Abiding, Bible, Distress, Encouragement, Fasting, Humility, Sacrifice, Scripture, Thirsting

NOT A DROP

JONAH 3:7

“And he issued a proclamation, and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: No person, animal, herd, or flock is to taste anything. They are not to eat, or drink water.’”

Have you ever been really thirsty? I mean, really thirsty. Your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. You can hardly swallow. Your mouth feels like it is full of sawdust. I have only been that thirsty a couple of times. When we had football camp in Moultrie, GA in August, oh my. The heat and dryness would dehydrate you in minutes, it seemed. Gatorade never tasted so good.

The king of Nineveh called on everyone to refrain from anything to drink. This proclamation even extended to the animals. Can you imagine trying to keep your herds from drinking? And when the king gave an edict, it was followed. No one was allowed anything. His purpose in this will be revealed in the coming verses.

APPLICATION

When I think of being thirsty today, I think about thirsting after the Word of God. God, unlike the king of Nineveh, does not withhold the water of the Word. He freely gives it. Like an artesian well, it flows and flows and flows. It gives refreshment to the driest soul. He restores the vigor of each person who indulges.

Psalm 42:1-2a says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;” Are you thirsty for Jesus? Does your soul thirst for God? We should have an unquenchable thirst for the things of the Lord. We should have a thirst that is not satisfied by anything of this world. Nothing else can meet that need in our life.

I am convinced that the more I drink the Word of God, the more God gives me the thirst for more. I read and study only to read and study more. It is a deep pool of water that never runs dry. I can literally dive deep into it and never come up for air. It envelopes me. I pray you can find that in God’s Word today.

I am so thankful for Your Word, O God. I truly pant after it just as the deer pants for the water.

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Advice, Bible, Boasting, Brokenness, Exalting, Humility, Modeling, Scripture

HUMBLE LEADERS

JONAH 3:6

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, removed his robe from himself, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the dust.”

I have been fortunate in my ministry to have worked for some very humble men. Humility is a trait that goes a long way with me. If someone is arrogant and too sure of themselves, I will give them plenty of room. Those traits drag me down. But being led by a humble person makes me want to emulate them. I truly admire that.

The king of Nineveh lowered himself to the same level as his people. He didn’t think himself too good to hear the message which reached his ears. The word for “word” here isn’t just referring to Jonah’s message. It is also referring to the response of the people that was reported to him. He removed his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat in the dirt. That’s humbling yourself.

APPLICATION

Are you humble? If you answered “yes,” you probably aren’t, lol. We have a choice about humility. We can humble ourselves or be humbled. I prefer the former. If I humble myself, someone else may exalt me. But if I exalt myself, I may get humbled. Jesus said the same thing when He referred to coming as a guest to a meal. He said sit at the end of the table and let the host move you up.

The question then arises. How do you show yourself humble? Putting others before yourself is one way. Serving someone less fortunate than you is another. How about keeping your mouth shut in that business meeting even when you know you have the right answer? It’s not easy being humble.

Humility is spoken of all through Scripture. Let me encourage you to do a word study on humility. Do you know what that means? Find a good concordance or go to a good website like Biblehub.com and do a search. Take some time to study those passages that speak on humility. Search your own heart and see how you measure up. We all have room to improve with humility.

O Lord, I want to be humble before You and men. Help me keep my heart broken before You.

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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Fasting, Flesh, Forgiveness, God's Will, Hearing, Humility, Salvation, Scripture

PROCLAIM THE FAST

JONAH 3:5

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.”

When is the last time you have fasted? For most people, this is a rare thing. We either don’t think about it or we don’t believe in it. I have to admit that I don’t fast regularly. Usually, I fast for a specific reason. I want to hear from God about something. I really should make it a regular thing in my life. Will you pray for me that I would do that?

