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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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Redemption, Rescue, Scripture

RETURN TO FORTUNES

AMOS 9:14

“I will also restore the fortunes of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the desolated cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine and make gardens and eat their fruit.”

I can’t begin to imagine being ripped from my home and sent off to a foreign land with no hope of escape. The horrors of war are all around us. We are all watching the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are all heartbroken at the scenes of children crossing a border into a country that is not their home. What do we do?

Israel had been removed from their land. Now God is promising to restore them after they have been through this trial. The Hebrew text for “I will restore the fortunes” literally could be translated “I will bring back the captives.” So, the Lord is promising not just a return of fortunes but freedom.

APPLICATION

Beloved, listen to me. God knows where you are. He has not lost contact with you. You may feel that way, but He is completely aware of where you have been and where He is sending you. Don’t forget Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Rest in Him. Trust that He will restore you. But you must first return to Him. Repentance is required. You cannot expect a holy God to return you without movement on your part. Oh, but when you take that first step towards Him, He rushes to you to restore you.

I have made the decision too many times to trying to wait out God. Let me tell you – that doesn’t work. The eternal, timeless, ageless God literally has all the time in the world. He can outwait you. Don’t waste that precious time. Run to Him now. Enjoy your restoration.

I love You, Lord, and will quickly return to You, not for any fortunes, but to enjoy Your presence.

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Advocate, Bible, Blessing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Hope, Judgment, Listening, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture

ANSWERED PRAYER

AMOS 7:6

“The LORD relented of this. ‘This too shall not be,’ said the Lord GOD.”

How do you see God answering prayers? I have seen Him answer them in all kinds of ways. I have seen people healed from illnesses. I have seen people come to Christ. I have even seen storms diverted. I know my God still answers prayers, even if I don’t always like the answer.

We saw this same action by God back in verse 3. God changed His mind then and changed it again here. He heard Amos cry out for Israel and withheld His hand of judgment again. What does this show about the Lord? I believe it shows He listens to us, even if we repeat ourselves. I believe it shows God’s mercy, even when we deserve judgment.

APPLICATION

God answered Amos’s prayers the same way. He withheld the planned and current judgment. He may answer your prayers in the same way. Then again, He may decide to answer it in a whole different way. The Lord knows what is best for us even when we don’t. We may think we know how we want Him to answer. We just don’t see what lies ahead.

I have prayed for healing for my children, protection on the road and even for our pets. There is really nothing I haven’t prayed for. In my years as a Pastor, I prayed for all kinds of family needs. What a joy to see so many of those prayers answered.

But the most joyous answered prayers are the ones for salvation. When I have the privilege to pray with someone as they accept Christ as their Savior, my heart overflows. That’s a prayer with eternal value. That’s a prayer that will last forever. I praise Him for hearing us and answering according to His Will for our lives and the lives of others.

I know You are still listening, Lord. I know You are working even now to answer my prayers.

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Abiding, Alone, Battles, Bible, Deception, Direction, Dreams, Following, Hope, Leading, Scripture

NON-THING

AMOS 6:13

“You who rejoice in Lodebar, and say, ‘Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?’”

Sometimes we place our hopes and dreams in things that are impossible. Everyone tells us that. But we just don’t believe it. We are sure we can accomplish this on our own. We haven’t prayed about it, but we are sure God will bless it. Been there – done that. This usually doesn’t end well.

Israel was rejoicing in nothing. Actually, that should read non-thing. That’s what Lodebar means. It was a non-thing compared to God. Their idols were non-things. And they also claimed they had taken ahold of the horn – that’s what Karnaim means. Their strength was obtained on their own, they thought. What a rude awakening they had coming.

APPLICATION

Everything we have and have done is because of the Lord. He gives and takes away. He restores and tears down. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves, right? So, why do we continue to try to do things on our own? Why do we insist on going it alone?

Our flesh is strong, especially among us men. We think we can “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” While that mentality works in the world’s eyes, it doesn’t so much in the spiritual realm. We can do nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit. Read John 15:4-8. That will give you a good picture of what I am talking about.

