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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Altars, Bible, Choices, Confession, Disciplemaking, Double-minded, Eternity, God's Will, Idols, Obedience

I SWEAR

AMOS 8:14

As for those who swear by the guilt of Samaria, and say, ‘As your god lives, Dan,’ and, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives,’ they will fall and not rise again.’”

My mama didn’t allow any swearing in her house. If one of us said, “I swear,” she would wear us out. We weren’t allowed to say, “My God!” She had a high respect and awe of God and didn’t allow her children to say or do anything that went against that.

The Israelites were warned by Moses and Joshua not to swear by any other God besides Jehovah. This “guilt of Samaria” probably referred to the calf that was there and was worshipped by the people. “The way of Beersheba” more than likely referred to the avenue of their idols they had set up. God despised this and held them accountable for their idol worship.

APPLICATION

We still make vows and swear by God. When I married, I made vows to my wife before God. When I go to court and have to testify, I am asked to raise my hand and vow to tell the truth. Swearing to God isn’t bad. Swearing to another god is a different story. That still isn’t okay with God.

You are probably thinking I would never do that. I would never swear to another god. You may not do that consciously. But have you ever put something above God in priority? Have you chosen something of the world above something that has eternal value?

We swear in all kinds of ways. We can’t allow ourselves to get sidetracked or out of focus. Satan loves to get our eyes off what is eternal and onto the temporal. We can become so obsessed with worldly things that we totally forget what is important, what is righteous, what is pure. Take a step back today and evaluate what you put first in your life.

Lord, keep me on the straight and narrow. Help me to focus on the eternal things.

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Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Idols, Praise, Prayer, Scripture, Surrender

SPECIAL VESSELS

AMOS 6:6

“Who drink wine from sacred bowls while they anoint themselves with the finest of oils — yet they have not grieved over the collapse of Joseph.”

I’ve got a favorite coffee mug. I’ve had it since 1982. Yep, that’s 40 years. I bought it at a pottery shop in N.C. It holds the heat of my coffee great. I love how it feels in my hand. I have no idea how it has survived this long, but I am careful to not drop it or crack it. I bet you have one too.

The problem Amos points out here again points to the idolatry the Israelites were practicing. They were using the sacred bowls of the temple, reserved only for use there, to drink from during their idol worship. They were possibly using the special oils reserved for the sacrifices on themselves because they smelled good. They were abusing God’s special items and didn’t seem to care. They showed the same lack of concern as Joseph’s brothers when they dumped him in that well.

APPLICATION

Let me give you an analogy right now. We are God’s holy vessels. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says so. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” As vessels of the Holy Spirit, we belong to God. But what do we do? We abuse these vessels.

I am as guilty as the next person of doing this. I eat things I shouldn’t eat. I don’t exercise like I should. I could do so much more to keep this vessel in good shape. But you can be the healthiest person in the world and still not be a holy vessel. Our holiness doesn’t come from our perfect physical condition. Our holiness only comes from complete surrender the Lord. That’s the kind of vessel He is desiring to use.

How do you become that kind of vessel? By spending time with Him. You have to pray and read His Word. You need to spend more time on your knees praying than doing pushups. You need to raise your hands in praise more than lifting weights. Yes, continue to treat your physical body with respect. But more importantly, exercise your spirit.

Forgive me, Lord, for not caring for this vessel better. Help me to realize just what I am “housing” as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

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Abiding, Accountability, Belief, Bible, Deception, Holy Spirit, Idols, Scripture

WRONG PACKING

AMOS 5:26

“You also carried along Sikkuth your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves.”

Occasionally, I will make a trip somewhere that requires me to carefully pack my luggage. For instance, when I travel overseas, I have a packing list I go by. I can only have so much in a suitcase due to weight restrictions. I don’t want to pack needless items or the wrong things. That list I created sure helps with that.

