Bible, Family, Loyalty, Relationships, Scripture, Wealth, Worship

WHAT DO YOU WORSHIP?

HABAKKUK 1:16

“Therefore, they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net, because through these things their catch is large, and their food is plentiful.”

People worship stuff. There, I said it. We worship sports. We worship money. We worship prestige and fame. We have done it for centuries. Whatever we put most of our time and attention to becomes our god (notice I put a little “g” there). When will we ever learn that there is only One True God?

The Chaldeans literally worshipped their instruments of war. They would praise their swords and spears. They would claim their strength as their god. This was a common practice then and one that continued for centuries. Warriors in many countries often sacrificed to their weapons and swore allegiance to them, as if they were gods.

APPLICATION

So, this begs the question of us. What do we worship? I know you are going to be quick to say, Carl, I only worship God. Really? Then where do you spend your resources? How much time do you really give God? Do you worship Him in Spirit and in truth? John tells us to do that in John 4:24. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

I live in the South where football is King. I’m talking about American football, of course. This time of the year people spend hours engrossed in a ballgame that will be forgotten next year. But we won’t spend 30 minutes with our Lord. I know I am meddling. And I must confess that I watch football, too. But it is not my god. It can never replace that relationship.

Your god may be your family. You spend every moment thinking of and caring for your family, but you neglect your time with Jesus. There is nothing wrong with caring for your family, but we need to spend time with the One who adopted us into His family. Ask yourself today what your god is. Is it Jesus or something else?

I seek You, Lord. I want to know You more so I have to spend time with You.

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Bible, Blessing, Family, Fruit, Treasures, Wealth

YOUR TREASURE

NAHUM 2:9

“Plunder the silver, plunder the gold! For there is no end to the treasure—wealth from every kind of desirable object.”

One of my children’s favorite movies was “Goonies.” These kids in the movie are seeking a pirate treasure in the caves around their hometown. They eventually find it after fighting off some bad guys. The treasure has gold, diamonds and precious stones. They let most of the treasure go unclaimed, however, in order to make sure everyone is safe.

All the silver and gold of Nineveh is plundered by their enemies. It was a wealthy city, having conquered other nations and carried off their wealth. Well, turnabout is fair play. Now, all their wealth is being carried off. All they can do is watch. Their end has come.

APPLICATION

What is your treasure? Is it your 401K? How about your home or job? Maybe you consider your family your treasure. All these are temporal. They will not last. They may make you feel good now, but not in eternity. None of these will make a difference when you come to the end of your days.

You see, God’s view of treasure is different than the world’s. Jesus told us in Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We prioritize the wrong things too often. Jesus tells us to lay up treasures in heaven. That is only done by living according to His Word. It is done by producing fruit through godly living.

So, what treasures have you laid up in heaven? How are you serving Him today? All those treasures you lay up in heaven will be laid at His feet. That will be a glorious day. We cannot even begin to imagine. He will be glorified!

All I have laid up in heaven, Lord, is Yours. Help me keep my focus on heavenly treasures and not worldly ones.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Family, Forgiveness, Relationships, Scripture

ENEMIES WITHIN 

MICAH 7:6 

“For son disavows father, daughter rises up against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a person’s enemies are the people of his own household.” 

This is a rough verse. Family squabbles are hard on everyone. The divorce rate is just as high for Christian couples as they are for unbelievers. That’s shocking. We have the answer. Sibling rivalries rise when going through a will. In-laws are challenging at times. 

It’s as if Micah looked into the 21st century and read our headlines. Solomon said it best when he said there was nothing new under the sun. Families fought back then, and they fight now. These were dog-eat-dog days for the people back then, and families were no exception. Everyone looked out for themselves. 

APPLICATION 

So, how do we apply this verse to our lives for today? We stop the fights within! When something starts up, we go to our knees together. It is really hard to fight with someone on your knees. Prayer does change things, but we have to let it. 

