Accountability, Bible, Flesh, Judgment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender, Trials, Wickedness

SODOM AND GOMORRAH

ZEPHANIAH 2:9

“‘Therefore, as I live,’ declares the LORD of armies, the God of Israel, ‘Moab will assuredly be like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah—ground overgrown with weeds and full of salt mines, and a permanent desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them, and the remainder of My nation will inherit them.’”

Parts of our world are just plain wicked. Sex trade, drugs and prostitution are staples of these places. The darkness that exists can almost be felt on your skin. You can see the lostness in the faces of those who live there. They live with no hope. No, they don’t live. They simply exist. There is no life in them – only death.

When the Lord through Zephaniah compares Moab and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah, the audience knew exactly what he was talking about. The story of those cities is told in Genesis 19. Here are a couple of those verses. “24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.”

APPLICATION

2 Peter 2:4-10a gives us a great picture of God’s judgment and also His mercy. For the sake of space, I won’t include all of those verses here. You should take a moment and look that passage up. But the last two verses tell us what the Lord will do.

“9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from a trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt passion, and despise authority.”

We see the rescue and the judgment. God is capable of both. He rescued Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah, but He also judged the wicked in those cities. The same holds true today. God will rescue the godly. If you are living for Him and striving to live godly, God will rescue You in His perfect timing. But if you are living to please the flesh, then….

I am thankful for His Holy Spirit Who guides me each and every day. He warns me of evil. He points out those things that can lead me astray. Now, I still have to make that decision to follow His lead. He won’t force me. But I have learned to trust Him. Have you? Have you learned to lean on the Lord during those times of testing. He is there.

O Lord, it does break my heart to see those who are wandering in darkness. Help me shine the light of Christ on them.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Flesh, God's Will, Idols, Loyalty, Scripture

MY PLEASURE

ZEPHANIAH 1:5

“‘And those who bow down on the housetops to the heavenly lights, and those who bow down and swear to the LORD, but also swear by Milcom,’”

When I was in my early teen years, I worshipped pleasure. Now, I didn’t say that out loud, but my actions all pointed to that. I still attended church and even sang in the youth choir, but my heart was pledged to something else. All I desired was pleasure. I didn’t really care what the source was as long as it felt good. I did not call it a god, but it was.

The people of Judah had turned to worshipping all sorts of idols. One was worshipped on their housetops through incense. They worshipped the Sun and Moon. And they even worshipped the detestable idol of the Ammonites, Milcom (also known as Molech). This god was brought into the nation by King Solomon when he was pursuing his own way.

APPLICATION

Ask yourself whom you serve? Oh Carl, of course I serve God. I attend church every week and even put money in the offering plate. I’ve taught Sunday School for decades. That’s all well and good, but whom do you worship? For whom are you living? Is your god the God of the universe or some figure you have developed in your own mind that fits your lifestyle?

So many of us go through life thinking we are doing the “Christian thing” well. We go to church, we serve and even get baptized. We can do all those things well and still miss God by a mile. God desires complete surrender. We have to give Him our all. When we worship, it has to be all about Him. Nothing from the world can make our worship better. We have to be centered on Him and bow only to His will.

I don’t like not getting my way. I’m just like most people in that regard. But I have learned to yield my desires to Jesus. There is pleasure in serving a holy, righteous God. There is pleasure in knowing I am pleasing Him. My pleasure senses have been transformed through His Word and His Will. Yours can be too.

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me what real pleasure is all about.

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Abuse, Bible, Darkness, Evil, Flesh, Holiness, Justice, Purity, Scripture

DEBAUCHERY

HABAKKUK 2:15

“‘Woe to him who makes his neighbor drink; to you who mix in your venom even to make your neighbors drunk, so as to look at their genitalia!’”

I have read too many case files of child abuse. Just when I thought I had heard it all, I would get another case with even darker sins exposed. Actions taken against children anger me. To see their innocence robbed of them makes me scream for justice. One day all those perpetrators will receive their just reward.

The third woe has begun, and this one is against such abuse of others. Getting others drunk in order to leer at their nakedness or even abuse them was abhorrent to God. These Chaldeans were a wicked bunch of people and used their power over their enemies to abuse them.

APPLICATION

You are probably not going to carry out such actions on another person. At least I hope you wouldn’t. But we can be just as sinful in our minds. Jesus told us to even look at a woman with lust in our hearts is a sin. That goes for women looking at men as well. You may not be getting them drunk and abusing them, but you are sinning against them just as much.

How do you protect yourself from such base desires of the flesh? By filling your mind with His Word. The more of His Word we have memorized and studied, the more weapons we have to fight off those evil desires of the heart. It takes discipline and effort to memorize Scripture, but the payoff is one hundred fold.

Why don’t you make a plan to start memorizing one verse a week? That’s not hard to do if you are determined to do it. There are many tools you can use, including some pretty, cool Bible apps to help. As you begin to do this, you will find those impure thoughts become less and less because your mind is flooded with pure things. Give it a try.

