Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conviction, Correction, Forgiveness, Guilt, Judgment, Messages, Scripture

GETTING PERS0NAL

ZEPHANIAH 1:4

“‘So I will stretch out My hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will eliminate the remnant of Baal from this place, and the names of the idolatrous priests along with the other priests.’”

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was complaining about people? You may actually agree with them and name a few people you have issues with. But then that person begins to name things about you that bother them. Whoa, wait a minute. Now they are getting personal. They are meddling too much, right?

I am sure those who heard Zephaniah’s message agreed with the first few verses, but now he’s getting personal. Now he is naming Judah and Jerusalem. But Zephaniah isn’t pulling any punches because he is delivering God’s message to the people. He is calling a spade a spade. Those in Judah and Jerusalem who have bowed to Baal and all those priests will be eliminated.

APPLICATION

How do you handle your Pastor’s sermons? As long as he is preaching on someone else’s sins, he’s fine. But when he starts naming yours, well…that’s a different story. How dare he get personal. How did he know about that sin? Was he watching me? Who told him about that?

I have preached a lot of sermons in my ministry, but I have never preached one pointed at one person. No one has divulged a sin of someone I needed to nail from the pulpit. But there have been numerous times when people came up to me after a message and told me how I had really spoken to them that day about their life. God’s Word will penetrate the hardest heart.

If you are a Pastor or have the ear of your Pastor, tell them to just preach the Word. Don’t get fancy with all your eloquence. Just preach the Truth. Let it convict those who hear the message and draw them to point of repentance. Our job is to simply deliver the message, like Zephaniah. It isn’t to judge.

Father, thank You for entrusting me with Your Truth. Help me deliver it faithfully.

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Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Guilt, Repentance, Scripture

A SECOND WOE

HABAKKUK 2:12

“‘Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed, and founds a town with violence!’”

Any abuse of others to further your own agenda is frowned upon by God. He not only disapproves of it, but He will punish the wrong doers. Unfortunately, in my 40+ years of ministry, I have seen this take place over and over. I have to trust that God will seek His vengeance when His time is right.

The Lord states His second woe against the Chaldeans and states that because they have built their cities large and strong on the backs of others, they will suffer His wrath at the appropriate time. We do not understand why God tarries in His judgment, but we have to be faithful during the times of testing.

APPLICATION

Are there people in your life you have wronged? Have you done them an injustice and you think you are getting away with it? Take note of today’s verse. You have time now to make amends. You can make things right. You can confess your sins and seek forgiveness.

Too many of us, myself included at times, look right past those we have hurt. We either are not aware of the pain we have caused or we are just calloused to it. Jesus tells us to go and make things right with those we have hurt before we bring our offerings to God.

Will you ask the Lord today if there is someone you need to ask for their forgiveness? Go to them and do that. Perhaps you can’t recall anyone you have harmed. Then pray for all those you know who have been harmed by others. Ask the Lord to convict the wrong doer(s) to make things right.

Father, show me my sins against anyone I have hurt unknowingly so that I can confess that and do what is right.

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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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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Confession, Destruction, God's Will, Guilt, Integrity, Judgment, Modeling, Rebuke, Scripture

IT IS YOUR FAULT 

MICAH 3:12 

“Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.” 

No one likes to be accused of something, especially if you are innocent. But what if you are guilty? You know you did it. You deserve the blame. Perhaps you have gotten “away with it” for a while, maybe even years. But now it is out. Your sin has been discovered and has cost others. 

This is exactly where the leaders of Israel and Judah find themselves. Their guilt has been exposed. God knew all the time but is just now bringing forth the charges. The judgment is falling. It cost not only them but the entire nation because the people had followed them right into destruction. 

APPLICATION 

I see two lessons here for us today. One, be careful who you follow. Too many of us are tunnel-visioned. As long as the church looks good on the outside and has all the latest and greatest programs and technology, we think they are on top of it. After all, can’t we trust someone in ministry? Just check your paper or internet stories, and you will find that not to be true. 

Secondly, we must have someone in our lives who can and will hold us accountable. When no one is watching over us, we can resort to all kinds of fleshly decisions. We make our decisions on what “feels” right instead of what God says. Oh, the danger in that. 

I am so glad I am part of a few accountability groups. I meet weekly with two groups and another once per month. I help lead a group of men through our Every Man A Warrior study which demands accountability. If you are not aware of this study, check it out at www.everymanawarrior.com. There is no better way to get a man to go deep with God and be a responsible disciple maker.  

Lord, I am so thankful for the men You have put in my life who will hold me accountable. 

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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, Accused, Bible, Blameless, Commands, Condemnation, Confession, Eternity, God's Will, Guilt, Innocent, Scripture, Testimony

CAN I GET A WITNESS?

MICAH 1:2

“Hear, you peoples, all of you; listen carefully, earth and all it contains, and may the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from His holy temple.”

I have been in a few court trials in my life. Each and every time witnesses were called up front to testify to what they saw or know about the defendant’s innocence or guilt. Each and every time they are asked to swear to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The phrase “so help you God” used to be added to that, but most courts have dropped that now.

Micah is calling for the whole world to listen and bear witness to what the Lord is about to say concerning his chosen people. They are going to be held accountable for their breach of His covenant with them. So, the Lord wants everyone to watch and listen so they will learn what happens to those who do not heed His laws and commands.

