Abiding, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Flesh, God's Will, Idols, Loyalty, Scripture

MY PLEASURE

ZEPHANIAH 1:5

“‘And those who bow down on the housetops to the heavenly lights, and those who bow down and swear to the LORD, but also swear by Milcom,’”

When I was in my early teen years, I worshipped pleasure. Now, I didn’t say that out loud, but my actions all pointed to that. I still attended church and even sang in the youth choir, but my heart was pledged to something else. All I desired was pleasure. I didn’t really care what the source was as long as it felt good. I did not call it a god, but it was.

The people of Judah had turned to worshipping all sorts of idols. One was worshipped on their housetops through incense. They worshipped the Sun and Moon. And they even worshipped the detestable idol of the Ammonites, Milcom (also known as Molech). This god was brought into the nation by King Solomon when he was pursuing his own way.

APPLICATION

Ask yourself whom you serve? Oh Carl, of course I serve God. I attend church every week and even put money in the offering plate. I’ve taught Sunday School for decades. That’s all well and good, but whom do you worship? For whom are you living? Is your god the God of the universe or some figure you have developed in your own mind that fits your lifestyle?

So many of us go through life thinking we are doing the “Christian thing” well. We go to church, we serve and even get baptized. We can do all those things well and still miss God by a mile. God desires complete surrender. We have to give Him our all. When we worship, it has to be all about Him. Nothing from the world can make our worship better. We have to be centered on Him and bow only to His will.

I don’t like not getting my way. I’m just like most people in that regard. But I have learned to yield my desires to Jesus. There is pleasure in serving a holy, righteous God. There is pleasure in knowing I am pleasing Him. My pleasure senses have been transformed through His Word and His Will. Yours can be too.

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me what real pleasure is all about.

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Accountability, Allegiance, Belief, Bible, Idols, Scripture, Truth, Worship

SPEECHLESS

HABAKKUK 2:18

“‘What benefit is a carved image when its maker has carved it, or a cast metal image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols.’”

My wife and I are opposites when it comes to morning conversations. I am a morning talker, and she is not. After her second cup of coffee, then she’s ready. By then, I am ready for a nap, lol. I am not often accused of being speechless. I guess that’s okay for a preacher, right?

God is telling Habakkuk to remind the people of the hopelessness of their false gods. Carved images don’t answer prayers. Carved images can’t even hear their prayers. Think how foolish it is to make something and then pray to it. But the idol worship of Habakkuk’s day was full of such practices.

APPLICATION

You probably don’t have carved images sitting around your house. Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps you do. Sometimes, believers go to another country and buy a trinket that they think is cute, not knowing it is some idol sold to worship a false god. That’s only inviting evil spirits into your home. Be careful of that.

But this verse isn’t about us doing that. Instead, it is about us worshipping anything other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He should be the only object of our worship. Nothing else is real. Anything we put on a pedestal intended to bring us happiness will fail us. Simply put, don’t waste your time.

I will commit to worshipping the one true God. How about you? Will you join me this Christmas season in spreading the good news of a God who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to die for it? The world needs Jesus so badly. What better time than now to spread the true meaning of Christmas?

You are the only true God. There is none beside You. There is none like You.

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Abiding, Bible, Calling, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Idols, Sanctification, Scripture

GOT TO GET THE ROOT

MICAH 5:14

“‘I will uproot your Asherim from among you and destroy your cities.’”

Weeds are a result of the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Before the fall, plants had no “enemies.” Weeds had no purpose. But since then, weeds have plagued farmers and gardeners alike. To get rid of the weeds, you have to get the root. If you just break it off, it continues to grow and spread. You have to really dig deep.

God is going to uproot any Asherim (wooden images of the Phoenician goddess) and destroy (totally exterminate, demolish) their cities. Any place that held an idol was going to be purged. God was going to flatten the surface from any corrupting influence for His people.

APPLICATION 

Idols still exist today. They are all around us. I have said it before, but it deserves repeating. Anything that comes before your relationship with God can be an idol. Anything! God wants and desires first place in your life. He is the only one deserving of that.

Being in the ministry sometimes blurs that line. I think I have been pretty good about protecting my family and keeping them before my ministry. There have been times when the “ox was in the ditch” and I had to work longer hours, but for the most part I tried my best to keep them before my ministry.