The Israelites needed a packing list. They had packed away idols and shrines of other gods. One of them was Molech to whom they actually sacrificed their own children. We find in all those wilderness years, they struggled with idolatry. This didn’t stop when they finally arrived in the Promised Land. Wrong gods. They should have never been packed.

APPLICATION

What are you packing? Do you have some idols or wrong gods? Not me, Carl. I would never do that. Are you sure? You see, we often don’t even recognize that we are worshipping something else. But whatever is taking the most attention is what we have deemed as most important.

Some of us worship our jobs. Others bow down to the god of entertainment. Some even worship their families. There is room for only one God. He demands allegiance. He won’t tolerate other gods taking His place. He will call us on that.

I am so thankful that my God is a jealous God. I am thankful He reminds me when I get too enamored with other things. Those other things aren’t necessarily bad things. They just aren’t THE thing that is important. I am still learning to lay things down. I guess I will be learning that until I go to heaven. We can all learn, can’t we?

Father, I am so thankful for Your Spirit in me that points me to You. I bow down to You and acknowledge You as the only true God.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Fire, Godliness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Purity, Scripture

UNEXTINGUISHABLE

AMOS 5:6

“Seek the LORD so that you may live, or He will break through like a fire, house of Joseph, and it will consume with no one to extinguish it for Bethel,”

Recently, there was a wildfire that swept through parts of Colorado near to where some friends of mine live. They had to evacuate their home and flee for safety. Thankfully, their home was spared, but many homes and businesses were totally consumed. This fire was aided by over 100 mile per hour winds. It seemed it was unextinguishable, but firefighters finally got it under control.

God’s fire is unextinguishable. No one or nothing can put out His fire. Amos warns Israel that the result of not seeking after God is His fires of judgment. He will consume everything in His path. God’s fire will purify the nation of Israel. Bethel, the site of their rebellion, will be consumed.

APPLICATION

What is standing between you and your loyalty to God? We need to put those things down or risk the fires of God. As believers in Christ, our salvation is sure. Nothing can take that away. But all those things that are “wood, hay and stubble” will be burnt away.

Can you name some things right now in your life that you need to lay down? For me, it’s television. I can get lost watching a ballgame or some movie. Before I know it, I have spent 3-4 hours in front of that “one-eyed monster.” I am choosing to lay that down this year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying television is evil. But when I spend more time in front of it than I do in God’s Word, something’s wrong. Will you join me in evaluating your own life? Instead of facing the fire of judgment, let’s enjoy the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let’s let our fire burn brightly so others can be drawn to Him.

May the things in my life that prevent me from being with You, Lord, be burned away. I want to be fireproof when I face You at judgment.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commands, Compassion, God's Will, Goodness, Idols, Kindness, Ministry, Scripture

OTHERS’ THINGS

AMOS 2:8

“‘And on garments seized as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.’”

My dad had one rule about borrowed tools. If you borrow it, take it back. If it’s borrowed, get it back. My dad had a shop full of tools, and when he died eight years ago, they were still there. My brother, nephews, son and other family members got all the tools they wanted, and they were still tools left. That’s because of the “borrowed” tool rule. They were always in the right place.

The Lord had a command against keeping the garments of the poor that had been given as pledges of debt. Those garments were to be returned at night since they most likely were the poor’s means of keeping warm. Here the Lord rebukes them for keeping them and stretching them out at altars. They also mockingly drank the wine received as payment in their places of worship, further reveling in their idolatry.

APPLICATION

Well, I can hear us now. We don’t take other people’s clothes and wine. This doesn’t apply to us. Don’t forget that every word of God’s Word is inspired. So, it always relates to us in some manner. These Israelites saw others in need and turned their heads. They knew God’s command and still did it. Don’t we do the same? Don’t we see others who are cold and thirsty and turn our heads?

Now, I know we can’t meet the need of every person. But we can meet the need of one. It’s coming into winter here in Tennessee where I live. I see the homeless just about every day and wonder how they stay warm. I wonder if they have enough to eat or drink. And what do I do about it? Very little. I may hand out a bag of food or something, but that’s about it. Many of these I see choose to live this way. I realize that. But that doesn’t lessen my responsibility.

