Abiding, Belief, Bible, Darkness, Deception, Double-minded, Evil, Faith, Goodness, Healing, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

HATE GOOD AND LOVE EVIL

MICAH 3:2

“‘You who hate good and love evil, who tear off their skin from them and their flesh from their bones,’”

Before I came to Christ, I loved doing things that fed my fleshly desires. Honesty time – I loved drugs and alcohol. Now, I would not say I was an addict (since I quit cold turkey once I was saved), but I got high most days somehow. Why did I do that? Because just like the people Micah is talking about in today’s verse, I loved evil, or at least the pleasures it brought my flesh.

The leaders of Israel had come to the point that they loved the evil and hated the good. Why hate the good? Because it pointed out their sin. They did not want that. They tore “off their skin,” which meant they took away from the people their outer goods and protection. Then they tore off “their flesh from their bones.” That meant they destroyed the foundation of these people’s faith. They led them into evil, and the people followed as lambs to the slaughter.

APPLICATION

Have you ever noticed that people who are living in darkness are always trying to drag others along with them? They do not want people around them who are living righteously because the light of Christ will point out their sin. They scatter like cockroaches when the light is turned on when someone mentions Jesus.

We cannot let that stop us from shining the light. We have to live lives above reproach in order to draw them to Christ. We must pray for these who are bound to sin. The Lord desires that “all men be saved.” Shine the light, people.

I am so thankful that the Lord did not leave me in my sin. In the midst of my lies and fleshly lifestyle, God saved me. Have I been perfect since then? No way. I have slipped. I have sinned. But praise be to God that His Holy Spirit will not let me stay there. He convicts me and draws me back to a place of repentance and grace. Where are you today? Do you love good and hate evil or the other way around?

I am reminded, Lord, of Psalm 101:3. “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part of it.” Help me to live like that every day.

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Advice, Advocate, Bible, Choices, Double-minded, Evil, God's Will, Goodness, Knowledge

DO YOU NOT KNOW?

MICAH 3:1

“And I said, ‘Hear now, you leaders of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know justice?’”

As we grow up, we learn new things. I love to watch a toddler or preschooler learn. Everything is new to them. Little things like putting the square peg in a square hole brings delight and handclaps. As they learn more their knowledge about the world around them grows.

Micah now points his attention to the leaders of Jacob and Israel. He basically says, “You should know what is right and what is wrong! You should, by now, understand justice!” But the sins in their lives had blinded them to right and wrong. They had corrupted not only their lives but also the lives of the people.

APPLICATION

I remember telling my children as they were growing up to learn to recognize good and evil instead of what was right and what was wrong. Why? Because in today’s world what might be right for someone else could be wrong for others. But good and evil are the same everywhere.

The leaders of Israel and Judah had lost their bearings. They had forgotten the goodness of God. They had forsaken their worship and adoration of their Lord. Instead, they turned their attention to pagan idols, as if they could do anything for them. They had led their people down the road to destruction and thought nothing of it.

We are in danger of doing the same unless we recognize and embrace the justice of God. He will always judge correctly. He  knows the difference between good and evil in our hearts. He knows we are not perfect. I love Psalm 103:14 which reads, “For He Himself knows our form; He is mindful that we are nothing but dust.” He knows our frailty. That is why He gave us Jesus. Ask Him, and He will direct you as you navigate this world.

Thank You, Father, for giving me the knowledge through Your Word to know what is good and what is evil, what is right in Your eyes and what is wrong.

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Accused, Bible, Comfort, Dreams, Goodness, Holiness, Inspirational

DREAMING OF SIN

MICAH 2:1

“Woe to those who devise wrongdoing, who practice evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, because it is in the power of their hands.

I do not dream a lot. I do have a few, though, that stick in my head. I have dreamt of falling and find myself jerking awake. I have also dreamt about trips I have made. Before Christ I would dream about sinful stuff. That is the thought behind today’s verse.

The audience receiving Micah’s message were accused of even dreaming about sin, dreaming about how they could practice evil. And a first light, they would do it. Wow! They had abused a holy sanctuary of the bed with their sinful thoughts and desires. They had not allowed that place to be a place of peace and rest, but rather a place of chaos and rebellion.

APPLICATION

I have a friend who practices HWLW. That stands for His Word Last Word. He meditates on a passage of Scripture, usually one he is in the process of memorizing, right before bed. That way the last thing on his mind is the Word of God. He swears that gives him peaceful nights and dreams.

Another friend will place his memorization verse pack next to his bed. Just before he goes to sleep, he will review some verses. The Word of God is the last thing on his mind also. He wants God’s Word to permeate his life, even his sleep. I have not asked him how he sleeps, but I bet it’s good.

