Allegiance, Battles, Belief, Bible, Blasphemy, Darkness, Devil, Evil, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Idols, Satan, Scripture

SORCERY FORBIDDEN

MICAH 5:12

“‘I will eliminate sorceries from your hand, and you will have no fortune-tellers.’”

I will never forget the evening when I lived in Lakeland, FL when my wife and I decided to go to the local outdoor mall. It was new to Lakeland and had become a major evening and weekend destination because of the shops, restaurants and entertainment. We were walking along, and while my wife looked in one shop, I decided to step into this store that caught my attention. As I walked in, a chill ran up my spine. All I saw was occultic images and products. I ran out of that store as fast as I could. Such darkness.

This is what the Lord is cutting out of the land. No sorcery or fortune telling would be allowed. These were based in the pagan idolatry of the land, the very thing the Lord had warned the people of when they came into the Promised Land. Nothing had changed. These evil practices were still around and were now going to be purged. Evil was evil then and still is now.

APPLICATION

So many Christians today dabble in the occult, thinking it is frivolous or meaningless. Satan loves for us to believe that. I am not saying that a demon is going jump out of the Ouija board and tackle you to the ground, but the devil has a way to hook us into this stuff. Tarot cards and astrology are still listed in God’s eyes as sorcery and fortune-telling. That has not changed.

If you are into these things or have been in the past, let me urge you to put them down and confess that as sin. Renounce any allegiance you had to these items and get rid of them. Burn them if you can. Does this all sound extreme? You bet. Our battle with the forces of darkness is real and extreme. You must have your armor on and be free from any form of darkness.

Once you do that and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, He will make you very sensitive to these things. You will be able to recognize any form of idolatry. God wants you and me to walk in holiness, free from the entanglements of evil. Walking free is so much easier than dragging around a chain of darkness.

O Father, thank You for protecting me from evil. I know You have my back at all times.

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Bible, Blessing, Commands, Confidence, Courage, Exhortation, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Justice, Power, Scripture

FILLED WITH POWER 

MICAH 3:8 

“On the other hand, I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the LORD—and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, and to Israel his sin.  

I can’t help but think about Tim the Toolman Taylor. That was a character on a sitcom that was popular back in the 90’s. In fact, “Home Improvement” ran for eight seasons from 1991 to 1999. Tim was always trying to get more “power” in his tools or equipment, usually with disastrous results. That is not the power referred to here in today’s verse. 

When I looked up the Hebrew word used here, I did a double take. It said, “a lizard.” What? As I read further, I found out it was used to refer to power and strength. It is the word used to describe Samson’s secret strength in Judges 16. That “secret” has not changed. True power is from God, as Micah goes on to say, “with the Spirit of the Lord.”  

APPLICATION 

When we think about powerful people, we seldom think about godly people. We see people who control others as powerful. Their positions appear to give them power. The way they lord themselves over others gives them power, or so it seems. But is that really power? 

Micah tells us that real power is only sourced by God. It is His Spirit that indwells us. And look at what it fills us with power for – to make known “to Jacob his rebellious act and to Israel his sin.” I know what you are thinking. How can I do that? The Jacob and Israel Micah is referring to are long gone. You are right, but you can tell others. He will give you the justice and courage to do it. 

Don’t you want that kind of power? You can have it. You just have to yield to Him and let Him fill you with that power that comes through His Spirit. He promises to seal you with that Holy Spirit. It is the stamp of approval from a holy God that you are worthy of His love. 

Fill me with Your power, Lord. Send it to me so I can execute Your Will on this earth. 

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Accountability, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Godliness, Guilt, Integrity, Modeling, Scripture, Truth

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE

MICAH 2:11

“‘If someone walking after wind and falsehood had lied and said, “I will prophesy to you about wine and liquor,” he would become a prophet to this people.’”

We probably all remember the childhood rant, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” We would say that to people we caught lying about something. There is nothing good about lying. It always leads to a bad end. We find ourselves lying about the lie we just told, and then we get confused about what we said. It is a never-ending circle of lies.

