Accountability, Bible, Holy Spirit, Missionaries, Scripture, Service, Truth, Witnessing

SLEEPING ON THE JOB

NAHUM 3:18

“Your shepherds are sleeping, O king of Assyria; your officers are lying down. Your people are scattered on the mountains.”

I have had a couple of jobs that required me to work the night shift (10 or 11 pm until 6 or 7 am). Those shifts can be tough if you are not used to them. I was never a regular on those shifts, so it was hard to stay awake unless I stayed busy. If I sat still, I was a goner – snooze city.

Nineveh’s shepherds and officers were slumbering, according to Nahum. They were sleeping on the job. They were nowhere to be found when it came to fighting or resisting the enemy. So, the people were scattered on the mountains. They fled! There was no one to protect them.

APPLICATION

Don’t be accused of sleeping on the job when it comes to Jesus. Time is short, and we need to be spreading the word. But so many Christians are asleep when it comes to being bold with their witness. They leave all that up to the “paid” Christians. You know, the preachers or evangelists or missionaries.

Surely, God doesn’t expect every believer to be proclaiming the message of truth. Well, I don’t see Jesus singling out any one person when He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” He didn’t say, “Peter, you go!” He didn’t name anyone. It applies to us all.

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to witnessing. It has to be a conscious effort on my part. I pray each day for the Holy Spirit to open a door of opportunity with someone I cross paths with. I want to be ready at all times. Will you join me? Wake up.

Lead me, Lord, to a place each day where I can share Jesus with someone.

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Accountability, Bible, Boundaries, Devil, Enemies, Evil, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Praise, Scripture

VILE

NAHUM 1:14 

“The LORD has issued a command concerning you: ‘Your name will no longer be perpetuated. I will eliminate the carved image and the cast metal image from the house of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are contemptible.’” 

Psalm 101.3 says “I will not look on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do. I will have no part in it.” That should be our attitude towards anything that is vile. But what does that mean? It’s the last word used in today’s verse – contemptible. It means to be cursed or despised. If it is not godly, have no part in it. 

Nahum tells the Assyrians that their time was up. The Lord is going to wipe them away like crumbs from a table. “Your name will no longer be perpetuated…I will prepare your grave.” Those are pretty harsh words. God meant business. He had used them as His battering ram against Israel to judge them, but they had taken it too far. 

APPLICATION 

Today we are bombarded with the vile. All around us are worldly, ungodly things that try to lure us into a lifestyle that is abhorrent to God. Movies, television and commercials all attempt to point us toward a lifestyle that is anything but embracing a Christian viewpoint. 

So, what do we do? We cannot live outside this world – at least not yet. While we are here, we must insulate ourselves with the Word of God. Only His Word can give us the protection we need against the evil one. His flaming arrows are always trying to find their mark against us. 

I am thankful that God has given me the desire to memorize and meditate on His Word. I know my quiver is always full of His Word to defend myself. The Spirit within me is quick to point out those things that offend it. Rely on Him to guard your heart and mind in your daily battles. 

I dedicate my life to honoring You, O Father. You are worthy of my praise and allegiance. 

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Consequences, Counsel, Encouragement, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Scripture, Truth

A WICKED COUNSELOR

NAHUM 1:11

“From you has gone out one who plotted evil against the LORD, a wicked counselor.”

In our lifetimes, we are going to receive some wrong counsel. Friends who think they know best will offer advice that they are sure is the best for you. You may even receive some advice that you know is not from God because it goes against what His Word says. You have to be careful from whom you receive pearls of wisdom.

Nahum states it plainly. There is bad counsel coming from Nineveh. Listen to what Isaiah said about this in Isaiah 10:5. “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation,…” The nation God used to judge Israel thought it had done this on their own. Pride, once again, raises its ugly head.

APPLICATION

How do you know you are receiving good counsel, godly counsel? Simple, measure it against God’s Word. Does it agree with what God says? If it doesn’t, leave it alone. My rule has been if I know it’s bad, don’t do it. If I’m not sure, don’t do it. That has kept me out of a lot of tight jams.

A word of warning – people will think you are crazy for basing your decisions on an ancient book. Come on, Carl, times have changed. It’s 2022, not 1962. I don’t care if it’s 2050. God’s Word is timeless, and its truths eternal. I will never go wrong by choosing to live by it.

