Advocate, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Mercy, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

FOLLOW THROUGH

JONAH 3:10

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way, then God relented of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them. So He did not do it.

Follow through is a term used in a lot of sports. In golf, it is important to follow through on your swing. That means to not stop halfway through it. In basketball, follow through is applied to your shot of the basketball. Let your arms and hands follow through. And in baseball, follow through is important as a pitcher to get the full action or speed of the ball. Follow through is important.

The people of Nineveh followed through on their acts of humility and repentance. They came to Jehovah God asking for forgiveness, and He granted it. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil way…” Their follow through of what they said they would do caused the God of the universe to relent “of the disaster which He had declared He would bring on them.” They moved the heart of God.

APPLICATION

Did you know our actions today move God’s heart? When He sees us reaching out to help someone less fortunate, it blesses Him. When He watches us serve our fellow believers in church, He is well pleased. When we give to support a missionary who is serving in some foreign country, God takes that gift and blesses that person.

We don’t do these things to get God to love us, though. That’s not what this is about. God loves us – period. We do all these things because we love Him. We obey the One we love. We want to please Him. We want to see our heavenly Father smile (I’m sure He does). Do all these things just because of all He has done for you.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t outdo or outgive God. I do and I give because I want to express my love for Him. His Son was sent to die on that cross to secure my salvation. God wanted me with Him in heaven. Isn’t that awesome? He wants you there also. If you have never asked Christ into your life to be your Lord and Savior, do that today. Let the journey begin.

Father God, I love You. That’s why I obey You. That’s why I do all that I do in Your name.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Commands, Eternity, Heaven, Hope, Refuge, Scripture

REFUGEES

OBADIAH 14

“Do not stand at the crossroads to eliminate their survivors; and do not hand over their refugees on the day of their distress.”

Man, we have all seen the flood of refugees from Ukraine these past few weeks. People are fleeing a war-ravaged land seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Poland, in particular, has welcomed hundreds of thousands. People of all ages, women, children and the elderly are leaving their homes behind to find a safe place to live.

God warned Edom to treat the refugees from Israel (their brothers) with care. They should not mistreat them in any way. They were to not hand them over to their enemies or kill any trying to escape. God cares for those seeking refuge in times of trouble.

APPLICATION

I love Psalm 62:8 which says, “Trust in the Lord, you people; pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.” We are all refugees. We have all left our earthly home to move to that heavenly abode. We seek refuge in the God of the universe. He welcomes all.

A refugee forsakes all to find a new home. They may leave behind homes, businesses, cars, boats – everything. Their hope is in that place they are headed. They are seeking somewhere to call home. We are just the same. We are seeking that home with God.

I am so thankful that my permanent residence is already prepared for me in Glory. I may have a home here on earth, but my permanent dwelling place awaits me. I will make that journey one day and never return. I am ready. Are you?

Take me home, Lord, whenever You are ready. The longer I stay here, the more I long for home.

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FALSE SECURITY

OBADIAH 3

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, the one who lives in the clefts of the rock, on the height of his dwelling place, who says in his heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’”

I love to deer hunt here in Tennessee. Methods of hunting deer vary from state to state, but here in Tennessee, people mainly hunt from deer stands on trees or in ground blinds. I like to use the tree stands, specifically my ladder stands. However, when I climb those stands to reach my perch above the ground, I always use my safety harness. I can’t risk feeling safe up there without it.

The Edomites had a false sense of security solely because of where they lived. They had built homes in the hills and had carved a city out of the sandstone. They felt they were indestructible up there, having repelled many invasions. But God is above all and can administer justice from above. As the Lord says here, “Who will bring me down to earth?”  No one.

APPLICATION

Are you “too big for your britches”? Have you developed a false sense of security? God has a way of humbling us. He wants us to know that only He can give us true security and that only in the name of Jesus. He is the only one who makes us secure eternally.

What other kind of security do you want? Financial? That can be gone in a second. Physical? Believe me, that can leave you instantly. Socially? Friends will desert you. Only Jesus can truly make you secure. His blood on Calvary was shed to secure all mankind eternally. All we have to do is turn to Him and confess our sins and proclaim Him as Lord.

I am thankful I have made that decision. Have you? If not, do that today. If you have, who do you know who needs that kind of security? Go to them today and share the most amazing story ever told. They may just respond and join us for eternity.

I know You have me in the palms of Your hands. You hold me safe and secure.

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Bible, Calling, Choices, Covenant, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Evangelism, God's Will, Heaven, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

INCLUSION

AMOS 9:12

“‘So that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the LORD who does this.”

Today we hear a lot about inclusion. No one is to be left out, even if it means lowering the standards that have been set. No one should be excluded because of their gender or sexual preference. Inclusion has become a means in which anyone can claim anything and demand entrance into any place.