I know from my own life that I cannot achieve one thing without the Lord. Anything I try to achieve on my own will not last. It will become a non-thing, a Lodebar. I cannot take Karnaim, the horn, on my own. It’s only through Jesus that I can find success. He will lead me and give me the strength I need to face life. How about you?

I know I am nothing without You, Lord. You make me what I am, and I am so thankful.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Choices, Death, Eternity, God's Will, Hope, Modeling, Scripture

ASHES TO ASHES

AMOS 6:10

“Then one’s uncle, or his undertaker, will lift him up to carry out his bones from the house, and he will say to the one who is in the innermost part of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “No one.” Then he will answer, “Keep quiet! For the name of the LORD is not to be mentioned.”

My wife and I have decided to be cremated rather than buried. It’s really a matter of choice for everyone. There’s no right or wrong way biblically. In fact, our verse today is one of the few verses that speaks about burning a body.

The Hebrew words in this verse actually mean to burn. “Undertaker” carries that definition. Here’s another reason it is so important to study the Hebrew and Greek text to see the real meaning of the text. This person, whomever it is, is the one who takes up the body and burns it, perhaps so the body wouldn’t be abused by those who had defeated Israel.

APPLICATION

The application today will not be a debate about cremation. As I said, that is an individual decision. My body will mean nothing to me at death. This old shell of flesh will eventually disintegrate anyway. For me and my wife, we have chosen the cremation route. But that’s our choice.

The point Amos is trying to make today is not the mode of getting rid of a body. He is pointing out the real hopelessness the Israelites felt. They couldn’t even mention the name of God. They were so low and depressed they felt it didn’t matter at this point.

Oh, but listen. No matter how low you may be, you can always call on Jesus. He is always there. You can’t get too low for Him. His reach exceeds your depression. And whether you are cremated or buried at death, you will be with Him for eternity. Rest in that. Trust that He is near at all times.

Lord, I am thankful that my eternal resting place is not determined by how my body ends up. I am whole in You.

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Advocate, Affection, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Hope, Intimacy, Mourning, Scripture

MOURNING

AMOS 5:1

“Hear this word which I am taking up for you as a song of mourning, house of Israel:”

Mourning is hard. If you have ever had a loss of a loved one in your life, you know what I mean. Everyone mourns differently. Some, seemingly, mourn quickly and move on with their life. Others take months, even years, to fully mourn their loss. But everyone feels their mourning, in one way or another.

Israel seemed to be clueless. Amos introduces for the third time in five chapters the reality of mourning. Israel was so full of itself, it totally overlooked its loss. God had removed Himself from them to allow their judgment to fall. They had plenty to mourn, but were too busy to notice – until it was too late.

APPLICATION

Are you aware of your losses? Are you stuck in your mourning? I have good news for you. God is here. He is right where you are, no matter where you are in your mourning cycle. He can soothe the most broken heart. He can comfort us so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

If you are going through a process of mourning right now, don’t let anyone tell you how to do it. They haven’t been where you are. Everyone’s loss is different. But there is one who can relate fully and completely. His name is Jesus. Tell Him how you feel. Cry on His shoulder. He will be with you through the entire process.

I have suffered loss in my life (child, parent, sibling, friends). Each loss hit me differently. But through each loss, God’s strength was inside me. He gave me the ability to cope. Without Him I do not know how I would have dealt with each loss. But praise be to God, He knows how. Amen?

Lord, I praise You for the strength You give to Your children during their times of loss. You are truly the balm of Gilead.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Hope, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Scripture, Suffering

IN HIS CROSSHAIRS

AMOS 1:3

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they threshed Gilead with iron sledges.’”

For you non-hunters reading my blog, the phrase “in His crosshairs” is a hunting term. It means you have your target in your sight. You are focused completely on the target you are aiming at. You may have other targets around, but at the moment, only this target is of importance. You have it right where you want it.