God’s counsel, through His Word and His Spirit, will never steer you wrong. It may not make perfect sense all the time but just trust it. It will see you through. I truly believe every problem we face in life can be solved simply by trusting His Word. Try it today.

Your Word is faithful. I will turn to it as my counsel.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Deception, Devil, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Will, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Mercy, Scripture

SELF-JUSTIFICATION

MICAH 6:2

“Listen, you mountains, to the indictment by the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth, because the LORD has a case against His people; and He will dispute with Israel.”

Boy, we love to justify our sins, don’t we? We can blame everyone and everything for sinning. I know I have done that. I sin against God by being unkind to my wife, but I blame her. I get angry or upset in traffic, but it is the other driver’s fault. We just cannot take the blame ourselves, can we?

This “case” God has against His people is exactly that. He is basically asking them what He has done to cause their sinful behavior. They see His goodness yet respond with rebellion. I am reminded of Jesus’ response in John 10:32. “Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’”

APPLICATION

What excuses are you giving God right now for your sins. You say, What sins, Carl? I am not a bad person. Well, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). You cannot blame God or anyone else for your sin. Well, the devil made me do it. Nope, not true. He may have offered up that morsel, but you gobbled it down.

We have no one to blame for our sins but ourselves. Our flesh is so wicked. If it is left unchecked, it will wreck our world before and after we are saved. When you come to Christ and accept Him, He cleanses you of all your sins. But He does not take away that propensity in our flesh to sin. That has to be dealt with by our submission to the Holy Spirit daily.

Until we reach glory, sin will be an issue. I attended a funeral of a dear friend recently. His life was put on display at the service. His son spoke and shared what a godly influence his dad had on his life. But that man was prone to sin even up to the point of death. When his spirit was taken to glory, he began his sinless perfection in Christ. Glory, hallelujah! Praise be to Jesus. One day we will have the same. Until then, live holy lives.

Father, help me live each day abhorring what is evil and clinging to what is holy.

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Abiding, Advocate, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Covenant, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Power, Relationships, Scripture

NOT BY MY MIGHT

MICAH 5:13

“‘I will eliminate your carved images and your memorial stones from among you, so that you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands.’”

I loved my dad. He could fix just about anything. I learned so much from him about that kind of stuff. I watched and learned. He involved my brother and I in the projects so we could learn to do it ourselves one day. But when he started having some heart issues and was struggling with my mom’s health, he came to the end of his rope and finally admitted to God that he “could not fix this.” Then he gave his heart to Christ at 80 years old.

God is saying in verse 13 that there was nothing they had created by the works of their hands that could save them. Those carved images of wood and stone would not do anything to help them. Those memorial stones they had set up meant nothing. Only their faith and belief in Him mattered. They had to return to Him.

APPLICATION

Well, this application is pretty much in your face, right? What are you trying to prove to God by continuing to try to do it all on your own? I know people who have said, “I do not need your God. I am fine on my own.” That may sound noble, but it is really foolish. Self-reliance leads to self-destruction.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of armies.’” That is the key right there. It is only by the leading of the Holy Spirit that we can accomplish anything. Isaiah said something similar in 26:12. “…all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” It has never been about what we can do for God. It is only about what He can do in and through us.

I am thankful that God broke me of my self-reliance years ago. Going through two stem cell transplants will cause you to rely on others and especially Him. I could do nothing. I was weak physically, spiritually and emotionally during those times. But He showed me His strength. Do you know that today?

O Father of heaven and earth, You care enough for me to invest Your time and Spirit in me. You have made me Your own.

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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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Abuse, Accused, Advocate, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Devil, Distress, Encouragement, Enemies, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE 

MICAH 5:9 

“Your hand will be lifted up against your adversaries, and all your enemies will be eliminated.” 

The title today is a saying I have heard all my life. Do you recognize it? Picture a tight squeeze that will not let up. You feel pressed from all sides. There is no relief. You do not know how much longer you can go on. Your body is crying out for the pressure to ease up. 

That is the word used here today for “adversaries.” In the Hebrew it means a tight squeeze. In other words, that is the feeling you get when you face adversaries. Of course, Micah tells the people here that their hands will be raised up against those adversaries and they will eliminate or destroy them. Whew! Relief! 

APPLICATION 

I am reminded of 1 Peter 5:8. “Be of sober spirit, keep on the alert, for your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” This adversary is relentless. He never gives up. He is relentless in his pursuit of us. He wants to destroy us. 