The people of Nineveh believed in God because they heard Jonah’s message. He told them their city was going to be overthrown in 40 days. That would wake you up. They repented, which is evident by the fasting and the sackcloth. They humbled themselves before a holy God seeking forgiveness. Would God forgive them or not? We’ll get to that in a few days.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t just about going without food. It is much more than that. It is humbling yourself. It is making a sacrifice. It is denying yourself of physical things in order to receive spiritual things. What do I mean by that?

When you fast, your mind becomes clearer. The initial hunger pains remind you to pray. As you deny yourself food and concentrate on the Lord, those pains subside. Don’t get me wrong. You still get hungry, but now you know why you are doing this. God is speaking.

I really can’t fully explain the spiritual benefits of fasting. It is something you have to experience yourself. If you are able physically to fast, let me encourage you to do that. As you humble yourself, the Lord will speak. His voice will come through. Now, fasting isn’t required to hear God’s voice, but it clears the path. Give it a try. It’s easier than wearing sackcloth, lol.

I deny myself in order to hear You clearly, O Lord. I do want to hear You.

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Accountability, Bible, Boasting, Consequences, Enemies, God's Will, Hatred, Humility, Love, Scripture

REVELRY

OBADIAH 16

“For just as you drank on My holy mountain, all the nations will drink continually. They will drink to the last drop and become as if they had never existed.”

Just recently the Kansas Jayhawks won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship over the UNC Tarheels. Lawrence, Kansas is the home of the Jayhawks. That town went wild celebrating the win. You could describe their celebration as revelry, noisy partying and merrymaking.

This was the scene in Israel when they were overthrown. Their enemies, including Edom, drank and drank, celebrating Israel’s defeat. But God warns them in that last phrase that they too would cease to exist. He said they would, “become as if they had never existed.” All this was because they had sided against their brother.

APPLICATION

There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating, even partying, if it is not at someone else’s expense. Carl, I would never do that. Oh yeah? Let someone you don’t “care for” get caught doing something bad. Do you celebrate their punishment? Shouldn’t we instead want to try to help them?

This world is full of sinners. Some of them will seek to do us harm or take advantage of us. What would Jesus do if someone did Him wrong? Oh wait, they did. What did He do? He was humble and meek. He never sought to get even (and He could have). He saw their sin and hated it, but He loved the sinner.

Don’t be an Edomite. Don’t revel at someone else’s downfall. What a perfect time to witness to them. When someone is suffering, they are usually open to our comfort from the Lord. Use this opportunity to reach out to them and show them Jesus’ love. You just might see them respond in a way you never dreamed of.

Lord, I ask You to forgive me for reveling in my enemy’s downfall. Help me to reach out to them with the hands of Jesus.

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Bible, Conceit, Confession, Deceit, Exhortation, Humility, Justice, Modeling, Pride, Sacrifice, Salvation, Scripture

AFTER PRIDE COMES THE FALL

OBADIAH 2

“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you are greatly despised.”

We all know that being prideful and boastful isn’t good. In fact, Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before destruction the heart of the man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” I love that verse. When I am tempted to get cocky, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit of that verse. That’s one of the benefits of scripture memorization.

Albert Barnes says this about today’s verse. “God tells Edom what, amid its pride, it was in itself, ‘despicable;’ what it would thereafter be, ‘despised’.” That was Edom’s problem. They were a prideful lot who looked down on their brother’s fall. God could not and would not let that go.

APPLICATION

Do you suffer from pride and arrogance? It’s easy to get that way if we are not careful. We begin to think that what we have is all our doing. We forget what the Lord has done for us. Thinking that way is dangerous. It sets us up for a fall.

Whenever you begin to get full of pride, let the Holy Spirit convict you and draw you back to Jesus’ feet. There is no room for pride there. When our minds are focused on Him, we are reminded of His sacrifice for us. Just think of our lowly estate before the cross.

I am so thankful that all I am is because of Him. I am nothing outside of Christ. He makes me whole. He makes me righteous. He makes me…everything I am. I have no room for pride. I know in whom I have believed.