Well, God was the first to introduce inclusion to the world, but He had a different definition of the word. He meant it as a means to include everyone in His salvation plan. James, at the Jerusalem council quotes this passage. He says in Acts 15:17,

“‘“SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,”’”

APPLICATION

I am so glad my heavenly Father decided His plan included the Gentiles. I am so thankful He extended His salvation to a young man in Southwest Georgia who had no clue he even needed to be saved. He gave me an eternal salvation and the promise to live with Him forever.

How about you? Have you heard His calling on your life? Have you surrendered your all to Him? He is just waiting. His plan is all inclusive (better than any all inclusive vacation you will ever experience). If you are a believer, then invite others to join you. They will not be disappointed.

Inclusion can be a good thing if we practice what God meant by it. He wants to accept everyone, as far as it relates to salvation. All can come to Him. He wants to use us to help with that. So, we have to get rid of any views that would prevent us from reaching out to a lost and dying world. Do that today.

I am thankful You included me in Your plans for mankind. I am thankful that I can be called by Your name.

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WATER HANDLER

AMOS 9:6

“The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens and has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have told you before that I am a fan of the Marvel films. I have seen most of them. But I am also a DC comic fan and have see their films. Call me nerdy, okay. I liked Aquaman when it was released a couple of years ago (Teaser – Part 2 is to be released in 2023). Aquaman, of course, rules the seas and all the creatures in it. Or does he?

Actually, according to today’s verse, God rules not only the waters of the seas but also all the waters in the heavens. He is the one who measures out the rain on the earth. He is the one who tells the waves where to stop on the seashore. Since He created them, He controls them – not Aquaman, not anyone else.

APPLICATION

The next time you see it raining, remember that God is the one who tells the heavens how much and when to rain. The next time you go to the beach or to a lake, remember it is God who gives the boundaries of that body of water. God is still involved with creation, even though it is a fallen version of the original.

How does all this apply to us today. Just as God controls the waters of heaven and earth, He still stands in control of your destiny. From the moment you were conceived, God desired for you to come to Him. We are designed to worship Him, but our fallen nature gets in the way.

I am thankful that His calling became so intense in my life on July 31, 1977 that I yielded control of my life to Him. With Him in control, my life has made so much more sense. It has not always been easy, but He is faithful. I know He will only let the waves of this life to crash so far on me.

Father, I praise You that You are in control of all things. Nothing escapes Your eyes or hands.

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STARS IN THE HEAVENS

AMOS 5:8

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have never studied the stars or the constellations. But there is just something about going out of town at night, finding a place with very little light and laying down to look at the stars. There are so many! I stumbled across an app for my phone recently called Skyview Lite. Now, I am not endorsing it, but it allows you to find the constellations and planets at night.

God doesn’t need an app or a telescope to find the stars and constellations. He made them. He placed each of them right where He wanted them. He is the one who set our planet in just the right spot from the sun and started its rotation. Amos says the LORD is His name. Indeed, it is.

APPLICATION

Do you realize that the Lord has placed you right where He wants also? I can look back at my years in ministry and see how He orchestrated our moves to prepare me for the next role. Just like Pleiades and Orion, we have all been placed in orbit and connected with others to form human constellations.

What do I mean by that? God placed us in our families. God placed us in our communities. God placed us in our churches. You may say, Carl, I chose where I am living and the church I am attending. Did you seek the Lord in those decisions? If you did and you followed His leading, then He placed you there.

I am thankful for where the Lord has placed me. Is it always perfect? Nope, and you know why? Because my flesh gets in the way. I truly believe if I follow the Lord, He will lead me exactly where He wants me to be, no matter what obstacles I may face. I want to be His bright star shining. Don’t you?

I praise You, Father, for Your wisdom in placing me where You want me to be. Just like the stars, I am to shine and point others to You.

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HOOKS

AMOS 4:2

“The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, ‘For behold, the days are coming upon you when they will take you away with meat hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.’”

I love to fish. I don’t get to do it as often as I like, but I love it. If you have ever gone fishing, you know you need hooks to catch the fish. Those hooks can be on an artificial bait or used with live bait. But you have to have hooks. And when you catch a fish, you jerk it and bring it to the boat or shore. It’s kind of a violent act, if you think about it.

In the same way, Israel was going to be snatched away. The imagery of the meat hook and the fish hook was one every Israelite could relate to. Because of their rebuke of God’s holiness, their judgment had arrived, and they would be snatched away by other nations – violently and aggressively snatched away.

APPLICATION

We face the same, if we are not children of God. At death, we will be snatched away by the evil one to an eternity of torment. But praise be to God, as children of God, we are protected. We will be snatched away, but into the loving arms of our Lord. If we are alive when He returns, God’s Word says we will be snatched away to meet Him in the air.

Unlike the snatching away that happened to the Israelites, our snatching away won’t involve sharp hooks. Sharp hooks are painful. I know from experience. I’ve had more than one hook stuck in my finger or hand. Our snatching away won’t be painful. It will be peaceful and gentle.

I am so ready to be snatched away. I look forward to our Lord’s return. But my heart aches for those who don’t have this confidence in our Lord. Their snatching will be painful. Will you join me in trying to reach as many as we can for Christ before His return? Let’s help them avoid those hooks.

