a reason. I need to focus my sight on You.

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Advice, Beauty, Belief, Bible, Creation, Exalting, Glory, Inspirational

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

AMOS 8:2

“And He said, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘The end has come for My people Israel. I will not spare them any longer.’”

There are many advantages to getting older. Senior coffee and discounts, senior matinees at the theater, etc. But one disadvantage is your eyesight. Almost everyone has some loss of vision as they age. That plus two stem cell transplants (chemotherapy) have really changed my eyesight. Thank God for glasses, lol.

God wasn’t giving Amos an eye exam. He wasn’t asking him to read the letters and numbers on a chart. The Lord was giving him a message to share with Israel. He wanted to make sure Amos saw clearly what He was telling him. He wanted his hearing of the message to be reinforced by a vision.

APPLICATION

God often shows us things that we just don’t see. Take for instance, a sunrise. How many of them have you seen in your lifetime? But how often do you stop and thank God for seeing another day? God’s message to us is love. He shows us that love in so many ways, but we often fail to see it.

Let me challenge you to do something. Start taking note of “God sightings.” Those are times when you are made aware of God in something or when there is no other explanation for something. Write those down and put them in a box or jar. At the end of the year, read them. You will be amazed.

I see God in my wife, my children, my grandchildren and even in my “grandpups.” God’s creativity in forming each uniquely amazes me. Take a break and people watch. Look at all the faces God has made. It’s really unbelievable. Yet, God never stops creating. I thank God for that today. Yes, God, I see.

I praise You for eyes that can see. Help me see as You do.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Confession, Deceit, Exalting, Foreknowledge, Judgment, Scripture

FINALLY

AMOS 2:6

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they sell the righteous for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals.’”

Has anyone ever been talking to you about “someone” and you thought they were really talking about you? They were saying things like Well someone was saying the other day that I had said this. You recollect saying something, but you are not quite sure. The two of you keep talking and the truth finally comes out.

Well, that’s what just happened in Amos. He has been prophesying to Israel about all these other nations, and now has dropped the bombshell. He is really here to prophesy against Israel for all they’ve done. Can you imagine their shock when they heard him say, “for three offenses of Israel, and for four”? They probably yelled, “Now wait a minute, Amos. You were doing so good.”

APPLICATION

The point of today’s verse for me is don’t be too cruel about the sins of others because we all have plenty of our own. In fact, we do the same things the Israelites were doing. We sell the righteous for money and the need for a pair of sandals. Well, wait a minute, Carl. I’ve never done that. Well, you may have never “sold” anyone, but you may have taken advantage of someone to make yourself look better.

It’s just human nature to want to come out on top. We don’t want to be pushed down and made to look lower than others. So, we do whatever we can to look better than them. But what does the Lord want us to do? He wants us to lower ourselves, to humble ourselves. He said the last shall be first and the first shall be last. He lived humbly before others. Today find a way to do that.

I don’t like to be humbled. For me, it’s much better to humble myself. I have found when I do that and try to lift others up, then I am doing what the Lord wants. Serving others is humbling at times. At others, it is exalting. Just ask the Lord what He would have you do. I bet it will be a humbling experience for you. Father, don’t let me look on the sins of others. Let me only see my sin and the need I have to repent.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Contentment, Direction, Encouragement, Exalting, Glory, God's Will, Inspirational, Life, Modeling, Passion, Praise, Scripture, Thanksgiving

NO TIME TO PARTY

HOSEA 9:1

“Do not rejoice, Israel, with jubilation like the nations! For you have been unfaithful, abandoning your God. You have loved the earnings of unfaithfulness on every threshing floor.”

There is a time to party and a time not to party. All through my life I have experienced moments when celebrating was appropriate like after a huge victory on the football field or the birth of one of my children. But there were other times when celebrating wasn’t right like the death of a loved one or hurting someone’s feelings. You get the picture. You have to know when to party and when not to party.

Israel had everything backwards. They were celebrating the wrong things. They had embraced all the wrong festivals and religious celebrations, which meant they were worshipping the wrong thing. Those gods were no gods. There is only one God, Jehovah. But when the celebrations look inviting, you get pulled in a direction that can cost you dearly. It did Israel.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you what you are celebrating today. Now there is nothing wrong with a party. I can party with the best of them. I love a good party. We need to celebrate but only those things that bring glory to God. You see, our purpose as believers is to bring Him glory, not ourselves.

This time of the year here in the States, we are celebrating a lot of high school and college graduations. In fact, I was at a celebration last night. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s make sure in the celebration that we give Him all the credit. He is the one we need to celebrate. Last night we did that. We pointed people to Jesus and His Word.

Hey, I have an idea. Instead of waiting until Christmas, why don’t you have a Jesus celebration this week. Invite some friends over and have a party for Jesus. Celebrate what He’s done in your lives. Thank Him for saving you. Praise Him for His promises. Now, that’s a party.

Father, I praise You for rescuing me from the pit of darkness. I thank You for who You are in my life. I celebrate You today.

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Exalting, Faithfulness, Following, Humility, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Submission, Teaching

RIGHT ON TIME, JUST IN TIME

1 PETER 5:6

“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time”

My brother-in-law used to end every church service by starting a saying in which the congregation would take part. It would go like this:

Pastor: “God is good.”

Congregation: “All the time”

Pastor: “Right on time”

Congregation: “Just in time”

Pastor: Why?

All: Because that’s His nature. Whooo!

It may have just been a great way to end the service, but it holds such truth. Look at today’s verse. Peter ends it by saying “at the proper time.” That’s exactly what my brother-in-law knew and was teaching the church. God’s timing is always perfect. He is never late. He is also never early. He knows the exact time to exalt you.

APPLICATION

Do your children have a problem waiting? Are they impatient? Most children are. Have you ever made them wait for something just to teach them to wait? It’s not a bad idea. Waiting teaches us a lot. I have often said that life if full of red lights with just a few blinking green lights. We have to learn to wait.

How do you teach children to wait? Teach them by your actions. When you are waiting at a red light, instead of complaining and drumming your fingers on the steering wheel nervously, sing along with the radio or play a game with your kids in the car. “I Spy” is a great one to play. Make waiting fun.

As you wait on God, allow Him to teach you. He allows us to wait for a reason. It’s always a teaching moment. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t figured this waiting thing out either. I don’t like it. But I have learned when I listen closely in those waiting times God is whispering my name. He is lifting me up. He is exalting me.

God My Father, I will wait on You. Even when I am faced with seemingly impossible timetables, I will wait. You are faithful and always on time.

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