Damascus is the first of many targets the Lord had in His crosshairs. Of course, the audience that is hearing this from Amos is delighted he is talking about Damascus. They were an enemy of Israel. The Lord does judge our enemies in His perfect timing. Because of the way they had treated Gilead, they would be punished.

APPLICATION

Are there people in your life who are “threshing” you? Their treatment of you is harsh and unrelenting. They seem to get joy in seeing you hurt and suffering. Take courage, my brother. Have hope, my sister. The Lord is not blind to this. Remember that everything that touches us as believers has to go through His hands first. He is completely aware of what is happening.

We have to trust that if He is allowing these things in our lives, He is using them to make us more like His Son. He is allowing the “threshing” to knock off the chaff and reveal the pure grain underneath. The chaff has to be removed. It will be blown away revealing the grain underneath. Whatever is happening right now in your life, remember that God is aware.

I want my enemies zapped right now, don’t you? I want to see them pay for what they have done to me. That’s only human. Ah, therein lies the problem. We need to be concerned with the spiritual, not the flesh. As children of God, we trust Him to execute His judgment perfectly in His time. And He will. Trust Him.

As I see the “Damascus” in my life, I want relief. But Lord I trust You to teach me with whatever instrument You choose.

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Accountability, Angels, Bible, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Harvest, Hope, Judgment

HARVEST TIME

JOEL 3:13

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

I grew up in South Georgia in a very rural community. Farms were all around me. I had cousins, uncles and grandparents who were farmers. So, I understand harvest time. I grew up being a part of harvesting the crops. I distinctly remember bringing in beans, peas, corn and watermelons. Those were fond memories, and I am thankful I had that experience.

But Joel isn’t talking about that kind of harvest in today’s verse. He’s referring to an end time harvest. The enemies of Judah were going to be judged by a holy God. He is sending His angels to swing the sickle. Our enemies will one day be judged “for their wickedness is great.”

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Are you ready for the harvest? One day the Lord is going to return for His church. Will you be taken up in that great harvest of believers across this world? In one blink of an eye, we will be taken up. Or will you be left behind to put the pieces together.

We are going through some challenges right now in my country. We are seeing store shelves empty. Prices are increasing. Things are getting tough. But can you imagine how it’s going to be after the Rapture? Can you imagine how countries around the world are going to react to the sudden loss of thousands of people? You don’t want to be here to see that.

I am so thankful that my “harvest ticket” has been punched. I know I’m going with the first trumpet. I’m ready. But I know too many people, including some family members, who will be left behind. That grieves me. Will you join me in praying for the lost? We don’t want to leave anyone behind.

Father, thank You for assuring my place in eternity. I do not fear the harvest of believers because I know I will be among them.

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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.

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DON’T BE A SCAREDY CAT

JOEL 2:22

“Do not fear, animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, for the tree has produced its fruit, the fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.”

Have you ever been around feral cats? You can’t get near them. They come out of the barns or bushes and look at you, but if you make one step toward them, they disappear. They hunt constantly for food and always look scrawny and underfed. It’s hard to see any animal like that – even a cat, lol.

Joel is spreading good news to even the animals. They have been suffering for so long with the drought and the locusts. They haven’t seen anything green to eat in quite a while. Now the Lord is turning the pastures green. He is bringing forth the fruit of the trees and the vines. The animals should be dancing with joy.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord restored in your life? Do you remember times when your needs were great, and the Lord came through and met just what you needed? The Lord always comes through – every time. He may be late, according to our timetable. But He’s not late according to His. Listen to this verse. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now and feel the Lord is not hearing your prayers. He is. I promise. Trust in His timetable. I am sure those people in Judah thought the Lord had forgotten them. But He showed up just when He planned. Our suffering is always to make us more like Him. Don’t complain about it. Embrace it and allow Him to bring you through.

I remember vividly the days after I came to Christ. The grass was greener, and the sky was bluer. I saw life for the first time in a long time. His promises are true. I learned I could trust Him. He brought me through some tough times to get me there. He has continued to bring me through. Each time I trust Him, He teaches me more.

O Mighty Father, I will wait on You. You have always come through and I know You always will.

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