Abiding, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Confidence, Courage, Covenant, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Idols

ABANDONMENT

JONAH 2:8

“‘Those who are followers of worthless idols abandon their faithfulness,’”

I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. In all those years, I saw a lot of children who had been abandoned. Abandonment is not a pretty thing. The feelings of loss and neglect are awful. Those who abandon are thinking only of themselves and not the lives they are affecting.

Jonah draws this analogy in referring to those who have abandoned their faith in favor of worthless idols. Those idols (or really those who peddled them) offered sensual or physical pleasures as part of their worship. The people’s hedonistic tendencies led them to choose those idols over true worship. They walked away from God. They abandoned their faith.

APPLICATION

Have you abandoned your faith? Have you tried to find something else to meet your needs? There is nothing else. Just like Jonah said, those things are “worthless.” They have no true meaning, no eternal purpose. They promise all sorts of things but never deliver. They only enslave.

If you have left your faith or it is weaker than it used to be, return to Him now. He will never abandon you. He will always be there. His love is eternal. His support of you will never end. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

So, is your heart completely His? If it is, He promises to “strongly support” you. There is no reason to abandon your faith. If you are struggling right now, turn to Jesus. He can carry you through. I pray you will stay close to Him. Do not abandon!

I will stay with You, O Lord. I know You will never abandon me.

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Advice, Advocate, Asking, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Scripture, Wisdom

GOD, YOU’RE RIGHT

JONAH 1:14

“Then they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life, and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, LORD, have done as You pleased.’”

Many times in our lives we wrestle with a decision, so we cry out to God. Psalm 118:5 comes to mind. “From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” This Psalmist understood where to go. We should learn a lesson from this. Cry out to Him.

The sailors had tried everything to not do what Jonah told them to do to him (throw him into the sea). Now, they have been driven to Jehovah God to beg forgiveness for the action that was about to take place. God used a raging sea to draw these men to Him. These pagan sailors were about to see God in action.

APPLICATION

Don’t wait until you are knee deep in life’s cesspool before you cry out to God. He sent His Son Jesus to rescue you from all that. We must have the wisdom to pursue our God in all circumstances. That wisdom only comes through the reading and studying of God’s Word.

That Word must transform your mind so the first thing you think about when you are going through that hard time is the Word. What would the Word say do? What verse comes to mind? A friend of mine says, “Scripture memory gives the Holy Spirit a vocabulary to speak to us personally at any time or place. Since the Lord can use scripture we have put to memory, we can trust His communication with us.”

I am thankful for the scriptures I have memorized. They serve me well when I am in distress, or I encounter someone else in distress. That happened yesterday and I was able to share God’s Word with them without even opening a Bible. I had it stored in my heart and mind. Will you spend some time today memorizing a passage?

Thank You, Lord, for the Word. Thank You for using all those authors over all those years to tell Your story.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Testimony, Witnessing

SPILL THE BEANS

JONAH 1:8

“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, now! On whose account has this catastrophe struck us? What is your occupation, and where do you come from? What is your country, and from what people are you?’”

Have you ever been asked to “spill the beans”? We are often asked to share information about someone or something, revealing something that was unknown to the asker. But did you ever stop to think about where that phrase came from? It probably originated from the ancient Greek process of voting. Votes were cast by using two different colored beans. After all had voted, the beans were spilled out to reveal the outcome.

The beans had been spilled. Jonah had been chosen by lots. Now the questions began. The sailors wanted to know what Jonah was doing and why his God was so upset with him. Remember, up to this time, they probably didn’t know exactly who God was. They were soon going to find out.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were grilled with questions about something? It’s bad when you get those questions and don’t have the answers. It’s even harder when you have the answers but aren’t sure how to give them. Kind of like being in between a rock and a hard place.

Let me encourage you to share the truth, no matter the consequences. If you are asked to “spill the beans” about why you are the way you are, go for it. Testify of the amazing works of the Spirit in your life. Tell them about God’s saving power in your life. Give your testimony from salvation to the present. Spill the beans!

I try to spill the beans whenever I can. I want to tell others about the Lord. Sometimes, that is not received well. Other times it is. My job is simply to share. So is yours. Will you help me spill the beans more and more to a lost and dying world?

Lord God, You have commanded me to share the good news to the poor. Give me the opportunities to do that.