How about you? What can you do about it? I bet you see the same people in your town. People who just need a little help. Don’t wait on someone else to step up. Get your church involved. Ask around and get others involved. Even a little group can make an impact on one person’s life.

Thank You, Father, for blessing me to be able to bless others. Open my eyes to those around me who need a helping hand.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Condemnation, Destruction, Evil, Godliness, Grandchildren, Horror, Idols, Scripture

THE CHILDREN SUFFER

HOSEA 13:16

Samaria will pay the penalty for her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, their children will be slaughtered, and their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

As a parent and grandparent, my utmost desire has always been to protect my children or grandchildren. It would bring me horror to think I ever did anything to bring harm to them. As a minister to children for over forty years, the same holds true for any children under my care. Let me suffer, but never the children.

Hosea ends this chapter with some pretty, horrible descriptions of the coming judgment against Israel. Samaria was the capital city of Israel. It had been the center of the idolatry and rebellion against God, so God’s wrath upon that city would be harsh. Hosea is predicting what the Assyrians were going to do when they came. It’s one thing to slaughter men in war, but to kill innocent children, even the unborn, was unthinkable.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, I would never do that or tolerate that! That’s good. I didn’t think you would. But are you protecting your children’s spirits? Are you guarding them from being influenced by evil? In our world today, we have to be so diligent to monitor and protect our children from this world. They can’t live in a bubble, but we can sure keep them safe in our homes.

Are you aware of what is on your child’s phone? Are you comfortable with the video games they are playing? How about their friends? Do you know them? Do you know their parents? We can’t just take our kids to church and think that gives them some kind of holy shield the rest of the week. That’s not how it works. You must guard their minds.

As an adult, I have to guard my mind. It is so easy to get off track when I am online. One little side post or ad can divert my eyes and before I know it, I can be chasing rabbits into a hole I can’t get out of. Scripture keeps my mind focused on Him and puts that shield over my eyes. Let Jesus keep your mind pure (1 Timothy 6:11).

Lord, help me protect the innocent as well as keep my own mind pure.

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Abiding, Affection, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Blasphemy, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Idols, Intimacy, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

A KISS

HOSEA 13:2 

“And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves cast metal images, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. They say of them, ‘Let the people who sacrifice kiss the calves!’” 

A kiss seems harmful enough, doesn’t it? Have you ever blown someone a kiss? That’s one of the first things we teach our babies. It is so cute to see them blow you a kiss. But when you are an adult, you had better be careful to whom you blow kisses. Blowing those to the wrong person will get you in a whole heap of trouble. 

Ephraim was guilty of idolatry. They had multiplied their idols, even making them to represent any god they imagined. They covered them with silver and gold and bowed before them. They kissed them and when they couldn’t physically kiss them, they would blow a kiss towards them. Wow! How do you think God felt when He saw His chosen people kissing false gods? 

APPLICATION 

I know what you are thinking. But Carl, I don’t have any silver or gold idols in my house that I kiss and bow to. Most of don’t. We are too sophisticated for that. We would never have our idols placed out in front of everyone. We tend to hide our idols. We disguise our idols.  

What do you worship? Anything you place before God and His Son, Jesus, is an idol. Anything or anyone you prioritize over your worship of the only true God is an idol. So, what do you worship? It could be your family, your job, your possessions or even your health. Nothing can come between you and your Lord. Stop kissing the wrong thing. 

I have been guilty of placing things before God from time to time. I get busy and replace my quiet times with scheduling for the day. I get sidetracked and stop spending time with Him in prayer. It can happen to all of us. Take a minute right night and look at the day ahead of you. Make time with God your priority. Spend the time you need (and you need it) with Him today. Kiss Him today! 

I lavish You with my worship today, O Lord. I long to kiss Your hands and feet and pay homage to You for all You have done for me. 

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