Fill my mind with Your Words, O Lord. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight.

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Affliction, Bible, Death, Flesh, Rapture, Scripture, Sin

INCURABLE

NAHUM 3:19

“There is no relief for your collapse, your wound is incurable. All who hear about you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom has your evil not come continually?”

I have an incurable disease. I have shared that on this blog in the past. It’s called Amyloidosis, technically it’s called Primary AL Systemic Amyloidosis, not that that matters. I have gone through two stem cell transplants and will face another unless one of three things happen. 1) Jesus comes back before I die, 2) I die before a cure is found or 3) a cure is found. Guess which one I am hoping for. That’s right – number 1.

Nahum closes out his letter addressing the king of Nineveh. He wants him to know for certain that there is no returning to his kingdom. It’s gone. It’s finished. All his enemies will rejoice at his fall because of the horror he had inflicted on them in the past. Judgment has come, and he has been found wanting.

APPLICATION

We all have an incurable disease. It’s called the flesh. We are born sinners and to our flesh we will succumb. We have no hope of redeeming ourselves. Look up Romans 6:23 if you want proof. Read the first part of that verse. We are destined for a fiery judgment unless… That’s right; there is hope in One.

The cure for our fleshly disease of sin is Jesus. He came to give us life. He came to perform a life-giving act by dying for us on the cross. The second half of Romans 6:23 gives us the good news. He is a free gift. All we have to do is accept it. Sadly, millions die every year refusing that gift.

I pray you have accepted that gift. I pray you know Jesus as your Savior. If you haven’t, you can today. Simply admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believe Jesus died and rose again. Confess him as Lord and you shall be saved. Glory be to God! He is the cure!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Adultery, Bible, Cleansing, Devil, Flesh, Guilt, Judgment, Scripture, Sin

THE LUST OF THE FLESH

NAHUM 3:4

All because of the many sexual acts of the prostitute, the charming one, the mistress of sorceries, who sells nations by her sexual acts, and families by her sorceries.”

When I traveled the roads of Florida, I was very aware of a string of billboards that littered the landscape. They were advertisements for truck stops that featured nude dancing girls. The pictures of the young ladies were plastered all over those billboards. I always had this thought – they are someone’s little girls. What happened?

It was the same thing that happened in Nineveh. The lust of the flesh is as strong now as it was then. Nineveh was knee deep in sorcery and temple prostitutes. The flesh reigned as king (and queen). Hedonistic behavior was what ruled the day. But now their judgment was upon them. Nahum says it was “because of the many sexual acts of the prostitute.” Moses’ words to Reuben and Gad in Numbers 32:23 ring in my ears – you may be sure your sins will find you out.

APPLICATION

Another passage is appropriate here – this time from the New Testament. 1 John 2:15-17 says “15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.”

The world is still enticing us with its lusts. The pornography industry is making billions of dollars a year off of the depraved minds of its customers. Satan is having a heyday. He loves keeping us in the sewer.

But let me tell you something. There is hope. God’s Word can transform your mind. It can cleanse all those evil, wicked thoughts from your mind and give you a fresh start. If you are struggling with pornography and/or a lifestyle of the flesh, come to Jesus. Let Him wash you completely.

O Father, thank You for setting me free from the lust of the flesh. Thank You for cleansing my mind with Your Word.

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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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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Fasting, Flesh, Forgiveness, God's Will, Hearing, Humility, Salvation, Scripture

PROCLAIM THE FAST

JONAH 3:5

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.”

When is the last time you have fasted? For most people, this is a rare thing. We either don’t think about it or we don’t believe in it. I have to admit that I don’t fast regularly. Usually, I fast for a specific reason. I want to hear from God about something. I really should make it a regular thing in my life. Will you pray for me that I would do that?

The people of Nineveh believed in God because they heard Jonah’s message. He told them their city was going to be overthrown in 40 days. That would wake you up. They repented, which is evident by the fasting and the sackcloth. They humbled themselves before a holy God seeking forgiveness. Would God forgive them or not? We’ll get to that in a few days.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t just about going without food. It is much more than that. It is humbling yourself. It is making a sacrifice. It is denying yourself of physical things in order to receive spiritual things. What do I mean by that?

When you fast, your mind becomes clearer. The initial hunger pains remind you to pray. As you deny yourself food and concentrate on the Lord, those pains subside. Don’t get me wrong. You still get hungry, but now you know why you are doing this. God is speaking.

I really can’t fully explain the spiritual benefits of fasting. It is something you have to experience yourself. If you are able physically to fast, let me encourage you to do that. As you humble yourself, the Lord will speak. His voice will come through. Now, fasting isn’t required to hear God’s voice, but it clears the path. Give it a try. It’s easier than wearing sackcloth, lol.

I deny myself in order to hear You clearly, O Lord. I do want to hear You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Confession, Consequences, Deception, Discipline, Evil, Flesh, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Perversion, Scripture, Sin

PERVERSION

AMOS 2:7

“‘These who trample the head of the helpless to the dust of the earth also divert the way of the humble; and a man and his father resort to the same girl so as to profane My holy name.’”