How are you sleeping at night? Are you having bad dreams? Try HWLW. Let God’s Word be the last thing on your mind. Often, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I will either start praying or start quoting verses in my head. Before I know it, I am back to sleep. God’s Word can be better than a sleeping pill. Put it to the test and see.

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

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Bible, Bitterness, Blessing, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Goodness, Submission

BITTERNESS

MICAH 1:12 

“For the inhabitant of Maroth waits for something good, because a disaster has come down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem.” 

Some people are just plain bitter. They don’t like anyone or anything. They seem to revel in their bitterness. When someone asks them about it, they say, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” God made me that way.” I don’t think so.  

Why do I mention bitterness? Because “Maroth” which is mentioned in today’s verse, means bitterness. So, you have bitter people expecting something good from God. They didn’t want the God who is good. They only wanted the good things. What happens? Disaster falls upon them. 

Oh, what a lesson for us today. If we walk around bitter all the time because life didn’t turn out like we thought, we cannot expect to receive God’s blessings. God is not in the business of blessing those who are not walking with Him. If we complain about not receiving God’s blessings, we can expect not to receive them. 

APPLICATION 

God is watching us and just waiting to bless us. He wants to bless us. Look around you today at the parents who are constantly giving their kids stuff regardless of their behavior. What do those kids act like? Little hellions! That’s right, I said it.  

God will not allow us to turn out that way because of His actions. Everything He does is perfect and good. He will bless you, but only as you submit to His will and His leadership. Then the blessings flow. Oh, what joy fills the heart of the Father when He blesses His children. Let go of the bitterness. 

Lord, wipe away all bitterness in my life. I want to please You and not just to get the blessings. I do it because I love you. 

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Abiding, Accountability, Attention, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Destruction, Discipline, Following, God's Will, Goodness, Mercy, Scripture

CUT WORMS

JONAH 4:7

“But God designated a worm when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered.”

I have mentioned several times in my blogs about my gardens that I have had in the past. I loved gardening, especially raised bed gardening. There is just something about planting something, watching it grow and then enjoying the harvest. I wish I had a spot to garden today. I would definitely do it again. But one thing I do not miss is those infernal cut worms. Those worms can literally cut your plants down overnight. They attack the stem and chew it right into. The next morning there is your plant, flat on the ground.

Jonah experienced that. God had appointed a plant to grow up in one day to cover Jonah. He had enjoyed the shade it provided. Then, just as quickly, it was gone. What he perceived as “deserved” was suddenly gone. Now, take note here. God has appointed a large fish, a plant and now a worm. God can truly use anything to send us a message. He commands His creation to this day.

APPLICATION

God was trying to get His message across to Jonah. He was not done yet. There is more to come. Why do you think Jonah was not receiving it? Do you think he was a little hard-headed? Sounds just like us, doesn’t it? We are no better than Jonah. We think we have it all figured out. We think we know better than God. If I was God, I would do this. Really?

Now, we may not say that out loud, but our actions speak louder than words. We ignore His precepts. We avoid godly counsel from friends. We go our own way and expect God to bless us. Well, beloved, that is not how it works. God will get our attention if He has to use a fish, plant or worm to do it.

As for me, I prefer to hear from God through His Word and through prayer. That is a lot less painful. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I want to at least go down swinging. I want my mistakes to truly be that – mistakes. I want to try to live for Him every day. I still have to deal with sin while I live in this fallen world. I know that. But I want to be able to say honestly to the Lord, “Today, I am going to follow You.” How about you?

Thank You, Father, for making my path clear. It may not be the easiest path, but it is the surest with You as my guide.

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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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Abiding, Battles, Blessing, Completeness, Consequences, Destruction, God's Will, Goodness, Harvest

FRUIT BASKET

AMOS 8:1

“This is what the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit.”

I love most fruit. I especially fresh fruit. I have been blessed to be in Uganda during pineapple season. Wow! If you’ve never eaten fresh pineapple, you have missed out. It is so sweet and juicy. Man, I want some now.

So, why did the Lord use this image to give a message to Amos. Albert Barnes says, “The sight gave an idea of completeness.” The end of the harvest had arrived. A sense of finality. That’s what Amos is implying here to Israel. They had come to their end.

APPLICATION

We will all come to our final day at some point. Only God knows when that will be. We must do all we can to prepare for that day. That preparation has to begin with our spiritual being. It belongs to God, so He draws us towards Himself. That wooing is intentional, but we have to choose to respond.

Have you done that? Don’t be like that basket of summer fruit that has reached its expiration date. All that can be done then is to throw it out. We are meant for so much more. Will you yield yourself to Jesus and allow Him to use you while you are here on this earth?