These lying prophets lied for one purpose – to satisfy the ears of the people. They prophesied health and wealth. They prophesied nothing but good times. When God says they prophesied “about wine and liquor,” He is saying they are telling the people that the land will be plentiful, and they will enjoy the fruit of the vine. They found out differently.

APPLICATION

Application is always important when we look at a verse or passage of Scripture. Why else read it? Here, the application is clear. Tell the truth! Do not lie to people. Even bad news is better told than lying to cover it up. People need to know the truth, no matter how hard it might be.

But let’s think about that for a second. You also need to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) We should never use the truth to hurt someone else. Some of us remember the line from “A Few Good Men.” Jack Nicholson said to Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!” Be tender when you speak truth to others. There is never any reason to be harsh in truth telling.

I am thankful that my God is truthful. He is truth and nothing but the truth. I can always depend on Him to tell me the truth. I discover His truth from His Word. Jesus tells us, “the truth shall set us free.” (John 8:32) We all want the truth. Will you accept it today?

I am so glad You only speak truth to me, Lord. I know Your truth will remain.

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Abiding, Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Guilt, Judgment, Redemption, Scripture, Sin

SIN TRAVELS 

MICAH 1:9 

“For her wound is incurable, for it has come to Judah; it has reached the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.” 

It is unfortunate, but our sin does not just affect us. It has the nasty side effect of infecting other people. I can remember “leaking” my sin on others. Before I came to Christ, my lifestyle was not good. I led others into the same sins I was committing. For that I am forever sorry. I have spoken to most, if not all, of those individuals and asked them to forgive me. 

Israel’s sins made the journey to Judah. They were influenced by their pagan worship. They, in fact, welcomed it. So, now the punishment that was going to fall on Israel would also come upon Judah. Sin is always followed by judgment. It may not happen right away, but it will come. 

APPLICATION 

It just makes sense to not spread your sin. Better yet, just don’t sin. Right? Well, that’s easier said than done, Carl. Oh, how I know. I try every day to avoid sin, but it always seems to find me. It just jumps on me. I am like a sin magnet. My heart is to avoid it and run to God. Most of the time I am successful doing that. But there are times… 

So, when your sin travels down the road and affects someone else, what do you do? One – you ask the Lord to forgive you. Two – you ask the person you affected with your sin to forgive you. Three – you put things into place to help you avoid that situation again. 

We may not be able to avoid all sin, but we can sure do our part to put barriers in front of it. I truly believe we can live lives that honor our Lord without the guilt of sin. If we are seeking Him with all our hearts and spending time with Him each day, the Holy Spirit will lead us in godly living, not sinful behavior. What barriers do you need to build today to protect yourself from that? 

O Lord, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit convicts and guides me. Help me to listen quickly. 

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Accountability, Anger, Belief, Bible, Confession, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fellowship, Godliness, Salvation, Scripture

ANGER

JONAH 3:9

“‘Who knows, God may turn and relent, and turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.’”

I am not an angry man. I seldom get angry. It is my prayer that my anger is only shown in situations where the innocent are treated unfairly. Abortion angers me. Innocent lives are snuffed out, and that breaks my heart. But this blog is not about abortion. It is about anger.

The king of Nineveh recognized God’s burning anger against his kingdom because of their evil ways. He knew God would judge them for this unless they confessed that and turned to Him. Look what he says. He said, “Who knows, God may turn and relent…that we will not perish.” He was asking the Lord to forgive them. By his and his people’s actions, they showed their repentance.

APPLICATION

God is not angry at you. Let me get that straight. He is saddened by your sin. Before you come to Christ, the penalty for your sins is eternal damnation. The good news, though, is that Christ died for those sins. God’s anger has been quenched through the blood of His own Son. Now, He just wants you to trust Him and trust His Word.

It is much like we parents feel when our children disobey us. We did not hate our children because of this. It saddens our hearts when they disobey. We want them to obey us because they love us. We want them to obey us because they want to please us. That’s our heavenly Father. He loves seeing His children do His will.