Sin by any other name is still sin. I know I have called my sins things like “my rights” or “just my personality.” Listen, anything that goes against what the Lord commands is sin, plain and simple. Anything that seeks my will over His is sin. Anything that belittles another is sin. I could go on, but you get the picture. We call our sins other things to disguise them and feel better about them.

All the things mentioned in verse 7 today were sins against a holy God. The rich were trampling the helpless for the dust they had put on their heads in mourning. They were diverting the meek and humble away from God. A father was marrying his son’s widow and vice versa. And father and son were perhaps visiting the same temple prostitute. All abominations in the eyes of God. But Israel was blind to them.

APPLICATION

What perversions do you have in your life right now? Most of us would quickly deny we had any perversions. Those are only the gross sins, right? Wrong. Any sin against God is perverse. They all go against His holiness. So, let me ask you that question another way. What sin(s) do you have right now that God would see as against His holiness? Now, that changes everything, doesn’t it?

I want to encourage you to confess those “perversions” right now. Ask the Lord to reveal to your eyes the sins you have not confessed to Him. Take the time to evaluate your lifestyle. Are there things you are doing on a daily basis that bring your faith into question? Are you compromising your testimony to achieve something? The Lord will show you what you need to confess, if you will just ask.

Staying “confessed up” is the key for me. The Holy Spirit is quick to convict me. If He’s too busy, my wife is always available. Lol. Seriously though, I am thankful for a wife that will not hesitate to call me out on my sin. That’s special. I love her for it. I pray you have someone in your life who will do the same. If not, find someone.

Your conviction in my life is precious, O Lord. I want You to keep my accountable for my sin.

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Abiding, Bible, Commands, Darkness, Direction, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Light, Scripture

LOSS OF LIGHT

JOEL 3:15

The sun and moon have become dark, and the stars have lost their brightness.

I was in my hunting blind one morning recently very early. It was a cloudy morning, so there was no moonlight or stars shining. As I sat there in the pitch black, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. You could almost feel the darkness. And I thought to myself how trying it must be to be blind and not be able to see. My vision improved with the sunrise. For that I was thankful.

But in this scene which Joel describes, it’s a little different. Sure, the sun and moon will lose their light, and the stars will lose their brightness. But is that because it will be dark, like when Christ was crucified or because the light of God will be so bright that all other lights will be gone? One can speculate which it will be. The point is things will be very different on this day of the Lord.

APPLICATION

In the meantime, we are supposed to be shining our light. As believers, the light of Christ dwells within us. We are not supposed to hide it. Don’t you love that children’s song, This Little Light of Mine? We don’t hide it under a bushel. We don’t let Satan blow it out. We hold it high for the world to see.

Where is your light? Are you drawing others to Christ by your light? Our lights should be doing that. We should also be leading others with our light as we all walk down the path together. Together our lights are brighter. As followers of Christ, we should never have a loss of light. Why? Because He is the source. His light can never be distinguished. Praise the Lord.

I will have to admit that sometimes my light is not as bright as it should be. I let my flesh get in the way, and it dims my light. That’s my fault. That has nothing to do with the source. I confess that as sin. I truly want my light to shine so brightly that the sun, moon and stars seem dim in comparison. How about you?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

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Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Cleansing, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Forgiveness, Grace, Hell, Judgment, Punishment, Salvation, Scripture

YOUR JUST DESSERTS

JOEL 3:7

behold, I am going to stir them up from the place where you have sold them, and return your retribution on your head.

Sometimes people get just what they deserve. You may have heard that expression, “just desserts.” It means to get what’s coming to you. Now, to be honest, my flesh loves to see that happen. But I know Christ in me desires for others to repent and avoid the punishment of sin – kind of like Nineveh did when they heard Jonah’s message.

However, right here in Joel 3:7, God is telling the nations that they are going to receive the consequences for their sins. They have done evil to His children. Now it’s their turn to suffer for their actions. Yes, they had been used by Him to accomplish the judgment upon Judah, but they took it too far. They became haughty. God will now issue His judgment on them.

APPLICATION

So, the lesson for us is to not get too excited when we see someone else get punished for something they have done. We could just as easily be getting ours. None of us are innocent. We have all done things for which we deserved to be punished. So, we shouldn’t enjoy the punishment of others. In fact, we should do all we can to try to help them.

Of course, the ultimate punishment is the eternal judgment of God. As believers in Christ, our punishment has already been paid for by Christ. But think of the billions of people out there who are going to die and go to hell without hearing the gospel. We need to do all we can to advance the kingdom while there’s still time. What can you do today to help someone avoid their “just desserts”?

I am so thankful for my salvation. I know all the deeds I committed that earned me a place in hell. But because of the saving power of Jesus, my record was washed clean. Surely, He has cleansed me with hyssop and washed me whiter than snow. I want others to experience what I have experienced. Don’t you?

Father, I am so thankful I am not getting my just desserts when it comes to my sins. Thank You for cleansing my soul.

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