Father, I praise You for keeping me humble. I know my place is at the foot of the cross, bowing before You.

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Bible, Blessing, Goodness, Humility, Modesty, Scripture

HOUSES

AMOS 3:15

“‘I will also strike the winter house together with the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish, and the great houses will come to an end,’ declares the LORD.”

I have several friends who have more than one house. They have their main home where they live the majority of the time. Then they have their mountain home or their beach home. Some may even have both. They have been prosperous enough to afford them. I am happy for them and have been the beneficiary of these in the past.

Amos, however, is prophesying against those in Israel who flaunted their prosperity by having their winter and summer homes. Some even had them paneled with ivory. They wanted everyone to know how wealthy they were. God said this was all going away.

APPLICATION

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having more than one home if you can afford it. Like I said earlier, I know several of my friends who do. Most of them willingly share those homes with others when they are not using them. They share their blessings with others.

But when we became puffed up and haughty about our stuff, that’s dangerous. God is not pleased with such arrogance. He may just allow a little humbling in our lives when we do that. If the Lord has blessed you, why don’t you bless someone else this Christmas season.

My family has never been wealthy. We haven’t been poor either. God has always provided. During this Christmas season, I am especially humbled at what the Lord has given me. Having just returned from Kenya, I have seen poverty and need. I am just so thankful for a God who provides for us in our times of need and allows us to bless others.

Thank You Lord for blessing me in ways I do not deserve. I pray You will show me how I can bless others.

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Bible, Brokenness, Conceit, Deception, Humility, Scripture

HUMBLED

AMOS 3:11

Therefore, this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘An enemy, one surrounding the land, will take down your fortifications from you, and your citadels will be looted.’”

I remember when I was a freshman in high school an incident that humbled me. I was pretty big for my age and was often called up to practice with the varsity if they were short on guys to conduct a full scrimmage. One day I had an incredible practice and was embarrassing a couple of seniors. They decided to issue some humble pie. The two of them crushed me on the next play and said, “Remember your place, freshman.”

God is humbling Israel by allowing an enemy to crush them. They had lifted themselves up to a place they thought they deserved. When God says “will take down your…”, that implies haughtiness. One thing God will not tolerate is pride in self. Israel learned a hard lesson.

APPLICATION

Now, there is nothing wrong with being proud of the right things. But pride in self is not one of them. Have you shown that kind of proudful talking and strutting? You know what I mean? You made a better grade than someone else on a test, so you make a point of rubbing that in. You see someone on the street and think you are better than them.

God wants us to take pride only in Him. He deserves all the praise and glory, not us. Be very careful of the praise you receive from others. Give all the praise back to Jesus. When someone says how awesome you are, thank them but point them to Jesus.

I used to sing in our church choir. I sang a lot of solos. I love to sing. People would often tell me how great I sang and how they loved to hear me sing. It would have been easy to get the big head and think I was something. But I have learned that I am only able to sing because of Jesus, so He gets all the glory. Will you give Him glory today for any praise you get?

Lord, I give You praise for what You have done in and through me. Any praise I get goes to You.

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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Consequences, Forgiveness, Humility, Scripture

BURNING BONES

AMOS 2:1

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.’”

Cremation is a choice many people make for their bodies at death. Some feel that it isn’t biblical. I am not going to get into a debate about that in this blog. You will have to decide that on your own. To burn bones you have to get a pretty hot fire. Today that’s pretty easy, but back in the day of Amos that took great effort.

So, the Lord has turned his attention to Moab, another of Israel’s enemies, because of this decision. Who was Moab? They were the descendants of Lot and his older daughter after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were a ruthless bunch, as you can see from today’s verse. God is not going to revoke His punishment due to the actions.

APPLICATION

What have you done offensive against someone? Don’t tell me you haven’t. We all have. God is not pleased with that. We all know that. So, what do we do about that? We confess that as sin and ask God for forgiveness. It really is that simple. But there’s a second part. We also have to go to that person and ask for forgiveness.