I am so thankful that the anger of God isn’t an issue for me. I know my sins have been paid for through the blood of the Lamb. His wrath has been abated. I am free to live for Him and through Him. It is my goal each day to live in such a way to honor Him in all I do. I pray that is your goal as well. Ephesians 4:26-27 is a great passage on anger. It reads, “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil a foothold.” Live by that.

I will not be angry today, Lord. I will trust You to help me control my anger.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Choices, Confession, Consequences, Encouragement, Godliness, Hiding, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

HIGH OR LOW

AMOS 9:3

“And though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will track them down and take them from there; and though they hide themselves from My sight on the bottom of the sea, I will command the serpent from there, and it will bite them.”

How good are you at hiding? I was never really good at it. I would climb a tree or hide in the bushes, only to be spotted pretty quickly. I have known people who were good at it. They could seemingly disappear. I have to admit that I was a little jealous of them at times.

Amos continues the Lord’s words declaring that there is no place to hide from Him. This time he uses two examples that were actually attainable – Mt. Carmel and the ocean. Mt. Carmel was riddled with caves, perhaps up to 2,000. Elijah may have hidden in one of those caves. The ocean is not a good hiding place, Amos says, because of the venomous serpents that lived there. There are certainly snakes that live in the ocean that can bite you. Once again, there is no place to hide, high or low.

APPLICATION

Why are you still hiding? Why don’t you approach God right now and confess those sins that threaten to entangle you? We run and hide and pretend the problems don’t exist. We turn our heads when confronted about our sins. We don’t want to be “judged” by others.

Listen beloved, we will all be judged one day. Unbelievers will be judged and found lacking because of the absence of Christ’s blood in their lives. We believers will be judged on the works we have or have not done in the name of Christ. Judgment is sure. There is no escaping it. The difference for us who are in Christ is that our judgment won’t determine where we spend eternity. That was decided at the cross when we surrendered.

But, if you are like me, I don’t live each day surrendered to the Spirit. That’s my desire and it’s what I try to do. But there are days when I just blow it. However, I have learned to go to the throne of God quickly and confess those things. I want to live a godly life that points to Jesus. How about you?

Father, You are amazing! Nothing escapes Your eyes. You see all and know all.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Protection, Scripture, Sin

GOD KNOWS

AMOS 5:12

“For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, and turn away the poor from justice at the gate.”

I remember when I was little trying to get away with something I had done to one of my siblings. Like typical siblings, we played hard and sometimes had little “fights.” One of us would run to Mom or Dad and tell and then… Well, you know the result. It seemed our parents always knew what was going on, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Amos reminds us today that God knows our offenses and sins. They are many. And there is nothing we can do to erase those iniquities. The Israelites were guilty, and they knew it. Only Jehovah could forgive those rebellious hearts, but they had to turn to Him.

APPLICATION

God knows every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit. Think about that! He knows it before we do it. So, why doesn’t He stop us? Wouldn’t that be great? Man, if every time I am tempted God would step in and say, “Whoa, there Carl.” Well, He does!

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is constantly reminding us of our walk with Christ. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Spirit brings forth those verses to convict us before we step into that cesspool of sin. We just need to listen to Him.

I know when I am tuned in to the Spirit by meditating on the Word, I am able to avoid the sins which can so easily entangle me. When I don’t do that, I am an open target. Sin seeks me out. The devil wants to distract me and bring me down. But thanks be to God, I have the power to avoid those traps as I rely on the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Will you tune in to the Spirit today?

Lord God, I am so thankful that You have given me the power to avoid those sins that await me. And I am also thankful for the forgiveness You offer when I fail.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Fire, Godliness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Purity, Scripture

UNEXTINGUISHABLE

AMOS 5:6

“Seek the LORD so that you may live, or He will break through like a fire, house of Joseph, and it will consume with no one to extinguish it for Bethel,”

Recently, there was a wildfire that swept through parts of Colorado near to where some friends of mine live. They had to evacuate their home and flee for safety. Thankfully, their home was spared, but many homes and businesses were totally consumed. This fire was aided by over 100 mile per hour winds. It seemed it was unextinguishable, but firefighters finally got it under control.

