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. 

Standard
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.

Standard
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. 

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Commands, Confession, Direction, Guilt, Modeling, Obedience, Sacrifice, Sanctification, Scripture

SARCASM

AMOS 4:4

“‘Enter Bethel and do wrong; in Gilgal multiply wrongdoing! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days.’”

I can get very sarcastic at times. In fact, I like sarcasm. That has gotten me in trouble more than a few times. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t be sarcastic with people who don’t understand or appreciate it. When I have done that, it caused hurt feelings and even anger a few times.

In today’s verse Amos is using a bit of sarcasm. He is telling the Israelites to keep doing the things they have been doing. They had been doing wrong. They had brought their sacrifices and tithes pretending they were doing all that God expected. Just keep on doing what you’re doing Israel.

APPLICATION

Before you start pointing fingers at Israel, are you doing the same? Do you go to church, throw some money in the plate but live like the devil all week long? God doesn’t want our tithes and offerings when we are not being obedient to Him in our daily walk. He had much rather have our obedience.

When we come before Him daily and live obediently God is so pleased. We don’t need to sneak around. God knows what we are doing all the time. Hadn’t you much rather live honestly and uprightly before your Lord? I sure do.

I have learned it is much easier to live openly than try to conceal a hidden sin. With my bad memory I am not good at concealing anything. But I know I can’t. God sees all. So, just live so that His eyes only see holiness and godliness. That’s what He desires.

Father, I praise You for seeing all. I have no reason to hide anything from You.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Blameless, Guilt, Hope, Judgment, Promises, Scripture, Submission

THE JUDGE SITS

JOEL 3:12

Let the nations be awakened and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

I have a friend who is a judge. I’ve been to his court a lot. I don’t mind going to his court because he’s my friend and I am never in trouble when I’m there. He does, however, have to sit in judgment on others. He has to hear their case and then make a decision. He’s a fair judge, but he is also a firm one.

The judge of all the nations will one day sit in judgment over all. Joel is predicting that in today’s verse. One day, Jehovah will judge every single person on whether they know His Son. Many will claim they were too busy or were confused. Excuses won’t work then. When the judge sits in judgment, truth will reign.

APPLICATION

When you face your final judgment, how do you think it’s going to go? Are you fearful of what God will find in your life? If you are a believer in Christ, judgment has already been passed on your sins. They are forgiven. If you are not a believer, you have much to fear. There is no way you will talk your way out of His perfect sentence.

But there’s no reason to even have to worry about that. All that’s required is a surrender to His will. He wants each of us to live in such a way our future is foretold. When we are walking with Christ, our future is secure. I pray you have that assurance in your life right now. If not, stop and make things right.

Way back in 1977 I gave my life to the Master. He has my back. There is nothing I can do to loosen His grip on me. When I face my Maker at judgment, all He will judge is my works. My guilt, due to my sins, has already been removed. Oh, the joy of that confidence.

Lord, I am so thankful I don’t have to fear Your judgment. My sins are forgiven at Calvary.

Standard
Bible, Brokenness, Confession, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Guilt, Judgment, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

EVERYONE COME

JOEL 2:16

“Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and the nursing infants. Have the groom come out of his room and the bride out of her bridal chamber.

Homecoming in most Baptist churches are times when everyone comes back to celebrate the founding of the church. Special guests are invited. There is usually dinner on the grounds. Now, if you’ve never experienced that before, you’ve missed out. Food galore! And that fried chicken – yum!

Joel isn’t calling everyone to a homecoming. He is calling everyone to repentance. I mean everyone. No one is to be excluded. Look at the list. It lists babies all the way up to the elders. Not even a newly married couple on the day of their marriage is to be exempt. The entire nation needs to repent.

APPLICATION

God is calling you to repent. Can you hear Him? If you are an unbeliever hearing this for the first time, take a minute and get quiet. Ask the Lord if He wants you. I guarantee He will say yes. It is His will that all be saved. Listen closely. He won’t scream it out. He will call you by name. Do you hear your name?

If you are a believer, He is calling you to return to Him or go deeper with Him. He desires a relationship with you that is more than token prayers and a few dollars in the offering plate. He desires intimacy with you. That only comes through repentance. As it says in Psalm 51, “Cleanse me with hyssop, wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”

I want that kind of relationship with my Father. In fact, I have that kind of relationship. I seek that. Do I do that as I should every day? Not hardly, but that is my desire. I’m like you – a sinful creature in need of a Savior – everyday. I know the Lord knows my heart and will hear my cries to Him.

O Lord, forgive me. Wash me and cleanse me. I want to walk with You in perfect fellowship.

Standard