But the line gets blurred between my relationship with God and my ministry. They are not one in the same. My ministry is my calling to share the Gospel and disciple men into disciple makers. But I cannot do either of those effectively if I am not abiding in the Vine. That abiding must come first, followed by my family and then my ministry. Take a minute and evaluate your priorities. Do you have something on the shelf above God? If so, take it down a notch or two.

Praise You, O God, for reminding me of Your place in my life. You should always be on the top shelf.

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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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Accountability, Accused, Advocate, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, God's Will, Holiness, Idols, Judgment, Listening, Repentance, Scripture

NO ANSWER

MICAH 3:7

“The seers will be put to shame, and the diviners will be ashamed. Indeed, they will all cover their lips because there is no answer from God.”

You may not remember the days when you called someone on their phone and did not get an answer. This was the days before voicemail or answering machines. You could not leave a message. You just had to keep calling back until you reached them. I wish sometimes that was still the case. Lol

The false prophets (called seers and diviners here) could not hear God speak to them. Why? Because they were not seeking Him. They were living lives that were displeasing to God, so He had shut His mouth. He was not delivering any messages to them. They cried out only because He was delivering His judgment. How sad that they could not have surrendered to His Will, which would have opened up that line of communication again.

APPLICATION

Oh, brothers and sisters, before we cast too many stones at these false prophets, don’t we do the same? We live our lives as we wish and then when we get into trouble and call on God, He is quiet. We get perturbed with Him because He did not answer us. How dare He?

Well…God demands holiness from us. That’s right. He expects us to live according to His laws and commands. He does not expect perfection, but He does want us to strive to be more like Him and less like the world. If we want God to speak, we must stop, repent and listen.

This week there has been a verse on my mind a lot. Psalm 84:11 says, “The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Did you get that? No good thing does He withhold. But there is a condition – from those who walk uprightly. So, my question to you is – are you walking uprightly today?

O Lord, I do not want to be like one of those false prophets who could not hear Your voice. Speak to me Lord!

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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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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Dependence, Humility, Idols, Weakness

GOING BALD  

MICAH 1:16 

“Shave yourself bald, yes, cut off your hair, because of the children of your delight; extend your baldness like the eagle, for they will go from you into exile.” 

Having gone through chemotherapy a couple of times, I have gone bald twice. That’s not so bad for a man. I kind of liked it, but my wife sure didn’t. For a woman, however, the loss of her hair is humiliating. Most women I know who lost their hair due to chemotherapy wore a scarf, wig or some other form of head covering. 

For the Israelites, losing their hair through shaving it off was forbidden. This was a practice of the pagan worshippers. They would even cut their children’s hair according to those practices. Of course, we know that paganism only revealed their weakness of faith. That’s why Micah uses the analogy of the eagle losing its feathers through molting. At that time, the eagle is at its weakest. 

APPLICATION 

When are you at your weakest? Oh beware! When we are weak physically, emotionally or spiritually, the enemy attacks. Now, the Lord will also allow circumstances of weakness to get our attention or speak to us. I have personally experienced that. During both of my chemo experiences, God clearly spoke to me as to why I was going through that. 

Let me encourage you to examine yourself during your weak moments. What will you do? Will you lean on the Lord or something else? All those “something elses” will fail. They will pierce your hand if you lean on them. Only the Lord is reliable. Only the Lord can support you. Only the Lord! 

I am so thankful for my times of weakness. They reminded me of my total dependence on the Lord. There were days I could barely walk, but God sustained. Psalm 3:5 says, “I lie down and sleep; I awake again because the Lord sustains me.” Amen? 

Father, in my weakness, You are my strength. I shall lean on You. 

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Accountability, Accused, Altars, Belief, Bible, Confession, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Idols, Judgment, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

WHERE DOES SIN BEGIN?

MICAH 1:13

“Harness the chariot to the team of horses, you inhabitant of Lachish—she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion — because in you were found the rebellious acts of Israel.”

Do you remember your first introduction to sin? Do you remember when you committed your first sin? Probably not. Most of us were too small to remember our terrible twos, snatching a toy from someone else. Since the fall of Adam, we are born with that sin nature. No one has to teach us to sin. We, however, do have to be taught how not to sin.