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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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Abuse, Bible, Covenant, Faithfulness, Promises

A HOLY PLACE

OBADIAH 17

“But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their property.”

Do you ever feel alone? Do you feel forgotten? I have heard of parents who forgot a child somewhere, only to discover they weren’t with them when they got home. That child could easily feel less valued. Perhaps they were thinking mom or dad didn’t want them anymore. All the situations I am personally aware of turned out okay and the kids were safe. But it can scare a kid.

Even after all the desecration and destruction that took place in Jerusalem, God says it will be holy. A remnant shall possess it. God did not forget about His holy nation. Yes, they rebelled against Him which justified their discipline and exile. But He did not forget about His covenant.

APPLICATION

God has not forgotten you. He loves you. Even when you feel alone, He’s still there. God often allows us to go through times like that to show us just how much He loves us. Perhaps you feel all your friends have left you. There is no one to help. God may be preserving you during this time to maintain a remnant.

Carl, that doesn’t make any sense. Why would God do that? Because God never breaks His covenant with His children. Did you know that? He hasn’t forgotten where you are. He needs you to remain faithful. You are the one He has chosen to remain. You are the seed of the promise.

I know I can rely on His promise. He has great plans for me. I know that. I believe that. My problem is me. I want what I want when I want it. That’s not how God works. He gives us what we need when we need it. He’s never late. He’s always on time. So, don’t fret if you feel alone. He’s got a plan.

Father, when I am all alone, You are there. You know exactly how I am feeling, and You love me through it.

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Abiding, Advocate, Agreement, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Covenant, Discipline, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Goodness, Home, Reward

NO MORE

AMOS 9:15

“‘I will also plant them on their land, and they will not be uprooted again from their land which I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.

I worked over 30 years with children in the foster care system. Most of these children were removed from their homes due to their parents, not due to anything they had done. Some of the children, however, were placed with us because of their behavior. I had the joy on several occasions to see these families restored. Seeing these children go home made our hard work with them so worth it. Our prayer was always that they would remain with their parents.

God removed Israel from the Promised Land for repeated unrepentance and rebellion. He had to discipline His children. But now He is telling them He would bring them back home to never leave again. That land was theirs. He had promised it and meant for them to keep it. What great news! What a great way to end this book.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Have you wandered from home? Are you far away from the Master? Maybe you are like that prodigal son who found himself in a pig pen instead of at home with his father. Wherever you are today, stop and take notice. Ask yourself if you are residing with Jesus.

Your physical location is of less importance than your spiritual location. What do I mean by that? You can be in the pit but free in Him. You could be going through the valley of the shadow of death but walking unafraid because of your reliance on the King. The Lord wants us to feel safe. He wants us home.

I can only speak for myself, but I find myself sometimes feeling like I’ve moved to a foreign country spiritually. I go through dry spells and struggle to pray. But when I persevere and stay in the Word, God brings me home. I had always been secure. I just needed reminding whose I am. How about you?

Lord of my life, lead me home. I want to dwell with You in Your Promised Land.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Redemption, Rescue, Scripture

RETURN TO FORTUNES

AMOS 9:14

“I will also restore the fortunes of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the desolated cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine and make gardens and eat their fruit.”

I can’t begin to imagine being ripped from my home and sent off to a foreign land with no hope of escape. The horrors of war are all around us. We are all watching the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are all heartbroken at the scenes of children crossing a border into a country that is not their home. What do we do?

Israel had been removed from their land. Now God is promising to restore them after they have been through this trial. The Hebrew text for “I will restore the fortunes” literally could be translated “I will bring back the captives.” So, the Lord is promising not just a return of fortunes but freedom.

APPLICATION

Beloved, listen to me. God knows where you are. He has not lost contact with you. You may feel that way, but He is completely aware of where you have been and where He is sending you. Don’t forget Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Rest in Him. Trust that He will restore you. But you must first return to Him. Repentance is required. You cannot expect a holy God to return you without movement on your part. Oh, but when you take that first step towards Him, He rushes to you to restore you.

I have made the decision too many times to trying to wait out God. Let me tell you – that doesn’t work. The eternal, timeless, ageless God literally has all the time in the world. He can outwait you. Don’t waste that precious time. Run to Him now. Enjoy your restoration.