That’s the hard part. We don’t want to do that. Why? Because we don’t want to humble ourselves before others. But what did our Savior do? He washed the feet of His disciples as a lowly servant. He even washed the feet of Judas, whom He knew would betray Him. That’s humbling yourself.

No one likes to humble themselves. I certainly don’t. But I know the shortest route to heaven is on my knees. I have to bow before my Lord and confess. I have to go to my neighbor and ask for forgiveness. And then I leave it there. I don’t burn any bones. It’s in the past. Can you do that?

Thank You Lord for convicting me of my sin. Continue to bring me to Your altar.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Destruction, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Humility, Judgment, Obedience, Rescue, Scripture

NOTHING LEFT

AMOS 1:8

“‘I will also eliminate every inhabitant from Ashdod, as well as him who holds the scepter, from Ashkelon; and I will direct My power against Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish,’ says the Lord GOD.”

Many years ago I served as a Group Leader for a boys’ cottage at a children’s home in Georgia. I took my boys, all 10 of them, to a pizza restaurant in a nearby town that had a pizza buffet. Now, I had ten teenage boys. Can you imagine the destruction they caused to that buffet? In fact, it was so bad the manager asked us to stop eating. Nothing was left!

The Lord is announcing total destruction to the Philistines. Even the remnant will perish. That’s pretty complete. God is thorough. He never does anything half-way. He is promising Israel this enemy will be destroyed in His time and in His way. I can just hear the people rejoicing.

APPLICATION

The Lord is still working that way. Everything He does in our lives is complete. The problem is we get in the way. We try to figure it out ourselves. And God will let us do that. He won’t move in and rescue us unless we seek Him. He is just that way. I guess you could say He is polite.

But listen, don’t depend on your smarts. Humble yourself and turn to Him. He will still ask you to be a part of what He wants to do in your life, but let Him lead. That’s hard for a lot of us, especially us men. We want to take charge. Lay it down. He will complete it if we will let Him. He will see it through.

I know the Lord will complete me, if I let Him. I have to come to the end of myself. When I do, He is there. And the finished product He produces is always better than what I could do. There is no comparison. So, why do I try to do it myself? I don’t know. I am still learning. I learn everyday.

I will lay my desires down, Lord, and let You lead. I know it always best when I do.

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Belief, Bible, Calling, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Humility, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

EVERYONE WHO CALLS

JOEL 2:32

“‘And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.’”

You’ve probably have seen an action movie where the bad guys are looking for someone. This person is hiding and refusing to make a sound. All of a sudden the good guys show up and get rid of the bad guys. When they try to find the person hiding, they are still refusing to come out since they are not sure who is trying to coax them out of their hiding place. If they don’t come out, they won’t be saved.

Joel is telling the Judeans that if you come to God, you will be saved. Everyone who calls on His name will be saved. Isn’t that awesome? We see this message echoed throughout Scripture. All we have to do to be saved is call on His name. Joel knew this and wanted everyone else to know that too. Just call on His name.

APPLICATION

All you have to do is call on His name. Have you done that? If not, He’s waiting. Each Sunday when I am leading Children’s Church where I serve, I tell the children the same thing. I tell them if the Lord is talking to you (and you will know it if He is), just call on Him. I walk them through the sinner’s prayer in which they call on His name.

So many are lost today just because they refuse to call on Him. They will call on everyone else but not Him. They don’t want to bow to Him. They don’t want to surrender. They don’t want to humble themselves before a holy God. But you can’t come to Him with a proud, arrogant heart. That won’t work.

I am so glad I made that decision back on July 31, 1977. I was a proud and arrogant young man. I knew coming to Him meant brokenness. But I came to Him. I called on His name. I knew about God, but I didn’t know Him. That evening I began my journey to know Him. I am still learning. He is such a big God. There is so much to know. Will you join in learning more about Him?

Lord, I am so grateful when I called on Your name, You answered. You were waiting for me.

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