Let me ask you a tough question. Does Micah 7:6 fit your family? If it does, make it right. Go to the person you are at odds with and pray. Seek forgiveness and reconciliation. I know that takes two but do your part. That’s all the Lord can ask. 

My dad and his sister did not talk for years because of a financial squabble. She was the only sister he had, but he would not even mention her name. They finally settled the problem in their later years, but it was never the same. Don’t waste time with your family over temporal issues. Make it right today. 

Father, forgive me for anything I may have done to cause a schism in my family. 

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Compassion, Covenant, Destruction, Distractions, Encouragement, Family, Flesh, Gifts, Holy Spirit, Scripture

MISPLACED COMPASSION

JONAH 4:10

“Then the LORD said, ‘You had compassion on the plant, for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.’”

As a believer, I struggle with people who have more compassion for a sea turtle nest than an unborn child. They will fight to defend that spot on the beach where the turtle will lay its eggs but demand the right to choose to end the life in the womb. Misplaced compassion, in my view.

Jonah was accused by God of a similar misplaced compassion. Jonah was more upset about the dead plant that gave him shade than the tens of thousands of lives that had been facing destruction from God. His thoughts were not on them. He was thinking more of himself.

APPLICATION

Ouch! Isn’t that the same with us? We are so self-centered that we totally ignore the needs of others. If we are believers, if we are following Christ, then we have to have our eternal eyes turned on. We have to see the world around us and do all we can to share the good news with them.

But we look out for #1. Our needs come first. Our comfort is more important. We think all of that ranks higher than the lost soul we just passed on the street. When will we stop and get our priorities right? Jesus wants us to put others ahead of ourselves. That is what He did, isn’t it?

I am guilty of doing this way too often. I get busy, even busy doing ministry, and sidestep the homeless person on the corner. I avoid eye contact with the guy begging at the intersection. I have plenty to share. I could skip a meal and give that money to a struggling single mom. Would you pray that I am more sensitive to these needs? Would you join me by meeting the needs around you?

Forgive me, Lord, of closing my eyes to the needs around me. Help me seek out someone to help each day.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

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Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

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Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Love, Scripture

LOVE YOUR BROTHER

OBADIAH 10

“Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be eliminated forever.”

I just finished a weekend with about 170 men at a conference in the hills of Tennessee. It was awesome. The one thing that was apparent was the love the guys had for each other. That love crossed cultural and racial lines. Looking around the room while these men worshipped together has to look a lot like heaven.

Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, had warred against his brother. God was not pleased with that. He had not shown love to him. Quite the contrary. When they battled, they were brutal. Their aggression toward their blood relatives was horrendous. God expects us to love our brothers.

APPLICATION

What does it mean to love your brother? It means accepting their faults and not judging them for everything. It means coming alongside them when they are down. It means coming to the rescue. It means bearing their burdens.

Who is your brother? God’s Word tells us. We have a family that is eternal. All those who are of the household of God, no matter where they live, are our brothers (and sisters). We don’t have the right to pick and choose whom we love in God’s family. We love them all.

Is there someone in the family that you need to show love to today? Give them a call. Send them a text. Let them know they are loved. I try to text at least one person a day and let them know they are loved. Try that for a week and see how you feel. You will be amazed.

Father God, thank You for loving me. Help me to love all Your children as You do.

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Abiding, Beauty, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Heaven, Inspirational, Light, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

STARS IN THE HEAVENS

AMOS 5:8

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have never studied the stars or the constellations. But there is just something about going out of town at night, finding a place with very little light and laying down to look at the stars. There are so many! I stumbled across an app for my phone recently called Skyview Lite. Now, I am not endorsing it, but it allows you to find the constellations and planets at night.

God doesn’t need an app or a telescope to find the stars and constellations. He made them. He placed each of them right where He wanted them. He is the one who set our planet in just the right spot from the sun and started its rotation. Amos says the LORD is His name. Indeed, it is.