Thank You Jesus for the promise of Your return and the snatching away I will experience in You.

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LONG TIME RESIDENTS

JOEL 3:20

But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem for all generations.

Since my wife and I have been married we have lived in five states. We both lived in other states before we got married. So, between us we have in lived in seven states. You can’t exactly call us longtime residents of any state. Our ministry has taken us from place to place. Each time we have tried to make it our home.

I love this verse in Joel. Judah and specifically named, Jerusalem, will be inhabited forever. And it will. When Jesus comes back and establishes a new heaven and a new earth, there will be a new Jerusalem also. That city will literally be inhabited for eternity. We will dwell there one day. Isn’t that great?

APPLICATION

What are you a resident of? Carl, I am Tennessean. I am not talking about that. Did you know that if you are a Christian, a believer and follower of Christ, your home is heaven? We are just aliens and sojourners on this earth after salvation. Our real home is heaven. We have a celestial home. We have an eternal home just waiting for us.

If that is true, why do we fight so hard to stay here? It’s kind of crazy. We put so much money in earthly things that will rot and rust. We try to live for a hundred years using every essential oil (I’m not knocking those of you who use these) and herbal remedy known to man. We take tons of prescriptions to ward off death. If you think about it, it’s crazy.

Now, hear me out. I have gone through two stem cell transplants to extend my life. Why? Because the Lord lead my wife and I down this path. We both believed this was what the Lord would have me do. But I long for my heavenly home. Don’t you? One day we will be there. I can’t wait.

Thank You, Lord, for my heavenly home. I look forward to checking out my new digs one day.

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DECISIONS

JOEL 3:14

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

I have mentioned in this blog site several times that I worked over thirty years in the child welfare field. Most of those years were spent in administration. In those roles I had to supervise staff as well as deal with the children in crisis. Decisions were a daily thing, and sometimes those decisions had to be made quickly and decisively. I didn’t have time to mull it over. Thank the Lord, most of the time I decided correctly.

Here we are in Joel 3:14 at “the valley of decision.” The Hebrew word for “decision” can mean sharp-pointed or strict decision. Of course, Joel says this is “the day of the Lord” which refers to a day of judgment. Also, the word “multitude” has an interesting meaning. It can mean murmur or roar. You can almost hear the crowds of nations gathered around. It was literally a sea of humanity.

APPLICATION

Have you made the most important decision of your life? There is no bigger one than asking Jesus to be your Savior. This decision will not only change your life. It will also change your eternity. Before making that decision, your eternity was set. You were doomed to an eternal hell with no hope, separated from God. But once you make that decision, your new eternity rests in glory, the dwelling place of God.

How many people do you know right now will be facing the “day of the Lord” without that hope of glory? Judgment day is a certain thing. And God’s judgment on that day will be like some of my decisions I had to make – swift and decisive. The difference between His judgment and my decisions is His is always right. He always judges correctly.

Aren’t you glad you know Him? If you do, the day of the Lord holds no fear for you. Your destiny is safely in the hands of Jesus, literally. The scars in Jesus’ hands points to the fact of His death and sacrifice for you. Don’t you want to share that with someone else? Do that today.

I am so thankful, Lord, that judgment day holds no fear for me. I am confident of my place in heaven.

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HORRIBLE OFFENSES

JOEL 3:3

“They have also cast lots for My people, traded a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine so that they may drink. 

The illegal sex trade of boys and girls is rampant in many parts of the world. It’s hard to believe that people could be so cold-hearted to sell little boys and girls into the sex trade. Having worked now over 42 years with children and youth, it especially breaks my heart. Only the Lord can change the heart of these sex traders.

This was one of the offenses of the nations God is judging. Not only did they defeat the Judeans, but they would trade or sell the children for anything. Here in this verse it says “a boy for a prostitute” and “a girl for wine.” How callous! How demeaning. The Lord did not overlook that. He held them responsible for these heinous crimes against humanity.

APPLICATION

We may not be committing such offenses against the Lord, but our sins are just as bad in the eyes of a holy God. I have often described our sins this way. Pretend you are flying over a city on a clear day. You can look down and see all the buildings below. From your altitude you can’t tell the height of the individual buildings. They may be one story or thirty. All you can see is the roof top.

Similarly, our sins in the eyes of God all look the same. They all end with the same result – separation from God. As a believer in Christ, those sins are forgiven but still need to be confessed. If you are an unbeliever, you need to come to Christ for salvation because any of those sins can keep you away from spending eternity with Jesus. Sin is sin – period.

I am so thankful my sins are forgiven. I try each day to live in such a way to honor my Lord. I don’t want my sins to come between me and my Savior. Daily confession for me is the key. I come before Him daily to cleanse my soul of any sins I may have committed that day. I don’t want any barriers in my line of communication with Jesus. Won’t you try that?

Thank You, Lord, for keeping my sins forgiven as I come to You daily. I know they were forgiven at the cross, but You desire for me to come to You to confess them. I will do that.

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