I don’t want to “spoil.” I want to be used in God’s eternal plan. There are times when I don’t do that well and other times when I do it extremely well. It all depends on my current walk with Him. That’s why it is so important to stay close to the Master. Will you do that today? Allow Him to use you.

God, You are so good to me. I don’t deserve anything You give me, but I am so thankful.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Evil, Following, God's Will, Goodness, Justice, Scripture

CLEAR COMMANDS

AMOS 5:15

“Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of armies will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

One of the things that drove me crazy working with staff in children’s homes is when they would not make their expectations clear to the children. The children would get in trouble for doing something that they had no idea they were expected to do. Clear, concise rules make things so much easier.

Here in today’s verse, we have three very clear and concise commands. Hate evil, love good and establish justice. I didn’t say these were easy, but they are clear. Obviously, the nation of Israel had not been doing that very well. Amos points out if they did, perhaps God would show grace to them.

APPLICATION

These three commands apply to us today. The first two are simple – hate evil and love good. I think we can all agree on those. Those two are common sense (at least to most people). But how about that third one – establish justice in the gate? What did that mean then and how does it apply to us know?

We must deal with sin. For too long the Israelites had overlooked and shrugged off sin. We do the same. Our society is so tolerant today that nothing is considered sin. But we must establish justice. We must call sin sin. Not in a judgmental manner, but only to point out the error of the world.

I am only made aware of sin as it is revealed to me through God’s truth. His truth is always true. His truth is always right. Anything that goes against it is sin – period. That is what keeps me straight. I want to hate evil, love good and establish justice in the gate. How about you?

Lord, keep me focused on what You say is true and right. I want to walk in Your truth.

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Bible, Blessing, Goodness, Humility, Modesty, Scripture

HOUSES

AMOS 3:15

“‘I will also strike the winter house together with the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish, and the great houses will come to an end,’ declares the LORD.”

I have several friends who have more than one house. They have their main home where they live the majority of the time. Then they have their mountain home or their beach home. Some may even have both. They have been prosperous enough to afford them. I am happy for them and have been the beneficiary of these in the past.

Amos, however, is prophesying against those in Israel who flaunted their prosperity by having their winter and summer homes. Some even had them paneled with ivory. They wanted everyone to know how wealthy they were. God said this was all going away.

APPLICATION

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having more than one home if you can afford it. Like I said earlier, I know several of my friends who do. Most of them willingly share those homes with others when they are not using them. They share their blessings with others.

But when we became puffed up and haughty about our stuff, that’s dangerous. God is not pleased with such arrogance. He may just allow a little humbling in our lives when we do that. If the Lord has blessed you, why don’t you bless someone else this Christmas season.

My family has never been wealthy. We haven’t been poor either. God has always provided. During this Christmas season, I am especially humbled at what the Lord has given me. Having just returned from Kenya, I have seen poverty and need. I am just so thankful for a God who provides for us in our times of need and allows us to bless others.

Thank You Lord for blessing me in ways I do not deserve. I pray You will show me how I can bless others.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commands, Compassion, God's Will, Goodness, Idols, Kindness, Ministry, Scripture

OTHERS’ THINGS

AMOS 2:8

“‘And on garments seized as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.’”

My dad had one rule about borrowed tools. If you borrow it, take it back. If it’s borrowed, get it back. My dad had a shop full of tools, and when he died eight years ago, they were still there. My brother, nephews, son and other family members got all the tools they wanted, and they were still tools left. That’s because of the “borrowed” tool rule. They were always in the right place.

The Lord had a command against keeping the garments of the poor that had been given as pledges of debt. Those garments were to be returned at night since they most likely were the poor’s means of keeping warm. Here the Lord rebukes them for keeping them and stretching them out at altars. They also mockingly drank the wine received as payment in their places of worship, further reveling in their idolatry.

APPLICATION

Well, I can hear us now. We don’t take other people’s clothes and wine. This doesn’t apply to us. Don’t forget that every word of God’s Word is inspired. So, it always relates to us in some manner. These Israelites saw others in need and turned their heads. They knew God’s command and still did it. Don’t we do the same? Don’t we see others who are cold and thirsty and turn our heads?

Now, I know we can’t meet the need of every person. But we can meet the need of one. It’s coming into winter here in Tennessee where I live. I see the homeless just about every day and wonder how they stay warm. I wonder if they have enough to eat or drink. And what do I do about it? Very little. I may hand out a bag of food or something, but that’s about it. Many of these I see choose to live this way. I realize that. But that doesn’t lessen my responsibility.

How about you? What can you do about it? I bet you see the same people in your town. People who just need a little help. Don’t wait on someone else to step up. Get your church involved. Ask around and get others involved. Even a little group can make an impact on one person’s life.

Thank You, Father, for blessing me to be able to bless others. Open my eyes to those around me who need a helping hand.

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