APPLICATION

Do you realize that the Lord has placed you right where He wants also? I can look back at my years in ministry and see how He orchestrated our moves to prepare me for the next role. Just like Pleiades and Orion, we have all been placed in orbit and connected with others to form human constellations.

What do I mean by that? God placed us in our families. God placed us in our communities. God placed us in our churches. You may say, Carl, I chose where I am living and the church I am attending. Did you seek the Lord in those decisions? If you did and you followed His leading, then He placed you there.

I am thankful for where the Lord has placed me. Is it always perfect? Nope, and you know why? Because my flesh gets in the way. I truly believe if I follow the Lord, He will lead me exactly where He wants me to be, no matter what obstacles I may face. I want to be His bright star shining. Don’t you?

I praise You, Father, for Your wisdom in placing me where You want me to be. Just like the stars, I am to shine and point others to You.

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Abiding, Alone, Bible, Christ's Return, Consequences, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Healing, Home, Leading

NO HOMEPLACE

AMOS 1:15

“‘Their king will go into exile, he and his princes together,’ says the LORD.”

My family moved a lot during my ministry. In fact, my wife and children have moved five times. We know each move was directed by the Lord. The events leading up to our decision to move were not our own making. Only God could have done it. But all those moves can leave you feeling homeless. Thankfully, we have settled in Chattanooga, TN. That is our home. Now, God may move us again, but it will always be home for us.

Amos ends his prophecy against Ammon by prophesying the royal family’s exile. Do you know what that means? They would be taken out of their palaces, their homes, and placed in another country which the conquering army had defeated. Wherever they were placed, it wouldn’t be home. They will lose everything that is familiar.

APPLICATION

Have you lost your familiar place? Do you feel homeless? I want to remind you of something. If you are believer, you don’t belong here anyway. This world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and when it is time, He will take us home.

But while you are here, where do you belong? Wherever God has placed you. My wife and I tried to make everyplace we lived home. Some places were easier than others, but we really tried to make it home. Home is where your family is. Don’t be bitter or angry about where you are. Accept your placing as from God.

God has a master plan for our lives. I will never understand it this side of glory. But I trust His wisdom. I know He will never place me anywhere that is not meant to make me more like Him. The people I meet there and the experiences I have are heaven-made. God has allowed each and every interaction for a reason. The journey is exciting. Embrace it.

Father, I trust that You know what is best for me. I will go along for the journey.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Family, Judgment, Scripture

SIBLING RIVALRY

AMOS 1:11

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and stifled his compassion; his anger also tore continually, and he maintained his fury forever.’”

I had an older brother named Tim. He passed away this past July 27th. I miss him. I often think about our growing up years. Let me tell you – we definitely had sibling rivalry. We wrestled all the time. My mom would threaten us with a spanking if we didn’t stop. Even though we fought a lot, we loved each other. That’s what siblings do, right?

Edom was the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. Remember, Jacob was the father of Israel who is the target of Amos’ prophecy. God always protected that relationship, even though it was strained. He never allowed Israel to invade and take Edom’s land. But after Edom turned on their “family” God had had enough. Judgment is sometimes delayed, but never forgotten.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you have a sibling with whom you have fought and argued with? Did you leave that in childhood or has it carried over into your lives as adults? What boundaries have you set in your relationship? Rivalries lead to heartbreak. Rivalries lead to hurt feelings. Rivalries are not healthy.

So, what do we do with them? We lay them down. We pray for peace and then pursue it. Sometimes that means saying those challenging words – I’m sorry. Yep! Those words are hard to get past our front teeth, aren’t they? But once we say them, we realize they are not terminal. Try it.

I learned a lot from my older brother. Little brothers watch their older brothers to learn how to play well with others. Little brothers learn how to do a lot of stuff just by watching their older brothers. I am thankful for my older brother. He loved well. He played hard. And he loved his Lord. See you soon, Tim.

Father, thank You for putting our siblings in our lives. We may not appreciate them when we are young, but you allow us time to see how much they mean to us.

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