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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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fear, Idols, Judgment, Scripture

TREMBLING

OBADIAH 9

“Then your warriors will be filled with terror, Teman, so that everyone will be eliminated from the mountain of Esau by murder.”

When I hear the word “trembling,” I can’t help but think about my little 4 year old daughter singing “Were You There.” She had a little lisp on her “r’s”, so tremble sounded more like twemble. But it was so cute hearing her sing this song. You could almost hear her tremble.

The mighty warriors of Edom were trembling in terror. Everyone was going to be eliminated, according to God. There was nothing they could do to stop it. They were in trouble, and everyone knew it. Tremble, tremble, tremble!

APPLICATION

Do you tremble at the thought of facing the Lord? I hope you don’t. There’s no need to do that, if you know Him as Lord and Savior. He is not a scary God. He loves you and wants to bless you. But you have to be willing to live for Him, which means getting rid of all the stuff that you put in His place.

Carl, I don’t have anything above God. Are you sure about that? We can so easily move God down a shelf or two when we get busy with other stuff. Nothing can come before Him – Nothing! Not even for a minute. He must remain first in your life.

I have learned that through the school of hard knocks. Have you been there? I think I got my doctorate there. I think I am finally at a place where I am more aware of where I place the Lord. He is first in my life. My wife knows that. My boss knows that. I want everyone to know that. Can you say the same?

O Lord, I do not want to tremble in Your presence. I want to walk confidently and boldly into Your arms.

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Accountability, Angels, Battles, Bible, Deceit, Destruction, Eternity, Following, Idols, Judgment

BLOWS FROM ABOVE

AMOS 9:1

“I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and He said, ‘Strike the pillar capitals so that the thresholds will shake and break them on the heads of them all! Then I will put to death the rest of them with the sword; they will not have a fugitive who will flee, nor a survivor who will escape.’”

Anyone knows when you are engaging your enemy you always want the high ground. That gives you a better view of the enemy’s moves and you can better defend yourself. Also, when you strike, you strike from above. Being above your target can give you an edge in the fight.

God is standing in Amos’ vision and tells His Angel of the Lord to strike the place of worship that Jeroboam had built. Strike it from above. Crush it and anyone who is there worshipping. God was done with this façade of worship. He wanted it done away with.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want to feel God’s blows from above, do you? Well, if you are in Christ, you have nothing to fear. That’s not how God treats His children. He may discipline you, but it will always be in love and to draw you to Him.

But for those who are not in Christ, they have no idea what is coming. They will be judged one day, and they will feel those blows from God. He will crush them and send them to their eternal punishment.

There is a person on television right now who claims to be an atheist. He has done a commercial to talk about his atheist group. Just because he doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t make God not exist. But he closes his commercial by stating that he is okay with burning in hell. He has no idea. We should all pray that all these who claim such nonsense will come to their senses and realize there is a God who loves them so much.

God, I am so thankful I don’t have to fear Your blows from above. I am safe in the arms of Jesus.

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