I love You, Lord, and will quickly return to You, not for any fortunes, but to enjoy Your presence.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Fruit, Holy Spirit

SUPERABUNDANCE

AMOS 9:13

“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when the plowman will overtake the reaper, and the one who treads grapes will overtake him who sows the seed; when the mountains will drip grape juice, and all the hills will come apart.’”

Once, when I had a garden, we grew some green beans in a raised bed. The bed was about 5’x10’. That one bed produced well over 40 quarts of beans for the winter, not counting what we ate during the summer and early fall. It produced superabundantly.

Amos is describing such a scene, but even bigger. God is saying here that He is going to bless Israel so that there will be no time in between the harvest and the seed time. The crops will be so massive that they will keep right on producing right up to the time to plant the seed again. Wow! That’s not how it is supposed to happen.

APPLICATION

How are your crops? Are you producing a meager harvest or one that is overflowing? We could all use some Miracle Grow, couldn’t we? For some of us, our harvest is anemic. If we had to live on what we are producing, we would starve to death. We all need to pay more attention to our harvest.

We nourish our harvest through the watering of the Word. Only the Word can produce the fruit we long to distribute. The Word shows us how to yield ourselves to the Spirit, so His fruit overflows in our lives into the lives of others.

Don’t forget that any fruit we produce is for the benefit of others. We don’t eat our own fruit. The love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control we produce is directed toward others in the name of Jesus. It’s kind of like when I shared some of my bounty from my garden with others. The joy I received from doing that was all the payment I needed.

Thank You, Lord, for the superabundance of gifts You have given me. Direct me to those to whom I am to share.

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Abiding, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, God's Will, Judgment, Trials

SHAKEN BUT NOT STIRRED

AMOS 9:9

“For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a pebble will fall to the ground.”

One of the classic statements in the James Bond 007 movie series is when James Bond asks the bartender to make his drink. He always says, “Shaken, not stirred.” Well, for some reason when I read this verse, I thought of that. Strange, I know. But his drink had to be prepared a certain way.

God was preparing Israel for something. Certainly, they had to face the coming judgment, but God wasn’t done with them yet. He promises that not one pebble (or grain) would be lost. He would preserve the nation, even though it might mean exile into a foreign country. He would keep them safe.

APPLICATION

I once watched a woman in Liberia pound and then sift rice. She pounded the rice grain in her large pestle and then poured the crushed grain into a large, flat, wicker platter. She would shake the grain so that the chaff (the husk that had been pounded away) was blown away by the breeze. It was a fascinating thing for me to watch.

That reminded me of a passage in 2 Corinthians 9:8-9 which says, “8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed;” God’s got our backs, even when we feel He doesn’t.

I am thankful (usually after the fact) for God’s discipline. I don’t particularly enjoy that process, but I know He is making me into a better man, a better husband, a better father and grandfather. I want to be better so that I can point others to Jesus. Will you submit to the pestle and mortar of God today?

I thank You, Lord, even though the process may be painful. I am confident You are shaping me into something more like Jesus. 

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Bible, Commands, Creation, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Heaven, Obedience

WATER HANDLER

AMOS 9:6

“The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens and has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have told you before that I am a fan of the Marvel films. I have seen most of them. But I am also a DC comic fan and have see their films. Call me nerdy, okay. I liked Aquaman when it was released a couple of years ago (Teaser – Part 2 is to be released in 2023). Aquaman, of course, rules the seas and all the creatures in it. Or does he?

Actually, according to today’s verse, God rules not only the waters of the seas but also all the waters in the heavens. He is the one who measures out the rain on the earth. He is the one who tells the waves where to stop on the seashore. Since He created them, He controls them – not Aquaman, not anyone else.

APPLICATION

The next time you see it raining, remember that God is the one who tells the heavens how much and when to rain. The next time you go to the beach or to a lake, remember it is God who gives the boundaries of that body of water. God is still involved with creation, even though it is a fallen version of the original.

How does all this apply to us today. Just as God controls the waters of heaven and earth, He still stands in control of your destiny. From the moment you were conceived, God desired for you to come to Him. We are designed to worship Him, but our fallen nature gets in the way.

I am thankful that His calling became so intense in my life on July 31, 1977 that I yielded control of my life to Him. With Him in control, my life has made so much more sense. It has not always been easy, but He is faithful. I know He will only let the waves of this life to crash so far on me.

Father, I praise You that You are in control of all things. Nothing escapes Your eyes or hands.

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