I was sharing with a dear brother recently that very fact. He was very aware of it and had been feeling the teeth of this ravaging spirit. Our defense? The Word of God, just like Jesus. We must answer the devil charge after charge with the Word. It is our Sword of the Spirit. 

Most days I am successful at warding off this adversary. I am prayed up and read up. But there are other days when I let my guard down for just a milli-second. In He swoops with fangs exposed going for my jugular. That Is why we all must be of sober spirit and on the alert. We do have victory over our adversaries when we are clinging to Jesus. 

O God, my Savior, I cling to You. I know only through You can I walk in victory each day. 

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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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Altars, Bible, Darkness, Evil, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Idols, Modeling, Scripture

IN THE MIDST OF EVIL

MICAH 3:3

“Who eat the flesh of my people, strip off their skin from them, smash their bones, and chop them up as for the pot, and as meat in a cauldron!”

I have experienced evil in my lifetime – pure evil. It is not a comfortable feeling. I remember many years ago, back in 1985, I had the opportunity to visit Liberia on a mission trip with a couple of friends. We went to several villages with the local missionary to do medical missions and share the Gospel. One village we approached had this huge cottonwood tree on the edge of the village, from which were hung all kinds of animal bones. We were told this was the local witchdoctor’s altar. You could just feel the evil all around.

Micah continues the description of those who were leading the people in evil. These people were totally disarmed and helpless. Their flesh, skin and bones were chopped up for the pot, not literally, but figuratively. They were just food for the leaders, people to be exploited and preyed upon. Pure evil.

APPLICATION

I pray you never encounter evil like I experienced or what Micah is describing. I am afraid our world is becoming more evil by the day. The Word of God is scoffed at. The principles taught in the Bible about marriage, life and godly living are ridiculed and considered old-fashioned. The biblical worldview we believers strive to live by is scorned.

How do you survive this? By relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. There is a pledge I recite as part of the Every Man A Warrior (www.everymanawarrior.com) disciple making curriculum. It is called the manhood commitment. It says:

Created by God in His image to be a bearer of destiny in social and spiritual leadership, I will be a man who, abiding in Jesus Christ and relying on the power of the Holy Spirt –  rejects passivity (the silence of Adam); accepts responsibility to obey God’s will, do God’s work, and love God’s woman; leads courageously through direction, protection and provision based on God’s principles, not my passions; serves humbly giving life to others, not taking life from them; and invests eternally, making disciplemakers.

Ladies, you can adapt that to fit you, as well. But that is how we fight the evil in this world. We abide in Christ and rely on the Holy Spirit. We reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, serve humbly and invest eternally. That is my passion. Try that today in your life and just see what happens.

I shall fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

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Advocate, Affection, Bible, Brokenness, Comfort, Compassion, Despair, Grief, Holy Spirit, Mourning

HOW TO MOURN 

MICAH 1:8 

“Because of this I must mourn and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must do mourning like the jackals, and a mourning like the ostriches.” 

I have been to a lot of funerals throughout my ministry. Some of those who were grieving were really upset at the funeral. I have experienced some extreme mournings during those services. I have seen people hold onto the casket of their loved ones and just wail and moan. I have seen others fall on the floor sobbing uncontrollably. Everyone mourns differently. 

When I looked at today’s verse in the Hebrew, I discovered something interesting. The four words – mourn, wail, do mourning and mourning – are four different Hebrew words. They each describe the action differently. Look it up yourself. Why would the Holy Spirit lead Micah to use four different words to describe this? I believe it is because one word just can’t express our emotions. Micah is mourning and mourning greatly. 

APPLICATION 

Mourning is an important part of our lives. When we lose a loved one or a pet, we naturally feel empty. I am reminded of a passage from 1 Timothy 4. Verse 13 says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope.” 

Aren’t you glad our mourning isn’t based on earthly guidelines? God is with us in our deepest grief. He holds us tenderly as we weep and mourn. He understands. He created our tears. When we can’t find the words to pray, the Holy Spirit groans for us. 

I have grieved over the loss of a child, a dad and a mom. Other relatives have gone on to their heavenly reward. With each one I grieved differently. Just as Micah used different words to describe his grief, no one word could explain mine. Those are the times when I just rested in Jesus. Words were not necessary. Rest in Him today. 

Father of compassion and God of all comfort, I praise You for the words You give during our times of grief. 

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