God’s fire is unextinguishable. No one or nothing can put out His fire. Amos warns Israel that the result of not seeking after God is His fires of judgment. He will consume everything in His path. God’s fire will purify the nation of Israel. Bethel, the site of their rebellion, will be consumed.

APPLICATION

What is standing between you and your loyalty to God? We need to put those things down or risk the fires of God. As believers in Christ, our salvation is sure. Nothing can take that away. But all those things that are “wood, hay and stubble” will be burnt away.

Can you name some things right now in your life that you need to lay down? For me, it’s television. I can get lost watching a ballgame or some movie. Before I know it, I have spent 3-4 hours in front of that “one-eyed monster.” I am choosing to lay that down this year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying television is evil. But when I spend more time in front of it than I do in God’s Word, something’s wrong. Will you join me in evaluating your own life? Instead of facing the fire of judgment, let’s enjoy the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let’s let our fire burn brightly so others can be drawn to Him.

May the things in my life that prevent me from being with You, Lord, be burned away. I want to be fireproof when I face You at judgment.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Modeling

I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP

AMOS 5:2

“She has fallen, she will not rise again— the virgin Israel. She lies unnoticed on her land; there is no one to raise her up.”

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past several years, you have probably seen the commercial for a “life-saving” device. It shows an elderly person lying on the floor. They have this device around their neck, and they push a button and say “Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” They have sold millions of these devices.

Israel is going to fall. Amos is prophesying that to them. He calls her “virgin Israel.” Why? Well, when God first took her to Himself as His chosen people, she was seen as a virgin – pure and undefiled. But now, that name is used in ridicule. She has given herself to other gods and played the harlot with them. She is truly no longer the virgin Israel, and for that she will fall and not get up.

APPLICATION

We have an obligation as believers to live undefiled lives. We are called to be holy. Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” It’s that simple. Keep yourself holy.

But Carl, I can’t be holy! Yes, you can. If God tells us to do something, then we can do it. He would never ask us to do it if we couldn’t. Now, we can’t on our own. That’s for sure. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can. We may still fall, but we can push our button (the Holy Spirit) and get back up.

I hope I never need that device sold on television. I pray I will always be able to get back up once I’ve fallen. But I am thankful that no matter how hard I may fall, I have the Holy Spirit to help me get back up spiritually. Aren’t you glad for that? Give the Lord praise today.

Praise You, Lord, for picking me up when I fall. I want to walk holy before You and avoid all those traps that would bring me down.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Modeling, Relationships

LEAVEN

AMOS 4:5

“‘Offer a thanksgiving offering also from that which is leavened, and proclaim voluntary offerings, make them known. For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,’ declares the Lord GOD.”

I have been guilty of coming to the Lord with guilty hands. I went through all the motions and appeared from the outside to be doing all the right things. It’s easy to fool others in the church. As long as you attend regularly, give your offering and serve somewhere, people think you are living holy. That is not necessarily true.

Just look at the Israelites. They were offering their sacrifices and making them known. From the outside they appeared to be doing it right. But look closely. They were offering leavened bread in their sacrifices which was clearly forbidden. In Leviticus 2:11 it says, “‘No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD.’” You see, they knew that but did what was convenient to them.

APPLICATION

I am sure you have never been guilty of that. Of course not, Carl. I am always living right. Yeah, right. We all pretend, don’t we? We don’t want others knowing we are struggling in our faith. We don’t want our friends, especially at church, to know we aren’t living right.

But those are exactly the right people to turn to. If you are not in a small group right now, find one. You need people in your life to whom you can pour out your heart. We all need others in our life to hold us accountable. Doing life with others is what Christ wants for us.

My wife and I are in a small group at church with two other couples. These couples are dear friends to us. We can share just about anything with them. But there is the problem. We should be able to share everything with them. Right? Would you pray for us that we could all share everything, knowing that we have these people in our lives who love us and want what is best for us.

Thank You, Lord, that You hold me to a higher standard. I must live holy before You and offer only the best I have to You.

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