Lachish was known as the initiator of idol worship to Judah. It had already begun in Israel (the Northern kingdom). Perhaps because of their trade in chariots and horses they were introduced to them by pagan nations. Lachish was known for its fast horses and chariots. Micah tells them they had better get in those chariots and harness their fastest horses if they hope to escape.

APPLICATION

Listen, brothers and sisters. I don’t care how fast you run; you cannot escape the wrath of God. There is not a plane, train or automobile fast enough. You could travel to another planet and still not escape it. There is only one way – that is through the blood of Jesus.

Assyria came in and defeated all of Israel and Judah. God used them as His instrument of wrath to judge His people. God will use whatever necessary to judge us if we are not under the blood of His Son, Jesus. But, oh the power of that blood. It can wash away our vilest sins and make us new again. Because of that blood, God forgives us of all our sins.

Praise God for His eternal blessings. I do not deserve so great a salvation. But thanks be to God, He had a plan to give me that way of escape. I pray you have made that decision to turn your life over to Him. You cannot outrun God. Stop running and allow the transforming power of the blood make you whiter than snow.

O Father, thank You for saving me. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to rescue me.

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Accountability, Bible, Blasphemy, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Hell, Idols, Scripture

FROM IDOLS TO IDOLS 

MICAH 1:7 

“All of her idols will be crushed, all of her earnings will be burned with fire, and all of her images I will make desolate; for she collected them from a prostitute’s earnings, and to the earnings of a prostitute they will return.” 

Here in the U.S., we don’t think much about religious idols. They just aren’t prevalent. Instead, we make idols out of celebrities or sports figures. We worship the idol of success. We can even make our families our Idols.  

In Micah’s time, however, idols were very prevalent. The Idols which were being worshipped in Israel would be destroyed by the Assyrians. The people would be carted off to slavery in a land that was also filled with idols. Idols, idols, everywhere. All of them were false. All of them were just silver or gold or stone or wood. They had no life. They did not exist. 

APPLICATION 

What do you idolize? Where is most of your time and attention assigned to? Where do you spend your money? Now, I am not talking about the necessities of life like food and clothing. But I am talking about excessive amounts of time at the rec fields instead of investing spiritually with your children. I am talking about taking those weeklong hunting trips instead of spending quality time with your wife. 

We can idolize anything (and we do). None of those things will last. The only thing that will last for eternity is our relationship with the Lord. We need to be spending as much time, if not more, with Jesus as we do in front of the tv.  

I pray you will commit this week to look at your idols and tear them down. Crush them. Throw them away. Love the Lord, your God, will all your heart, soul and mind. Spend the time you need with Jesus until you hear His voice. It’s a sweet voice. He wants to talk to you. 

Thank You, Jesus, for speaking to me each and every time I stop and listen to You. 

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Abiding, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Confidence, Courage, Covenant, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Idols

ABANDONMENT

JONAH 2:8

“‘Those who are followers of worthless idols abandon their faithfulness,’”

I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. In all those years, I saw a lot of children who had been abandoned. Abandonment is not a pretty thing. The feelings of loss and neglect are awful. Those who abandon are thinking only of themselves and not the lives they are affecting.

Jonah draws this analogy in referring to those who have abandoned their faith in favor of worthless idols. Those idols (or really those who peddled them) offered sensual or physical pleasures as part of their worship. The people’s hedonistic tendencies led them to choose those idols over true worship. They walked away from God. They abandoned their faith.

APPLICATION

Have you abandoned your faith? Have you tried to find something else to meet your needs? There is nothing else. Just like Jonah said, those things are “worthless.” They have no true meaning, no eternal purpose. They promise all sorts of things but never deliver. They only enslave.

If you have left your faith or it is weaker than it used to be, return to Him now. He will never abandon you. He will always be there. His love is eternal. His support of you will never end. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

So, is your heart completely His? If it is, He promises to “strongly support” you. There is no reason to abandon your faith. If you are struggling right now, turn to Jesus. He can carry you through. I pray you will stay close to Him. Do not abandon!

I will stay with You, O Lord. I know You will never abandon me.

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