APPLICATION

I love that Hebrew word for “listen carefully.” It has the idea of pricked up ears. You know what I mean? Suppose your dog is lying across the room from you sleeping. What happens when you call their name? They raise their head, look in the direction of your voice and their ears stand up. That’s the picture here in this verse.

How do I apply this verse to my life? Easy peasy! I need to listen carefully! That’s it – I’m done, lol. Seriously, we need to prick up our ears and listen when the Lord speaks. He always speaks truth. He wants us to listen carefully so we can learn how to walk closer to Him. He does not mince words. He speaks clearly.

I can get to talking fast sometimes, especially if I am excited about something. My wife will often give me hand signals to slow down. She and I both want the people listening to hear the message clearly. I am so glad I do not have to strain to understand my Lord. He speaks my language, and He speaks distinctly. I have no problem understanding His message to me. The problem lies with me doing what He says. Will you listen to Him today?

Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me. Help me be more attentive to Your words.

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Accountability, Bible, Forgiveness, Guilt, Modeling, Scripture

SIN LEAKS

JONAH 1:10

“Then the men became extremely afraid, and they said to him, ‘How could you do this?’ For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.”

Hanging around with the wrong crowd can get you in trouble. I remember getting in trouble for a lot of things I did. Fair enough. But when I was a freshman in college, I got put on probation for my affiliation with my dorm mates. I was home visiting my parents on the weekend that caused this. But because they could not verify every person who was guilty, our entire dorm hall was put on probation. I was punished for something I didn’t even do.

These sailors were alarmed when they heard what Jonah had done. They were not only afraid. They were also mad. Jonah’s disobedience had put them in trouble. His sin had leaked. Yep, his sin had put them in danger. They weren’t running from God. However, God was using this situation to get their attention as well.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a difficult question. Has your sin leaked? Has it spread onto others? Are others suffering because of your sin? Fathers, do you think you can get away with treating your wives harshly and not affect your children? Wives, do you think you can disrespect your husband without modeling the wrong behavior to your daughters?

I could name a multitude of other sins that we commit that leak on others. Sin has consequences. Unfortunately, our sins often affect those around us, especially our families. We need to stop and confess all those right now. I’ll pause here…do that…right now.

I know I have done things in my past that influenced someone else. For that I am sorry. I have confessed those as sin. I have asked for God’s forgiveness and when possible, the forgiveness of the one I offended. We all need to do that.

O Lord, I am guilty of leaking my sin on others. Forgive me of not be obedient to You.

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Accountability, Following, Foolishness, God's Will, Guilt, Hiding, Judgment, Rebellion, Scripture

THINK I’LL GO SAILING

JONAH 1:3

“But Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship that was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and boarded it to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the LORD.”

Have you ever wanted to just run away from a situation? You couldn’t face it anymore. You had to go somewhere, anywhere else. Your present circumstances were unbearable. People were expecting too much from you. You had to have some space. You didn’t care how much it cost you, you had to get away.

Well…Jonah was faced with a situation. God had clearly told him what to do – go to Nineveh and preach His message of repentance. Not Jonah. Not this time. Sure, he loved God, but this was asking too much. The Ninevites? Are you kidding? So he gets on a boat going in the opposite direction. He wanted as much distance as he could get between himself and Nineveh.

APPLICATION

You can run, but you can’t hide. God knows where you are. Running away won’t solve the problem. When you stop, the problem is still there. You may not see it now, but it’s still right where you left it. When will we learn?

Instead of running away, run to Him. He’s waiting with open arms. He is saying, “Come child. Let me carry your burden.” Why don’t you let Him have it? He wants it. He can handle it. Don’t be like Jonah. We’ll see how that ends up in a few days.

The older I get the less I want to run. For one thing, my feet can’t do it anymore. But my spirit now doesn’t want to either. I see no benefit of running from God. I choose to run towards Him. It is a whole lot easier. Why don’t you give it a try today?

O Lord, I run to You. Take me in Your strong arms.

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Abuse, Apologies, Bible, Conceit, Condemnation, Guilt, Judgment

FLIP FLOPS

AMOS 8:6

“So as to buy the helpless for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”

I remember getting my first pair of flip flops. You know those shoes that just have a place that fits between your big toe and your second toe and is usually made of rubber. I loved those flip flops. I loved the way they sounded when you walked in them. That distinctive flip flop, flip flop could be heard all around. One thing about those shoes, though. The cheap rubber ones didn’t last very long. They weren’t worth very much.

I don’t know why, but that’s the image I got when I read this verse today. The rich and powerful people in Israel were treating the poor and needy like a cheap pair of flip flops. Use them and them throw them away. They looked down on them and really abused them. This was another reason God was judging them.

APPLICATION

I pray you would never treat someone like a cheap pair of flip flops. It’s demeaning and cruel. But people do it all the time. Even people in the church can be guilty of this. People in positions of power can take advantage of those who serve under them. Instead of shepherding them, they abuse them.

We need to see everyone through God’s eyes. He sent His Son to die for every single person we encounter. There is not a soul on planet earth who wasn’t the object of God’s love when Jesus came to save us. If God values them that much, shouldn’t we do the same.

The older I get the more I see the sins of my life. I have been guilty of looking down on others. It may be in jest to begin with, but it can rapidly become a serious thing. I have asked the Lord to forgive me for those actions in the past. Will you do the same? Ask Him to reveal your sins to you. He will and then make them right.

O Lord, my God! I beg Your forgiveness for every belittling one of Your creations. Help me see others as You see them.

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